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What is Epidemiology?

From aging to the opioid crisis, epidemiologists fill a critical role in population analysis and exist at the very core of public health. A versatile and STEM-focused facet of public health, epidemiology focuses on the science and statistics of community health and disease to identify both determinants and potential solutions.

As a Master of Public Health student with an Epidemiology (EPI) concentration at UTK, you will leverage data to paint the picture of health in a given population. With applications from maternal to environmental health and beyond, your EPI concentration will prepare you to make a significant difference in health policy, practice, and research.

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Pathways in Public Health: Epidemiology

Three people wearing lab coats, gloves, and hairnets work in a lab with both computers and microscopes.

Is epidemiology your next area of expertise?

Our EPI concentration is a great path for students with:

  • A strong understanding of statistical concepts and biological or medical processes
  • Communication and critical thinking skills
  • Keen attention to detail

The most successful EPI students have a strong record in math and science coursework, with academic backgrounds in:

  • Pre-medical training
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Statistics

Graduates often work in a range of roles and settings, including:

  • Federal, state, and local health agencies
  • Research institutions
  • Healthcare systems
A man wearing a lab coat, gloves, and safety glasses works with a vial of liquid.

Epidemiology Competencies

As an EPI student in the online Master of Public Health program, you will cultivate a set of skills and capabilities necessary to identify, describe, and respond to patterns in population health. Our MPH Epidemiology students will be able to:

  • Select appropriate study design(s) to investigate a public health concern given the strengths, limitations, and feasibility of the design(s).
  • Assess, synthesize, and critically evaluate epidemiologic scientific literature.
  • Communicate epidemiologic evidence to lay and scientific audiences.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in basic and intermediate epidemiologic methods and principles.
  • Conduct a reproducible data analysis project.

Concentration Coursework

EPI students complete a combination of required epidemiology coursework, foundational MPH courses, and a minimum of six credit hours of elective courses.

Required Courses

Research design, basic quantitative and qualitative research techniques, and ethical considerations. Development of research skills, data collection instruments, and problem identification for research topics.

3 credits

Disease outbreak investigation, prevention, and control. Basic instruction on the steps involved in investigating a real disease outbreak, working in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health, the Knox County Health Department, and the East Tennessee Regional Health Office. Following the initial session, students will be available throughout the semester to assist these public health offices in response to a call for expanded capacity to investigate and address a real disease outbreak. Requires at least four hours of community service learning.

Grading Restriction: Satisfactory/No Credit grading only.
Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum two hours.
Registration Permission: Students must be in a graduate degree program sponsored by the Department of Public Health, or the Department of Food Science and Technology/UTIA. Students in other graduate degree programs or the Graduate Certificate in Food Safety may be enrolled with consent from the instructor.

1 credit

Biostatistics is the application of statistics to biological problems. Offers advanced instruction in biostatistics, including the application of advanced inferential statistical methods to public health practice. Will cover a variety of multivariable modeling approaches, data management, and analysis planning and development.

(RE) Prerequisite(s): PUBH 530 or permission from the instructor.

3 credits

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related outcomes at the population level. Topics addressed include measures of disease, measures of effect, sources of error, advanced methodological issues unique to the observational and experimental study designs utilized in public health practice and research, causal inference, and screening and clinical epidemiology.

(RE) Prerequisite(s): 540 or consent from instructor.
Registration Restriction(s): Minimum student level – graduate.

3 credits

Applied Practice Experience in an approved organization under supervision of a designated preceptor. Students must complete a total of 6 credit hours.

3-6 credits

6 credits

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