• Course Home Page

    Virus in blood


    This introductory epidemiology course is intended for undergraduate- and graduate-level students of health sciences or public health. The course introduces students to the field and practice of epidemiology, and provides foundational knowledge as well as practical skills. All components of this training (like all NextGenU.org trainings) are free, including registration, learning, testing, and a certificate of completion.

    There are 8 modules to complete through online study and peer and mentored activities. The modules cover core topics in epidemiology, such as descriptive measures of mortality and morbidity, association and causation, study design, and critical evidence review, among other topics.

    There are practice quizzes in each module, and at the end of the course you’ll have a final exam, and a chance to give your assessment of this training. We will give you all the results of your assessments, such as your final exam and peer activities. We can report your testing information and share your work with anyone (your school, employer, etc.) that you request. We hope this is a wonderful learning experience for you, and that your assessments will teach us how we can make it even better.


    This course was sponsored by the University of the Incarnate Word and was developed in partnership with the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like all NextGenU courses, it is competency-based, using competencies from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region and uses learning resources from world-class academic and governmental organizations, such as the University of California, Berkeley, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. The course developer is Ashlee Shaw, MPH, with major contributions from Lindsay Galway, PhD and Eric Mintz, PhD. We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of: Michael Beckett; Keenan Federico, BA; and Kaylin Woods, BSc, MPH, MD.

    Begin the course with Module 1: Introduction to Epidemiology

    Before you begin the course, please take a moment to take the short knowledge Pre-test below. It allows us to assess various aspects of course itself and is mandatory to receive your certificate upon completion of the course.

  • Before starting this first module, please take a moment to take the short knowledge Pre-test above. It allows us to assess various aspects of course itself and is mandatory to receive your certificate upon completion of the course.

    Competencies covered in this module:
    H1N1 headline
    1. Apply the basic terminology and definitions of epidemiology
    2. Know and understand the main features of the past, the present and the estimated future of the development of population health 
    3. Explain the importance of epidemiology in informed scientific, ethical, economic and political discussions related to health issues

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • Influenza_a.jpg

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Outline the historical achievements in the field of epidemiology and their contributions to public health
    • Describe the historical evolution of epidemiology
    • Explain the scope, role, and importance of epidemiology as it pertains to public health
    • Define the basic terminology used in the field of epidemiology
    • Discuss the importance of epidemiologic-based evidence in public health decision-making

    Click here to start this module

    6 URLs, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz, 1 Forum
  • Infantmortality-region.jpg

    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Identify the main sources of epidemiological data 
    2. Describe a public health problem in terms of magnitude, person, time and place
    3. Calculate basic epidemiology measures

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • Malaria_geographic_distribution.png

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Describe and provide examples of measures of morbidity and mortality used in epidemiology
    • Interpret and calculate basic epidemiological measures used to describe the health of a population including measures of morbidity and mortality
    • Interpret and distinguish between incidence and prevalence
    • Understand vital registration systems and discuss their limitations
    • Understand the relationships between population health measures and different population characteristics, such as total fertility rate and income over time
    • Find and interpret health indicator data

    Click here to start this module

    9 URLs, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz, 2 Forums
  • people with face masks

    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Interpret disease and public health events and trends from time series data
    2. Know and understand the main measures of associations between exposures and outcomes (relative risk and odds ratio)

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • Smallpox_keep_out_of_this_house..JPG

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Generate and interpret graphs and tables in order to identify trends in epidemiological data
    • Explain the two commonly used methods of age standardization; direct and indirect
    • Calculate and interpret relative risk and odds ratios
    • Express relative risks and odds ratios in words
    • Discuss the generation and implications of health inequities between local and global populations 

    Click here to start this module

    11 URLs, 2 Forums, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz
  • collecting water
    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Know and understand the risk factors influencing the health of a population (locally and globally), e.g. obesity, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, IVDU, HIV, pollution, and social factors/inequality
    2. Know and understand the relationships between society, family, physical environment, genetics and biological health/disease status

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • Aedes_aegypti_biting_human.jpg

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Define and discuss risk factors
    • Discuss the theories causation relevant to epidemiology
    • Relate the epidemiological triad model of infectious disease transmission to public health issues and interventions
    • Explain the difference between association and causation 
    • Discuss the causal criteria that can be used to establish causation 
    • Explain the social determinants of health

    Click here to start this module

    9 URLs, 3 Forums, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz, 1 Assignment
  • H1N1_illness_onset_dates_-_United_States.svg

    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Describe the main types of epidemiological designs and discuss the pros and cons of each
    2. Know and understand the concepts of bias, confounding, validity (internal and external) and generalizability

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • Diverse_e_Coli.png

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Distinguish between observational and experimental study designs
    • Describe and identify the applications, strengths, and limitations of: ecological studies, cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, cohort studies, and randomized controlled trials
    • Define and describe the different types of errors, biases, and confounding that may exist in an epidemiological study
    • Explain ways to control for confounding in either the design and or the analysis phases of an epidemiological study

    Click here to start this module

    10 URLs, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz, 1 Forum

  • Competencies covered in this module:
    File:US Navy 110829-A-ZZ999-496 Mary Kadzo, with the organization AIDS Population and Health Integrated Assistance, draws blood from a Kenyan woman's fi.jpg
    1. Know and understand the basic principles, methods, types and components of epidemiological surveillance and surveillance systems (such as organization, methodology, technology, quality, consistency, resources, availability, etc.)
    2. Identify the principles and limitations of public health screening programs

    Click here for the brief module introduction


  • Blood_test.jpg
    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Explain basic concepts of disease transmission and describe patterns of endemic and epidemic disease spread
    • Outline the different approaches used for screening in public health and critically assess each of their strengths and limitations in terms of lead time, length bias, sensitivity and specificity
    • Summarize the different public health surveillance systems and their application to various health concerns, including environmental disasters
    • Name key changes in international health regulations over the past decade

    Click here for the brief module introduction

    7 URLs, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz
  • Detecci%C3%B3n_listeria_Chile.jpg

    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Evaluate the strengths and limitations of epidemiological reports
    2. Draw appropriate inferences from epidemiological data

    Click here for the brief module introduction


  • Lab_tech_at_microscope.jpg
    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Systematically critique a scientific epidemiology paper
    • Apply criteria to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of epidemiological reports and research

    Click here to start this module

    4 URLs, 1 Workshop, 1 Quiz
  • File:Secretary Sebelius, Ambassador Betty King with Delegates to the WHA.jpg
    Competencies covered in this module:
    1. Suggest relevant public health interventions based on evidence from both empirical epidemiological population studies and from qualitative studies
    2. Communicate evidence from both empirical epidemiological population studies and from qualitative studies to a lay audience, professionals, and decision makers at the national, regional and local level
    3. Comprehend basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiological data

    Click here for the brief module introduction

  • US_Navy_050212-N-8796S-022_Public_health_workers_from_the_Military_Sealift_Command_%28MSC%29_hospital_ship_USNS_Mercy_%28T-AH_19%29_and_representatives_from_the_International_Organization_for_Immigration_%28IOM%29%2C_meet_with_a_midwife.jpg

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

    • Describe the approaches for translating epidemiological evidence into public health practice and policy
    • Explain and apply the population approach to disease prevention
    • Apply the four ‘stages of disease prevention’
    • Demonstrate effective health promotion messaging and communicate  epidemiological research information to key stakeholders
    • Analyze the shape and significance of the different types of epidemic curves and illustrate the necessary steps to be taken in an outbreak investigation
    • Discuss the ethical principles of public health practice and the collection and dissemination of epidemiologic data
    • Recommend public health prevention activities based on epidemiological evidence.

    Click here to start this module

    8 URLs, 3 Peer Activities, 1 Quiz