Doctoral Program

PhD in Global Infectious Disease (GLID) candidates will receive a unique combination of training that brings together science, health, technology, modeling, social sciences, economics and governance.  While Global Infectious Disease PhD candidates will specialize in particular areas, they will also learn about the multitude of ways to approach different aspects of infection prevention and control, including life science research, one health, mathematical modeling of outbreaks, economic impacts of pandemics, and diplomacy to advance health outcomes. 

Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Who should apply to the PhD in Global Infectious Disease?

Individuals dedicated to finding solutions to how the world can better approach infectious diseases are perfect candidates. We are looking for students committed to understanding global infectious disease problems and to approaching them in an interdisciplinary fashion. Students will have an interest in topics ranging from global health security governance, to health delivery economics, to epidemiology, and mathematical modeling. PhD candidates will become an expert in their research area of interest while gaining broad knowledge that can be applied to global infectious disease problems.

This program will prepare successful students to join a growing workforce and find employment in a variety of areas depending on their speciality. These may include federal, state or local health departments, multilateral organizations, advocacy organizations, global health implementers, pharmaceutical companies, and academia, among others. 

Admissions Requirements

Applicants should have a background in basic science: admission requirements include at least one semester of undergraduate biology, and significant course experience in math and advanced statistics, as well as experience in computer programming for those interested in pursuing data modeling or related fields of research. Students interested in policy-oriented research should have coursework in political science and economics.

PhD candidates should be able to demonstrate a clear study path or intellectual journey towards their PhD area of interest and demonstrate a history of success, such as through relevant employment positions or publications. There will be a strong preference for applicants that hold an advanced degree or significant experience in the field.

GRE test scores are not required and will not be evaluated; applicants who would like GRE scores evaluated as part of their application should contact the program before submitting scores to explain why they feel they are more reflective than other application materials.

Applicants should review the GLID participating faculty page (or elsewhere at the university if desired) and identify 2-3 faculty members that could potentially serve as mentors for research rotations and, eventually, their dissertation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out directly to these faculty and discuss potential dissertation topics. Be aware that not all participating faculty accept new students.

Three official recommendations are required by the Graduate School. These recommendations must be from persons in positions to appraise the applicant’s potential for graduate study.

The Graduate School requires use of the online recommendation system, which utilizes a secure online recommendation system that will:
– email your recommendation providers with instructions for online submission of the recommendation
allow applicants to track recommendations received or not received and follow up with recommenders who still need to submit their appraisals
– expedite the processing of the recommendations, which will be included in the online application once submitted

Some elements to consider for the Statement of Purpose include highlighting the ways in which you can prove to the Admissions Committee that you are ready for a PhD; explaining why an interdisciplinary PhD is important to you and necessary for your research goals; demonstrating what research questions you are interested in pursuing for your doctorate; and identifying which faculty at Georgetown would be appropriate as a primary advisor to you for this research, including any relevant summary of conversations with such faculty.

Before acceptance, all strong applicant candidates will be required to have an interview with two or three members of the Admissions Committee. This can be completed either on site or via video-teleconference.


Students will spend their first year taking core courses that will immerse them in the Global Infectious Disease curriculum. In general, PhD students will take the following Global Infectious Disease core courses in Year 1:

GLID 5000: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Infectious Disease IFall3
GLID 5001: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Infectious Disease IISpring I3
GLID 5562: Infection & ImmunityFall I3
GLID 5010: Epidemiology of Infectious Disease Fall I3
GLID 5020: Evidence for Infectious Disease Policy Fall I or Fall II3
EPID 5010: Research Ethics and Professional Development Seminar (or EPID 5011, the spring section)Fall I or
Spring I

In addition, most students will take either GLID 5011: Policy Analysis or GLID 5522: Modeling of Biological Systems. PhD students will choose additional courses toward the 30-credit requirement based on discussions with their advisor. Some courses may be waived depending on the student’s background.

Students will have the option of doing research rotations with potential mentors during the first 8 months of the program. These rotations would start in September of the first year, but are not required. Students not electing to rotate can begin dissertation research in Year 1.

Students can take electives to provide more specific background related to dissertation research. The remainder of the 30-credit requirement will be determined in partnership with the candidate’s Advisory Committee and Thesis Adviser, based on the candidate’s background and research interests. Most of Year 2 is spent performing research and developing a base of knowledge to write and defend the dissertation proposal, aka the comprehensive exam taken in year 3.

Candidates will sit for a Qualifying Exam at the end of Year 1. Candidates will take their Comprehensive Exam by December of Year 3; this is a written dissertation proposal with oral presentation and defense to ensure research plan is sound and to assess the proposal for the level of effort and timeline proposed.

We anticipate students being able to complete the PhD program in 5 years.

Photo of students in class and professor teaching.

Teaching Requirement

Teaching will be a requirement of the Global Infectious Disease PhD program, to reflect this core skill. There are several different options to complete this requirement, including:

  • Serving as a teaching assistant for one semester.
  • For senior PhD candidates, teaching an undergraduate class.
  • Designing and teaching a short course. For example: designing and teaching a module of the Global Infectious Disease Core Course. 


Internships are encouraged for Infectious Disease PhD candidates without work experience, but are not a requirement of the program. Internships can be conducted for credit (up to 3 credits maximum), equivalent to at least 150 hours, with a written summary of the work. 

Financial Support

Candidates admitted to the program are offered five years of financial support covering tuition, stipend, and health insurance.

Ph.D Student Handbook for the GLID Program

For a representative PhD student handbook, click to view the GLID PhD Handbook. Note that the handbook is updated for each incoming class.

Post-Graduation Outlook

The Global Infectious Disease curriculum is ideal for intellectually curious individuals dedicated to interdisciplinary approaches to global infectious disease problems. It offers both fundamental and advanced teaching on topics that include microbiology, epidemiology, data science, and domestic and global policy and governance. It can prepare you to join a growing workforce and find employment in federal, state or local health departments, emergency management departments, pharmaceutical companies, advocacy organizations, or global health implementers. Some students may wish to pursue an internship during their course of study. Georgetown faculty can help connect students with contacts at organizations such as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Talus Analytics, New York City Health and Hospitals Special Pathogens Unit, USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats program, and the National Academies of Science.

Georgetown University offers its students an array of options related to infectious disease, health security, and global health career paths. Learn more about many of Georgetown’s global health-related degree programs on the Global Health Initiative web page.