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Degree Programs

Application for this degree program is available through SOPHAS at

The Doctoral Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health Programs

Doctoral students are currently accepted in five concentration areas: Biostatistics, Environmental & Occupational Health, Epidemiology, Health Systems & Policy, and Social & Behavioral Health Sciences, pending funding availability. The School has several PhD fellowships annually and faculty also support PhD students on extramural research funds. Scholarly “fit” with faculty research is an important criteria in our admissions decisions. A current summary of federally-funded research at the Rutgers School of Public Health made be found by using the NIH Research Portfolio Online Report Tools.

The PhD degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours for completion. Candidates for the PhD are expected to enroll full-time and are required to complete qualifying examinations, as well as complete and defend original dissertation research. Through doctoral-level research, PhD students will develop expertise on a single topic, design and implement a research project, integrate and interpret complex data, and complete a comprehensive dissertation. Students must plan this carefully. Although 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 the Doctoral and Research Committee. Information on the Governance of the PhD in Public Health Program may be found in the PhD in Public Health Bylaws.

A specific course of study is followed by all PhD students during the first year of full-time study with specialization courses (minimum 15 credits) completed during the second year of full-time study. PhD students then begin their dissertation research in the third year of full-time study.

Program Requirements

Each student must participate in the Doctoral Colloquium in Year 1 and Year 2, participate in the 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, and 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. First, PhD students are expected to advance to candidacy within three (3) years of admission to the doctoral program. Second, students should defend their dissertation proposal within one (1) year of advancing to candidacy. Third, a student's entire course of study, including coursework, qualifying exam, thesis research and defense, must be completed within seven (7) years of admission to the PhD Program.

Doctoral Colloquium

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 Seminar

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.

Teaching Experience

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 0724 - 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.

Research Activities

All PhD students are expected to engage in research activities with 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.

Qualifying Examination

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. The Office of Student Affairs 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 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.

Publication of Dissertation and Academic Data

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.

PHD Curriculum Summary

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.