Doctor of Philosophy in Human Genetics

The doctoral program in human genetics prepares students for careers leading genetics and genomics research in academia or industry. The flexible curriculum provides a broad background in the field while allowing customized emphasis on molecular genetics/genomics, statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology, or genetic counseling.

People at commencementTypically six to ten doctoral students are admitted each year, including external applicants and internal applicants currently pursuing Master’s degrees within the department. In addition to core coursework and advanced classes in a chosen area of concentration, doctoral students pursue mentored research projects culminating in the production and defense of a dissertation.


Our graduates will be independent scientists, innovators, and leaders of academe and private enterprise in a future where genomics is central to health sciences research, practice, and policy.


Two people talkingTo promote the scientific progress of genetics as a field of study; to advance the health of the public by investigating the impact of genetics on the causes and treatment of disease; to promote evidence-based disease prevention; to educate health sciences professionals and the public at large regarding hereditary and acquired genetic conditions; and to appreciate the role of genetic diversity within human populations.

Areas of Strength

Students entering the doctoral program can tailor their training based on their research interests and career goals:

Molecular Genetics

Students pursuing training in molecular genetics or cytogenetics will carry out research projects performing benchtop experimental studies in laboratories within the department or across the Schools of the Health Sciences. Students can further customize their training by choosing among many elective courses in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology, Cellular and Molecular Pathology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology, Molecular Pharmacology, and Molecular Virology and Microbiology.

Molecular Genetics and Cytogenetics Poster

Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology

Students pursuing training in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology will carry out applied analysis or methodological research projects related to clinical or epidemiological studies. Students will work as members of statistical and computational research groups within the department or across the School of the Health Sciences. Students can further customize their training by choosing advanced coursework in biostatistics, biomedical informatics, computational and systems biology, and epidemiology.

Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology Poster

Genetic Counseling

Students holding a MS GC degree who wish to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus in genetic counseling will carry out original research in their area(s) of interest. In addition to addressing basic science or clinical research questions, students’ projects will explore the medical, psychological, and familial implications of genetic contributors to human health and disease. Students can further customize their training by choosing elective courses from across the Schools of the Health Sciences in consultation with the program leadership team.

Genetic Counseling Poster

Customize through Certificate Programs

Doctoral students can shape their training experience through one or more of several certificate programs offered at Pitt Public Health.


Two people hugging

  • Integrity: Commit to honest and ethical conduct in research and scholarship
  • Scientific rigor: Dedicate to excellence in the pursuit of knowledge
  • Cooperation: Commit to collaboration, mentorship, and academic-private partnerships
  • Collegiality: Respect independence of thought
  • Cultural competency: Embrace diversity; respect and value differences and individuality