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Population Science Predoctoral Training Program

CPC trainees come from departments from across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including anthropology, epidemiology, geography, health behavior, health policy and management, maternal and child health, nutrition, public policy and sociology. A focus on population must be central to each trainee’s program of study, but doctoral students from any department are eligible to apply.

Hands-on, participatory learning is a key component of the training program.  Predoctoral trainees are expected to devote 9-12 hours per week to a research practicum with their faculty mentors. Trainees learn the substantive and methodological questions that drive the projects, formulate new questions, evaluate alternate research designs and methods that might be used, develop the appropriate statistical and analytic skills needed to test hypotheses and interpret results, and learn how to communicate findings through presentations at professional meetings and published articles in  peer-reviewed journals. Meet the trainees.

Directors and Mentors

The program is currently led by Dr. Barbara Entwisle (Sociology), who studies social context and demographic and health behavior and outcomes. She works alongside over 50+ faculty fellows; together, they provide trainees with a strong grounding in population science through coursework, seminars, and workshops and a mentored research practicum that continues throughout the doctoral program. See all faculty mentors.

Program Requirements

Predoctoral trainees receive:

  • A strong grounding in population science through coursework, seminars, and workshops
  • A mentored research practicum with one or more faculty members that continues throughout training
  • Professional development activities including workshops on grant writing, academic publishing, and career development
  • Support to attend the Population Association of America’s annual conference

Trainees must meet the course, dissertation, and other requirements of their home departments. In addition, they must:

  • Participate in a continuing practicum under the supervision of one or more faculty fellows
  • Complete a one-term demography course before or during their first year as a trainee (SOCI 830 or BIOS 670)
  • Complete an approved population science graduate seminar outside of their home department taught by a CPC faculty fellow in their first or second year as trainee
  • Complete university and NIH required training in human subjects protection and the Responsible Code of Research
  • Attend and participate in the weekly population research seminars and workshops
  • Attend the annual meeting of the Population Association of America

An approved list of courses for the Population Science Training Program is available here. A population-relevant thesis or dissertation is expected from all participants in the training program.


All CPC predoctoral trainees must be admitted to a program leading to a doctoral degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prior to applying to the CPC training program. We strongly encourage applicants to submit graduate school applications by departmental deadlines so that departmental decisions may be made prior to CPC deadlines.

T32-funded positions require successful applicants to be US citizens or permanent residents at the time of appointment. Non-US citizens can participate in the training program, but cannot receive funds from the T32 grant.

CPC does not admit students or award degrees. Information on graduate admission procedures may be obtained from departmental registrars.

Stipend and Benefits

Trainees are supported in a variety of ways, including:

  • NICHD T32 Training Grant
  • NIH F31 Individual Fellowship grants
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
  • NSF PIRE Training Program in Energy Poverty
  • UNC Royster Fellowship
  • UNC Dissertation completion fellowships
  • CPC Faculty Fellow funded research grants
  • Departmental TA or RA-ships

Trainees are eligible for NICHD training grant support only during the first four years as a graduate student (at any level) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  T32-funded positions require successful applicants to be US citizens or permanent residents at the time of appointment. (Non-US citizens can participate in the training program, but cannot receive funds from the T32 grant.)

All trainees regardless of funding source are offered a workspace, computer, and travel support to attend the Population Association of America (PAA) annual conference.

Supplemental Compensation Policy

Trainees funded by the NICHD Population Science Training Grant are expected to have a full-time commitment to their research and training program.  Extramural activities resulting in supplemental compensation are allowed only when the activities result in a career building benefit, or in the case of a departmental requirement.  Income producing activities, with income enhancement as the primary motivation, are not allowed.

All requests to engage in work resulting in financial compensation are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be made in writing and approved by the Program Director prior to beginning any work. All requests must be approved and endorsed by your faculty preceptors. Please email for information regarding the guidelines that must be followed for consideration of such requests.

How To Apply

We welcome applications from UNC-Chapel Hill PhD students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

Prospective trainees who are not yet enrolled in a UNC-Chapel Hill PhD program must first apply to and be admitted by a disciplinary department.

The Population Science Training Committee evaluates new and returning trainees each February.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. Applications are due January 15, 2021. To request an application, please contact Abigail Haydon (


New Applicants

A completed application for the initial predoctoral appointment includes information about previous education, research interests, previous population-relevant activities, the planned program of research for the next year, plans for thesis/dissertation research, and career plans following training.

For new applicants, the following items must be submitted online:

  • Application form
  • Current CV/resume
  • Official transcripts (including courses in-progress)
  • Preceptor Evaluations
  • Department Evaluations

The initial term of appointment is for one year, beginning in August each year, with the potential for reappointment pending a review of the trainee’s annual progress.

Returning Applicants

Current trainees must reapply each year to the Population Science Training Program. A completed application will include a description of their current research practicum, progress to-date (including results, accomplishments, and collaborations over the past year), coursework, conference attendance, professional development activities, and their planned research activities for the upcoming year. The Training Program will also request evaluations of the trainee’s progress over the past year from their home department and preceptor(s).

The following items must be submitted for re-application:

  • A completed application form
  • Current CV/resume
  • Official transcripts

Admitted Trainees

New students will be informed about the outcome of their application as soon as possible after the Training Committee meeting in February of each year.  For those applicants that are new to UNC, decisions will be made by mid-March. Reapplicants will be informed by mid-April.

Applicants who are admitted into the program will receive more detailed information about working at CPC during their orientation.

If you have any questions, send an email to


If you have any questions, send an email to

Barbara Entwisle

Barbara Entwisle