Online Epidemiology Graduate Programs
An online Epidemiology Degree may help busy professionals gain new epidemiological tools to use in research and health policy with the ease of an online program.
Epidemiology is a top discipline that underlies medical research, public health practice and health care evaluation. Some online epidemiology programs discuss the role of disease within the broader context of public health and medicine. Other programs may examine the science behind infectious diseases, chronic illness and global health.
written by Rana Waxman
What Is an Online Epidemiology Degree?
Epidemiology Degree online programs are courses of study that may lead to a graduate certificate, masters, or doctorate degree in epidemiology or public health. Epidemiology focuses on the scientific study of disease, disability, and trauma patterns within and across populations. It addresses the development of best health management methods to prevent and control disease outbreaks and injurious behaviors.
Online Epidemiology Courses
Two of the common courses in epidemiology are biostatistics and epidemiological methods. Biostatistics topics cover variance, expectation, hazard ratios, correlation and probability as they might relate to medical applications.
Epidemiologic methods often pertain to case-control studies, data sources and the specifics of how to design and conduct clinical trials. Other possible topics that students might come across could include some of the ones listed out below.
- Molecular Biology
- Disease and Contributors to Injury
- Genetic Disease and Disability Factors
- Behavioral Studies
- Health Services Research
- Environmental Disease and Injury Factors
- Population Studies
Structure and Format of Online Epidemiology Programs
There is no ‘one’ format for online epidemiology programs, although they tend to provide flexibility for on-the-go adults. An online epidemiology degree may make use of the Internet, streaming media, web-based tutorials, and other digital learning resources.
In some programs, university professors are streamed live and students “attend” via their computer. These lectures may then be recorded for easy access at times that suit each learner. Other types of courses may be modular and self-paced. Materials such as workbooks, readers, textbooks and computer software may be used for this type of study. It really depends on the school.
Submit Assignments Online: Assignments are generally research-based and submitted via email, Blackboard, or a similar method online.
Stay Engaged With Others: Students might engage with peers and faculty through e-mail, web conferences, discussion forums, and virtual chat features. Online students are often assigned to a faculty advisor who may meet with them by phone, Skype, e-mail or other method at intervals set by each university.
Practicum and Fieldwork: Some online epidemiology programs include residency and/or practicum requirements. Online students are sometimes given the option to elect a field experience in their local area.
Residencies: Some PhD in Epidemiology programs may begin with an on-campus orientation. Other onsite requirements may be spread out over the course of the entire program. These academic residencies often help with socialization, team building, and research skill development.
FACT: Some epidemiologists have both a degree in epidemiology and a medical degree. i
Which Online Epidemiology Degree Is Right For Me?
Below are a few possible online epidemiology degree programs for your consideration. Some are research based while others may focus more on practical applications, To choose one, you should keep in mind personal preferences and professional goals. Then, carefully read through program descriptions to see whether the courses mirror your interests.
Each university may offer unique areas of emphases as part of their online epidemiology degree. These concentrations may be a great way to scope out whether the school is a fit for you. Some of the ones you might come across could include Clinical Epidemiology, Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology, Pharmaco-epidemiology, Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Nutritional Epidemiology, Clinical Toxicology, Community Health and Biostatistics.
Online Masters in Epidemiology Degrees
There are two common degrees for students who want to earn their masters in epidemiology online.
These are the online Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology and the Master of Public Health (MPH) with a focus on epidemiology. In general, coursework in these programs often includes core topics in public health, biostatistics and research methods. However, each degree is distinct. To that end, each school and program may have different admissions requirements, even though the bachelors degree is seen as a minimum requisite.
Some Masters in Epidemiology online programs may require about two years of full-time study to complete. Both programs may prepare students for a PhD at a later stage.
Online MPH Programs
An online MPH with a focus on epidemiology is a professional degree. It is often intended for those who wish to obtain a broad grasp of public health, with an emphasis on epidemiological principles and methods. Students in online MPH programs typically take core public health courses. Some of these may cover biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and the behavioral disciplines. Others may help students prepare for leadership through courses in communication, professionalism and informatics. In terms of the epidemiology concentration, students may learn how to design studies, collect data, analyze data, and publicize results.
The Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology is a research degree. It is often pursued by those who hold another graduate or professional degree in a related discipline such as a MD, DDS, DO, MSN, or PhD. The MS program is typically designed to provide learners with a mastery of major concepts and techniques in epidemiology, as well as a solid foundation in biostatistics. Students may gain the skills and knowledge to develop testable theories and design research projects that range from clinical trials to broad demographic studies. While the skills gained through the MS program may match those in an MPH program, there are a few differences. For one, MS students typically focus on research methodology specific to the discipline of epidemiology. Also, instead of the practicum required in an MPH degree, MS students usually complete a masters thesis.
Online Doctorate in Epidemiology Degrees
For those who want to pursue a terminal degree in epidemiology, there are two common paths to choose from. One is the PhD in Epidemiology, the other is the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) with a focus on epidemiology. While this may not be the case for all universities, many schools consider applicants with experience and a masters degree such as the MPH or MS.
A doctoral degree in epidemiology may be relevant for those who want to pursue a career in academia or research. Based on these two goals many programs offer courses in advanced epidemiological research methods and pedagogy. Also, students may learn how to write scientific papers and applications for grants.
Some epidemiology doctoral programs may take around two years of full time study to complete the coursework. This is usually followed by an additional two to three years of research to complete the final thesis or dissertation. What's more, students may be expected to pass a written exam, an oral exam, and a preliminary exam, and give presentations.
Online PhD in Epidemiology
An online PhD in epidemiology is a research degree where students may contribute original theory to the field through a dissertation project. This type of doctorate degree could provide a firm grasp of how various diseases affect populations and global health in general. Some courses might address public health leadership, systems thinking and marketing and public relations practices. Other courses are likely to cover advanced analysis, biostatistics and issues in disease prevention. Students may also learn how to apply economic theory to health policy issues.
Online PhD in Population Biology
An online graduate program in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution may provide an alternative PhD program to those interested in a terminal research degree in epidemiology. This type of program may prepare students to research or teach these subjects in professional and graduate schools.
Some of the courses in a PBEE online program are likely to cover evolutionary biology, ecology and biostatistical methods. Students might also choose electives to tailor their studies to interests and needs. Systems neuroscience, genetics, virology and psychobiology are some possibilities. There are several other disciplines in which students may want to take additional courses. Pediatric and perinatal epidemiology, clinical trials methodology, toxicology and occupational hazards are some examples.
Online Doctor of Public Health
An online Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) is a professional degree that highlights leadership and applied research. Often, this type of degree fosters expertise in the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-informed public health practice. Like the MPH, an online DrPH degree typically entails core topics. These could include community engagement, communication, leadership and the design of public health strategies. For the focus on epidemiology, students may develop advanced professional skills and a grasp of how to identify the causes of health and illness in human populations. They might also study how to apply this knowledge to disease prevention and control.
Online Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology
Online Epidemiology Graduate Certificate programs may allow a student to pursue a single area of study (e.g. biostatistics) without enrollment in a degree program. Certificates may range from 12 to 18 credits, although this could depend on the one selected. As a result, a full-time student might be able to complete their certificate in about one academic year.
Often open to students who have completed a bachelors degree, Graduate Certificate Programs are designed to meet continuing professional education needs. Sometimes, the credits taken may apply, if appropriate, to a masters or PhD degree in Public Health or a related area, should the student later decide to seek a degree.
Why Consider an Online Epidemiology Degree?
Epidemiologists typically need a masters degree from an accredited university to pursue an entry level career.i While a masters degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology is most common, epidemiologists might earn degrees in a wide range of related fields and areas of emphases.
Epidemiologists who direct research projects or teach at the postsecondary level in colleges and universities must have a PhD or medical degree in their chosen field.i
Find Accredited Online Epidemiology Graduate Programs
Accreditation might be a key testimonial for an university. This is because it often assures you and the public that the school meets or exceeds standards for the quality of faculty, curriculum, student services, and financial stability.
Many online epidemiology programs are offered at regionally accredited school, which you can check for on the regional agency website. Further more, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is recognized by the United States Department of Education as an accreditor of schools that offer public health programs.
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