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CPC predoctoral 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. 

The program is currently led by Dr. Elizabeth Frankenberg. Dr. Frankenberg 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 

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  
  • 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 Conduct of Research 
  • Attend and participate in the weekly population research seminars and workshops 
  • Attend the annual meeting of the Population Association of America 
  • Complete a population-relevant thesis or dissertation.  


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 selection committee strongly prioritizes applications from students who will be in their first or second year of doctoral study at the start of the traineeship.

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. 

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 positions

Trainees are eligible for NICHD training grant support only during the first four years as a doctoral student 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.  

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

How to apply 

The call for applications is typically released in November of each year, and applications are due in mid-January.

New Applicants: A completed application for the initial predoctoral traineeship 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. 

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). 

Selection process 

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. 


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