Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD

The Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD program in Temple’s College of Public Health is designed to develop leading public health scientists and academics. Students are trained to develop and implement social and behavioral science theory, research methods, and evidence-based content expertise in order to

  • address public health priorities,
  • reduce health disparities and
  • promote positive health outcomes.

The Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD program focuses on public health problems associated with both the general population and vulnerable populations such as children, those with chronic physical and mental illnesses, and individuals living in poverty.

You will work closely with a single faculty mentor to develop your scholarship and research skills. You can also collaborate with other department faculty members as you develop a focused program of research with your mentor. Students develop skills in grant writing, scientific presentations and teaching, and become active members of an academic culture that promotes professional values and ethics in public health research and education.

In addition to academic courses, students build their CVs by participating in scientific conferences, departmental and college colloquia, and professional development opportunities. An area paper requirement ensures that students have at least one first-authored, peer-reviewed publication (in addition to collaborative research) prior to beginning their dissertation research.

Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD graduates are prepared for various careers in academia and research. Some graduates become faculty members at universities. Others hold research positions in public health departments, research centers, industry, community agencies, foundations, healthcare systems and nonprofit organizations.

What sets apart our Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD?

  • Renowned faculty: Nationally and internationally recognized faculty mentors manage federal- and foundation-funded projects that focus on community-based and systems research. Areas of funded research include addictions, cancer control, chronic disease treatment and prevention, health communications, HIV, maternal and child health, obesity, nutrition, and organ transplant promotion.
  • Interdisciplinary opportunities: The College of Public Health incorporates healthcare and health services disciplines as well as traditional public health fields. Students have access to faculty instructors and collaborators across 17 disciplines that include epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, and clinical fields such as social work.
  • Preparation for academic teaching: Our students can enroll in the Teaching for Higher Education certificate program, offered by Temple’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching, while pursuing their PhD.
  • Applied experience: All students take the Grantsmanship in Health Research course, which culminates in a student-authored grant submission to federal (e.g. National Institutes of Health) or foundation agencies. Grant awardees receive additional support to expand their scholarship and expertise. The mentored grant writing experience is the first step to becoming an independent investigator with a funding record.

Program Format

Students complete 45 credits to graduate, including a possible nine credits of advanced standing from previous coursework. The core curriculum includes essential courses in social and behavioral sciences—such as health communication, health psychology, and health promotion in vulnerable populations—and emphasizes in-depth training in biostatistics, grant writing, and research methodology.

See a full list of Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD courses.

Funding for Doctoral Students

The College of Public Health offers all PhD students a competitive level of support, including tuition, stipend and health insurance, for four years. Graduate assistantships sponsored by the College of Public Health are outlined below.

  • Research assistants perform supervised research activities and work with faculty on grant proposals and ongoing research. Through these experiences, you will develop both research and grant writing competencies.
  • Teaching assistants are assigned to assist in teaching courses, including grading exams and papers or teaching lab sections. Teaching assistants learn current pedagogies that prepare them for academic teaching. They can also receive certification in higher education teaching.

Highly qualified candidates are nominated for university fellowships, and candidates from minority groups can be nominated for Temple’s Future Faculty Fellow program.


Additional Program Information