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School of Public Health

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD)

PhD Format

The PhD in Public Health is a full-time program for candidates dedicated to doctoral-level research.

A specific course of study is followed by all PhD in Public Health concentration and specialization students. During a student’s first and second years of study, they are required to complete Doctoral Colloquium I and II, respectively.

PhD students complete seminar coursework each semester that is dedicated to current topics in public health and professional development, fulfill a teaching experience, and are immersed in research. Students are expected to present and publish at least one first authored paper prior to their dissertation proposal defense.

Following the fulfillment of their course requirements, students will complete a comprehensive qualifying exam (written and oral), as well as a dissertation.

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Academic Departments & Concentrations

Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Biostatistics and Epidemiology (specialized pharmacoepidemiology courses available)

Environmental and Occupational Health and Justice

Environmental and Occupational Health

Health Behavior, Society and Policy

Social and Behavioral Health Sciences and Health Systems and Policy

Accordion Content

  • Each student must: 

    • Participate in Doctoral Colloquium in Year 1 and Year 2
    • Take PhD Seminar each Fall and Spring semester
    • Complete an individual development plan each year of the PhD
    • Fulfill a teaching experience
    • Be immersed in research
    • Pass a qualifying exam
    • Defend a dissertation

    The curriculum must total a minimum of 72 credits, including a minimum of 24 credits of doctoral research. Each concentration has its own set of required specialization courses.

    Satisfactory progress extends beyond GPA -- students must meet three major milestones in a timely fashion.

    1. First, PhD students are expected to advance to candidacy within three years of admission to the doctoral program.
    2. Second, students should defend their dissertation proposal within one year of advancing to candidacy.
    3. Third, a student's entire course of study, including coursework, qualifying exam, thesis research and defense, must be completed within seven years of admission to the PhD Program.
  • PhD students are expected to participate in the Doctoral Colloquium (RESH 0701) each Fall and Spring semester in Year I and Year 2 (required for PhD students enrolled Fall 2020 and after). The topic of the Doctoral Colloquium in Year I is: ‘How to Conduct a Literature Review’. The students are expected to prepare a comprehensive literature review before writing a research proposal. Doctoral Colloquium in Year II is dedicated to helping PhD students develop a high-quality NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) application or equivalent to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.

  • PhD students are expected to participate in the PhD Seminar (RESH 0730) each Fall and Spring semester they are enrolled at the Rutgers School of Public Health (required for PhD students enrolled Fall 2018 and after). The purpose of the PhD Seminar is to familiarize students with the major streams of research on pressing topics in public health, prepare students to complete the PhD program, and help students develop the skills necessary to become an engaged scholar and be competitive on the academic job market.

  • Prior to or during the semester serving as a course assistant, the student should enroll in at least one of the training options listed below. The best option for each student will be based in collaboration with the Director of Doctoral Studies, their teaching assignment, and discussions with the Faculty Academic Advisor.

    Effective Teaching Training Options

    • Doctoral Course for Teaching: HBSP 0725 - Effectively Teaching and Training Adults (3 credits). The course will be offered in online/asynchronous format, and will be offered during Summer semesters, beginning Summer 2022. This course focuses on traditional and innovative teaching approaches to facilitating learning in academic, organizational or community settings, taking into consideration the characteristics of the adult learner.
    • Earn a Teaching Certificate from the Rutgers Teaching Assistant Program (TAP)

    First year doctoral students may not teach any courses or serve as course assistants during their first semester. Doctoral students typically serve as course assistants starting in the second year and after. Doctoral students may teach a course later in their PhD studies with permission from the Director of Doctoral Studies, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Department Chair, the Concentration Director, and the Faculty Academic Advisor.

  • All PhD students are expected to engage in research activities with Rutgers School of Public Health faculty under the direction of their faculty advisor. This experience may vary by concentration and faculty advisor. At a minimum, students are expected to present as well as publish at least one first authored paper prior to their dissertation proposal defense.

  • The faculty 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.

    As a student nears completion of their approved curriculum, the advisor shall propose to the Chair of the Doctoral Committee, a committee to administer the qualifying examination to the student. This committee shall be made up of at least four members of the Rutgers School of Public Health faculty and will include, at a minimum: the advisor, who has primary responsibility for the student's concentration; a faculty member responsible for questions on general public health; and the chair of the Doctoral Committee or his/her designee. Each of the parts of the exam (i.e., concentration, 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 School of Graduate Studies will have the dissertation archived. 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. Rutgers University Libraries and ProQuest LLC, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will archive the dissertation and publish the abstract. Information concerning the preparation of the dissertation and abstract and the online publishing agreement that the doctoral candidate must give to ProQuest are available in the Office of the School of Graduate Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

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

    9 CREDITS in core areas of public health: Students in all concentrations must take public health core courses.

    24 CREDITS in advanced areas of public health theory and analytics: Students in all concentrations must take advanced public health theory and analytics courses.

    15 CREDITS of specialization courses dependent on the concentration:These courses are listed on each concentration’s webpage and in the School Catalog.

    24 CREDITS of Doctoral Research: Including three credits of a Doctoral Research: Dissertation Proposal Seminar(RESH 0760-Section 000)taken in the Spring semester of the second year of full-time study.