Typical Masters Curricula

Job Opportunities

Recent Dissertation Topics

Degree Programs

M.P.H. Program

The master’s degree in public health is offered through two intensive programs:

The one-year program prepares M.P.H. professionals (physicians, dentists, veterinarians, postdocs) for teaching and research careers in schools of public health and medical and health sciences. The one year MPH curriculum in epidemiology is an intensive, full-time course of study extending over eleven months (July to May) and requiring enrollment during the summer, fall, and spring. In addition to completing required schoolwide breath courses in public health, students are required to complete advanced coursework in epidemiologic and biostatistical methods, electives in epidemiology, and a comprehensive oral examination.

The two-year program in epidemiology and biostatistics designed for students who have relatively little specific background in the health field but a strong desire for training. Many of the graduates go on to the Ph.D. program at Berkeley and other universities. Others take positions in government agencies such as the California State Health Department and the Birth Defects Monitoring Program. Students enrolled in this curriculum track take about one-third of their course work in biostatistics and one-third in epidemiology, leaving about one-third for breadth requirements and electives. A comprehensive oral exam and Masters Paper is required.

M.S. Program

Applicants for the M.S. program should have as a minimum a bachelor’s degree and a strong background in biological, social, or mathematical science that will provide a basis for the application of epidemiological methods and principles to the study of diseases. The M.S. program differs from the M.P.H. program in that students emphasize depth of course work in one or more basic science areas complementary to epidemiologic research and are not required to take the breadth courses in public health. Because M.S. applicants compete with Ph.D. applicants for a very limited quota in the academic track, it is sometimes advisable for postbaccalaureate students who are interested in pursuing doctoral studies to apply for the two-year M.P.H. program in epidemiology/biostatistics. The M.S. program usually takes two years and requires at least 24 credits in courses in epidemiology and biostatistics, and a minimum of three months of epidemiological research. A comprehensive oral exam and Masters Paper is required.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program is administered by the Group in Epidemiology, which is appointed by the Graduate Division and includes faculty members from a number of other disciplines and departments at Berkeley, as well as faculty from the UC San Francisco campus. In addition to the courses required for the master’s degree, Ph.D. students identify a third area of scientific knowledge in which they will develop competence. Normally, a minimum of one additional year of study is required following receipt of the master’s degree before taking the qualifying examination and being advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. After advancement to candidacy, students must conceive, conduct, and complete an original research project culminating in a dissertation. The normative time in the Ph.D. program is four years.

In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must submit a prospectus and pass a three-hour oral qualifying examination which is conducted by a four-member faculty committee. The four-member committee must be approved by the Graduate Division. After being admitted to candidacy, a three-member Dissertation Committee (approved by the Graduate Division) monitors the progress of the student. The Dissertation Committee is responsible for guiding and supervising the student’s research and for assuring that the thesis meets the highest standards of excellence.


Students in the epidemiology and epidemiology/biostatistics programs, whether at the masters or doctoral level, have available within the School of Public Health and on the rest of the Berkeley campus a wide range of courses from which to choose. While generally devoting a substantial portion of course hours to topics in epidemiology and biostatistics, students have ample opportunity and are strongly encouraged to take additional courses in areas of interest to them and/or courses needed for their research. All students are assigned a faculty advisor who is responsible for helping the student plan the curriculum best suited to his or her interests and plans for the future. Many classes will require the use of specialized software and most will rely on the use of email and Internet access. SPH Instructional Facilities (classroom and drop-in labs) are equipped exclusively with PCs running Windows and, therefore, in-class presentations are usually performed in the PC/Windows environment. Please visit the SPH Instructional Computing Web site for a complete description of the facilities and services that are available to students:


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