PhD in Public Health Genetics


Public Health Genetics is the application of advances in human genetics and genomic sciences to improve public health and prevent disease. The doctoral program in Public Health Genetics offers interdisciplinary training for careers in academic institutions, health care delivery systems, public health departments, government agencies, and the private sector. The interdisciplinary nature of the program prepares graduates to address scientific and policy questions from multiple perspectives. Training includes Fundamental Areas of Study (human genetics and public health) and two Core Knowledge Areas: Genomics in Public Health (genetic epidemiology, ecogenetics, and pharmacogenetics) and Implications of Genetics for Society (ethics & social science, law & policy, and health economics & outcomes research).

Likely Careers

Academia; research institutes and organizations; HMO’s; local, state, and national government.


The degree is also appropriate for individuals who possess an MD, RN, DVM, DDS, PhD, or JD degree that seek a career in public health practice or academia.

Application Deadline:  PhD admissions is expected to reopen for 2017-18


Upon satisfactory completion of a PhD in Public Health Genetics, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in one of these core knowledge areas through coursework and dissertation project research;
  • Demonstrate effective integration of the two core knowledge areas while conducting independent, interdisciplinary research in public health genetics;
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify resources needed to stay current with the rapid advances in genomics, public health genetics, and clinical genetics, and their application in public health settings; and
  • Communicate effectively about public health genetics to audiences from diverse backgrounds, including writing at a professional level and giving oral presentations.

Display competency in Genomics in Public Health (Core Knowledge Area A): 

  • Apply knowledge of inheritance and genomic advances, including cellular and molecular mechanisms and technical developments, to understanding the etiology of a variety of rare and common, complex diseases and health conditions;
  • Apply epidemiological and statistical approaches to the study of risk factors and diseases with a genetic component;
  • Identify interactions among genes, environmental factors, and behaviors, and their roles in health and disease; and
  • Discuss how genetic principles and genomic technologies apply to diagnosis, screening, and interventions for disease prevention and health promotion programs.

Display competency in Implications of Genetics for Society (Core Knowledge Area B): 

  • Identify the impact of genomics on the public health activities of assessment, policy development and assurance;
  • Apply methods to address ethical implications of the use of genetic information and technologies in public health;
  • Discuss legal concepts and the role of the law in the development of policies relating to genetics and genomics; and identify legal implications of the application of genetics and genomic technologies in public health;
  • Apply knowledge of key social science concepts in analysis of the political, social and cultural forces that influence the research and clinical application of genetics and genomic technology in public health; and
  • Analyze the interaction and impact of market forces and public policy on the development and delivery of genetic services.