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How To Become an Epidemiologist

What is an Epidemiologist?

Otherwise known as “disease detectives”, epidemiologists are the professionals searching for the cause of a disease, identifying people who are at risk, and determining how to control or stop the spread of said disease. An epidemiologist is trained to identify and understand the patterns of diseases. Using risk assessment, statistical analysis and in lab experiments, epidemiologists are able to uncover factors associated with the spread of disease.

Epidemiologists play a crucial role in public health with a focus on understanding causes and patterns of disease to prevent future outbreaks. Similar to a forensic detective, a “disease detective” investigates and asks questions that will lead to identifying the cause of the disease. According to the CDC, common questions include:

  • Who is sick?
  • What are their symptoms?
  • When did they get sick?
  • Where could they have been exposed?


With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020, epidemiologists have played a key role in estimating the burden of the disease. Throughout the pandemic, epidemiologists have worked to collect and study data such as number of infections, illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, deaths, and more. With this pandemic continuing into it’s third year, now more than ever is a great time to transition into the epidemiology field and get an epidemiology degree.

How to Get Your Epidemiology Degree

In order to receive a masters level epidemiology degree, prospective students must have a bachelors degree. A bachelors in public health, statistics, or health science are great fields of study to start off with. However, a specific field of study is not required for a master’s degree in epidemiology. Course in epidemiology typically includes statistics, social sciences, biology and chemistry.

Once a bachelor’s degree is obtained, students can apply to a master’s degree in epidemiology. Skills to become an epidemiologist include, but are not limited to:

  • Scientific inquiry
  • Critical thinking
  • Statistical analysis
  • Attention to detail
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Risk assessment


At the University of Providence, the online masters of science program in infection prevention and epidemiology is designed to create leaders and educators in the prevention of infections across the healthcare continuum using epidemiological and infection prevention tools and principles. This program develops students in to change agents who will use systems thinking, data analysis, and prepares students to use evidence-based practice to facilitate collaboration that improves patients’ safety. The core benefit of this program is the diversity of professional students and the integration of learning across care settings. Graduates of this program will be prepared to assume collaborative research roles in public health and healthcare settings around the world.