Program Description

The PhD in Health Behavior Science and Promotion (HBSP) provides the highest degree for health promotion and behavioral science professionals, preparing graduates for research careers in many settings, including academia, non-governmental organizations (business and non-profit), allied health fields, and public service at all levels of national government. The curriculum will provide graduate students with the training needed to become effective scientific practitioners with the capacity to conduct independent research in health-related outcomes and promotion, in applied and academic settings. Completion of a high-quality PhD dissertation, based on original research, is a key feature of the academic program. The research emphasis of the HBSP field is on the assessment of individual (including cognitive and affective domains), social, behavioral and environmental determinants of health, and the development of high quality, theoretically-grounded, and evidence-based health promotion interventions to address health problems in diverse populations.

Program Applications

  • Applications for fall 2018 admittance are due June 30, 2018. Applicants are expected to submit:
  • A personal statement
  • Current curriculum vitae
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation (it is recommended that at least two be from academic references)
  • Official transcripts and GRE scores

Applicants are strongly recommended to speak with program faculty with whom they share research interests and who could serve as his/her PhD advisor, prior to submitting their application. Applicants should identify two program faculty members that they would like to work with during their Doctoral training in their personal statement.

Graduate Assistantships

The department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition offers full (full tuition and $20,000 stipend) and partial (full tuition) graduate assistantships to competitive full-time students on a year-to- year basis. Students on full graduate assistantships will devote at least 20-hours per week in the fall and spring semesters (9-month award) to teaching and working with their faculty advisor on research projects. There may be additional opportunities for doctoral students to have department-funded research time in the summer session.

Residency Requirement

Admitted HBSP PhD students must register as full-time students (6 credit hours per semester for a student receiving a full graduate assistantship; 9 credit hours per semester for a student not on assistantship) for the fall and spring semesters for the first year in the program. Students are expected to work with his/her faculty advisor during summer and winter sessions on research projects. Part-time students enroll in fewer than nine credit hours per semester.

For more information, please contact the PhD in Health Behavior Science and Promotion Director, Freda Patterson, PhD

Required Coursework

The HBSP PhD program requires a minimum of 48 credits that are designed to be completed over a 4-year period. Courses must be at the 600-level or higher to count toward the minimum requirements for program completion. Students who have substantially similar courses (at the 600-level or higher) to one or more of those required prior to entering the program may substitute up to 9-credits with approval from the PhD Director.

HBSP PhD Sample Sequence of course Requirements

** Additional degree progression activities

Year 1
Fall Spring
HLPR803: Advanced Health Promotion Programming (3) HLPR804: Advanced Health Promotion Program Evaluation (3)
Statistics Elective (3) BHAN856: Multivariable Statistics for Population Health (3)
BHAN855: Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research in Health Sciences (3) Statistics Elective (3)
HLPR868: Independent Research (1) HLPR868: Independent Research (1)
**Convene Dissertation Committee
Department of BHAN, Research Seminar (0)
Year 2
Fall Spring
Core Elective (3) HLPR820: Social and Environmental Determinants of Health (3)
HLPR830: Behavioral Change Strategies (3) HLPR813: Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine (3)
Statistics Elective (3) HLPR868: Independent Research (3)
HLPR868: Independent Research (1) **Summer: preliminary exam and dissertation
proposal defense must be completed by August 1;
Advancement to degree candidacy following successful
completion of preliminary exam.
BHAN, Research Seminar (0)  **Dissertation Committee convened at least once in year to
review progress toward degree.
Year 3
Fall Spring
HLPR969: Dissertation Research (9) Sustaining Dissertation Research
BHAN, Research Seminar (0)
 **Dissertation Committee convened at least once in year
to review progress toward degree.
Year 4
Fall Spring
Sustaining Dissertation Research Sustaining Dissertation Research
BHAN, Research Seminar (0)
**Dissertation Committee convened to review
progress toward degree.
Fina Doctoral Dissertation Defense
 **Application for Advanced Degree submitted
by February 15

Independent Research and Dissertation

In the first two years of the program, students are required to engage in independent research under the mentorship of his/her PhD advisor. It is expected that this work will culminate into the students’ dissertation proposal and project. Students can apply for up to $2000/year in department funds to support independent research work. The deadline for the funding is August 1 and notification of award will be made by September 1 so that work can begin in the fall semester. The dissertation (9 credits) is an original research study, of high academic standard, that uses theoretical and empirical methods to address a pertinent gap or problem in the health behavior science and promotion field. A secondary analysis of pre-existing data to answer original research questions and hypotheses, is allowed.