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  School of Public Health 2018-2020 Degree Requirements Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)  

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Doctoral students are currently accepted in five concentration areas: biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, health systems and policy, and social and behavioral health sciences, pending funding availability. The Rutgers School of Public Health has several Ph.D. fellowships annually and faculty also support Ph.D. students on extramural research funds. Scholarly "fit" with faculty research is an important criteria in our admissions decisions. A current summary of federally-funded research at the Rutgers School of Public Health made be found by using the NIH Research Portfolio Online Report Tools.

The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours for completion. Candidates for the Ph.D. are expected to enroll full time and are required to complete qualifying written and oral qualifying examinations, as well as complete and defend original dissertation research. Through doctoral-level research, Ph.D. students will develop expertise on a single topic, design and implement a research project, integrate and interpret complex data, and complete a comprehensive dissertation. Students must plan this carefully. Although students will work closely with faculty advisers, students bear responsibility for developing research of publishable quality. The curriculum and academic progress of all doctoral students is monitored by the Doctoral Committee. A specific course of study is followed by all Ph.D. students during the first year of full-time study with specialization courses (minimum 15 credits) completed during the second year of full-time study. Ph.D. students then begin their dissertation research in the third year of full-time study.

Each student must participate in the Doctoral Colloquium each fall and spring semester, fulfill a teaching experience, be immersed in research, pass a qualifying exam, and defend a dissertation. The curriculum must total a minimum of 72 credits, including a minimum of 24 credits of doctoral research. Each concentration has its own set of required specialization courses.

Satisfactory progress extends beyond GPA--students must meet three major milestones in a timely fashion. First, Ph.D. students are expected to advance to candidacy within three (3) years of admission to the doctoral program. Second, students should defend their dissertation proposal within one (1) year of advancing to candidacy. Third, a student's entire course of study, including coursework, qualifying exam, thesis research and defense, must be completed within nine (9) years of admission to the doctoral program.

Ph.D. students are expected to participate in the Doctoral Colloquium (RESH 0700) each fall and spring semester they are enrolled at the School of Public Health (required for Ph.D. students enrolled fall 2018 and after). The purpose of the Colloquium is to familiarize students with the major streams of research on pressing topics in public health, prepare students to complete the Ph.D. program, and help students develop the skills necessary to become an engaged scholar and be competitive on the academic job market.

All doctoral students must serve as a teaching assistant (course assistant) for at least one semester.

All Ph.D. students are expected to engage in research activities with School of Public Health faculty under the direction of their faculty adviser. This experience may vary by concentration and faculty adviser. At a minimum, students are expected to present as well as publish at least one first authored paper prior to their dissertation proposal defense.

All doctoral students must serve as a teaching assistant for at least one semester. If a student can document sufficient teaching experience at the graduate school level, the chair of the doctoral committee may waive this requirement.

Please consult each department's residency requirement.

The faculty adviser, together with the chair of the Doctoral Committee, is responsible for proposing a qualifying examination committee and providing guidance for the student's preparation for that exam. The Office of Student Affairs will schedule the qualifying examination. As a student nears completion of his or her approved curriculum, the adviser shall propose to the chair of the Doctoral Committee a committee to administer the qualifying examination to the student. This committee shall be made up of at least four members of the Rutgers School of Public Health faculty and will include, at a minimum: the adviser, who has primary responsibility for the student's concentration; a faculty member responsible for questions on general public health; and the chair of the Doctoral Committee or his or her designee. Each of the parts of the exam (i.e., concentration, general public health) will be graded on a pass/fail basis and may be passed with up to one dissenting vote.

After the granting of the doctorate, the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies in New Brunswick will have the dissertation microfilmed. The dissertation must, therefore, be prepared with the same care as if it were to appear in printed form. The abstract that must accompany the dissertation will be published in Dissertation Abstracts and, therefore, must be ready for publication when it is submitted to the dean. University Microfilms of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will microfilm the dissertation and publish the abstract. Information concerning the preparation of the dissertation and abstract and the agreement with University Microfilms that the candidate is to sign are available in the Office of the School of Graduate Studies, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Students seeking the Ph.D. degree must complete a minimum of 72 credits and must defend a dissertation.

  • 9 CREDITS in core areas of public health. Students in all concentrations must take public health core courses.
  • 24 CREDITS in advanced areas of public health theory and analytics. Students in all concentrations must take advanced public health theory and analytics courses.
  • 15 CREDITS of specialization courses dependent on the concentration. These courses are listed on each concentration's webpage and in the School Catalog.
  • 24 CREDITS of Doctoral Research. Including 3 credits of a Doctoral Research: Dissertation Proposal Seminar (RESH 0760-Section 000) taken in the spring semester of the second year of full-time study.


  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Systems and Policy
  • Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
For additional information, contact RU-info at 732-932-info (4636) or
Comments and corrections to: Campus Information Services.

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