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What is a PhD in Community Health and Prevention?

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health and Prevention is a full-time degree program that entails a high-quality, rigorous doctoral education in the social and behavioral sciences.

This program is designed to advance doctoral-level public health graduates who have a broad-based, systemic understanding of public health scholarship related to the social and behavioral determinants of health and illness.

Students will focus on the application of interdisciplinary, theoretical, and applied research paradigms to the understanding and prevention of public health problems.

Current doctoral students in the PhD in Community Health and Prevention program have varied research interests including reproductive health, obesity, autism, violence prevention, global health, and mental health.

Why Pursue a PhD in Community Health and Prevention at Drexel Dornsife?

Unique benefits of the PhD in Community Health and Prevention program at Drexel Dornsife include:

  • The School's close-knit academic culture offers a tailored small-class doctoral experience, set within a top-tier research university, offering access to faculty, coursework and resources across Drexel's 15 schools and colleges.
  • Drexel University's commitment to being "the most civically engaged university in the country" drives its partnerships in Philadelphia and throughout the region, offering students meaningful research and leadership opportunities.
  • The opportunity to work closely with and be mentored by faculty from diverse backgrounds conducting externally funded research.
  • Students can further specialize by choosing a minor from Drexel University's graduate minors.
  • Fully funded research and teaching fellowship opportunities are available at the CEPH-accredited number one school of public health in Philadelphia.

All applicants are automatically reviewed for a graduate assistantship, which includes full tuition remission, a health insurance subsidy and a stipend in exchange for 20 hours-a-week of teaching and/or research support, based on department needs. Graduate assistantships can be renewed yearly based on student's performance and available funding.

Prospective doctoral students are also eligible for the Urban Health Collaborative Doctoral Fellowship Program. Fellows will be supported to conduct urban health research under the mentorship of a faculty research sponsor. Fellows will receive a stipend, full tuition remission and additional support for research and travel. Awards are renewable for a second year.

The PhD in Community Health and Prevention program will prepare students to:

  • Analyze the social and behavioral determinants of health and illness at the individual, community, and societal levels, and the mechanisms required to design and evaluate interventions at all levels to improve health and address health inequity
  • Develop and apply theoretical frameworks to formulate research questions relevant to the above areas of scholarship
  • Use a broad range of methodological approaches to design and conduct research addressing these research questions with the highest ethical standards
  • Disseminate findings to a wide range of stakeholders and engage in both scientifically rigorous and socially responsible processes to translate findings to improve the health of the public
  • Develop a strong professional identity and prepare to contribute meaningfully in a career as a scientist, administrator, and/or educator, to ensure the continued impact of the social and behavioral sciences in public health

Enhance your career and professional development with a PhD in Community Health and Prevention. Start your application today.

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The PhD in Community Health and Prevention Programs seeks students who interested in pursuing a rigorous doctoral education in the social and behavioral sciences, including opportunities to advance their research and collaborate with faculty and local organizations.

Admissions Requirements for the PhD in Community Health and Prevention Program

The PhD in Community Health and Prevention is a full-time degree program that entails a high-quality doctoral education in the social and behavioral sciences.

To be considered for the PhD Program in Community Health and Prevention, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a bachelor's and master's degree, with significant training in disciplines related to the social and behavioral sciences (sociology, psychology, communications, political science, history, geography, etc) or a health discipline (public health, social work, medicine, nursing, nutrition, etc). For outstanding candidates, significant research or professional experience may substitute for a prior master's degree. Typically a minimum of 2-3 years of post-baccalaureate experience will be expected.
  • Evidence of prior research and scholarly experience in areas related to public health.
  • Evidence of intellectual capacity and readiness to conduct rigorous independent research at the doctoral level, including strong performance in relevant coursework. Especially for prospective students whose native language is not English, evidence of strong skills in analytical writing and English comprehension.

Application Requirements for the PhD in Community Health and Prevention Program

To have an application be considered, applicants must submit the following documents:

  • Online application
  • Official transcripts from every college-level institution you attended (academic records from institutions outside the U.S. must undergo a credentials evaluation).
  • English proficiency test score (TOEFL or IELTS), if applicable
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or professionals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for doctoral studies
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives (including career goals, doctoral research interests and fit with a desired faculty mentor)
  • Writing sample

A note on GRE test scores: Submission of GRE test scores is optional for Fall 2023 entry. Applicants who wish to submit scores are welcome to do so, and this information will be evaluated together with other application components. Applicants choosing not to submit scores will be evaluated for admission based on their other application information.

Learn more about Application and Admissions Requirements

How Long is the PhD in Community Health & Prevention Program at Drexel Dornsife?

The program consists of two years of required and elective coursework. Following the structured coursework, it takes students an average of two years to develop their dissertation proposal and complete their dissertation. The maximum amount of time given to complete the program is seven years.

Read the full Time to Completion/Length of Study Policy on the Drexel Graduate College's website.

PhD in Community Health and Prevention Curriculum

With a curriculum grounded in Dornsife's long-standing commitment to human rights and social justice, the PhD in Community Health and Prevention program encourages students to conduct original research to advance understanding to benefit the public's health.

Students propose a course of study that builds skills and knowledge in three areas:

  • Social Factors/Behavioral Sciences/Communications Electives or Special Topics 
  • Biostatistics/Methodological Electives or Special Topics 
  • Public Health or Topical Area Electives or Special Topics 

Required Courses

The PhD program requires two full years of structured coursework, consisting of both required and elective courses in the Dornsife School of Public Health and in other academic units across Drexel University.

In addition to the required coursework, students will master three areas of additional training. Courses in the program include:

  • CHP 801 Theory & Practice of Community Health & Prevention I - 3 credits
  • CHP 803 Research Methods for Community Health & Prevention - 3 credits
  • BST 560 Intermediate Biostatistics I - 3 credits
  • CHP 903 Advanced Proposal Development - 3 credits
  • CHP 807 Public Health Ethics - 3 credits

Students have the ability to select courses that align with their research and professional interests, as well as the skills needed for their dissertation. All courses must be at the graduate level, except with special permission; undergraduate courses will not count towards degree completion.

Courses must be graduate coursework in the Community Health & Prevention department, other departments at the Dornsife School of Public Health, or in other Schools and Colleges at Drexel.

In order to receive a PhD in Community Health and Prevention, students must successfully complete 90.0 credit hours.

To learn more about courses, curriculum, and sample plans of study, please follow the links below:

Review Degree Requirements and Courses

Sample Plan of Study

Career Options with a PhD in Community Health & Prevention

A PhD in Community Health & Prevention prepares individuals to lead as public health scientists, researchers, educators and professionals in a broad range of academic, policy and service settings both in the United States and globally.

With a PhD in Community Health & Prevention, individuals have the opportunity to explore unique and valuable career paths, including:

  • Public Health Scientist
  • Public Health Administrator
  • Program Director
  • Community-Based Researcher
  • Health Educator 
  • Program Developer
  • Health Policy Consultant

Students graduate from the PhD in Community Health & Prevention program with a strong professional identity, prepared to ensure the continued impact of the social and behavioral sciences in public health through a meaningful career.

To learn more about the PhD in Community Health and Prevention, request more information and get in touch with one of our academic advisors today:

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95 percent of Drexel Dornsife doctoral students receive some kind of funding

Paying for Your Public Health Degree

Ninety-five percent of PhD students receive tuition remission, stipend, and health insurance.

In general, PhD students finance their education through a variety of sources, and the Dornsife School of Public Health provides financial support through training grants, scholarships, stipends, and working as a teaching or research assistant.

Explore scholarships and financial aid


Ali Groves, PhD, MHS
Assistant Professor and PhD Program Director
Community Health and Prevention

David A. Wood, MBA, MS
Executive Director, Enrollment Management