This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

The Ph.D. program in the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, at the School of Medicine is highly individualized, with students working closely with faculty mentors to develop and execute research. The mission of the program in epidemiology is to train students to become independent research scientists and leaders who can develop epidemiological methods and conduct outstanding population-based research. 

Required course work represents only one component of study toward the degree. Each student is closely matched to a faculty adviser with shared research interests. Training with the primary adviser is tailored to meet the advisee’s particular interests. The primary emphasis of the training is to provide the student with multiple opportunities to develop research skills and the capacity to apply epidemiological methods as an independent research scientist and leader in the field. Through its tailored training approach, the program recognizes that career goals for many M.D.-Ph.D. physician-scientists are distinct from those of most Ph.D. trainees.  

Program goals

Students in the M.D.-Ph.D. program in epidemiology will acquire the foundational skills to allow them, after further clinical specialty and postdoctoral research training, to become independent physician-scientists. Program graduates ultimately pursue careers in academic medicine, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, research institutes and government agencies as clinicians, scientists, educators and administrators. The goals of the M.D.-Ph.D. program in epidemiology are to provide students with the following skills.

  • Critical foundation skills: The program is designed to provide students with the critical skills required to advance to positions as epidemiological physician-scientists in a broad spectrum of positions.

  • Mastery and application of science: The structure of the program provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the current state of the subject matter of epidemiology and ability to synthesize this information and apply this foundation to the identification of key areas of investigation/experimentation in population medicine.

  • Communication skills: Students will develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of epidemiological knowledge and the expression of epidemiological methodology, population medicine, research design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential clinical and non-clinical audiences.

Among the many benefits offered by participation in the dual-degree program are the following:

  • Students will have the foundation and training in epidemiology and in medicine to conduct basic and translational research to advance both the underlying science and patient health. Training received in this program will enable students to take bedside observations to research initiatives and to translate results of population-based, epidemiological research to patient populations and the broader community, as appropriate. 

  • Students have the opportunity to participate in clinical research during the M4 year.

  • Students with M.D.-Ph.D. training are highly competitive for positions in leading physician-scientist clinical training programs as well as faculty positions in academic medical centers, and are well-positioned to ultimately take on leadership roles in academic medicine, industry and government. 

  • Tuition, fees and a stipend are provided throughout both the medical and graduate phases of training.

The diplomas for this dual degree program are awarded simultaneously upon completion of the requirements for both degrees.

Student learning outcomes

The student learning outcomes described in the epidemiology Ph.D. program page also apply to M.D.-Ph.D. students.