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The doctoral program is a full-time program. Students are matched to mentors on acceptance into the program and are fully immersed into the research labs on the first day of the program. While most students matriculate September 1, some students requiring intense primers in biostatistics, epidemiology, and statistical computing may be asked to matriculate on July 1. The average time to degree completion is 4 years.
The competency-based curriculum was designed to allow for opportunities within classes, research assistantships, seminars, journal club, and other activities to develop competency in key areas including: 1) Theory and Context; 2) Study Design; 3) Analysis, Interpretation and Presentation of Data; 4) Ethics; 5) Information and Data Acquisition and Management; 6) Measurement; and 7) Communication and Professionalism.
All students are expected to attend twice monthly methods seminars, monthly journal clubs, and monthly research in progress meetings. All students are expected to devote 20 hours weekly to research assistantships and to serve as a Teaching Assistant for a minimum of one term.
Comprehensive Project: The summer of the first year, doctoral students complete an independent project using existing data. The project allows the student to demonstrate competence in organizing, pacing, and producing an independent research project within a set time frame. Students demonstrate their ability to define a study question and provide justification and rationale for their work. Further, students demonstrate their ability to develop and implement an appropriate analysis plan, interpret findings, and discuss the findings in light of the existing literature. Students select appropriate target journals for their work and prepare a manuscript according to the instructions for authors. The manuscript undergoes internal peer review and students will revise and resubmit their manuscript draft. Each student gives a professional oral presentation and defends their work.
Written qualifying exams: Students successfully complete a written qualifying exam no sooner than January of their 2nd year or later than May of their 2nd year. Each student will be required to demonstrate methodological competence in epidemiological, biostatistics, and substantive area expertise. The exam is conducted over a 1-2 day period with dates provided at the beginning of the academic year.
Oral exam – dissertation proposal: The oral qualifying examination will be conducted in conjunction with thesis proposal presentation. The thesis proposal may take the form of an NIH F30, F31, or R36 mechanism. Alternatively, the thesis proposal may take the form of three interrelated paper proposals. The defense of the proposal typically during the summer between year 2 or the beginning of Year 3. The purpose of the oral exam is to provide a forum for hearing the justification and design of the proposed doctoral research. Students should schedule 2 hours for this milestone.
Dissertation defense: The public oral defense of the dissertation allows the opportunity for students to clearly explain their work and how it the work adds to the literature. Students should schedule 2 hours for this milestone.