Jun 06, 2023  
Catalog/Bulletin 2018-2019 
Catalog/Bulletin 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The School of Public Health offers rigorous doctoral degree programs in biostatistics, epidemiology and community health sciences, respectively, that comprise both formal classroom instruction and guided research with faculty mentors trained at top universities nationally and internationally and supervised teaching experiences. The size of the school encourages students to develop in-depth working relationships with their advisors/mentors. The PhD 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.


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.


Students pursuing the PhD degree may be provided tuition waivers.  In addition, a limited number of research assistantships and/or graduate fellowships are available on a competitive basis. Students on research 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. Graduate fellowships do not carry a service obligation, freeing the student to devote more time to their studies.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy degree is the highest degree offered by the university. It is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student displays original scholarship.

Residency Requirement

For full-time students, three years (9 semesters) of enrollment is required. One year (three consecutive semesters) must be taken at LSUHSC following completion of the preliminary examination. Exceptions may be made by petition to the School of Public Health Dean.

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.

Transfer Credit

Candidates for the doctor of philosophy degree may receive up to 18 hours of transfer credit if approved by the major professor and program director, provided they have completed courses which are comparable to the School of Public Health courses at another graduate-level institution and satisfy the subject matter requirements. Transfer credit for courses used in previous degrees may be used to satisfy a course requirement, upon approval, but will not count toward a minimum credits required.  Transfer credit requests must be made using the approved LSUHSC form.  No transfer credit is permitted for course work receiving a grade below B and transfer of the credit does not reduce the residency requirement.

Foreign Languages

There is no School of Public Health requirement for foreign languages, but individual programs may require one or more.

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 Dean. Such a student is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.

Qualifying Process

Each program will be responsible for the qualifying process and will develop appropriate policies, which will be on file in the Dean’s Office. Complete details can be found in the School of Public Health Student Handbook.

All PhD students will be required to pass a set of preliminary examinations before being admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. Each program may impose additional requirements.

Each student must pass a set of written comprehensive examinations after completing their PhD core courses. After passing the written comprehensives, a student must pass an oral defense of the student’s research prospectus.  This oral examination will be given by the student’s Doctoral Committee and will assess the student’s research prospectus and the student’s mastery of discipline in the dissertation area. The student’s PhD advisor will be the committee chair.  The timing of these exams are determined by each program. If a student fails either the written or oral examination, the program faculty or Doctoral Committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given.

The Preliminary Examination Committee will ordinarily consist of the student’s major professor 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 of the student through the program. This examination is the most thorough in the doctorate 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, the student becomes a “candidate” after the Dean has been notified by the student’s major professor and Academic Program Director of successful completion of the preliminary examination.

Students must complete the Request for Preliminary Examination at least two weeks prior to the schedule exam date and the Report of Preliminary Examination upon completion of the exam..


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, the student should check the academic calendar for the final date for submission of the dissertation to the School of Public Health.

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 the student passed the oral preliminary exam. The defense may be preceded by an open seminar of the student’s dissertation research. The student must petition the Dean for permission to take the examination. The doctoral committee is made up 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 doctoral committee or the Dean, the examination may include questions from the major or minor fields, in general. Voting is by secret ballot, and to pass the examination there may be no more than one negative vote. The student must complete the Request for Dissertation/Thesis Defense and Final Examination at least two weeks prior to the Dissertation Defense.


If not more than one member of the doctoral 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.

Time Limit

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