Epidemiology masters programs prepare students to investigate and describe the causes and spread of disease, and develop the means for prevention or control. Most applied epidemiologists are required to have a master's degree from a school of public health. Some research epidemiologists may need a Ph.D. or medical degree, depending on the work they perform.
Epidemiology is largely based on methodology, which makes quantitative aptitude a must for success. Students should be meticulous, logical, culturally sensitive and able to work independently. Epidemiology graduate schools mostly base their programs on English, science and mathematics classes.
In order to apply for admission to epidemiology programs, students must request admission by special arrangement. Some schools offer this degree through their School of Public Health (MPH). Ph.D. epidemiology programs often require a minimum of a master’s in a related field. Life experience also factors into admissions criteria.
Epidemiology masters students can choose to specialize in areas such as: cardiovascular disease, cancer, clinical approaches, infectious disease, neurological issues and genetic problems. Most schools share the same basic educational curriculum:
Graduates can pursue jobs in a variety of top industries. Applied epidemiologists, who usually work for State health agencies, respond to disease outbreaks, determining their causes and helping to contain them. Research epidemiologists study diseases in laboratories and in the field to determine how to best and most effectively prevent future outbreaks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wages for epidemiologists were $65,270 in 2012. The factors that may affect an epidemiologist’s salary include certification, years of experience, type of employer and location. The BLS predicts a 10 percent increase in jobs in this profession between 2012 and 2022. A heightened awareness of bioterrorism and rare but infectious diseases, such as West Nile Virus or Avian flu, is expected to drive job growth.