Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 45

Required Courses:

Core Courses
HRPR 5001Current and Emerging Issues in Public Health and Health Professions 10
SBS 8005Health Promotion in Vulnerable Populations3
SBS 8009Health Psychology3
SBS 8105Health Communication3
SBS 8112Creating Novel Interventions in Public Health3
Research and Statistics Courses
EPBI 8012Multivariable Biostatistics 23
EPBI 8201Structural Equation Modeling 23
EPBI 8212Grantsmanship in Health Research3
HRPR 5999Research Experience in Health Professions 30
SBS 8001Research Methods in Public Health3
Select five from the following: 415
EPBI 5003
Spatial Analysis in Public Health
GDC 8003
Research Approaches in Communication, Development and Social Change
HRPR 8002
Qualitative Methods in Health Outcomes Measurement
SBS 5105
Maternal and Child Health
SBS 8006
Addictions and Dependencies
SBS 8018
Obesity: From Genes to Junk Food
SBS 9083
Readings and Conference in Public Health 5
Research Courses 66
SBS 9994
Preliminary Examinations 7
SBS 9998
Dissertation Proposal Research
SBS 9999
Dissertation Research
Total Credit Hours45

This common College Core course is required of all incoming graduate students in the College of Public Health. It is available completely online and designed such that students can complete the modules at their own pace over the course of their degree program.


Students may select an alternate advanced statistics course with the approval of the faculty mentor.


Students discuss gaps in their training or areas for scholarship development with their faculty mentor prior to completing the first four academic terms in the program. Based on this planning, students engage in a project with a research mentor, as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.


With approval from the faculty mentor or PhD Program Director, students may select alternate electives from within the College and across the University. Advising helps students coordinate courses for additional methods training or to satisfy requirements for available certificates, such as the Interdisciplinary Health Communication graduate certificate.


If selected, SBS 9083 must be taken for 3 credits.


The Graduate School requires that students complete a minimum of 6 credits that include SBS 9994, SBS 9998, and SBS 9999. Of the 6 credits, at least 2 credits must be earned in SBS 9999.


Prior to enrolling in SBS 9994, a paper requirement must be fulfilled by the student who, under the advisement of the primary mentor, submits for review a publishable research article to a peer-reviewed journal.

Minimum Grade to be Earned for All Required Courses: B-

Culminating Events:
Area Paper:
Prior to sitting for the preliminary examinations, students must have successfully published or written a publishable paper in their chosen area of research interest. The purpose of the paper requirement is to demonstrate critical and interpretive knowledge in specialized areas of one's chosen program, as well as a high proficiency in written communication and a capacity to contribute to generalizable knowledge in the field. The student must be the lead or sole author. For students who enter the program without already having published a first-authored, peer-reviewed article, they typically initiate efforts toward this requirement during their first term of residency.

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 PhD program. Students who are entering the PhD program and have already published a peer-reviewed paper related to their programmatic subdiscipline can request to waive this requirement by completing a waiver application and submitting it along with the published document to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Preliminary Examinations:
Students typically take their preliminary examinations during their third year of residency in the program, after completing the paper requirement. All students are required to take the preliminary examinations prior to completing and defending their dissertation research proposal. The exams should be taken within one term of completing all coursework. Students are required to meet with their mentor and Director of Graduate Studies before the beginning of the term in which they plan to take the examinations to establish eligibility.

The preliminary examinations are designed to test fundamental core competencies of the students' training. The student must register for 1 credit of SBS 9994 in the term in which the examinations are taken. To register for SBS 9994, the student must have completed all coursework or be enrolled in final courses in the term in which the examinations are taken. Note that all Incomplete and/or "NR" grades must have been removed, and the area paper requirement must have been satisfied. Special authorization is required to register.

The preliminary examinations consist of the following components:

  • A comprehensive one-week take-home written examination, with an emphasis on the student’s concentration, about the scientific foundations as well as social and behavioral sciences underpinnings of public health; and
  • A methods exam, which is a four-hour in-class examination on research methods and statistics.

Students who fail these exams may have one opportunity to take the examinations again. A second failure results in automatic dismissal from the PhD program.

Dissertation Proposal:
After passing the preliminary examinations, students may enroll in SBS 9998. Students must be enrolled for 1 credit of SBS 9998 each term until they file their dissertation proposal with the Graduate School.

All students must form a Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC) with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The DAC is composed of at least three Graduate Faculty members: two members, including the chair, must be from the PhD program faculty of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The DAC Chair must be approved as Doctoral Graduate Faculty by the Dean of the College of Public Health and by the Graduate School. 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 Director of Graduate Studies annually of the student's academic progress. A fourth, external reader is also 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.

To fulfill the requirements of SBS 9998, students must submit a dissertation proposal, successfully defend it orally before their Committee, apply for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the proposed research, and submit the proposal to the Graduate School. Students 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 SBS 9998 for only two terms without permission. Students needing more time may, with the support of their mentor, formally petition the Director of Graduate Studies for an extension, although an extension is not guaranteed. Failure to meet these requirements can result in dismissal from the program.

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. Students are expected to submit their dissertation study for publication and presentation to professional audiences.

To fulfill the dissertation requirement, students must prepare and orally defend the final dissertation in a public meeting. Students should present their plans for publishing their dissertation as part of their defense. Students must be enrolled continuously in SBS 9999 until their dissertation is successfully defended. The Graduate School requires a minimum of 2 credits of SBS 9999. Students must be enrolled in the course in the term that they graduate.

The Dissertation Examining Committee (DEC) consists 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, they must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Dean of the College, and the Graduate School 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 Director of Graduate Studies 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 their 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 arranges 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 Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within "University Forms." This must be submitted at least 10 working days before the defense. The Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences posts flyers announcing the defense, and the Graduate School lists the defense on its website.