Studying epidemiology at Karolinska


Winter is coming…so is application process! Are you finishing your undergraduate (first) degree and want to continue on the education ladder by studying epidemiology? Have you been working for a while and want to pursue a master’s degree? Or have you been working in the health field and want to update your knowledge? Whatever your reason is, you are about to embark on a beautiful and challenging adventure!

As the application time approaches (application round is already open for international and national students, click here), you will have more questions than answers and on this particular blog, I want to give you a glimpse of the programme.

How is my background relevant?

Epidemiology is a field that encompasses so many other fields, ranging from sociology to molecular biology.  This master’s programme merges the expertise of pharmacists, doctors, biologists, biochemists, etc.…

In the first course (this course is also shared with the HEPM track), we were assigned a group project.  In the picture below (left to right), you find Erwei (a master’s student in the epidemiology track from China who has a bachelor’s in Public Health), Robert (a master’s student from the UK in the HEPM track or as we call them- the happy track, don’t ask me why but I have a feeling it has to do with the abundant statistics in OUR track). He has a bachelor’s in Biology from UCLA.  Next to yours truly, you find the lovely Eleanora from Italy. Eleanora is a dental hygienist with 5+ years of work experience under her belt and is now in the HEPM track.  It is quite a unique programme so don’t be too quick to conclude that your background is not “right”. You can further see the academic requirements here.


(Left to right: Erwei, Robert, Eleanora and I after our first group presentation- Burden of cardiovascular diseases in Iran and malaria in Uganda)

What makes this master’s program different?

When you are applying for jobs, your personal effort will be key but when your effort and hard work is coupled with a degree from a reputable research and medical university, it can make a big difference.  When I was looking at this particular master’s programme, I looked at the research focus, the course structure,  international career opportunities, ranking position as well as the reputation (what does a degree from KI signify?). So far, I have witnessed how great of a research facility it is as well as how international oriented it is (see below).  The last time I was surrounded by these many nationalities was when I went on a tour of the United Nations in Switzerland. This is a representation of the current classroom. How many of these flags of the world can you identify?

international-epiI also like how the courses are set up. You focus on one course at a time and you can really dive in and become competent in each course instead of overloading your schedule (and brain) with three courses at a time. You have the luxury of having 6-10 weeks of one course, with several professors who specialise in that particular topic- it is a win win!!

We are now midway through our second course- Methods for studying the distribution of health. The theories we learn are always complemented with exercises and workshops and in doing so, we are also exposed to new and relevant articles and learn how to work together as a team.

I am still in the honeymoon phase with epidemiology and KI but when will this end? If I could make an educated guess, I would say November 7th- we start Basic statistics and computer-based statistical analysis! I will make sure to report back.


  • Decide if this programme is right for you (if you value working in a dynamic environment, I strongly suggest you look into this programme).
  • Always play your strength. Focus on what you ‘have’ and not on what you ‘lack’
  • Work on your CV. Besides your transcript and grades, your CV is your way to stand out and make a convincing case of why you should join this great interdisciplinary programme. You can find the form here.

I will revisit this topic in more detail in the near future but until then, you can always contact me at or leave your comments/questions/suggestions below.


Fun fact: search suggests (and corrects) John Snow (considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology) to Jon Snow (a fictional character from Game of Thrones).

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