Doctor of Philosophy
PhD in Global Infectious Disease candidates will receive a unique combination of training that brings together science, health, technology, modeling, social sciences, economics and governance. While doctoral students will specialize in particular areas, Infectious Disease PhD candidates will learn about the multitude of ways to approach different aspects of infection prevention and control, including life science research, mathematical modeling of outbreaks, economic impacts of pandemics, and diplomacy to advance health outcomes.
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.
Applicants should have a background in basic science: admission requirements include one semester each of undergraduate biology, chemistry, and calculus or statistics. Students should have 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.
Applicants should look at the GLID participating faculty page 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 every year.
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. 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.
Students will spend their first year taking core courses that will immerse them in the Global Infectious Disease curriculum. These courses include: Infection and Immunity, Ethics, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and either Policy Analysis, or Modeling Biological Systems (total 19 credits). Please see the Global Infectious Disease Master of Science for a list of courses to take. (Note that, unlike MS students, PhD students do not choose a concentration in data modeling or science policy, but much of the coursework is the same.)
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 take their Comprehensive Exam by December 1 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.
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 max.), equivalent to at least 150 hours, with a written summary of the work.
Candidates admitted to the program are offered five years of financial support.
Georgetown University offers potential students an array of options related to infectious disease, health security, and global health career paths. Learn more about all of Georgetown’s global health-related degree programs on the Global Health Initiative web page. The Global Infectious Disease curriculum is ideal for individuals who are dedicated to finding 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. This program will prepare successful students 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. While internships are not required, 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.