There are many and varied pathways to becoming an epidemiologist. They usually involve an undergraduate degree in a related field such as medicine, health science, science with majors in mathematics/statistics, psychology, or sociology or arrange of biomedical sciences, followed by a postgraduate degree in epidemiology, biostatistics or public health. The options for postgraduate study include:
- a graduate diploma or masters degree in epidemiology, biostatistics or public health that involve substantial coursework, including units in epidemiology, and completion of a minor research project with dissertation
- a Masters by research degree or PhD in epidemiology, biostatistics or public health focused on a major research project usually with at least some coursework undertaken prior to or during the period of study.
Epidemiologists with responsibility for designing, attracting funding for, supervising and analysing epidemiological studies funded by major funding bodies will usually have completed a PhD in preparation for conducting epidemiological research. Epidemiologists working in applied areas such as 'shoe leather' communicable disease control or analysis of routine data to support policy development, etc, are undertaken by those who take either pathway.
Some undergraduate degree programs now include courses in epidemiology and biostatistics, but to be called an epidemiologist a piece of epidemiological research, usually at the postgraduate level, needs to be undertaken.
If you are interested in studying to be an epidemiologist, you can contact one of the many School of Public or Population Health in Australia or New Zealand. Searching the internet will give you details of many related courses.