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MPH Concentration: Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the core science of public health. It is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related outcomes in specified populations, with application to the control of health problems. Epidemiologists use a variety of tools, from epidemiologic study designs and frameworks to statistics and geographic information systems, to describe patterns of disease and other health outcomes, investigate outbreaks, and determine disease etiology among diverse populations.

The epidemiology program is new for Fall 2020. The strengths of this program include faculty with a breadth of experience and training (including industry, academia, and practice), with research interests ranging from maternal and child health to environmental health; the flexibility to take electives across campus to gain focused experience in a related area (e.g., geography, biology, food science, statistics); and opportunities for involvement with the Knox County Health Department through the UT-Knox County Academic Health Department.

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Where is the Application?

While we are actively accepting applications for EPI, the concentration does not yet appear on the university’s official application form.  We hope to have this situation resolved soon.  In the meantime, we ask that you please contact the department for assistance when applying to the new concentration.


Consider a career in epidemiology if you view yourself as having a strong understanding of statistical concepts and biological or medical processes, and strong communication skills and good attention to detail; and enjoy critical thinking and investigating problems. Students come to epidemiology careers from a variety of undergraduate programs and experiences, including pre-medical training and other clinical programs, psychology, biology, statistics, and many others. The epidemiologist is trained to design and conduct population health studies, perform data analyses with statistical software, and apply research findings to improve the health of diverse populations. Having an MPH in epidemiology will prepare students for a variety of public health careers, including in a federal, state, or local health agency; a research associate in industry, research or health system settings; among many others.


Students studying at the libraryAn epidemiology student develops the following competencies:

  • Selects appropriate study design(s) to investigate a public health concern given the strengths, limitations, and feasibility of the design(s).
  • Assesses, synthesizes, and critically evaluates epidemiologic scientific literature.
  • Communicates epidemiologic evidence to lay and scientific audiences.
  • Demonstrates proficiency in basic and intermediate epidemiologic methods and principles.
  • Conducts a reproducible data analysis project.

Placement of epidemiology students in epidemiology internships (also called the Applied Practice Experience) with an affiliated health organization for an equivalent of nine weeks is an essential component of the MPH degree program. The Applied Practice Experience (APE) site is selected by each individual epidemiology student in consultation with the APE coordinator and major professor. The intern typically functions as a staff assistant with a practicing epidemiologist or data analyst serving as mentor. Although rotating through several units of an organization provides opportunity for gaining orientation and general experience, the intern is assigned one or more specific projects for in-depth problem-solving. The APE is guided by a set of learning objectives related to public health competencies. Learning objectives are mutually developed by student and supervising preceptor during the first week of the internship

Become Certified in Public Health (CPH)

Students completing UT’s MPH degree with a concentration in epidemiology are well-prepared to take the CPH exam. Some of the most interesting jobs in public health are filled by individuals who are Certified in Public Health (CPH). A person with CPH is credentialed by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) after demonstrating competency in the five core areas of public health.