Core Activities & competencies

Core Activities

The Applied Epidemiology Fellowship provides core activities that fellows complete during their fellowship. All fellows must complete the core activites below in order to be a graduate of the program and receive a certification. 


All incoming fellows participate in orientation sessions. The orientation covers various topics related to developing the Applied Epidemiology Core Competencies. The curriculum is taught by CSTE and CDC epidemiologists as well as faculty from Schools of Public Health.

Plan of Action

After starting at the fellow’s host site, the fellow and mentors develop a mutually agreed upon plan for fulfilling the Applied Epidemiology Core Competencies. By the end of the third month of the fellowship, the fellow and mentors submit a virtual formal “Plan of Action” that outlines how the fellow will complete the required core activities and address the competencies during the fellowship. Once submitted, fellows submit a quarterly Plan of Action which provides updates to the activities from the original Plan of Action. Reports describe completed activities, accomplishments to date, and any new activities.  


Each fellow works with their mentors to complete biannual evaluations. These evaluations assess the fellow’s performance and outline progress toward meeting the required core activities. 

CSTE Annual Conference

Fellows are required to attend the CSTE Annual conference each year of their fellowship. Fellows are required to submit abstracts for the conference. Fellows are not expected to use their professional development allowance to attend the conference. To learn more about how fellows participate in the CSTE Annual Conference, visit CSTE Annual Conference


A certificate from CSTE is awarded to each fellow at the end of the two-year fellowship, provided they demonstrate completion of all required core activities, submit a final report to CSTE, and perform satisfactorily during the fellowship according to their mentors. 

Fellowship Competencies

The Applied Epidemiology Fellowship is a competency based program where fellows complete competencies during their fellowship. The competencies fall under four major categories: Epidemiologic Methods, Communication, Public Health Practice, Public Health Practice, Policy and Legal Issues, and Optional Experiences. All fellows must complete the competencies below in order to be a graduate of the program. 

Epidemiologic Methods
  1. Design or implement a new, or revise an existing surveillance system
  2. Evaluate a surveillance system and know the limitations of surveillance data
  3. Play a functional role and participate in emergency preparedness and response (training, tabletop exercises, surge capacity, etc.)
  4. Interpret surveillance data
  5. Design an epidemiologic study to address a health problem
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of study design and the advantages and limitations of each type
  7. Design a questionnaire or other data collection tool to address a health problem
  8. Collect health data from appropriate sources (e.g. case interviews, medical records, vital statistics records, laboratory reports, or pathology reports)
  9. Create a database for a health data set
  10. Use statistical software to analyze and characterize epidemiologic data
  11. Interpret findings from epidemiologic studies, including recognition of the limitations of the data and potential sources of bias and/or confounding
  12. Recommend control measures, prevention programs, or other public health interventions based on epidemiologic findings


* Indicates Core Competencies addressed in the fellowship orientation curriculum or in webinar format hosted by CSTE.

  1. Write a field investigation report resulting from participation in an outbreak investigation or a time-sensitive field investigation
  2. Write a surveillance report
  3. Understand the basic process for preparing a manuscript for publication*
  4. Make an oral presentation using appropriate media
  5. Present data graphically and know how to use graphic software
  6. Understand the basics of health risk communication and communicate epidemiologic findings in a manner easily understood by lay audiences
  7. Masters-level Fellows: present at a national or regional meeting, publish a technical report, or prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  8. Doctoral-level fellows: prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal

* Indicates Core Competencies addressed in the fellowship orientation curriculum or in webinar format hosted by CSTE.

  1. Understand the basics of public health law
  2. Understand the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA)*
  3. Distinguish between public health research and public health practice*
  4. Understand policies for the protection of human subjects in research and the role of an Institutional Review Board (IRB)*
  5. Know the essential public health functions*
  6. Understand the roles of local, state, and federal public health agencies*
  7. Appreciate the diversity of how epidemiology is used in different program areas
  8. Understand and demonstrate cultural sensitivity and its relevance to public health practice

* Indicates Core Competencies addressed in the fellowship orientation curriculum or in webinar format hosted by CSTE.

Optional Experiences
  1. Provide epidemiologic input into an assessment of a local public health priority or issue
  2. Fellow to work with another AEF fellow or other public health trainee to complete a similar project and provide support to each other during the project phase
  3. Fellow to complete a visit to a lab or a different type of STLT agency than his/her placement; a fellow may also seek to complete an in-person hands-on experience (up to 5 days) in a different area than where he or she works to assist with a short term project or assignment
  4. Fellows to complete a report, presentation, brief, etc. related to one of the following activities: (1) Demonstrate knowledge of non-ID data sources and work on a project around this source; (2) Assist a non-ID department with a grant writing opportunity

* Indicates Core Competencies addressed in the fellowship orientation curriculum or in webinar format hosted by CSTE.