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What colleges/universities/degrees should I be looking at to become an epidemiologist?

My name is Megan, I am in 11th grade, and I would to like to become an epidemiologist. I would like to go to a college where they have an epidemiology program, or where epidemiologists have come from. Name as many as you know of because I would like to see a wide range of options. Keep in mind, I am a straight A honors student so I would prefer a more selective college/university.

Also, what degrees should I be looking for in a college to become an epidemiologist? And, I am looking to become more of an investigative epidemiologist if that makes a difference.
#professor #public-health #epidemiology #disease-prevention #epidemiologist #field-investigations

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Jennifer’s Answer

Best of the Village

Definitely take a look at schools of public health, since that's where you're going to find an advanced professional degree (masters or higher) that'll have a concentration in epidemiology.


I went to Boston University for undergrad & grad school, & they have since developed a program with a minor in public health. When I was there, I was able to start taking graduate courses while an undergrad and because of advanced standing, was able to use those for credit towards my MPH in biostats (the concentration had been epi/biostats, but had split right before I officially matriculated). Cost-wise, that was definitely helpful, so potentially seeking out & attending a university with an accredited graduate school of public health might be helpful for you when selecting your undergrad university. From what I hear, Yale also has a great program and a number of combined degrees. There's been a push over the last few years for testing post-graduation (CEPH), so that's something you might want to consider & keep in mind. MA has an internship program through their Department of Public Health that's specifically epi-focused, so that might be worth checking into with your home state. I agree about the work experience. CDC offers a number of interesting positions, but the ones that are specifically epi-focused, they're usually looking for MD/PhD or other doctoral-level education experience.


Depending on where you're located, you could also look into joining/attending APHA (American Public Health Association) which offers discounted rates to students. Evey fall they hold a conference, and the last day of the week-long conference (usually a Wednesday), students are allowed to attend their CareerMart for free, and there are a number of agencies and goverental organizations present whose mailing lists you can join and who are trying to fill positions.


Because you're interested in epi, mapping & syndrome can surveillance will likely be a part of your position. ESRI ArcGIS, or some form of it, is often the standard, and you can sign up on their website for a number of free periodical mailings on how mapping's being used in a number of industries. ESRI puts on a health conference annually in Redlands, CA and they do look for student volunteers. If you have the time & funds, might be a great option to meet others specifically working in your field of interest.

Thank you comment icon Thanks so much! This is extremely helpful information Megan
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Alison’s Answer

To answer this question I am going to start with things you can do now to help you get into the programs you want. Many colleges and universities now look for not only the high gpa you stated but also extracurricular programs with an emphasis on your ability to balance your work with social skills. As an epidemiologist you will need several skills which you can start learning now and use to gain admission to these schools. Speech and debate are wonderful because you are learning to present ideas in leadership and presentations. Instead of that extra elective, see if you can get permission to do a senior reseach project where you will be able to demonstrate your critical thinking skills, develop your qualitative and quantitative deductive skills, and perhaps even use this combined with speech or in a science fair to show comfort in your knowledge and ability to present ideas without the use of study tools. If it is a science fair consider if you could afford to have help from an adult or teacher with creation and printing of a professional poster instead of one you make. *Always make sure you cite your source properly and use the correct formatting for what the information you are sharing falls under. If you can get it printed in the school paper as an academic paper that's great but you may want to see if you can't get it to a scientific publisher. Being published before graduating in your field can be really helpful.


That all being said my preference would be Stanford, Brown, University of Michigan, University of Colorado, and University of Kansas. Stanford and Brown are very well known and highly valued in nearly every field. They will also be the most expensive and you will want scholarships, grants, and hopefully you have really incredible availability for student loans. Michigan is an amazing school with a high reputation for the field. University of Colorado (Denver) is part of currently running research where you would get more of that hands-on type learning you express interest in. Our last one has a lot of appeal. University of Kansas has a really low cost of living area (especially off campus) and has mentors you may be really interested in looking up. You will notice there are some very high standards for admission which become higher as you move up.


Some places give preference to "home grown" or those who completed previous degrees and others avoid doing that. Make sure you know what your option for undergraduate and graduate programs are and if a preference is stated.


Finally, as the above are my opinions and suggestions without giving you the advantage of another person (as of yet) to agree or disagree. I got you this website link for you taking you to some of the student research/paid work options from the CDC you may wish to look over requirements for.

Thank you comment icon http://www.cdc.gov/features/studentopportunities/ Alison Thomason
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful and I will certainly take all your suggestions into consideration. Megan
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