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Population Health


Administrative Unit:Population Health Sciences
College/School: School of Medicine and Public Health
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor
Named Options: Epidemiology (M.S./Ph.D.)
Specializations: Epidemiology, Health Services Research, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, and Clinical Research.

Faculty: Professors Nieto (chair), Cruickshanks, Durkin, Kanarek, Mullahy, Oliver, Palta, Patz, Remington, M. Smith, Wolfe, Young; Associate Professors Astor, Bautista, Engelman, Gangnon, Jacobs, Martinez-Donate, Olson, Peppard, Sethi, Si, Timberlake, Trentham-Dietz, Vanness; Assistant Professors M. Burns, DuGoff, Malecki, Pillai; CHS Professor Brokopp 

Overview

The Department of Population Health Sciences, part of the School of Medicine and Public Health, strives to provide leadership in the emerging, integrative field of population health. Its mission is to create, integrate, disseminate, and apply knowledge promoting the most efficient, equitable, and effective possible use of resources to maintain and improve the health of populations.

The department offers two graduate degree programs: an M.S. and a Ph.D. in population health and an M.S. and Ph.D. in epidemiology. Concentrations are available in epidemiology, health services research, social and behavioral health sciences, and clinical research.

The research-oriented degree programs are designed to provide rigorous, interdisciplinary training to develop students' abilities to synthesize knowledge and skills needed to address today's health-related problems. Methodological and analytical training is grounded in biostatistics, epidemiology, and health services research, but also emphasizes methods employed in the social sciences and econometrics that contribute to the study of health in populations. While the program is based on a sequence of core courses, students, in consultation with their major professor, have the flexibility to design advanced study and research that best prepares them for their chosen area of interest. 

Individuals choose this program because of its innovative approach, strong research focus, and personal attention to students. It is an ideal option for those considering a broad array of fields including epidemiology, public health, health policy, health economics, health services research, environmental health, industrial engineering, demography, and more. UW–Madison ranks as one of the most prolific research universities in the world, consistently placing in the top five among American public universities for research expenditures. The program's interdisciplinary focus allows students the flexibility to work with a wide array of research/faculty on campus. For instance, program faculty include members from a number of other departments such as business, family medicine, industrial engineering, law, medical history and bioethics, medicine, nursing, ophthalmology, public affairs, sociology, and veterinary medicine. The multidisciplinary faculty coupled with the diverse backgrounds of the students provides a rich and stimulating training environment. 

Faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Population Health Sciences engage in a wide variety of epidemiological and health services world-class research projects to understand determinants of health and health problems in populations, to analyze public and clinical health policies, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare. Research topics may include (but are not limited to) chronic, infectious, and environmental disease epidemiology; public health; studies of medical outcomes; health economics; the determinants and measurement of population health status; and health administration and policy. These multidisciplinary research programs may include (but are not limited to) the study the effects and interactions of genetic traits; biologic and metabolic processes; pathogens; pollutants; lifestyles; behaviors; economic social and physical environments; and public health and health care systems on the health of populations. Methods employed involve developing and maintaining long term cohort studies, disease registries, population surveys, and retrospective analyses of large observational databases. Researchers in the department also work to advance methodology in health economics, population health evaluation, and statistical analyses. 

For more information, see the graduate program Academic Guide.

Admission

Applications are welcome from students with diverse academic backgrounds. Students with strong academic preparation in the biological/medical sciences, quantitative analysis, and/or population health related social sciences are strongly encouraged to apply. Historically, many applicants who have succeeded in our program have come to the program with backgrounds in fields as diverse as microbiology, genetics, nutritional sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, environmental sciences, political sciences, business, sociology, education, engineering, psychology, and economics.

Minimum requirements are:

  1. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), although successful applicants generally have GPAs above 3.0.
  2. GRE are required for admission. The scores must be no more than five years old at the time of application. For applicants who have completed a doctoral degree, GRE scores are preferred but the program will accept scores for the entrance exam required for the doctoral degree (e.g., MCAT, LSAT). Students should contact the graduate program coordinator to find out if their scores are competitive.
  3. Applicants whose native language or language of study is not English must submit official TOEFL scores. Scores must be no more than five years old at the start of the semester for which an applicant is applying. Further details are available on the Graduate School website. Note that the minimum test scores for the program are higher than those required by the Graduate School. For the Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, a minimum score of 580 (written), 237 (computer-based), or 92 (Internet-based) or above is absolutely required.
  4. At least one semester of advanced quantitative preparation (calculus is strongly preferred) with a grade of B or better.
  5. A personal statement and three letter of recommendation are required.
  6. Applicants must meet both the above departmental admission requirements and the Graduate School admission requirements.

Upon entry to the graduate programs, students are matched with a faculty advisor. Faculty advisors helps students hone their interests, assists with identifying research projects, provide support for career development, and link students to the greater campus community. Students have the benefit of regular dialogues with faculty members. Seminars and integrated discussion groups allow for increased interaction with core faculty and community lecturers. Finally, the work of students is valued as evidenced by their entries in the annual department poster session, participation in public health symposia, authorship of publications, and involvement in community/research projects.

Financial Aid

Students admitted to our degree programs are automatically considered for any available scholarships, traineeships, or graduate assistant positions in the department. The most common forms of funding support for our students are assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships.

For more information: Population Health Graduate Program, 740 WARF Building, 610 North Walnut Street, Madison, WI 53726; 608-263-1626; fax 608-263-2820; pophealth@mailplus.wisc.edu; www.pophealth.wisc.edu.