Feb 27, 2021  
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021 
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The School offers doctoral degrees in biostatistics, community health sciences and epidemiology that are comprised of formal classroom instruction, guided research and supervised teaching experiences with faculty. Students are expected to develop in-depth working relationships with their advisors/mentors. The degree is awarded jointly by the School of Public Health and the School of Graduate Studies.

All students entering a PhD program will receive a foundation in public health knowledge and an understanding of the manner in which their specific field of study contributes to achieving the goals of public health. Although specific requirements vary by degree program, all PhD students must gain experience in research and complete courses in biostatistics, the foundations of public health, research ethics in public health, and a program-specific teaching practicum course. All PhD degrees require a minimum of 60 credit hours of which at least 30 credits must be in letter-graded courses using the A through F scale.


Admission is competitive. Applicants should have a master degree in a relevant field.  A background in health or biological sciences while desirable, is not required. Specific admissions requirements are dependent upon the individual PhD program and these requirements are available in the individual degree program descriptions.


A limited number of assistantships and/or graduate fellowships are available on a competitive basis. Students on assistantships are expected to work up to 20 hours per week on research projects, and/or assisting faculty in teaching activities through grading and conducting recitation/lab sessions.

Residence Requirement

The LSUHSC-NO Schools of Graduate Studies and Public Health requires three years (9 semesters) of full-time residence, although in most instances more time is needed. Exceptions may be made by petition to the School Dean. A minimum of one year (three consecutive semesters) must be taken in residence at the Health Sciences Center following completion of the qualifying examinations (written and oral).

Course Requirements

Specific course requirements are dependent upon individual Program policy. However, in general, a minimum of 60 credit hours is required and at least 30 of those hours must be taken in courses which require a letter grade for evaluation. The minimum courses required by each Program are listed in the Program Descriptions in this catalog. Some credit may be earned in minor fields; individual programs may have specific requirements.

Transfer Credit

Candidates for the doctor of philosophy degree may receive up to 18 hours of transfer credit if approved by the Major Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Program Director.  No transfer credit is permitted for course work receiving a grade below B and transfer of the credis used for another earned degree will not reduce credit hour requirements. Transfer credits do not reduce the residency requirement.

Statement of Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Program and the Dean review the qualitative and quantitative academic progress of each student. A student may be dropped from a Program at any time when academic progress is judged inadequate. A student may be permitted to remediate upon the recommendation of the student’s Program and concurrence by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean. Such a student is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.

Qualifying Process

Students must pass a series of written comprehensive examinations after completing their PhD core courses. After passing the written comprehensives, students must pass an oral defense of the student’s research prospectus. This oral examination will be given by the Doctoral Advisory Committee of each student and will assess the research prospectus and mastery of discipline in the dissertation area. The student selects the Committee Chair in conjunction with the Academic Program Director and PhD advisor.

If students fail either the written or the oral examination, the program faculty or Doctoral Advisory Committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee consists of the Chair and at least four other faculty members representing major and minor (if applicable) disciplines. One member must be from a program outside the School of Public Health and a member of the Graduate Faculty of the LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies or equivalent at an institution outside of the Health Sciences Center. The Dean may make substitutions or additions of committee members after consultation with the major professor and Academic Program Director, but continuity of membership is sought to provide consistent guidance to students through the program. This examination is the most thorough in the doctoral program. It should require the candidate to demonstrate competence in a broad segment of the major and minor (if applicable) fields. If there is no more than one negative ballot out of a minimum of five, students become a “candidate” after the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean have been notified by the student’s Major Professor and Program Director of successful completion of the preliminary examination.

Students must complete the Request for Preliminary Examination at least two weeks prior to the scheduled exam. A Report of Preliminary Examination form must be completed after the oral preliminary examination. These forms are available on the school’s website or from the Office of Academic Affairs.


The dissertation must make a significant contribution to the field, suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal of international repute. Refer to the LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines for preparation of dissertation. For the planned graduation date, students should check the academic calendar for the final date for submission of the dissertation to the School of Public Health. 

There are two stylistic options for dissertation manuscript(s): the monograph option and the three publishable papers options. Students must choose one and must have the permission of their Committee Chair/Major Advisor. The format decision must be made prior to the prospectus defense and clearly described to the student’s dissertation committee. Once the prospectus has been accepted, the student may not change the format.


This is a traditional format of dissertations. With this format, the student extensively cites the literature and empirical support for the methods applied in their research. The committee has the ability to review this information in advance of the oral defense and the student has access to reference this material in the oral defense. Since this format does not clarify a publication plan for the final dissertation, the student should be prepared to describe publication progress and/or plans to convert the document into peer reviewed journal submissions and/or book chapters. 


For this format, the dissertation consists of at least three full-length manuscripts on original research conducted by the candidate. The manuscript(s) may have been published/accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals during the PhD study period or to be sent for review to peer reviewed journals, depending on the program. The articles should form a cohesive body of work that supports a theme or themes that are expressed clearly in the introduction of the dissertation (Chapter 1). The dissertation must include an abstract that synthesizes the articles, as well as an introduction (Chapter 1) and a conclusion (Chapter 5) that discusses the synthesis of what is learned from the three articles. With this option, and after a successful dissertation defense, the student must still convert the three papers into a hybrid monograph for submission to the school for binding and submission to Proquest.

Dissertation Defense - Permission to hold the final examination will be granted by the Dean of the School of Public Health only after all the foregoing conditions are satisfied and one calendar year has elapsed since students have passed the prospectus (three academic semesters). The defense may be preceded by an open seminar of the students’ dissertation research. Students must petition the Dean for permission to take the examination. The doctoral committee is composed of no less than five graduate faculty members, one of whom must be from outside the School of Public Health and a member of the faculty of the School of Graduate Studies or equivalent at another institution. The Dean may serve as a member or may appoint members to the Committee. Traditionally, this examination is a test of the student’s intimate knowledge of the area of the field in which the student is working. However, at the discretion of the Committee or the Dean, the examination may include questions from the major or minor fields, in general. To pass the examination there may be no more than one negative vote. Prior to the Dissertation Defense, students must complete the Request for Dissertation/Thesis Defense and Final Examination at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense.

Students must submit the completed Dissertation/Thesis Defense Final Examination Report to the Office of Academic Affairs after the defense.


If not more than one member of the examining committee dissents and if the dissertation is accepted, the candidate will be certified to the School of Public Health Faculty, Graduate Faculty and Chancellor as having met all requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy.

Exam Only Status

Doctoral students in good standing having completed the required dissertation credit hours may register under “Exam Only” in their anticipated final semester of the program. Students are allowed to register for “Exam Only” for a maximum of 3 semesters.

Binding and Publication

After the defense, students must submit at least two copies of the printed dissertation for binding. The two copies are for the library and the dean. Binding expenses are covered with graduation fees that appear in the fee bill, however all printing costs are the responsibility of the student. Students may order additional copies at a cost of $8 each for binding; this fee may be paid by check or money order made out to LSUHSC. 

Students must also submit the dissertation to ProQuest for electronic publication at the following link: https://secure.etdadmin.com/cgi-bin/etdadmin_login?form=etdadmin&request_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.etdadmin.com%2Fcgi-bin%2Fstudent%2Fetd

Time Limit

The School of Public Health requires that all work towards a doctoral degree be completed in not more than eight calendar years. Any requests for extension of this policy are subject to approval by the students’ doctoral committee, ADAA and Dean.