Stephen Phillippi, PhD
The Doctor of Philosophy in Community Health Sciences is an advanced program of study designed primarily for those who intend to pursue careers involving research, teaching, and professional practice to promote health, prevent disease and improve the quality of life. The program advocates for a socio-ecological approach to understanding determinants of health.
The program trains students to 1) conduct original research to identify and examine individual and social determinants of health, illness, and disease; 2) design, implement and evaluate multi-level interventions to promote health, prevent disease and reduce health disparities; and 3) translate knowledge derived from research into public health practice. The curriculum includes coursework, research and practical instruction in community health promotion, health education, systems thinking, research and intervention design including traditional (experimental) and applied (community-based participatory) approaches, as well as statistical methods and data analysis and interpretation. Doctoral students also gain expertise through participation in a formal teaching practicum. Each student is required to complete a dissertation based on independent empirical research that generates knowledge and promotes innovation in the field of public health.
The curriculum assumes students enter the PhD program with an appropriate master’s degree. Those students entering without a previous relevant master’s degree can expect additional coursework to fulfill prerequisites for taking PhD-level advanced coursework.
Community Health Sciences Qualifying Process
A series of examinations are required for all PhD students in Community Health Sciences prior to being admitted as a candidate for the PhD degree. The examinations are taken after completion of all PhD core courses and are based on material contained within these courses. Two of these examinations will be written, graded and scored anonymously by the Community Health Sciences ad hoc Qualifying Exam Committee. One of these examinations will be an oral qualifying exam given by the PhD student’s Doctoral Committee. The student selects the Committee Chair in conjunction with the Academic Program Director and PhD advisor.
The written examinations consist of one in-class, closed-book written session and one take-home, applied writing session based on a list of approved Community Health Science topics. A consensus score of Pass or Fail will be assigned to each examination session for each PhD student. If students fail either section of the written exam, a remediation plan is developed and students may attempt the exam again the following year.
Following successful completion of the two written qualifying exams, PhD students will identify a research area and then prepare a prospectus of original research in the field of Community Health Science. PhD students then participate in the oral portion of the qualifying process and present their prospectus to the Doctoral Committee. Approval of the prospectus will be determined by this Committee. After successful defense of the prospectus, students will become candidates for the PhD degree and will focus their work on independent research. If students fail the oral defense of the prospectus, the Doctoral Committee will determine the conditions that will need to be met before another oral examination may be scheduled.