Classroom & Experiential Learning

The population health sciences master’s program provides a thorough foundation in population health and health analytics while creating opportunities to focus in terms of a specific field, area of research, and career goals.

The department’s faculty include leading experts in patient-centered research, health economics, and implementation science who also are recognized for their teaching. Courses are much more than lectures, featuring team-based case studies, collaborative research projects, and hands-on experience with analytics software and study design.

In their first year, students take classes in population health, statistical methods and programming, research methods, and professional development. The program’s second year mixes electives and experiential learning.

Full course descriptions for the 2019-2020 academic year are available here.

Hands On, Real World

To help them transfer theory they have learned into practice, Population Health Science master’s students in their second year complete an applied practicum and a capstone project.

In the practicum, a student team works with faculty members to address a problem described in a case study. The topics are wide ranging, but all tie to common challenges in population health – measuring the effects of a hospital-based intervention, implementing a community-based program, analyzing patients’ adherence rate for a drug for a pharmacy benefit manager.

Students design their capstone projects based on their career aspirations. For those interested in careers outside of research, the capstone involves a year-long internship in Duke Health or entities outside the university such as government or community agencies, payors or the many biomedical companies around the Research Triangle. The internship concludes with a master’s paper based on the experience.

For those interested in a population health sciences doctoral program at Duke or elsewhere or otherwise plan a research career, the capstone project involves faculty-mentored individual research including primary data collection and analysis. Students complete a thesis in the form of a publishable manuscript


Faculty spotlight



As an epidemiologist, Dr. Meira Epplein studies modifiable risk factors in under-served populations, focusing on the association between infection and cancer. She answers three questions on H. pylori and cancer and her latest study, the Durham Initiative for Stomach Health (DISH). Read More