The PhD program in Population Health Sciences prepares students to be leading researchers in population health sciences: an emerging interdisciplinary scientific field that aims to improve population health by addressing the multiple determinants of health and health disparities across populations and seeks to improve healthcare delivery.
Our students are trained to investigate the social, behavioral, and biological determinants of health through measurement, design and evaluation of research studies that address the critical issues in health outcomes and delivery of healthcare services among the underserved. Students receive didactic interdisciplinary training in biostatistics, data science, epidemiology, health informatics, and health policy and economics, as well as principles of population health sciences. Students also receive hands-on training in state-of-the-art data science methodologies such as machine learning that prepare students with cutting-edge tools to solve complex population health challenges.
Featuring a partnership between Weill Cornell’s Department of Population Health Sciences and the Population Science Research Program of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), our students have the opportunity to work with nationally renowned and federally funded faculty in multiple areas including health informatics, epidemiology, outcomes research, biostatistics & data science, health policy & economics, and behavioral sciences.
Graduates of the program are positioned for research careers in population health sciences, including postdoctoral positions and tenure-track faculty positions in population health at schools of medicine, public health, and public policy across the country. Population health scientists are also recruited heavily by industry, including pharmaceutical, technology and consulting firms, as well as governmental agencies, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Applicants to the program are expected to have a bachelor’s degree, strong academic record, demonstrated research interest aligning with faculty members, and prerequisite coursework in statistics, calculus, and at least one computer programming or statistical programming language such as R, Python, or SAS. Candidates must apply for admission online.
Successful applicants will likely have a background in one of the following data-driven disciplines:
Statistics or biostatistics
Health or biomedical informatics
Industrial engineering or operations research
Quantitative social sciences such as sociology
Medical, genetics or natural sciences
Application materials will include academic transcripts from all post-secondary education, three letters of recommendation, CV/resume, and a statement of purpose. Applicants are not required to take the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE exam). International Students who have not completed an academic degree in an English-speaking institution are required to take an English language proficiency exam. Applicants can demonstrate English Language proficiency using IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT scores.
Applications for fall 2024 will open in fall 2023. The application deadline is December 1, 2023.
Becoming a Doctoral Candidate
In years one and two, students are required to complete required core coursework, participate in a credit-bearing colloquium, complete elective courses, and prepare for and complete their admission to candidacy exam (ACE). Students with advanced degrees may be able to complete the ACE after one year. Students will complete at least one 3-credit-hour research rotation directed by a faculty member before beginning their dissertation research and can take up to 3 research rotations (9-credit hours) as appropriate. These research rotations will provide students an opportunity to choose their primary dissertation advisor and to broaden their understanding of population health sciences by participating in ongoing faculty research projects or completing an independent project under the guidance of a faculty member.
PhD Research and Degree
Before beginning their dissertation research, each student will form a dissertation committee with a primary dissertation advisor and at least 3 internal committee members. The dissertation committee will evaluate the student's progress towards their dissertation every year during the dissertation phase.
The culmination of the student's successful progression through the program is the final examination (the "defense") and certification by the dissertation committee that the dissertation satisfies the requirements of the Graduate School for a PhD degree. Students are expected to complete this degree within five years of entering the program.