What is Epidemiology & What can I do with a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology degree?

Two epidemiologists work together in a lab

Epidemiologists are public health workers who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that epidemiology occupations should experience job growth of 30% from 2020-2030. About 900 openings for epidemiologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

What is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology prepares students to analyze the distribution and determinants of disease, disabilities, and death in populations.

Graduates can apply quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate disease outbreaks, determine causal relationships between environmental and biological factors, and conduct studies to project health trends in populations. Students benefit from public health faculty research agendas in bio-preparedness, public health surveillance systems, chronic disease, cancer, and infectious disease epidemiology.

Defining the Term

The word epidemiology comes from three Greek words: epi (on or upon), demos (people), and logos (the study of). The word has its roots in the study of what befalls a population.

The Dictionary of Epidemiology provides this definition:

“Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems.”1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights several specifics within that definition:2

“Epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic, and data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (neighborhood, school, city, state, country, global). It is also the application of this study to control health problems.”

What Do Epidemiologists Do?

Often called ‘disease detectives,’ they search for the causes of disease and injury, identify people at risk, and determine how to control or stop the spread or prevent it from happening again. They work to reduce risk and occurrence through research, community education, and health policy.

On a fundamental level, they’re looking for clues: who is sick, their symptoms, when they got sick, and where they could have been exposed.

In the bigger picture, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), their tasks include:3

  • Plan and direct studies of public health problems to find ways to prevent and treat them if they arise
  • Collect and analyze data—through observations, interviews, and surveys, and by using samples of blood or other bodily fluids—to find the causes of diseases or other health problems
  • Communicate their findings to health practitioners, policymakers, and the public
  • Manage public health programs by planning programs, monitoring their progress, analyzing data, and seeking ways to improve the programs to improve public health outcomes
  • Supervise professional, technical, and clerical personnel

Graduates of Kent State’s online Master of Clinical Epidemiology will be qualified to work as:4

  • Research Scientists
  • Data Scientists
  • Clinical Research Coordinators/Managers
  • Clinical Trial Managers
  • Research Associates
  • Epidemiologists

What can you do with a degree in Clinical Epidemiology?

Career opportunities for graduates include research positions in universities, medical schools, and pharmaceutical companies; disease prevention specialists in hospitals; and surveillance managers in state and local health departments.

Epidemiologists Career Snapshot:5

  • 4.6% as fast as the average
  • 8,000 jobs
  • $74,560 potential earnings

There are a variety of duties clinical epidemiologists perform, which can include the following:

  • Organizing and overseeing studies of major clinical health problems
  • Accumulating essential research data for review and analysis
  • Investigating approaches to prevent and treat disease
  • Collecting and analyzing clinical health data, which can entail observations, surveys, interviews, human tissue samples, and more, to determine the origin and spread of a disease
  • Creating guidelines and internal processes for disease control within medical settings
  • Meeting with representatives of medical facilities to address disease control initiatives and processes
  • Crafting materials to educate various groups on disease control
  • Developing and overseeing studies
  • Analyzing the impact of medications to determine their efficacy and safety

Common areas of employment for clinical epidemiologists include:

  • Universities
  • Government
  • Health insurance companies
  • The pharmaceutical industry
  • Infectious disease departments
  • Bioterrorism and emergency response departments
  • Research facilities
  • Chronic disease departments
  • Substance abuse organizations

Some of the roles you could go on to once you have acquired your online clinical epidemiology master’s degree include the following:6

  • Research Scientist and Research Associate - Clinical epidemiologists who work in a research capacity often do so in universities and academic centers, studying disease conditions, causes, treatments, and preventative steps. Research scientists will also direct and plan studies of major public health issues to learn more about specific diseases and their impact on the populace.
  • Data Scientist - Using the training from clinical epidemiology programs, those in this epidemiology career field retrieve and evaluate data from diverse sources to craft better systems for automating and processing.
  • Clinical Research Coordinator/Manager - Some of the responsibilities of clinical epidemiologists in this role include accommodating visits for study patients, creating source documents for study visits, training staff members who will be a part of a study, and gathering lab results and procedure reports, and more.
  • Clinical Trial Manager - Clinical epidemiologists who become clinical trial managers often work for health facilities and drug companies, overseeing clinical trials of drugs and processes to then record side effects and overall results. Discovering new treatments and medications are key facets of this clinical epidemiology career path.

Kent State University’s Online Master of Clinical Epidemiology

Kent State’s Online Master of Clinical Epidemiology program covers clinical practices, analytical methods, and regulatory guidelines necessary to conduct clinical research to understand disease prevention, development, prognosis, and treatment.

This advanced program focuses on the epidemiological and biostatistical methods related to clinical trials and clinical research. Students employ advanced methods of observational and experimental study designs and investigate disease prevention, development, prognosis, and treatment. Moreover, they apply sound clinical practices and master clinical trials management, statistical analysis, study monitoring, ethics in clinical research, pharmacoepidemiology, and regulatory affairs.

For more information on Kent State’s Online Master of Clinical Epidemiology, visit https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/college-of-public-health/masters-epidemiology.

Kent State University’s Online Health Informatics Graduate Certificate

Kent State’s Online Health Informatics Graduate Certificate is designed to increase your professional knowledge while helping you enter the field quickly. In as little as one year, you’ll be ready to manage healthcare records, support clinical decisions and carry out clinical analytics.

For more information on Kent State’s Online Health Informatics Graduate Certificate, visit https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/ischool/health-informatics/certificate.


1 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/college-of-public-health/community/what-is-epidemiology
2 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/hugenet/default.htm
3 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm#tab-2
4 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://www.kent.edu/publichealth/master-science-clinical-epidemiology?viewId=
5 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm
6 Retrieved on August 11, 2022, from https://www.kent.edu/publichealth/master-science-clinical-epidemiology/blog/job

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