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What is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of diseases in populations, their causes, and the ways in which they can be prevented and controlled. Epidemiologists are interested not only in the biological origins of disease, but in the impact of social, economic and environmental conditions that may contribute to ill-health. To develop clues to what may cause disease, they examine variations in rates of diseases over time, by geographic area, and in different groups of people. They investigate localized outbreaks of diseases of known cause to understand where the public health infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Epidemiologists also frequently study the effects of clinical protocols and medical care systems to see what works best. Prevention programs, health education efforts and public health policy are all important applications of epidemiologic research.

What careers are available in Epidemiology?

Epidemiologists work in hospitals, for county and state health departments, for government agencies, in universities, and for pharmaceutical companies. Hospital epidemiologists study nosocomial (hospital-acquired) diseases, conduct drug trials, research treatment outcomes, or may be involved in hospital planning. Epidemiologists employed with county or state health departments investigate disease outbreaks, or conduct studies of disorders of importance to the geographical entity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes for Health (NIH) and other federal agencies employ epidemiologists to conduct epidemiologic studies, perform risk factor analyses, track the prevalent incidence of disease, and formulate public health policy. Epidemiologists employed with pharmaceutical companies are involved in drug trials, post marketing surveillance and pharmaceutical needs assessment.  Click here to read about Epidemiology Alumni careers.

What is Biostatistics?

Biostatistics is the science of statistics applied to the analysis of biological or medical data (The American Heritage Medical Dictionary). It is primarily concerned with the proper generation and interpretation of scientific data in the biology, public health and epidemiology, genetics and other health sciences. It is “the discipline concerned with how we ought to make decisions when analyzing biomedical data, [and] formulating explicit rules to compensate both for the fallibility of human intuition in general and for biases in study design in particular.” (Berger and Matthews, 2006) .

What careers are available in Biostatistics?

Biostatistians play essential roles in designing studies and analyzing data in any interdisciplinary research involving biomedical data. They help formulate the scientific questions to be answered, determine the appropriate sampling techniques, coordinate data collection procedures, and carry out statistical analyses to answer those scientific questions. Biostatisticians with advanced degrees can look forward to excellent career opportunities in government, industry, and academia. The shortage of biostatisticians is noted in Objectives for the Nation and the Seventh Report to the President and Congress on the Status of Health Personnel in the United States (amstat.org/careers/biostatistics.cfm). For an excellent article on how to prepare for a career in Biostatistics, see http://stattrak.amstat.org/2011/08/01/biostaticscareer/  Click here to read about Biostatistics Alumni careers.

Are applicants required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or the MCAT (Medical School Admission Test)?

YES, the GRE or the MCAT are required for all applicants. When completing the forms the Institution Code is 1465 and the Department Code is 0606

Does MSU offer a PhD in Epidemiology or Biostatistics?

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics does offer a PhD degree in Epidemiology and a PhD degree in Biostatistics. For more information, visit the Epidemiology or Biostatistics Academic Programs page.

What undergraduate majors and courses are preferred for acceptance to the MS in Epidemiology?

Any undergraduate major is satisfactory. However, applicants are expected to have taken one year of college level coursework in mathematics and biology. For additional information please contact the Graduate Program Director.

What undergraduate majors and courses are preferred for acceptance to the MS in Biostatistics?

Many undergraduate majors are satisfactory. However, applicants are expected to have taken one year of college level coursework in mathematics and other natural sciences (e.g. chemistry). For additional information please contact the Graduate Program Director.

Can courses taken under the auspices of lifelong education be applied towards the MS program?

Only 9 lifelong education credits can be applied to a graduate degree at MSU.

What is required for the Certificate in Epidemiology?

The Certificate in Epidemiology requires several courses in epidemiology and biostatistics. For more information, visit the Academic Programs page.

Can courses taken for the Certificate Program be applied toward the MS in Epidemiology?

Students in the certificate program can apply to the MS in Epidemiology.  If accepted, up to 9 credits can be transferred toward the MS in Epidemiology.

For additional information on admission to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, please contact:

Jennifer Desloover
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Graduate Office
Michigan State University
909 Fee Road  Room B601
East Lansing, MI 48824
Telephone: 517.432.3921
Fax: 517.432.1130
email: epigrad@epi.msu.edu