PhD Degree Program in Public Health

Application for this degree program is available through SOPHAS at


**UPDATE** Please note we are not accepting applications to the DrPH degree program for the 2017-2018 academic year as we revise the DrPH curriculum. The PhD degree program is accepting applications.

The PhD degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours for completion. Candidates for the PhD are required to complete qualifying written and oral examinations in major and minor areas (if applicable), as well as complete and defend original dissertation research. Through doctoral level research, the students will develop expertise on a single topic, design and implement a research project, intergrate and interpret complex data, and complete a comprehensive dissertation. Students must plan this carefully. Although the students will work closely with faculty advisors, students bear responsibility for developing research of publishable quality. The curriculum and academic progress of all doctoral students is monitored by a single doctoral program committee. Doctoral students are accepted in five concentration areas: Biostatistics, Environmental & Occupational Health, Epidemiology, Health Education & Behavioral Science, and Health Systems & Policy, at our New Brunswick location; the Epidemiology concentration is also available at our Newark location. A specific course of study will be selected by the student in consultation with his/her major faculty advisor and then must be approved by the doctoral committee. Typical programs are detailed within the departments offering doctoral degrees, although individual students may make substitutions with the written approval of the doctoral committee.


Each student, in consultation with his or her advisor, must develop a proposed course of study, or curriculum, meets a residency requirement, fulfill a teaching experience, pass a preliminary exam (Department of Biostatistics only), pass a qualifying exam, and defend a dissertation. The curriculum must total a minimum of 72 credits including a minimum of 24 credits of doctoral research. The curriculum must include specification of both a major area of study and the option to select a minor area of study. Each area of concentration may develop its own set of required and elective courses. Once developed, the student's curriculum is presented to the doctoral committee. The committee makes a recommendation to the chair who must approve the curriculum in writing prior to appointment of a qualifying examination committee. A student's entire course of study, including thesis research and defense, must be completed within nine (9) years of admission to the doctoral program.


The Preliminary Examination is an in-class written exam. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination for PhD students within the Department of Biostatistics is to determine a student’s readiness to pursue the advanced level of Biostatistics theory and methods. This examination (given once a year, usually in May) will be administered to all students in the doctoral program regardless of their prior statistical training.  Students who have not yet attained a master’s degree in statistics or equivalent upon enrollment in the program will take the exam after they have completed the required preliminary courses during the first semester year. The Preliminary Exam is a precondition for a student to formally enter the doctoral curriculum. 


All doctoral students must serve as a teaching assistant for at least one semester. If a student can document sufficient teaching experience at the graduate school level, the Chair of the Doctoral Committee may waive this requirement.


Please consult each Department's residency requirement.


The advisor, together with the Chair of the Doctoral Committee, is responsible for proposing a qualifying examination committee and providing guidance for the student's preparation for that exam. The campus office staff will schedule the qualifying examination. As a student nears completion of his or her approved curriculum, the advisor shall propose to the chair of the doctoral program a committee to administer the qualifying examination to the student. This committee will be made up of at least four members of the Rutgers School of Public Health and will include: the advisor, who has primary responsibility for the student's major; a faculty member responsible for the student's minor (if applicable); a faculty member responsible for questions on general public health; and the chair of the doctoral program or his/her designee. The Associate Dean for the New Brunswick Campus may serve as an ad hoc member of the examining committee. Each of the three parts of the exam (i.e., major, minor, general public health) will be graded on a pass/fail basis and may be passed with up to one dissenting vote.


After the granting of the doctorate, the Rutgers University Graduate School-New Brunswick will have the dissertation microfilmed. The dissertation must, therefore, be prepared with the same care as if it were to appear in printed form. The abstract that must accompany the dissertation will be published in dissertation abstracts and, therefore, must be ready for publication when it is submitted to the Dean. University Microfilms of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will microfilm the dissertation and publish the abstract. Information concerning the preparation of the dissertation and abstract and the agreement with University Microfilms that the candidate is to sign are available in the Office of the Graduate School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.


Students seeking the PhD degree must complete a minimum of 72 credits and defend a dissertation.

9-15 CREDITS in core areas of public health: Students in all departments must take public health core courses.

Approximately 33 CREDITS of courses dependant on approved curriculum: These courses are listed in this bulletin under the department description.

24 CREDITS of Doctoral Research.