Doctor of Philosophy


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

Lab Rotation SeminarSome of EMD's PhD students before presentation of their research.

Lab Rotation Seminar

Some of EMD's PhD students before presentation of their research.

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The goals of doctoral training with a concentration in EMD are to provide a current theoretical and practical base of epidemiological and microbiological principles, to master research methods, and to apply these skills to investigations of the biology of infectious organisms of public health importance and the epidemiology of the diseases they cause. The approach is multidisciplinary. It includes ecological, clinical, cellular, immunologic and molecular aspects of infectious diseases, their causative agents, vertebrate hosts, and vectors. In addition, opportunities exist for Ph.D. training through interdepartmental programs in which YSPH faculty participate, such as the Microbiology and Immunobiology tracks of the Biomedical and Biological Studies program.

Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a concentration in any of the biological sciences. Students with degrees in chemistry, physics, engineering or medicine are also encouraged to apply. Preparation in elementary calculus, elementary physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, statistics or advanced mathematics is desired. A master's degree is not required to apply for this program. Complete GRE test scores are required.

Although courses in epidemiology, microbiology and biostatistics are strongly recommended, there is no general required curriculum. A faculty advisor is assigned at the time the student matriculates. Each student plans, with the advice of the faculty advisor and the department representative to the Graduate Studies Executive Committee, a specific program that includes courses, seminars, laboratory rotations, and independent readings all tailored to the individual needs and career goals of the student. The plan is outlined as early as possible in the first semester of graduate study. A program of course work will most often include biostatistics, epidemiology, microbiology, as well as complementary courses offered in the basic biomedical sciences in other departments of the University. All students are required do three semester long laboratory rotations, each with a different principal investigator. After successful completion of the qualifying examination and submitting a prospectus, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. From this point students work exclusively on their dissertation research, culminating in the presentation of a thesis to the Yale faculty for examination.

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. 

The Ph.D. degree with a concentration in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases requires ten courses for credit. Courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, and microbiology are strongly recommended. The specific course recommendations depend on the background of each student and their stated research interests. An individual program that includes courses, seminars, and research rotations is developed by the student and his/her faculty academic advisor. All students are required to complete three distinct research rotations. These are done in the fall, spring and summer between the first and second year. At the end of each rotation, the student will be asked to prepare a brief presentation for fellow students and faculty about their research for that term. These research rotations (EMD 670) are graded and account for three of the required ten courses EMD students must take. 

The following courses are suggested courses that are appropriate for Ph.D. students in EMD. However, other courses at the Yale School of Public Health of in other departments may also be appropriate. 

All “a” courses are offered in the fall term, “b” courses are offered in the spring term.

PDF Version

Download the PDF version of the PhD curriculum.



Course Units  

BIS 511a, GIS Applications in Epidemiology and Public Health


CDE 508a/EMD 508a, Principles of Epidemiology I   


CDE 516b, Principles of Epidemiology II 


EMD 512b, Immunology for Epidemiologists


EMD 535b, Probabilistic Modeling in Ecology, Evolution, and Disease


EMD 538a, Quantitative Methods for Infectious Disease Epidemiology


EMD 543a/CDE 543a, Global Aspects of Food and Nutrition


EMD 547b, Vaccines: Concepts in Biology


EMD 548b/ARCG 762b/F&ES 726b/G&G 562b, Observing Earth from Space


EMD 550b/682b, Vector Biology


EMD 572a, Ecoepidemiology


EMD 680a, Molecular and Cellular Processes of Parasitic Eukaryotes


HPM 570a, Cost-Effectivenss Analysis and Decision Making


*CBIO 602a, Molecular Cell Biology


† F&ES 500a, Landscape Ecology


*GENE 734a, Molecular Biology of Animal Viruses


*PATH650b, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer


EPH 600b, Research Ethics and Responsibilities          


Students participate in three distinct research rotations as noted by
registering for EMD 670 (fall, spring and summer)

EMD 670a, Advanced Research Laboratories


EMD 670b, Advanced Research Laboratories


EMD 670a, Advanced Research Laboratories (register for this in the fall
of second year; this rotation is the summer rotation done between first and
second year)


Other Courses taken but not listed (as agreed upon by advisor)




*These courses are offered in the School of Medicine

†This course is offered in the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

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. 7/15/13 

Research Rotations

Three research training modules are required for all students and each term involves a different investigator. These are offered as formal courses, and there will be a brief presentation to the division at the end of each rotation. Each term is graded. Investigators act as tutors and monitor the progress of the work, although students are given a certain amount of independence in their work. Research rotations are defined broadly, including experiments in the more traditional wet laboratory setting, as well as work in the field or on the computer.

Qualifying Examinations

EMD has adopted an oral and written qualifying examination format. Components of the examination include the following: (1) readings with committee members on selected topics; these readings may require review and integration of course work, laboratory rotations, research seminars, and published literature; and (2) a research proposal in the proposed dissertation topic.  In addition, each student will be asked to choose two other topics of interest to research.  Ideally, the two other topics are areas which will expand the dissertation topic to subject matters not covered in coursework.  The research topic is selected by the student and the advisor, and submitted within a prescribed time frame in written form. The examination takes the form of questions from members of the committee based on readings and an oral defense of both research proposals.

Detailed information regarding the EMD program is available from the EMD representative to the Graduate Studies Executive Committee or the coordinator of graduate student affairs.


A diversity of research opportunities are available working in the laboratories of Yale faculty associated with the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases (more information).

Current Departmental Research Projects

Some recent and current EMD Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and their research projects include:

  • Generation of immunity following genital HSV-2 infection
  • Characterizing the post-incarceration risk environment in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Modeling Rabies Control
  • Spatial models for public health intervention of vector-borne diseases
  • Understanding the eco-epidemiology of vector borne pathogens using West Nile Virus as a model system.
  • The role of the tsetse fly's fat body immune responses in combating African trypanosome infection
  • Identification of Polymicrobial and Genetic Factors for Otitis Media Pathogenesis
  • Using partially-effective HIV vaccines in South Africa: informing difficult policy decisions through the use of behavioral epidemiology and mathematical modeling
  • Elements behind a population-based newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency
  • Use of Chronic Opioid Therapy in Vulnerable Populations: Temporal Trends and Quality of Pharmacologic Care in the National Veterans Administration
  • Ecological, behavioral & insecticidal resistance determinants of anti-malaria intervention success on Bioko Island and Mainland Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa
  • Identifying factors required for flavivirus transmission and replication in mosquito cells and tissues
  • Modeling TB and HIV coinfection in South Africa
  • Evaluation of hepatitis B vaccination program among injection drug users

Funding Opportunities

The Department has a training grant supporting pre- and post-doctoral students in the areas of parasitology and vector biology. There are also YSPH fellowships available for predoctoral students. In addition, faculty have grants which are employed for support, training related expenses and stipends.

Training in Parasitology and Vector Biology funded by NIAID