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PhD in Tropical Medicine

The PhD program in Tropical Medicine is an advanced degree that prepares students to pursue careers in tropical medicine. The PhD graduate is expected to have knowledge across a wide range tropical diseases as well as sustained experience in the conduct of research in one or more content areas. Graduates of the PhD program pursue careers in basic and applied research in academic institutions, governmental agencies, industry and nonprofit organizations.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the school's admission requirements for entrance into Doctoral programs at SPHTM. In addition, to be considered for admission with funding to the Department of Tropical Medicine (DTM), students should have:

  • Completed the requirements for a master’s degree in a field related to the doctoral area of study.
  • Official transcripts of all baccalaureate and graduate coursework should be forwarded directly from each college or university to SOPHAS, the online application that verifies the transcripts of Tulane SPHTM applicants.
  • For students with a master’s degree, a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale for graduate and undergraduate coursework is required.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores in the 75% percentile are preferred for the verbal and quantitative tests. Official test scores are required of all doctoral applicants.
Degree Program Requirements (entry prior to Fall 2018)

The PhD program in the Department of Tropical Medicine (DTM) requires a minimum of 72 post-baccalaureate degree credits, with at least 30 credits of doctoral study at Tulane SPHTM. Up to 42 credits may be applied from the MPH or equivalent master’s degree. These credits will be reviewed and accepted based on their fulfillment of the DTM PhD competencies. If a prerequisite course or equivalent has not been fulfilled, the student must take the course in addition to the 30 credits of advanced doctoral study. If the student fulfills prerequisite course requirements at SPHTM, those credits may count toward the minimum 72 required for the degree.

The advisor works with the student to plan an appropriate course of doctoral study to complete the program. Doctoral students who do not have a prior public health degree must obtain a grounding in public health. See below and online in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Public Health Requirements 

Most students enter with a MSPH or MPH degree.  Students with these professional MPH or MSPH degrees from CEPH-accredited institutions bring with them a “grounding” in public health concepts, principles, and methods. This “grounding in public health” is also required for students enrolled in academic degree programs from the School of Public Health (MS or PhD). Academic disciplines approach this requirement in a variety of ways. Doctoral students in the DTM fulfill this requirement as follows:

  • SPHL 8500 Interdisciplinary Doctoral Seminar     
  • BIOS  6040 Intermediate Biostatistics*     
  • EPID  7120 Epidemiologic Methods II*      

*Students who do not have prior Biostatistics and/or Epidemiology may take BIOS 6030 and/or EPID 6030    

Prerequisite Coursework (12 credits from prior master’s degree)

If the applicant does not have a foundation in tropical medicine, the following courses should be taken in advance of any other required coursework.

  • TRMD 6050 Medical Helminthology (2)
  • TRMD 6060 Medical Entomology (3)
  • TRMD 6070 Medical Protozoology (2)
  • TRMD 6090 Parasitology Lab (1)
  • TRMD 6200 Impact Evaluation (3)
  • TRMD 7020 Infectious Disease Seminar (1)

Advanced Doctoral Study

At least 30 credits of advanced, didactic coursework. Prerequisites are in addition to this total.

Advanced Methods

  • SPHL 8500 Interdisciplinary Doctoral Seminar (1)
  • BIOS 6040 Intermediate Biostatistics (3)
  • TRMD 8250 Applied Methods (3)
  • EPID 7120  Epidemiologic Methods II (3)

Advanced Topics in Tropical Medicine

  • TRMD 7180 Immunoparasitology OR TRMD 7800 Advanced Medical Entomology (2)
  • TRMD 7820 Malaria OR TRMD 7420 Population Based Malaria (2)
  • TRMD 8990 Independent Study* (12)
  • Advanced Electives (4 or more)

*In conjunction with a laboratory rotation (TRMD 8100)


Selected from courses offered within the department, school, or university in consultation with an academic advisor. Additional credits may be needed to obtain a total of 72.

Laboratory Training Rotations and Independent Study

Doctoral students are required to enroll in TRMD 8100 Laboratory Training Rotation at least once and may enroll up to three times with different DTM faculty for a maximum total of six credits (2 credits each). The rotations will acquaint the student with the different research programs available in the department and assist the student in choosing a permanent dissertation advisor.  In addition, by rotating with several faculty members the student will obtain research experience and training in different specialized areas. 

The student may also register for TRMD 8990 Doctoral Independent Study in conjunction with a laboratory rotation. A maximum of 12 independent study credits may be applied to the doctoral degree.

Research Ethics

Students are required to take online research ethics training via CITI or another equivalent training program in research ethics. This certification must remain current throughout the program duration.

Comprehensive Exams

Students are required to pass written and oral comprehensive examinations to demonstrate general knowledge of tropical medicine. (TRMD 9990 Dissertation Research, Comprehensive Exams & Prospectus Preparation)


Students must prepare and defend a prospectus of proposed research. (TRMD 9990 Dissertation Research, Comprehensive Exams & Prospectus Preparation)


Students must conduct original research and defend a dissertation based on that research. (TRMD 9970 Dissertation)

Contact Us

Department Chair: Ronald Blanton, MD

Program Director: Dawn Wesson, PhD

Department Administrator: Katherine Mosier

Email: tropmed@tulane.edu

Phone: (504) 988-6369

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