Doctor of Philosophy


For more information about applying to the PhD program, kindly visit the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.

The department is perhaps best known for its doctoral programs in the epidemiology of aging, cancer, perinatal diseases, genomics, and psychosocial disorders. However, students in the department often work on projects with other departments within YSPH, other departments in the School of Medicine, and other schools within the University. Thus  there are numerous opportunities for creating an experientially rich doctoral program. Graduates from the department's doctoral program are found on the faculties of universities throughout the world, at the highest levels of federal and international research programs, in numerous private and public foundations and institutions, and in leadership positions at many multinational corporations.

In consultation with the faculty advisor, the student chooses among doctoral-level courses offered by the department as well as among courses offered by the medical school or by other Yale professional or graduate schools. Students often take an advanced seminar in their specialty area and present their work in this collegial forum. All candidates must become proficient in statistical analysis, research methods, and the application of epidemiology to the field in which they have special interest.

Applicants should have solid preparation at the college level in the biological or social sciences and one year of college-level mathematics.

Students entering the doctoral program typically have a strong background in undergraduate science and frequently have a master's degree in public health, or public health research experience. (A master’s degree is not required to apply for this program.)

Core Competencies PhD

Upon receiving a PhD degree in Public Health, the student will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate public health and related literature.
  • Discuss and critically evaluate the broad literature of the student’s discipline.
  • Review in depth the background and research advances in the student’s specific research area.
  • Apply at an advanced level the research methodology of the student’s broader discipline and, in particular, the student’s specific research area.
  • Present research to colleagues and professionals on a national and international level at professional meetings.
  • Teach a course in the student’s broad discipline.
  • Explain the principles of research ethics and apply these principles to specific research projects.
  • Design and conduct an advanced, original research project in the student’s discipline.
  • Generate data to create publishable manuscripts that represent important contributions to the literature. 

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree with a concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology requires a minimum of 15 course units. This Ph.D. program requires the student to complete the following courses. All “a” courses are offered in the fall term, “b” courses are offered in the spring term. Students are permitted to waive up to three required courses if they have previously covered the course material and obtain approval from their dissertation advisor and the course instructor, but are encouraged to replace these courses with other relevant courses rather than reducing the total number of courses taken.

PDF Version

Download the PDF version of the PhD course requirements.

Requirements Completed?

Degree Requirements

Course Units

CDE/EHS 502b, Physiology for Public Health


CDE 508a, Principles of Epidemiology I


CDE 516b, Principles of Epidemiology II


CDE 523b, Measurement Issues in Chronic Disease Epidemiology


CDE 534b, Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology


CDE 617b, Developing a Research Proposal


CDE 619a, Advanced Epidemiologic Research Methods


CDE 634b, Advanced Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology and Public Health


CDE 650a, Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine and Health Care


EPH 600b, Research Ethics and Responsibilities


Students must choose three 600-level course units in Biostatistics (chosen by the student in consultation with his/her dissertation advisor




Students must choose three electives (in consultation with his/her dissertation advisor




Students supported by training grants may be subject to additional requirements and should discuss this with the Principal Investigator of that grant to determine whether there are grant-specific requirements.

rev. 5/28/13

Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying examinations in CDE entail a three-part system emphasizing biostatistics, epidemiologic methods, and the student’s chosen specialty area. The examination covering epidemiological methods includes both an in-class and a take-home portion. One faculty member is responsible for coordinating this examination, and the examination content is developed by the overall faculty. The specialty area examination is usually prepared in a tutorial with one or more faculty members the semester prior to the examination.

Research Experience

In a number of courses, students gain actual experience with various aspects of research including preparation of a research grant, questionnaire design, preparation of a database for analysis, and analysis and interpretation of real data. In addition, doctoral students can gain research experience by working with faculty members on ongoing research studies prior to initiating dissertation research.

The Dissertation

Many dissertations are presented as three or more completed, submitted or published manuscripts based on the dissertation research.

Research Areas

Doctoral candidates with a concentration in CDE may specialize in the following areas:
  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Genetic
  • Molecular
  • Nutrition
  • Perinatal
  • Psychiatric Epidemiology
  • Psychosocial Epidemiology

Examples of Department Research Projects:

  • epidemiology of diseases of pregnancy and newborns, emphasizing environmental and genetic risks for causation
  • biomarkers of nutritional status, and biomarkers of antioxidant stress status
  • methods for treating tobacco use and dependence through expansion of the clinician's role in cessation
  • effect of exercise on breast cancer biomarkers among high risk individuals and cancer survivors
  • genetic factors in age-related macular degeneration
  • racial/ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes
  • HIV/STD prevention
  • Role of psychological factors, particularly older individuals' perceptions of aging, on cognition and health in old age
  • role of immunologic factors and environmental chemical exposures in the etiology of childhood leukemia
  • disparities in the utilization of carotid endarterectomy among symptomatic stroke patients, and the long-term outcomes of stroke
  • Case-control study of endometrial cancer/ pancreatic cancer
  • risk factors for psychiatric outcomes and aspects of mental health and well-being

Ph.D. Funding Opportunities/Training Grants

Many faculty have grants which can be supplemented to provide training related expenses and stipends to students.

Ph.D. students are supported either through University fellowships or NIH funded training grants. Currently, there are two training grants: