Note: as of catalog publication in April, the program described below has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia for consideration as a new degree program.  The university cannot accept applications or enroll students in this program until SCHEV approval has been granted.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health prepares students to think critically as public health scientists, develop subject matter expertise and analytical skills to become successful independent researchers, and respond to the most pressing public health challenges facing Virginia, the nation, and the world. 

The program provides doctoral students with a substantive public health knowledge base accompanied by advanced training in research methods and data analysis. Students develop competencies related to synthesizing the scientific literature on the social and behavioral determinants that influence public health and associated health disparities. Students receive individualized research and professional mentoring necessary to ensure their success as public health scholars. The program also requires all students to complete a teaching practicum, which includes an opportunity to independently teach a variety of public health courses to prepare them for successful careers in academia.

Graduates are prepared to work as researchers, prevention scientists, epidemiologists, and evaluation specialists in a variety of employment sectors including, colleges and universities, local, state, and federal official health agencies, non-government health organizations, health care systems, and private entities such as contract research organizations, consultant management firms, and industry-based associations.

The PhD in Public Health offers two concentrations:

Epidemiology

Students pursing the concentration in Epidemiology examine the distribution and determinants of health-related conditions in populations to ameliorate disease, disability, and other health problems. Students in this concentration develop the substantive knowledge and methodologic tools needed for designing and analyzing etiologic or interventional research focusing on health issues (e.g., diabetes, endometriosis, infectious disease) or exposures (e.g., air pollution, environmental chemicals, infectious agents) for targeted populations.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Social and Behavioral Science concentration prepares students to analyze the social and behavioral determinants of population health and well-being. Using social/behavioral theoretical frameworks, students learn how to design and evaluate multi-level public health interventions aimed at preventing disease, promoting health and well-being, and eliminating health disparities. 

Note: as of catalog publication in April, the program described below has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia for consideration as a new degree program.  The university cannot accept applications or enroll students in this program until SCHEV approval has been granted.

Admissions

Requirements

Student must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution before being admitted to the 72-credit PhD program. Students with a master’s degree will have preference for admission, but exceptional post-baccalaureate candidates will be considered. Applicants must meet the admission standards and application requirements specified in Graduate Admissions and must apply using SOPHAS. For application deadlines and detailed application requirements, refer to the CHHS admissions website. Students must submit transcripts, resume/CV, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation. TOEFL scores are required for applicants from foreign institutions, as required by the university.

Policies

Reduction of Credit

Students who enter with a master’s or other advanced degree may have the credit requirement reduced by up to 30 credits for previous coursework that closely corresponds with doctoral program requirements. The credit reduction will be recommended by the doctoral advisor and requires approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Requests for reduction of credit are reviewed only after acceptance to the doctoral program.

Time requirements

Students must complete all requirements for the PhD in Public Health within 9 calendar years from the time of first enrollment as a doctoral student. PhD students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to complete all coursework and comprehensive and field exams in order to advance to candidacy within no more than 6 years.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam will determine whether the student has the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake dissertation work. The exam must be taken within one year of completion of all coursework (except for dissertation and professional development seminar courses).

Advancement to Candidacy

Students who complete all core and concentration course requirements, pass comprehensive exam, and successfully defend the dissertation proposal advance to candidacy. A student must advance to candidacy before taking the dissertation courses.

Dissertation

After advancement to candidacy, the PhD Public Health student must complete an approved dissertation. The student must seek and obtain approval of the Director of Graduate Studies on the selection of dissertation chair and committee members. The committee must have at least three members, each of which must be a full-time member of the graduate faculty. The Dissertation Committee Chair must hold a graduate faculty  appointment in the Department of Global and Community Health, or be designated as Public Health program graduate faculty. The second member must be a member of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), and the third member of the committee may be from CHHS or another academic unit at George Mason University. A fourth member of the committee may be appointment from another academic unit or outside Mason, with approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Within six months of passing the comprehensive exam, the student will submit a draft dissertation proposal to his/her/their dissertation committee. The contents of the dissertation proposal will be agreed upon at the start of undertaking graduate credit GCH 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. An oral proposal defense will be schedule with dissertation committee members who have agreed to serve. Students must pass the proposal defense before embarking on graduate credit GCH 999 Doctoral Dissertation.

Banner Code: HH-PHD-PUBH

Note: as of catalog publication in April, the program described below has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia for consideration as a new degree program.  The university cannot accept applications or enroll students in this program until SCHEV approval has been granted.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Overview

The purpose of the PhD program in Public Health is to prepare students for research careers in academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector entities that support population health. The degree includes two concentrations of specialized study: 

  • Epidemiology
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

Requirements

The PhD Public Health comprises 72 credits. This includes 24 credits in the Public Health and Research Core, 12 credits toward dissertation requirements, and 24 credits of concentration coursework and 12 credits of approved elective coursework within their concentration area.

Public Health and Research Core

GCH 500Foundations of Public Health3
GCH 712Introduction to Epidemiology3
GCH 726Advanced Methods in Epidemiology I3
GCH 804Biostatistics for Public Health I3
GCH 805Biostatistics for Public Health II3
GCH 830Research Grant Writing for Public Health3
GCH 890Doctoral Seminar 13
HHS 825Conducting and Publishing Health Research3
HHS 850Teaching Practicum in Public Health 20
Total Credits24

Concentration in Epidemiology (EPID)

GCH 727Advanced Methods in Epidemiology II3
GCH 814Biostatistics for Public Health III3
GCH 824Advanced Data Analysis for Epidemiologic Research3
GCH 826Design of Epidemiologic Research3
GCH 880Epidemiologic Research Seminar3
Select two from the following:6
Infectious Disease Epidemiology (Take two of)
Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Behavioral Epidemiology
Nutritional Epidemiology
Environmental Epidemiology
Social Epidemiology
Select one from the following:3
Meta-Analysis for Population Health Research
Principles of Clinical Trials
Advisor-approved electives12
Total Credits36

Concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)

GCH 609Community Assessment and Partnerships3
GCH 610Health Behavior Theory3
GCH 651Behavioral Research Methods3
GCH 730Interventions in Public Health3
GCH 731Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Health Interventions3
GCH 772Social Epidemiology3
GCH 851Advanced Research Designs and Analysis for Social and Behavioral Health Sciences3
HAP 925Advanced Methods in Qualitative Research for Health Care3
Advisor-approved electives12
Total Credits36

Dissertation

GCH 998Doctoral Dissertation Proposal3
GCH 999Doctoral Dissertation9
Total Credits12