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  Sep 26, 2017
 
2016-2017 Graduate Studies Bulletin (Archived Copy) [Archived Catalog]

Epidemiology and Biostatistics


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James Hussey, Chair



Overview

The contributions of public health rest largely on its capacity to identify and solve community-wide health problems. As measurement and research sciences, epidemiology and biostatistics serve as the basic tools for public health action. Both disciplines are part of the scientific core of public health and are a part of the training of all public health professionals. The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics is a community of scholars dedicated to the production of new knowledge and the application of that knowledge to public health issues.

The primary missions of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics are to:

  • Generate new knowledge that can lead to improvements in health, with a special emphasis on identifying emerging areas of inquiry, especially those that cross disciplinary boundaries;
  • Disseminate and apply existing and new knowledge in the training of health professionals who will engage directly with populations at highest risk of poor health, or will conduct research in epidemiology and biostatistics, or both; and
  • Serve the larger communities in which we live and work, by using our special skills and knowledge.

The research goals of the department focus on contributing to the field of public health through:

  • the development of new knowledge related to chronic or infectious diseases or health conditions
  • the application of this new knowledge to address current public health issues and problems.
  • provide training at master’s and doctoral levels in epidemiology and biostatistics
  • develop and apply innovative research strategies and analytic methods to discover unknown causes and factors that influence the spread and distribution of disease and disability
  • providing service to the University, the public, and the health professions through a wide range of activities.

The department has two divisions, epidemiology and biostatistics. The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics offers the following degrees: Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The biostatistics division also offers the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.). The department, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, also offers a dual Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology.

Program in Epidemiology

The major in epidemiology is designed for students pursuing careers in the study of patterns of diseases, disabling conditions, and other indicators of health in human populations. The field of epidemiology involves research into factors that influence human health states or events and evaluation of prevention and treatment interventions. Epidemiologists attempt to establish the causes of health problems by describing the biological, environmental, social, and behavioral factors affecting illness and premature death, as well as factors that contribute to health and well-being. Descriptive and analytic techniques are used to gather information on disease occurrence; extend basic knowledge about the physical, mental, and social processes affecting health; develop effective disease-control measures; and examine health services, treatments, and intervention programs. The products of such inquiries also are used in the development of health programs and formulation of health policy. Epidemiologic studies often require innovative approaches to study design to identify representative samples and allow assessment of the associations of various factors with development or progression of the disease or health condition of interest while not violating the participants’ ethical rights to prevention or treatment activities. Epidemiologists work closely with other public health practitioners, health care professionals, environmental health personnel, behavioral scientists, microbiologists, demographers, biostatisticians, and administrators of health agencies.

Program in Biostatistics

The program in biostatistics is designed for individuals who wish to pursue careers in community health measurement, design and management of health data systems, and the development and application of quantitative methods to health problems. Biostatisticians apply statistical theory, methods, and techniques to the planning, development, and evaluation of health programs and problems. They collect and analyze various types of information; these include demographic and vital statistics, social and business data, health resources statistics, and other forms of social and economic data which are relevant to modern health problems. Biostatisticians design experiments and observational studies, use various computer operating systems and software packages to store and analyze data, develop methods to compare population groups, and prepare inferential and probabilistic statements based on biological, social, and environmental data. Biostatisticians are the theoretical researchers and applied statisticians of public health.

Department Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements for Epidemiology

Applicants for a graduate degree in Epidemiology must have a degree from an approved college or university. Applicants must meet all requirements of The Graduate School  for admission and be recommended to the Graduate School for acceptance by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

When we make our admissions decisions, we evaluate the applicant’s entire file in relation to the pool of applicants that year. We also evaluate whether the applicant’s needs and goals fit well with our department’s strengths and resources.

The admission criteria for all degree programs follow those of The Graduate School  and the Arnold School of Public Health . Before you can be considered for admission, you must submit an Online Application via www.sophas.org. Your application must include:

  1. Three letters of recommendation.
  2. An updated Resumé or CV.
  3. Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work previously undertaken.
  4. Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work previously undertaken.
  5. Official copies of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  6. A statement that addresses research or practice interests and long-term objectives.

Candidates for all graduate programs in Epidemiology must demonstrate proficiency in communicating in English, working with mathematical concepts, and in thinking analytically. We require GRE scores to be considered for admission. We do not accept any other scores (MCAT). We do not set absolute cutpoints for GRE scores, (in part because of variability in test-taking ability, and the fact that the percentile scores vary by year.) We provide the following as a general guideline for all of our programs:

  • GRE Verbal score >151(or above the 50th percentile)
  • Quantitative score >153 (or above the 50th percentile)
  • GRE Analytical Writing >4 (or above the 50th percentile)

An electronic application packet should be submitted to SOPHAS as early as possible and will not be processed until all the required credentials have been received & verified. Electronic applications can be submitted via the Internet. For information on how to apply electronically see the Arnold School of Public Health’s admissions website (http://www.sph.sc.edu/futurestudents/admissions.htm). International applicants whose native language is not English and who have not earned a degree in an English-speaking country are also required to submit a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the University of Cambridge’s International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Academic Course Type 2 exam is 7.0. Proficiency in English sufficient to undertake graduate study is expected upon entry. Students who do not meet proficiency levels established by The Graduate School and the department will be expected to take additional work to raise their level of performance. Also, any transcript from a non-US institution will need to be verified by World Education Services (WES). WES is an organization that provides international credential evaluation and checks documents for validity and accuracy. WES also offers an analysis of an individual’s degrees and transcripts and will provide equivalents for each credential. For more information contact WES at: www.wes.org or 212-219-7330.

Masters Admission Requirements

Departmental courses are sequenced so that students may begin their program of study only in the fall semester.

For the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program, preference for admission is given to applicants with breadth and depth of academic preparation in the biological and health sciences. Applicants who will be considered for this program: graduates of approved schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary medicine or pharmacy.

Applicants to the Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) program must have a baccalaureate degree in arts, science or medicine. Prior professional work experience is considered an asset but is not a requirement.

Students admitted to either the M.P.H. or the M.S.P.H. program who do not have academic or professional experience that provides a strong understanding of the biological basis of public health are strongly encouraged to select courses that will provide this understanding.

Doctoral Admission Requirements

Departmental courses are sequenced so that students may begin their program of study in the fall or spring semester.

For the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, applicants must have a master’s degree in Public Health from an approved school of public health or an equivalent advanced professional degree.

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program must meet all department criteria for admissions to the masters program, plus a careful assessment by the Admissions Committee that the applicant can complete all necessary coursework and the requirements for a dissertation.

Admission Requirements for Biostatistics

Applicants for a graduate degree in Biostatistics must have a degree from an approved college or university. Applicants must meet all requirements of The Graduate School  for admission and be recommended to the Graduate School for acceptance by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

When we make our admissions decisions, we evaluate the applicant’s entire file in relation to the pool of applicants that year. We also evaluate whether the applicant’s needs and goals fit well with our department’s strengths and resources.

The admission criteria for all degree programs follow those of The Graduate School  and the Arnold School of Public Health . Before you can be considered for admission, you must submit an Online Application via www.sophas.org. Your application must include:

  1. Online application via www.sophas.org.
  2. At least two letters of recommendation for the MPH and MSPH programs, and at least three letters of recommendation for the PhD and DrPH programs.
  3. An updated Résumé or CV.
  4. Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work previously undertaken.
  5. Official copies of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  6. A personal statement that addresses research or practice interests and long-term objectives.

Candidates for all graduate programs in Biostatistics must demonstrate proficiency in communicating in English, working with mathematical concepts, and in thinking analytically. While we do not set absolute cutpoints for grade point average and GRE scores (in part because of variability in test-taking ability that may not reflect competence to do well in the programs, and the fact that the percentile scores vary by year) we value their ability to provide us with global comparative criteria. Therefore, we provide the following as a general guideline for all of our programs:

  • Grade point average of 3.0
  • GRE Verbal score > 400 (International students whose GRE Verbal score is > 350, and whose TOEFL score is at least the minimum defined below, will also be considered)
  • GRE Quantitative score > 600 for the MPH and MSPH programs, and > 650 for the Dr.P.H. and Ph.D. programs

Committee members review the entire files carefully. Clear demonstration of competence in one or more domain(s) can supersede specific GRE score(s).

An electronic application packet should be submitted to SOPHAS as early as possible, and will not be processed until all the required credentials have been received & verified. Electronic applications can be submitted via the Internet. For information on how to apply electronically see the Arnold School of Public Health’s admissions website (http://www.sph.sc.edu/futurestudents/admissions.htm). International applicants whose native language is not English and who have not earned a degree in an English-speaking country are also required to submit a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the University of Cambridge’s International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 230 (computer-based) or 570 (paper-based) or 75 (Internet-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. Proficiency in English sufficient to undertake graduate study is expected upon entry. Students who do not meet proficiency levels established by The Graduate School and the department will be expected to take additional work to raise their level of performance. Also, any transcript from a non-US institution will need to be verified by World Education Services (WES). WES is an organization that provides international credential evaluation and checks documents for validity and accuracy. WES also offers an analysis of an individual’s degrees and transcripts and will provide equivalents for each credential. For more information contact WES at: www.wes.org or 212-219-7330.

Masters Admission Requirements

Departmental courses are sequenced so that students should begin their program of study in the fall semester. However, applications for spring admission will be accepted.

For the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program, preference for admission is given to applicants with breadth and depth of academic preparation in the biological and health sciences. Applicants must have at least one year of full time post baccalaureate work experience in the field of public health or another health related field. The following two groups of applicants will be considered for this program: graduates of approved schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary medicine or pharmacy; and individuals who have at least a baccalaureate degree in such fields as medical technology, engineering, or one of the sciences, and have appropriate experience or previous training in the field of public health.

Applicants to the Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) program must have a baccalaureate degree in arts, science or medicine. Applicants should also have completed with a B or greater Vector Calculus and Matrix or Linear Algrebra. Prior professional work experience is considered an asset but is not a requirement.

Students admitted to either the M.P.H. or the M.S.P.H. program who do not have academic or professional experience that provides a strong understanding of the biological basis of public health are strongly encouraged to select courses that will provide this understanding.

Doctoral Admission Requirements

Departmental courses are sequenced so that students may begin their program of study in the fall or spring semester. Applications for summer admission will also be accepted.

For the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, preference for admission is given to applicants with breadth and depth of academic preparation in Biostatistics, Statistics, or a closely related field. Applicants must have a Masters degree in one of these areas, or a Masters degree in some other field and experience in these areas.

For the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) program, preference for admission is given to applicants with breadth and depth of academic preparation in some field which will form the application area of their degree. Applicants must have a Masters or M.D. degree, and demonstrate some interest and ability to apply Biostatistics to that area.

Programs Overview

Doctoral and master’s students in programs in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics gain state-of-the-art knowledge and skills that allow them to function effectively and appropriately in identifying, evaluating, and solving public health problems. Upon completion of the program, the students demonstrate:

  • a knowledge base of various processes relating to disease, disability, and other health conditions
  • application of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods in identifying the determinants of disease, disability, and other health conditions
  • understanding of the design and conduct of research in public health
  • skill in data analysis and interpretation of research results in the context of prevention and improvements in human health.

Faculty, staff, and students contribute to the University, the public, and the health professions through direct involvement with governance and development issues; dissemination of research through continuing education, consultation and other activities; and professional organizations, program personnel, and policymakers.

Master’s Degrees

The Master of Public Health degree (M.P.H.) is designed for experienced health professionals who wish to extend their analytic and investigative abilities.

The Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) is designed for those who wish to acquire skills needed for conducting research in public health.

Epidemiology. The broad objective of the M.P.H. with a major in epidemiology is to prepare an individual to apply epidemiologic skills in a public health setting. The M.S.P.H. with a major in epidemiology focuses on the development of basic research skills for the study of correlates and determinants of disease and other health conditions. Students in both M.P.H. and M.S.P.H. programs:

  • develop an understanding of the integration of epidemiologic research methods into the principles and philosophy of public health
  • develop knowledge of the basic epidemiology of commonly studied diseases and other health conditions and health promoting behaviors
  • describe the natural history, biology/pathophysiology, risk factors, methods unique to the specific situation, and strategies for disease prevention and control for several diseases or health conditions or health promoting behaviors
  • apply descriptive and analytic epidemiologic methods to investigate and identify factors associated with various health conditions
  • understand statistical procedures commonly used in public health research and evaluation
  • develop expertise in computer applications and usage necessary for successfully managing or conducting epidemiologic studies
  • demonstrate ability to manage and summarize health-related data and statistics and to calculate and appropriately interpret associations and their relevance to public health
  • develop skills in presenting demographic, statistical, programmatic, and scientific data accurately and effectively for professional and lay audiences.

In addition, the M.P.H. student will develop an understanding of concepts, methods of implementation, and evaluation of health surveillance systems and demonstrate the ability to integrate epidemiologic concepts and analytic approaches to the study of a specific health problem by working with a mentor in a practice setting, preparing a written report, and giving an oral presentation to professionals who will be using the information generated. The M.S.P.H. student will demonstrate the ability to synthesize the current state of knowledge of a specific problem, critically evaluate findings, develop appropriate research questions to advance the field, and develop and implement a simple research protocol aimed at testing an epidemiologic hypothesis or estimating an effect of a risk factor on a health outcome and report results in a form suitable for dissemination to the scientific community. Both the M.P.H. and the M.S.P.H. require a minimum of 43 hours.

Biostatistics. The broad objective of the M.P.H. with a major in biostatistics is to provide opportunities for experienced professionals to expand their analytic and investigative skills in the application of biostatistical principles and techniques. The M.S.P.H. with a major in biostatistics provides the biostatistical concepts, principles, and skills necessary for scientific inquiry into health conditions and related methodologic developments. Students in both programs develop the capacity to:

  • demonstrate the ability to evaluate a given health-related problem and to identify the most appropriate statistical technique for analysis
  • display mastery of a variety of traditional and newly developed statistical techniques, including multivariable methods for continuous and categorical data analysis
  • demonstrate the ability to interpret the results of a statistical analysis and to communicate such interpretations in an easily comprehendible manner
  • demonstrate knowledge of academic and non-academic issues and problems in epidemiology and biostatistics
  • demonstrate the ability to structure available data in an easily useable form using a variety of data management software tools
  • demonstrate the ability to use a variety of statistical software packages, to create and maintain databases, and to analyze data

In addition, students in the M.P.H. program will demonstrate the ability to apply analytic epidemiologic methods used to investigate health conditions, gain exposure to a wide variety of public health topics, and develop a basic understanding of the philosophy of public health practice, display the ability to apply an existing statistical technique to a current problem or question faced by a health agency, and demonstrate the ability to interpret the results of a statistical analysis, and to explain those results in understandable terms to public health practitioners. Students in the M.S.P.H. program will demonstrate the ability to work independently in a research problem outside of the classroom setting, and demonstrate the ability to modify and extend existing statistical techniques to answer questions posed by health related situations, and to synthesize such research results into acceptable research papers. The M.P.H. requires a minimum of 54 credit hours.

Doctoral Degrees

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) The Doctor of Philosophy is an advanced graduate research degree designed for those who intend to pursue teaching and research careers. The major objective of the Ph.D. degree with a concentration in epidemiology is to prepare an individual to pursue original epidemiologic investigation of diseases of unknown etiology and other health conditions or health behaviors and develop novel methodological approaches. The major objective of the Ph.D. program with a concentration in biostatistics is to prepare an individual to develop and apply biostatistical principles and methods to public health problems.

Epidemiology. The Ph.D. Program in Epidemiology is designed to prepare scientists to teach and to pursue original, independent and collaborative investigation of health conditions of unknown etiology; this includes the development of novel epidemiologic approaches. Recipients of the degree will understand the epidemiology of common chronic and infectious diseases and possess a high level of knowledge in one disease or in a broad category of diseases; extend the body of epidemiologic knowledge regarding disease etiology and/or methodological approaches; and communicate epidemiologic findings and the use of epidemiologic methods through publications, consultations, and teaching. The program requires a minimum of 54 credit hours.

Biostatistics. The Ph.D. Program in Biostatistics is designed to train theoretical and methodological biostatisticians. Recipients of the degree will apply both basic and advanced statistical methods to problems of public health and human well-being; extend the use of biostatistical methods through consulting, research reports/publications, and teaching; communicate the use of biostatistical methods through consulting, research reports/publications, and teaching; possess knowledge of an area of application (minor field) beyond that provided by a single survey course. The program requires a minimum of 51 credit hours.

Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) in Biostatistics. The Doctor of Public Health degree in biostatistics is an advanced degree for experienced health professionals. It is designed to prepare practicing professionals in the application of research methods and to provide them with a broad knowledge base for solving public health problems. Students in this degree program will have an application area in which to apply biostatistical methods. The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours.

Dual Ph.D. Degree Program in Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences jointly offer a dual Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology. Epidemiology is a core discipline in public health and represents the methodologic basis for investigating the distribution and determinants of health outcomes. Environmental health sciences, another core discipline of public health, represents a major area of research and practice in measurement of environmental factors and their impact on health outcomes. The dual Ph.D. in epidemiology and environmental health equips the student to function more effectively at the intersection of these two related but distinct disciplines, with a deeper and broader understanding of the intricate relationships between human health and the environment. The dual Ph.D. requires course work in epidemiology and environmental health sciences selected by the student in consultation with a joint epidemiology/environmental health sciences advisory committee, and successful completion of dissertation research on a topic spanning both disciplines. Detailed program requirements are available upon request.

Program Requirements for Epidemiology Degree Programs

A graduate student handbook and a list of specific courses needed to meet these requirements are available in the department.

Program Requirements for Biostatistics Degree Programs

A graduate student handbook and a list of specific courses needed to meet these requirements are available in the department.

Programs and Courses

Programs

Courses

    BiostatisticsEpidemiology

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