PhD in Community and Behavioral Health

Degree Description and Learner Objectives

Prepares individuals for academic, research, and policy-making careers in the social and behavioral health sciences. Graduates of this Ph.D. program will be able to do the following:

  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of and contribute to social and behavioral science theories related to public health.
  • Identify knowledge gaps, synthesize relevant information, and formulate focused research questions to address these gaps.
  • Critically evaluate social and behavioral science research design, methodology, and analysis related to public health.
  • Contribute to public health knowledge by designing and implementing research that incorporates knowledge of pertinent cultural, social, behavioral, and biological factors using quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Demonstrate professional skills including scientific writing, oral communication, grant-writing, interdisciplinary collaboration, teaching, and service.
  • Communicate research findings effectively to various audiences such as researchers, policy makers, and community.
  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge in designing and implementing community-based interventions and research.


A master’s degree in a related area is required.

Supervision of a Ph.D. program

It is necessary for all Ph.D. students to be matched with appropriate department faculty who are available to advise their program of study and chair their dissertation committee. Prospective students should begin this matching process by speaking with the Graduate Program Coordinator, about which faculty members are currently available for the advisement and dissertation chair roles. The Graduate Program Coordinator will suggest personal contact with likely advisors as needed. Acceptance into the Ph.D. program will be in part dependent on the identification and agreement of an appropriate and available advisor and dissertation chair.

PhD Curriculum

During their first semester, students will work with their academic adviser to develop a Plan of Study that will satisfy both the students’ individual goals, and the requirements listed below. The curriculum for the doctoral program requires that students complete at least 75 semester hours of course work past the baccalaureate degree. The transfer credit given for a master’s degree counts towards these 75 semester hours. In addition to the courses below, students are required to attend departmental seminars.

College of Public Health Core (9 s.h. required)

Number Title Hours
BIOS:4120 Introduction to Biostatistics 3
CBH:4105 Introduction to Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 3
EPID:4400 Epidemiology I: Principles 3

Essentials of Public Health*

* Course requirement waived for students with a MPH


Behavior and Social Sciences Core (21 s.h. required)

Number Title Hours
CBH:5125 Medical Anthropology 3
CBH:5220 Health Behavior and Health Education 3
CBH:5420 Communicating with the Community 3
CBH:6205 Designing and Implementing Interventions 3
CBH:6210 Health Communication (same as 036:240) 3
CBH:6220 Health Communication Campaigns (same as 036:379) 3

Research Methods Core (15 s.h. required)

Number Title Hours
BIOS:5120 Regression Modeling and ANOVA in the Health Sciences 3
CBH:5305 Evaluation I: Theory and Applications 3
CBH:5310 Qualitative Research for Public Health 3
CBH:6335 Research Methods in Community and Behavioral Health 3
PSQF:6249 Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models 3
PSQF:6252 Introduction to Multivariate Statistical Methods 3
SOC:5160 Sampling, Measurement, and Observation Techniques 3
SOC:6170 Introduction to Sociological Data Analysis 3
SOC:6180 Linear Models in Sociological Research 3
SOC:7170 Categorial Data Analysis in Sociological Research 3
SOC:7180 Seminar: Selected Topics in Research Methods & Data Analysis 3

Content Area Electives (18 s.h. required)

Students should select elective courses in consultation with their advisor. The following is a list of suggested courses.

Number Title Hours
CBH:5140 Anthropology of Women’s Health (same as 113:133) 3
CBH:5420 Communicating with the Community 3
CBH:5435 Substance Abuse and Mental Health 3
CBH:6405 Maternal, Child, Family Health: An Overview 3
CBH:6415 Independent Study in Community and Behavioral Health Arr
GEOG:3530 Mapping American Cities and Regions 3
HMP:5005 Introduction to Health Care Organization and Policy 3
HMP:5410 Health Economics I 3
HMP:6555 Health Economics II 3
HMP:6710 Federalism and Health Policy 3
CPH:4100 Introduction to Public Health 3
OEH:4240 Global Environmental Health 3

Dissertation (12 s.h. required)

Number Title Hours
CBH:7505 Thesis/Dissertation Hours Arr
Total Semester Hours (minimum) 75 s.h.

PhD Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination is taken after the majority of coursework for the Ph.D. degree has been completed. It tests the student’s ability to integrate relevant theories, analytical skills, research design and methodology in the behavioral and social sciences related to public health.

Dissertation Defense

The goal of the dissertation is to produce a document that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal. Original thought is required in the formulation and conduct of the research, although neither original data collection nor data analysis are strictly required. During the dissertation defense, a specially formed committee will thoroughly examine the student’s area of knowledge associated with the context of the work.

Questions or comments? Contact Torrie Malichky. This page was last reviewed on April 6, 2018.