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PhD in Community Health and Prevention

About the PhD in Community Health and Prevention

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health and Prevention will prepare 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, and the ability to conduct original research to advance this understanding to benefit the public's health.

The program emphasizes the application of interdisciplinary, theoretical, and applied research paradigms to the understanding and prevention of public health problems.

Graduates will be prepared to contribute and 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.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree shares many common elements with the DrPH degree. It consists of both required and elective coursework, building the student's individual expertise from a wide range of scientific disciplines, methodologic frameworks, and public health challenges. The comprehensive exam requires students to synthesize coursework and demonstrate mastery of core public health competencies. Students complete a mentored research experience with faculty, before developing their own dissertation proposal and completing their dissertation. Students may choose either the traditional thesis format or the three manuscript option.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the social and behavioral determinants of health and illness, at the individual, community and societal levels, and how 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.

The 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. Applicants to the PhD Program in Community Health and Prevention 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, and on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Especially for prospective students whose native language is not English, evidence of strong skills in analytical writing and English comprehension.

Application Requirements

The PhD program will require 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.

In consultation with their advisor, students will propose a course of study that will build skills and knowledge in three areas: 

  • Social Factors/Behavioral Sciences/Communications Electives or Special Topics (18.0 credits);
  • Biostatistics/Methodological Electives or Special Topics (6.0 credits);
  • and Public Health or Topical Area Electives or Special Topics (6.0 Credits).

They will 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 CHP, other departments at the Dornsife School of Public Health, or in other Schools and Colleges at Drexel.

Review Degree Requirements and Courses

Sample Plan of Study

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Paying for Your Public Health Degree

95 percent of PhD students receive tuition remission, stipend, and health insurance.

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Amanda Keefer, EdM
Program Manager, Department of Community Health and Prevention

David A. Wood, MBA, MS
Director of Recruitment, Enrollment, and Retention