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What Is An Epidemiology Degree? Your Complete Guide

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Epidemiology is a crucial area of medicine that looks at the spread, cause, distribution, and prevention of diseases. Epidemiologists get to be the detectives that investigate the causes and transmission of diseases — they do the research and come up with answers. There are several specializations and career paths in epidemiology, but all start with an epidemiology degree. Read on to find out all about the epidemiology degree.

 

 

What Is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is a discipline where trained professionals study patterns, frequency, and both causes and effects of disease in human populations. Epidemiology is vital in today’s modern public health system worldwide.

 

 

Scientist wearing gloves, holding a red petri dish
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What Is An Epidemiology Degree?

There are master’s degrees and PhD programs in epidemiology. Epidemiology degrees teach students to collect and analyze medical information, generate conclusions and recommendations, and create reports.

 

Generally, there are no bachelor’s degree programs in epidemiology — those who are interested in pursuing a career in epidemiology may start their higher education with a degree in public health, pre-med, or other health-related degrees. At University of the People, you can earn a degree in health science completely online and tuition-free!

 

 

Who Should Pursue A Degree In Epidemiology?

Anyone who is interested in making a difference in the field of medicine can pursue a degree in epidemiology. Master’s degree seekers should have a relevant undergraduate degree, and complete all necessary prerequisite exams.

 

 

How Long Does It Take To Earn The Degree?

Certificates in Epidemiology will usually take one to two years. A bachelor’s degree in a related field will generally take four years.

 

A Master’s degree in epidemiology will take around two years to complete.

 

For those seeking a Doctorate in epidemiology, expect this to take six to seven years, including the dissertation.

 

 

What Are The Prerequisites For An Epidemiology Degree?

Master’s degree seekers should have a relevant undergraduate degree in the health sciences and have taken the adequate entrance exams.

 

Doctorate degree seekers will likely need a master’s degree in epidemiology. For anyone looking to get an epidemiology degree, you should have experience in research and perhaps some hands-on experience in the medical field by volunteering, for example.

 

 

Why Work In Epidemiology?

You should work in epidemiology if you have a strong interest in helping others, creating interpersonal relationships, and using intelligence and data analysis skills for the greater good.

 

Epidemiologists do plenty of work in the lab or on the computer, but they also work in the field, speaking to the public and other health professionals. For this reason, epidemiologists usually have great analytical skills as well as personal skills.

 

 

Epidemiologists working together at desk with tablet
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What Can You Do With An Epidemiology Degree?

Most epidemiology degree graduates end up as epidemiologists, but there are many areas of specialization to choose from.

 

 

Choosing A Career

 

To get you started, ask yourself the following questions, and use your answers to reflect on what is the right path for you:

  • Do you want to work closely with community members, or do you prefer to stay behind the scenes?
  • Are you interested in working with animals?
  • Do you want to work out in the field?
  • Are you interested in helping others during a disaster?
  • Do you enjoy molecular biology?
  • Are you interested in being a leader?
  • Are you interested in research?

 

Epidemiologist studying epidemiology with microscope
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Areas Of Specialization In Epidemiology

There are many areas of specialization in epidemiology. These include:

  • Local Epidemiologist
  • Professor of Epidemiology
  • Veterinary Epidemiologist
  • Pharmaceutical Epidemiologist
  • Molecular Epidemiologist
  • Disaster Epidemiologist
  • Director of Epidemiology
  • Infection Control Epidemiologist
  • Applied Epidemiologist

All of these specializations will require unique courses, experience, and/or certifications to pursue. For example, veterinary epidemiologists will need more courses in veterinary medicine, and applied epidemiologists will need plenty of research experience.

 

 

All About The Epidemiology Degree

From certificate to PhD, here’s what you need to know about the epidemiology degree:

 

 

1. Certificates In Epidemiology

 

In many cases, certificates in epidemiology may be related to specific specializations in epidemiology and are meant for those who already have degrees and/or who are already working in the field but are looking to continue their studies or narrow their focus.

 

 

2. Bachelor’s In Epidemiology

 

There are no bachelor’s degrees in epidemiology, but there are many undergraduate degree programs which may be well suited to work in the field of epidemiology post graduation. These undergraduate degrees include biostatistics, nursing and health sciences. Graduates with these degrees may begin work as epidemiology assistants before furthering their education.

 

 

3. Master’s Degree In Epidemiology

 

To work as an epidemiologist, you must have a master’s degree in epidemiology. There are two common degree options to complete this requirement. Some schools may offer a M.S. (master of science) in epidemiology, and some schools may offer an MPH (master of public health) with a specialization in epidemiology. Both are excellent options and prepare you well for a successful career in epidemiology.

 

 

4. Getting Your PhD In Epidemiology

 

If you would like to work in high-level research, or in academia, you should likely pursue a doctorate degree in epidemiology. At this level, you will focus on a very specific field and conduct your own research as part of the degree.

 

 

University of the People student with PPE equipment and test tubes
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

 

 

Best Epidemiology Programs

The best epidemiology programs should include coursework in several disciplines such as biostatistics, nursing, and research methodology. Students should also be encouraged to take courses that will help them do well in a variety of careers. Such courses may include medical geography, society and health, molecular biology, and more.

 

If you are looking for a flexible bachelor’s degree program that will get you on the right track to becoming an epidemiologist, check out UoPeople’s health sciences degrees. They are fully online, accredited, and tuition-free!