Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health
Georgia State offers students who seek a career in research or academia the only public doctoral program in metro Atlanta, one of the world’s great global cities and home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depending on the interest area, graduates of a Ph.D. in Public Health program often teach in universities, lead research laboratories, or direct research projects at the federal, state, or local level. At Georgia State, Ph.D. candidates find unique opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research on public health issues impacting urban areas, ties to the community that offer real-world experience to complement the required 62 credit hours of coursework, and the flexibility of a part-time option to suit working public health professionals.
For the class entering in the fall semester of 2017, the School of Public Health offers fellowship funding for doctoral candidates interested in research in:
- Big Data
- Health Justice
- Tobacco Control Policies
- Tobacco and Other Substance Control Policies
- Regulation and User Perceptions of Tobacco, Marijuana, and Other Products
- Smoking Cessation and Mobile Health Technology
- Disaster Resilience and Mitigation
- Maternal/Child Health and Child Abuse Prevention
The application deadline for prospective Ph.D. students for Fall 2017 is Dec. 15, 2016.
The objective of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Public Health in the School of Public Health (SPH) is to educate the next generation of public health leaders capable of conducting independent research in academia, governmental public health, health care organizations and the private sector. A graduate of the PhD program in Public Health will contribute new public health knowledge and develop interventions to promote health, reduce health disparities and ameliorate critical health problems at the population, societal and global level.
Required Prerequisites – MPH Core Courses (16 hours):
- PH 7011 Introduction to Epidemiology (3) or PH 7711 Epidemiologic Methods I (3) (EPID doctoral students must choose and complete PH 7711; HPBP and HSRP doctoral students may complete either PH 7011 or PH 7711)
- PH 7017 Fundamentals of Biostatistics I (4)
- PH 7140 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health (3)
- PH 7150 Environmental Health (3)
- PH 7160 Introduction to Health Care System (3)
- Doctoral students may waive these MPH Core Courses if they:
- Enter the Ph.D. program with a MPH degree that included “B” grades or better in their MPH courses related to the five knowledge areas basic to public health (biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, social and behavioral sciences or dimensions of public health, and health services administration or introduction to the health care system), and/or have successfully completed a comparable course(s) with a grade of “B” or better, as documented by an official university transcript. Syllabi for courses may also be requested. Or,
- Completed employment or other training(s) that enable them to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired in the MPH core courses listed above.
Summary of PhD Degree Requirements: 62 credit hours
The Ph.D. degree requires completion of a minimum of sixty-two (62) credit hours of coursework and a declared concentration in a public health core area. Students are also required to complete a dissertation. The candidates must satisfy the course requirements and credit hours in the following areas:
Required Ph.D. Core Courses (18 hours):
- PH 8721: Epidemiologic Methods II (3)
- PH 9120: Theory and Practice in Health and Prevention (3)
- PH 9140: Advanced Research Methods (3)
- PH 9150: Public Health Ethics (3)
- PH 9810: Biostatistical Methods I (3)
- PH 9820: Biostatistical Methods II (3)
Public Health Concentrations
Twenty seven (27) hours of required coursework and electives have been established to ensure that students achieve proficiency in the competencies and skills related to each Ph.D. program of study: Epidemiology (EPID), Health Promotion and Behavior (HPMP), Health Services and Policy Research (HSRP) or Environmental Health. Each student selects a program concentration upon application to the Ph.D. degree. To meet the individualized, in-depth training needs of doctoral students, many concentration research methods and/or elective areas have multiple course options that doctoral students may choose from to satisfy their unique learning needs and future career paths. All choices should be made in consultation with the student’s Faculty Advisor, and Faculty Advisor agreement with the course choices is implied on the Faculty Advisor and Doctoral Advisory Committee approved Doctoral Program of Study form. Students are encouraged to seek Faculty Advisor consultation well before concentration research methods and/or elective course registration.
- Epidemiology Concentration (PhD)
- Health Services and Policy Research (PhD)
- Health Promotion & Behavior (PhD)
- Environmental Health Concentration (PhD)
Required Ph.D. Professional Seminar Courses (5 hours):
- PH 8180: Doctoral Research Seminar I (3)
- PH 8181: Doctoral Research Seminar II (2)
Required Ph.D. Research/Teaching/Applied Skills Practicum and Culminating Experience (12 hours):
- PH 9960: Public Health Doctoral Practicum (3)
- PH 9990: Dissertation (9)
Required Comprehensive Ph.D. Examination:
Students will be expected to pass a doctoral comprehensive exam where they student demonstrates mastery of the doctoral program body of knowledge and proficiency in the program competencies. Students will have two opportunities to pass this exam, which is graded Pass/Fail by two faculty in the School of Public Health.
Ph.D. Dissertation Requirement:
The dissertation will provide the student with an educational experience that enables the student to make a significant contribution to the field of public health and to apply the doctoral program knowledge and skills that allow him or her to contribute to the theoretical, conceptual, empirical, or practice base in the field of public health. Enrollment for dissertation credit is permitted only after successful completion of the comprehensive examination. Students must register for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours of PH 9990.
1. Do you offer financial support?
All admitted, doctoral students who plan to study full-time will be considered for Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) and/or Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs). Assistantships cover the cost of tuition and provide an annual stipend of $22,000 for at least three years.
2. What is a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)?
GRAs provide full-time students with an opportunity to work with a faculty member on research projects, gaining valuable experience in their chosen field.
3. What are the requirements to qualify for an assistantship, if selected?
The following criteria must be met and maintained for a student to be a GRA or GTA.
- Students must have and maintain a 3.2 or higher cumulative grade point average.
- Students must be enrolled in the minimum hours deemed a full-time load (nine semester hours during the regular academic year and six semester hours in the summer).
- Concurrent with the assistantship appointment, doctoral students should not be engaged in other significant outside employment. Students in this situation should request approval for hire through the head of the academic unit and director of the doctoral program.
4. What are my chances of receiving an assistantship?
Assistantships are awarded competitively based on the applicant pool and their qualifications. A variety of factors are considered when evaluating an applicant’s qualifications: research or professional experience, academic record, and the correlation between the applicant’s specific experience and the particular assistantship positions that are available. Once selected, students normally retain the award through the duration of their degree, subject to performance. A select number of students will be nominated for University Doctoral Fellowships. Final selection of these appointments will be made by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Economic Development, respectively.
5. What are the requirements to qualify for an assistantship, if selected?
In order to qualify for a GRA, students must be enrolled for a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall or spring semesters or six credit hours during the summer term.
6. Am I eligible for other types of financial aid such as student loans?
To determine eligibility for financial aid, please visit the University’s Financial Aid Office website here.
7. What are the tuition and fees?
Information about current graduate tuition and fees can be found here. Tuition is assessed based on in-state or out-of-state residency and the total number of credit hours registered for in a given semester.
Georgia State Funding Resources
PhD Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I apply for the PhD in Public Health program?
The PhD application is processed through SOPHAS. Click here for PhD Admission Information.
2. Will you accept applicants in the Spring?
No, applicants will only be admitted in the Fall. The application and credentials deadline is December 15.
3. What are the application requirements?
The following list is a summary of application requirements. All documents should be submitted through SOPHAS.
- One copy of an official transcript from all colleges and/or universities attended.
- Three references from individuals knowledgeable of the applicant’s academic, professional and intellectual abilities. One of the letters must be an academic reference.
- A Statement of Interest and Professional Intent.
- Official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Applicants with an earned doctorate (including an M.D. or J.D.) from an accredited institution in the U.S. do not need to take either examination.
- Additional requirements for international students are found here.
4. How do I know my application is complete?
For your Ph.D. application to be considered complete and ready for review, all of the required documents listed above (See Question 3) must be received by SOPHAS and verified. During the SOPHAS application process, you will receive emails from our Office of Academic Assistance & Graduate Admissions (OAA) containing follow-up questions or confirming receipt of your application. It is important for you to regularly check your email inbox and respond to emails from our OAA staff.
5. Will you only accept the GRE/GMAT?
SPH only accepts scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Scores must not be more than 5 years old. MCAT and LSAT scores will not be accepted as substitutes for the GRE/GMAT. Visit the following sites for more details: GRE Registration: http://www.ets.org/ and GMAT Registration: http://www.gmac.com.
6. Are GRE/GMAT scores waived?
Applicants with an earned doctorate (including an M.D. or J.D.) from an accredited institution in the U.S. do not need to take either examination.
7. What are the codes for sending my standardized test scores?
Official GRE scores should be sent directly to SOPHAS from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) by using the code 3750. There is not currently a SOPHAS code for the GMAT, so GMAT scores should be sent directly to Georgia State University from ETS using the code 5251. Score reports from third parties will not be accepted.
8. What is the minimum required GRE to enter the PhD program?
Competitive GRE test scores (Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing) should range in the 60th – 70th percentile for all sections. The School of Public Health does not have a minimum score requirement, but applicants with scores below 300 are unlikely to be admitted.
9. What is the minimum required GPA (undergraduate & graduate) to enter the PhD program?
While no minimum GPAs are required, applicants with a cumulative undergraduate and graduate GPA of 3.2, respectively, are considered more competitive. The Admissions Committee will also take into account the rigor of the academic program and degree.
10. Are there different admissions requirements for citizens of countries other than the U.S.?
For international applicants from countries/education programs in which English is not the official language, scores from the TOEFL exam are required. Click here for requirements for international applicants. For information on Georgia State University’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), click here.
11. I am an international student and have a Masters degree from a U.S. school. Do I need to take the TOEFL exam?
The TOEFL is not required of international applicants who have received a degree from an accredited U.S. institution.
12. Can I be admitted to the PhD program without a MPH degree?
Admission preference will be given to students who have already acquired a Masters in Public Health (MPH) or equivalent degree. You must possess at least a Masters-level graduate degree to be admitted into the PhD program. Students who hold a Masters degree in a discipline other than public health will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
13. How competitive is the admissions process?
Acceptance to the PhD program is highly competitive. On average, 8-10 new students are accepted each year.
14. Is there an interview process?
Yes. Once a pool of competitive applicants is selected and notified, individual in-person or phone interviews will be scheduled. Final selection decisions will be made subsequent to the completion of all interviews.
15. Who can I contact in the School of Public Health for further information?
Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. If I am not recommended for admission or wish to withdraw my application, may I have my materials back?
Once your application and materials have arrived in our office, they become the property of Georgia State University. For this reason no materials will be returned or released to an applicant or to any other party, such as another school or external agencies, for example. Moreover, your application fee is nonrefundable and will not be returned if your application is withdrawn or denied.
WHAT DOES THE COMMITTEE LOOK FOR IN AN APPLICANT?
1. What criteria do you consider in the admission process?
The admissions committee will consider a variety of criteria in the selection of doctoral students including official GRE/GMAT scores, academic performance in previous degree programs, academic and professional background and experiences, recommendation letters, and the applicant’s personal statement. Additionally, competitive applicants will interview with SPH faculty in order to further determine research interests and academic potential.
2. What is the typical background of a successful applicant?
Although the selection of applicants is based on a variety of criteria, a successful PhD applicant will exhibit a solid academic and professional background, with evidence of meaningful experience in the field of public health or a closely related field. This experience should be reflected in a personal statement that demonstrates a significant motivation for conducting and sharing public health research. Additionally, letters of recommendation should provide clear evidence of the applicant’s potential as an independent researcher. Successful applicants will also show above-average performance on the GRE/GMAT.
1. What can I do to prepare for the PhD program?
Although not required, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) or an equivalent degree is highly recommended for students pursuing a PhD in Public Health. Not only does an MPH provide students with a solid foundation of public health competencies, many MPH students are able to gain research experience through research assistantships or other work opportunities. These experiences offer students the opportunity to determine a preferred focus for their PhD studies. For those prospective students without a MPH degree, previous research experience in rigorous academic or professional opportunities in the public health field is highly recommended.
2. Is a PhD program right for me?
A PhD in Public Health prepares students with specific public health research interests for a career in research or academia. Depending on the interest area, graduates of a PhD in Public Health program often teach in universities, lead research laboratories, or direct research projects at the federal, state, or local level. A PhD program requires a substantial time commitment and a significant interest in advancing one’s skills as a researcher in a particular field.
3. Do I need a research background to be successful in the PhD program?
A research background is not required for success in the program, but some experience in research is recommended. Potential applicants without a research background should be able to demonstrate a capacity to perform independent research through evidence of previous academic success, strong recommendation letters, and satisfactory GRE/GMAT scores.
4. What are the areas of study?
PhD students will choose one of three concentrations: Epidemiology, Health Promotion and Behavior, or Health Services Research. The specialized coursework will depend on the individual student’s research interests and will be determined by the student, his/her Major Professor, and his/her Doctoral Advisory Committee.
5. How is the program structured?
Visit the main page for the Doctor of Philosophy and click on “Core Curriculum” for more information.
6. Is the program a full-time program?
In order to fulfill the significant commitment required of doctoral students, it is highly recommended that students maintain full-time student status for the duration of the PhD program. Part-time will be considered for admission, especially for those working in a public health setting.
7. Can I study part-time?
At this time, applicants who can commit to full-time study will receive preference in the selection process. However, part-time applicants with especially strong academic or professional backgrounds may be considered.
8. How long does it take to complete the PhD degree program?
The amount of time required to complete the PhD program will largely depend upon the number of courses a student is able to take each semester and the amount of time he/she needs to complete and defend a dissertation. On average, however, a full-time student who enters the program with all the necessary prerequisite courses can complete the required coursework in 2 years and complete and defend a dissertation in an additional 12-18 months. It is reasonable to expect to take 3-5 years to complete the PhD program. The Institute requires that students complete all degree requirements within 9 years of the student’s semester of matriculation.
9. When do I enroll in Dissertation Research?
Prior to enrolling in Dissertation Research, a student must be accepted into candidacy.
The following is a complete list of requirements for admission to candidacy:
- All prerequisites set as a condition to admission to the PhD program have been satisfactorily completed.
- The residence requirement (30 hours of consecutive coursework) has been met.
- A GPA of 3.2 (B) has been maintained for all graduate courses taken and for all completed courses in the program of study.
- The Doctoral Advisory Committee, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Institute have approved the final program of study.
- Written and oral comprehensive examinations have been passed and reported to the Graduate School.
- The Doctoral Advisory Committee is confirmed and all members have been notified of their appointment.
1. What are the tuition and fees?
Information about graduate tuition and fees can be found here.
2. Do you offer financial support?
All admitted, doctoral students who plan to study full-time will be considered for Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) and/or Teaching Assistantships (TAs). Assistantships cover the cost of tuition and provide a monthly stipend. Students are still responsible for university student fees. The Institute cannot guarantee this funding for all students.
3. Am I eligible for financial aid?
To determine eligibility for financial aid, please visit the University’s Financial Aid Office website at http://www.gsu.edu/financialaid/.
Please do not submit supporting documents to the School of Public Health. All components of the PhD application must be submitted directly through SOPHAS, with exception to the Residency Form.
After applying, you can check your admissions status here. Please allow two weeks after you have submitted your application for the system to update.
The following is a list of requirements for a complete application:
|Resume or Curriculum Vitae
|Statement of Interest and Professional Intent|
|GRE or GMAT scores|
|Certificate of Immunization|
Ametewee wants to develop her research expertise so she can play a role in raising the standard of health for global communities. "The common thread throughout my career has been developing, implementing and evaluating strategies and policies to improve systems to ensure equal access for underserved communities in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean," she said. Ametewee has worked as a health policy lecturer, consultant and researcher in the United Kingdom and Ghana. She holds an MBA from Aston University and a Master of Laws in Corporate Finance from the University of Westminster in England.
Anderson has been working for the last decade at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a chemist and public health analyst. "Working in the field solidified my passion for researching health effects of environmental pollutants," she said. "My goal is to study environmental epidemiology and the mechanisms in which persistent organic pollutants influence susceptibility of disease and population based health issues." Anderson earned her MPH from Georgia State University in 2011.
Dr. Bose, whose background is in economics and spatial econometrics, is pursuing her Ph.D. in health services and policy research to find a balance between increasing healthcare costs in the United States and the quality of services available to the public. "I want to see how efficiently we can allocate the available resources across the population through well-constructed health policies that will be beneficial to everyone," she said. Dr. Bose already has a Ph.D. in economics from West Virginia University, as well as a master's degree in the subject from the same institution.
Cowart-Osborne first became interested in public health as a child, when her mother worked on a project educating pregnant women about the importance of folic acid in the prevention of birth defects. "Later, I took an interest in violence prevention—especially child maltreatment prevention—and taking a public health approach to this problem," she said. "Using research to make an impact on this issue is exciting to me." Cowart-Osborne earned an MPH from Georgia State in 2012 and worked as a research coordinator for the National SafeCare Training & Research Center, housed within the School of Public Health.
Culbreth worked as a respiratory therapist for several years in the emergency room, cardiac intensive care unit and neonatal intensive care unit of an Atlanta hospital. "I began observing health disparities in all settings, and I wanted to pursue a research career examining health disparities with the intent to ultimately eliminate them," she said. She's particularly interested in studying and addressing disparities related to HIV/AIDS, adolescent health and global health. Culbreth earned her MPH from the School of Public Health in 2015 and is a member of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.
De Veauuse Brown has worked in public health for more than 20 years managing and coordinating research projects, including studies into disparities surrounding cancer and lupus, and writing grants. She is earning a Ph.D. in health promotion and behavior so she can help improve the health of minorities and people living in areas with limited access to health care. "My primary professional objective is to continue addressing health disparities and to improve the lives and wellbeing of high-risk populations, particularly youth and communities of color," she said. De Veauuse Brown has an MPH in epidemiology from UCLA.
Jackson considers himself a generalist and has researched various areas of public health, including behavior change, child maltreatment and neglect, and asthma. "My goal has always been to do work that helps create environments in which individuals are given the opportunity to make healthier choices," he said. Jackson is an ORISE fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working in its Diabetes Translation, Health, Education and Evaluation Branch. Previously, he worked with Dad2K, a parenting program for fathers administered by the school's National SafeCare Training & Research Center.
Jones is a graduate research assistant in the School of Public Health's Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. "From an early age, I recognized my desire to help others and, after learning of public health, I realized epidemiology would by my way of helping," she said. Jones, who is focusing her Ph.D. studies on epidemiology, said her goal is to be a tobacco researcher, studying what drives people to use novel tobacco products and working toward reducing it. She has an MPH from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Jones became interested in public health after taking an undergraduate class that looked at how different minority communities are affected by health care policies. "I soon wanted to learn more about various determinants of health and the epidemiological methods used to identify these determinants," he said. His research is focused on gaining insights into what young, black men think of HIV prevention and testing campaigns, as well as how social media can be used to deliver effective HIV prevention messages.
Kelly, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been working in public health since she was in high school. She began her career with the CDC as a microbiologist in 2007. "I want to get my Ph.D. in epidemiology because I want to learn more advanced analytic techniques," she said. Her research has focused on prevention and treatment of the bleeding disorder known as hemophilia. Kemp has an MPH and B.S. in neuroscience and behavioral biology from Emory University.
Kemp's public health goal is to be a leader in developing public policy and programs to improve population health. "I am particularly interested in psychological, social and behavioral health determinants affecting adolescent and young adult populations, as this is the period in life when habituating healthy behaviors and preventing harmful behaviors is most critical," she said. Kemp has experience in nursing and health care management. She earned a master of health care administration from Worcester State University.
Kota's public health interests lie in studying the underlying factors for high-risk behaviors among populations that are vulnerable to HIV/AIDs and other STDs. He joined the Ph.D. program to hone his research skills. "Studying public health, in particular health promotion and behavior, provides me with theoretical, epidemiological, and statistical methodologies, enabling me to conduct independent research," he said. Kota currently is studying environmental stressors and health outcomes among transgender women in metro Atlanta. He has a master's degree in biotechnology from Georgetown University.
Moriarty has been interested in public health since volunteering in the pediatric ward of a tuberculosis hospital outside of Cape Town, South African, when she was an undergrad. "Since then, my experiences working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, researching influenza vaccines, and responding to Ebola with the CDC have led me to working on global health security," she said. Moriarty is a public health analyst at the CDC and wants to research best practices in preparing for and responding to infectious disease threats around the world. She has an MPH from Emory University.
Mustaquim has worked as a surveillance epidemiologist for the CDC's Influenza Division since 2008. She enjoys analyzing data and using creativity to solve problems. "Epidemiology is a fascinating field, crossing into many topics—from sociology to economics to biology," she said. "Looking at the intersection of these to better understand causes of public health problems is one of the things I love most about the work that I do." Mustaquim has an MPH from Emory University and a certificate in public health informatics from Johns Hopkins University.
Onyenwe is a health scientist and environmental toxicologist at the CDC. His work includes assisting in emergency response efforts involving exposure to environmental toxins and infectious diseases, such as the Ebola and Zika viruses. "As a first generation college graduate, I made a promise to use my opportunity and access to higher education toward eradicating complex issues related to environmental health both domestically and abroad," he said. Onyenwe earned his bachelor's degree in molecular toxicology from the University of California, Berkeley and his MPH from Emory University.
Rogers-Brown grew up in a small textile mill town in Appalachia and then moved to Los Angeles as a young adult. "While these two areas were vastly different in so many ways, they shared one common motivator—both areas had vast disparities in health and income," she said. The desire to diminish those disparities inspired Rogers-Brown to earn her MPH and pursue a Ph.D. at Georgia State, where she now researches child maltreatment prevention and works at the Mark Chaffin Center for Health Development. "I believe that all children deserve a safe home, where they are loved and nurtured," she said.
Scott is a Second Century Initiative Doctoral Fellow in epidemiology at the School of Public Health, working in the Atlanta Census Research Data Center to explore health disparities through spatial analysis. She became interested in studying public health while an undergraduate, through her research testing novel treatments for breast and prostate cancer. "I hope to address social and physical environmental impacts on health outcomes, specifically breast cancer outcomes, that disproportionately affect minority populations," she said. Scott earned her MPH from Georgia State.
Wells is a graduate research assistant in the Center for Leadership in Disability at the School of Public Health. "As a disability scholar and public health researcher, my primary interests are improving health and human services for individuals with disabilities, which can then impact their health and quality of life outcomes," she said. Wells said she wants to improve public policy through a career in public health research. She has master's degrees in social work and public health from the University of South Carolina-Columbia.
Wilson's interest in public health began years ago when she worked as a behavioral health specialist in the children's unit of a residential treatment facility. "This is where I discovered not only my passion for working with child victims, but for the first time, I began to see how my personal childhood experiences could be used to understand and help child victims obtain an improved quality of life," she said. Wilson is now a public health advisor, overseeing how states are implementing a national surveillance system for violence involving families and children. She has an MPH from Georgia Southern University.
In addition to being a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Public Healther, Zesiger is director of the Office of Health Promotion at Emory University where she leads efforts to address sexual violence prevention; alcohol risk reduction and recovery support; promote sexual health; combat health disparities among students. "My setting as a practitioner leads me to study public health promotion in a higher education context," she said. Zesiger's research interests include the health impacts of microaggressions and opiate abuse in college and university settings. She has an MPH from Emory.