Graduate Bulletin

Public Health, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 2

All application materials must be received by the January 2 deadline in order to be reviewed by the Ph.D. Admissions Committee. Admission is highly competitive, and students are admitted only once each year. Applications are evaluated together after the deadline has passed. Applications that are completed after the deadline are held for review the following year.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from evaluators who can provide insight into the applicant's academic abilities and talents, as well as comment on the applicant's aptitude for doctoral-level study and research. Recommendations from college/university faculty members are preferred.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Applicants are expected to have completed coursework in the Natural, Social, or Behavioral Sciences related to health. A course in Statistics and Research Methods is desirable.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

Nearly all students admitted to the program have a master’s degree. Although a master's degree specifically in Public Health is not required, preference is given to applicants who have a background in the Health Sciences, including Behavioral Medicine, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Communication, Health Psychology, Medicine, or a Public Health discipline. 

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree is required, although it need not be in Public Health. Preference is given to applicants who have a background in the Health Sciences, including Behavioral Medicine, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Communication, Health Psychology, Medicine, or a Public Health discipline. 

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be no more than 750 words in length. It must identify the Public Health concentration for which you wish to be considered:  Environmental Health and Health Policy (EHHP) or Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (SBHS). Descriptions for the concentrations can be found below in "About the Program.”

The Statement should describe important academic and research achievements and interests. It also should specify how your research interests relate to your ultimate career goals and to ongoing work by faculty members affiliated with the Public Health Ph.D. Program. The match between faculty and student interests is important in the admissions decision. For a description of faculty interests, visit the Public Health webpage:

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. The median score of recently admitted applicants is 550 Verbal and 620 Quantitative.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted:  550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 internet-based.


A resume is required.

Writing Sample:

Scholarly articles, technical reports, or academic professional papers are preferred. Unless it is a published work, the writing sample should be no more than 10 pages.

Advanced Standing:

A student enrolled in the Ph.D. Program in Public Health may apply for advanced standing credits for graduate coursework graded "B" or better from an accredited institution. Credits for courses taken as part of a master's degree will be considered; credits for theses, fieldwork, clinical practice, or directed projects/readings cannot be used for advanced standing credit. To be approved for advanced standing, the courses must be deemed appropriate as part of the student’s training in the Ph.D. Program. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 30.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Total Number of Credits Required:  70

Required Courses:

Public Health Core (9 credits):

PH 5001: History and Bioethics in Public Health

PH 5101: Epidemiology

PH 5102: Theoretical Foundations of Health Behavior

Research and Statistics Courses (18 credits):

PH 5002: Biostatistics

PH 8001: Research Methods

PH 8012: Multivariate Biostatistics

Plus three additional advisor-approved methods or statistics courses.

Concentration Courses (33 credits):

For the Environmental Health and Health Policy (EHHP) concentration:

PH 5103: Environmental Health

For the Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (SBHS) concentration:

PH 8009: Health Psychology

Plus 30 additional credits in advisor-approved courses in the concentration.

Non-Didactic Courses:

PH 9994: Preliminary Examination (1 credit)

PH 9998: Pre-Dissertation Research Proposal (3 credits)*

PH 9999: Dissertation Research (6 credits)**

* Students enrolled in PH 9998 must be enrolled 3 s.h. each term until the dissertation proposal is approved and filed with the Graduate School.

** Students enrolled in PH 9999 must enroll for a minimum of 6 s.h. after approval of the proposal and be enrolled for at least 3 s.h. until the dissertation is defended and filed with the Graduate School.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Area Paper:

Prior to sitting for the preliminary examinations, students must write a published or publishable paper in their chosen area.  The purpose of the paper requirement is to demonstrate critical and interpretive knowledge in specialized areas of Public Health, as well as a high proficiency in written communication. The paper can take a variety of formats, ranging from a systematic review, an empirical paper, or a theoretical piece relevant to the field. The student must be the lead or sole author. The Ph.D. Program Director will determine if the published paper meets the writing requirement. If a student is not submitting a first-authored, peer-reviewed, and published (or in press) article, the Ph.D. Program Director and one other Ph.D. Program faculty member from the concentration area will review the paper to assess whether it is of publishable quality. The second reader may not be the student’s advisor. The review will be similar to a peer review of a journal article and evaluated as either passing or failing the writing requirement. Students who fail the paper requirement will be allowed to submit a revision.  The evaluators shall set a reasonable timeline for doing so, usually within one semester. A student cannot advance to the preliminary examinations without passing the paper requirement. Failure to satisfactorily complete the area paper requirement within the specified time frame can result in dismissal from the Ph.D. Program. Students who are entering the Ph.D. Program and have already published a peer-reviewed paper related to Public Health can request to waive this requirement. This involves completing a waiver application and submitting it along with the published document to the Ph.D. Program Director.

Preliminary Examinations (PH 9994):

All students will be required to take the preliminary examinations prior to defending their dissertation research proposal. The preliminary examinations cover all of the core components of the students’ training, including the specific area of concentration. The exams should be taken within one semester of completing all coursework. A student must register for PH 9994 (1 credit) in the semester in which the examinations are taken. To register for PH 9994, the student must have completed all coursework or be enrolled in final courses in the semester in which the examinations are taken. The examinations cannot be taken until all Incomplete and/or "NR" grades are removed and the area paper requirement has been satisfied.  Students are required to meet with their advisor and the Ph.D. Program Director before the beginning of the semester in which they plan to take the examinations to establish eligibility. A special authorization card is required to register.

The preliminary examinations consist of the following components:

a) Core exam, which is a one-week take-home written examination on the history, bioethics, and scientific foundations of Public Health, with an emphasis on the student’s concentration.

b) Methods exam, which is a four-hour in-class examination on research methods and statistics.

c) Oral exam, which is a two-hour oral examination by a panel of three faculty members on any areas covered in the three written examinations, the area paper, and the students’ concentration.

Students who fail the written examination do not proceed to the oral examination.  They may have one opportunity to take the examination again.  A second failure results in automatic dismissal from the Ph.D. Program.

Dissertation Proposal (PH 9998): 

After passing the preliminary examinations, students may enroll in PH 9998: Pre-Dissertation Research Proposal. Students must be enrolled for 3 s.h. of PH 9998 each academic term until they file their dissertation proposal with the Graduate School. All students shall form a Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC) with the approval of the Ph.D. Program Director. The Committee is composed of at least three Graduate Faculty members: two members, including the Chair, must be from the Ph.D. Program faculty of the Department of Public Health. The DAC Chair must be approved as Doctoral Graduate Faculty by the Deans of the College of Health Professions and of the Graduate School. A fourth, external reader will also be required at the time of the final dissertation defense. This person must be a member of the Graduate Faculty at Temple or approved by the Dean of the College to take part in the final dissertation examination. This fourth member is not required to be present at the defense of the proposal. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress; coordinating the responses of the Committee members; and informing the student and the Ph.D. Program Director annually of the student's academic progress.

To fulfill the requirements of PH 9998, students shall submit a dissertation proposal, successfully defend it orally before their Committee, apply for IRB approval for the proposed research, and submit the proposal to the Graduate School. Students shall have a maximum of one year from the time of completing their preliminary examinations to develop and defend their dissertation proposal. Thus, students may enroll in PH 9998 for only two semesters without permission. Students needing more time may, with the support of their advisor, formally petition the Ph.D. Program Director for an extension, although an extension is not guaranteed.  Failure to meet these requirements can result in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation (PH 9999): 

The doctoral dissertation is an original theory-based research study that makes a significant contribution to the field of Public Health. It should expand existing knowledge and demonstrate the student's mastery of theory and research methods, particularly within a concentration or specialty area. The research should be rigorous, while upholding the ethics and standards of the field. It is expected that the study will result in publication and presentation to professional audiences.

To fulfill the dissertation requirement, students shall prepare and orally defend in a public meeting the final dissertation. Students should present their plans for publishing their dissertation as part of their defense.  Students must be enrolled continuously for at least 3 credits of dissertation research until their dissertation is successfully defended.  The Graduate School requires a minimum of 6 credits for the dissertation experience.  Students must be enrolled in the semester that they graduate.

The Dissertation Examining Committee (DEC) shall consist of the DAC plus at least one additional external reviewer. The external reviewer must be doctorally prepared. If this person is not a member of the Temple University Graduate Faculty, s/he must be approved by the Ph.D. Program Director and the Dean of the College to take part in the final dissertation examination. The DEC evaluates the student’s written dissertation and oral defense, including the student’s ability to articulate orally the research question; methodological approach; primary findings; interpretation of the findings; and implications for theory, research, and practice. The DEC votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

If a student needs to change a member of a Committee, the new member must be approved by the Ph.D. Program Director and registered with the Graduate School.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their DEC and work with the Public Health Department’s Administrative Assistant to secure a room. This should be done at least one month in advance of the proposed date. The Administrative Assistant will arrange the time, date, and room within two working days.  After the time, date, and room are secured, the student must send to the Graduate School a completed “Announcement of Oral Defense” form. This must be submitted at least 10 working days before the defense. The Department posts flyers announcing the defense, and the Graduate School lists the defense on its website.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

Ph.D. Program in Public Health

Department of Public Health

College of Health Professions

1700 N. Broad Street, Room 304

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


Joyce Hankins


Ph.D. Program Director:

Dr. Stephen Lepore


Department Chairperson:

Dr. Alice Hausman


About the Program

The Public Health doctoral program provides advanced training leading to a Ph.D. in Public Health with a concentration in either Environmental Health and Health Policy or Social and Behavioral Health Sciences.  (For a distinction between the concentrations, see "Areas of Specialization" below.) The Ph.D. Program provides training and experiences that support interdisciplinary learning; promote critical and theory-based problem-solving skills to address public health problems; and foster the development of public health professional values and ethics. All students in the Ph.D. Program will complete common core course requirements, which include foundational courses in Bioethics, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, History of Public Health, and Theory of Health Behavior, and be introduced to critical public health research methods and statistical techniques.  Beyond these core courses, students will take specialized courses in their chosen concentration and engage in research and scholarly productivity with faculty members. 

In addition to in-depth, didactic training in public health concepts and methods, the Ph.D. Program aims to foster in its trainees the development of a public health professional identity and values.  Professional development exercises will be infused in didactic courses and available in other program-sponsored activities (e.g., conference attendance, departmental colloquia and brownbag presentations, journal clubs, and professional development workshops). Doctoral trainees also will be encouraged to take advantage of professional development opportunities offered at various public health centers and laboratories, the College of Health Professions, and Temple University, including special workshops and seminars on grant writing, methods, and teaching. Finally, students will learn by working closely with faculty on research and writing papers for publications. 

Time Limit for Degree Completion:  7 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Full-time study is required. Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before and after 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Ph.D. Program in Public Health

Department of Public Health

College of Health Professions

1700 N. Broad Street, Room 304

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Interdisciplinary Study:

Students are encouraged to develop programs of study that are interdisciplinary in nature, involving coursework across departments, schools, and colleges. Research in affiliated units is encouraged.


A number of centers and laboratories exist within the Department of Public Health, the College of Health Professions, and Temple University that are designed to study, develop, and evaluate interventions aimed at resolving significant public health problems (e.g., ethnic and racial disparities in cancer, inadequate disaster preparedness, obesity, tobacco exposure, violence).  These centers and labs provide opportunities for research placements for doctoral students; assist them in developing papers for publication and presentation at conferences; provide professional socialization; help them to define dissertation projects using existing funded studies; and may provide some funding in the form of Research Assistantships. Specific centers and labs include the Center for Asian Tobacco Control, the Ergonomics and Work Physiology Laboratory, the Health Behavior Research Clinic, the Risk Communication Laboratory, and the Social and Behavioral Health Intervention Laboratory. Faculty and doctoral students also are involved in research with affiliates in the Department of Nursing, Fox Chase Cancer Center, the Fox School of Business and Management, the Institute on Aging, the Institute on Disabilities, the School of Communications and Theater, the School of Medicine, and the School of Podiatric Medicine. Additional research opportunities at Temple University include the Institute for Survey Research, the Social Science Data Library, and the Testing and Measurement Center.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Two areas of specialization are offered as part of the Ph.D. Program in Public Health:

Environmental Health and Health Policy (EHHP):  The EHHP concentration is unique in that it provides students with both an opportunity to develop technical expertise in environmental health sciences and an understanding of policy making.  The program trains students in developing, evaluating, and implementing health policy at multiple levels (local, state, national, global) and in both private and public institutional settings.  Students may choose to focus on environmental health, with its emphasis on environmental policy, work policy, and sustainable development.  Alternatively, they may focus on health policy, with its emphasis on health administration and organizational or health politics.  Students in the EHHP concentration are more likely than students in the SBHS concentration to take methodological courses in policy analysis, qualitative data collection and analysis, and archival or secondary data analysis.

Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (SBHS):  The SBHS concentration provides advanced training in theory, research, and practice related to social (often community-based) and behavioral influences on population health.  Students learn to develop and evaluate social and behavioral public health programs, as well as apply social and behavioral science theories and methods to mitigating pressing public health problems.  The program emphasizes understanding the needs of and effective methods of intervening with vulnerable and unique populations, particularly members of racial and ethnic minority groups, children, and the elderly.  Thus, many courses address how sociocultural factors shape health outcomes in populations and responses of those populations to health interventions. Students electing the SBHS concentration take courses related to health behavior change, health psychology, social determinants of health, and methods of designing and evaluating social and behavioral health interventions.  Whereas the core course sequence ensures that students are grounded in the history and ethical foundations of public health research and have a broad understanding of the range of public health methodologies and theories, the concentration is designed to give students a deeper understanding of the theory and research related to social and behavioral aspects of public health, as well as their particular dissertation topic.  In addition to didactic coursework, many opportunities exist for students to learn with faculty conducting research in the field, particularly in the areas of cancer prevention (e.g., early detection, screening), control (e.g., smoking cessation), and survivorship (e.g., online and live support groups).  Many faculty members have active research programs that involve health education, particularly in community, hospital/clinic, and school settings, which provide opportunities for doctoral students to develop their research.  Students in the SBHS concentration also are expected to participate in ongoing professional development opportunities, including journal clubs, grant writing workshops, colloquia, and brown-bag research presentations.

Job Placement:

Graduates of the Ph.D. Program are prepared to become faculty members or researchers in colleges and universities or to hold research-related positions in a wide range of organizations. Past graduates are employed in health systems, hospitals and clinics, public health departments, and public health and other healthcare and human service agencies. Some graduates are employed by schools, pharmaceutical companies, non-profit and for-profit corporations, foundations, and consulting firms.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students may take Ph.D. courses only with the permission of the instructor. Further, 8000-level courses are not open to non-matriculated students. Completion of coursework does not ensure admission into the program.

Financing Opportunities

Full-time Ph.D. students generally receive financial support through a combination of fellowships and assistantships. Research Assistants (RAs) perform supervised research activities. Teaching Assistants (TAs) may be assigned to assist in the teaching of courses, including grading examinations and papers or teaching laboratory sections. Some TAs independently teach undergraduate courses. TAs and RAs provide 20 hours of service per week. Both assistantships carry a stipend and typically tuition remission for up to 9 credits per semester. Applications for assistantships are available from the Department of Public Health and must be submitted by January 10 for the following Fall semester. The application requires a statement of previous teaching and/or research experience, areas of interest, and future goals; unofficial copies of transcripts; and a curriculum vitae or resume. The Department makes offers of assistantships following admission to the program. Applications should be addressed to Dr. Alice Hausman, Chair of the Department of Public Health, 1700 N. Broad Street, Room 304, Temple University, P.O. Box 2843, Philadelphia, PA 19122-0843.

Updated 11.15.07