Sep 30, 2023  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Health, Ph.D.

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  • Biostatistics
  • Community and Family Health
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Genomics
  • Global Communicable Disease
  • Health Services Research

Also offered as a Concurrent Degrees  


The base of knowledge for public health comes from a variety of disciplines, ranging from social sciences to biological sciences and business, brought together by a commitment to improve the public’s health. Thus, the field of public health is broad and is open to students from diverse academic disciplines including Health Sciences, Education, Engineering, Business, Communications, Mathematics, Social and Natural Sciences. Graduates are prepared for interdisciplinary focused public health professional careers as administrators, managers, educators, researchers, and direct service providers.

The College accommodates the working professional as well as the full-time student by offering late afternoon and evening classes, online course delivery, partnerships with international schools to expand options, a variety of graduate certificates, and a professional M.P.H. for experienced Health Care professionals.


The College is accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health.

Major Research Areas:

Faculty major research areas are listed at:

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements, as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.  

  • Complete both a SOPHAS application and a USF Graduate Studies Application and pay the applicable fee for each (applicants will receive a request for the $30 fee once the SOPHAS application enters the USF system).

  • Transcripts

  • Resume or curriculum vitae

  • At least two formal Letters of Recommendation.

  • Evidence of written/analytical skills to the College of Public Health which will take two-forms:

    • A graduate level term paper, thesis, or research paper of which the student is the sole author, publication on which the student is the first author; and

    • A detailed personal statement of less than five pages that describes why the applicant wishes to obtain a Ph.D. degree in Public Health.

Curriculum Requirements

Total minimum hours – 55 Credit Hours Post-Master’s

  • Core: 13 credit hours
  • Concentration: 12 credit hours minimum
  • Electives: 12 credit hours minimum
  • Dissertation: 18 credit hours minimum

The doctoral committee or the Concentration may require prerequisites. These courses are not included in the minimum number of hours a student needs to complete the Ph.D. and are expected to be completed early in the course of study.

Total minimum hours – 72 Credit Hours Post-Baccalaureate

  • MPH Core: 9 credit hours
  • Doctoral Core: 13 credit hours
  • Concentration: 12 credit hours minimum
  • Electives: 20 credit hours minimum
  • Dissertation: 18 credit hours minimum

The doctoral committee or concentration may require additional coursework, which will be specified in a plan of study developed by the student and the doctoral committee. These courses are not included in the minimum number of hours that a student needs to complete the Ph.D. 

MPH Core (9 Credit Hours)

Concentration Option Requirements (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students select one of the following concentrations:

Environmental and Occupational Health (12 Concentration Credit Hours)

Epidemiology (12 Concentration Credit Hours)

Genomics Concentration (12 Credit Hours)

Global Communicable Disease (12 Concentration Credit Hours Minimum)

Select at least six (6) credits of the following courses and six (6) additional hours of graduate coursework selected with the Graduate Advisor.   Course choices should be approved following consultation with the student’s committee.  Course substitutions will be permitted with the student committee’s approval.

Electives (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

All students complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of electives.  Students in the post-bac option must complete a minimum of 20 credit hours. Students in the following concentration must take additional graduate electives as noted above in the concentration section:

Environmental and Occupational Health - 6 additional hours 
Genomics - 3 additional hours
Global Communicable Disease - 6 additional hours

All doctoral students will demonstrate or document proficiency in teaching academic courses at the university level.

Qualifying Exam

When all required coursework is satisfactorily completed (including tools of research and prerequisites), the student must pass a comprehensive qualifying examination covering the subject matter in the major and related fields.  The concentration will set the specific criteria.  

The qualifying exam will comprise of a written portion and may include an oral component.  The exam will cover at least three major areas including: a) Broad area of public health; b) Focus area of study; c) Research methods.  The student may have no longer than 10 weeks to complete the exam upon receipt of the exam from the Doctoral Supervisory Committee.  The format and duration of the qualifying exam is the responsibility of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee following consultation with the student and consistent with concentration, college, and university guidelines. 

The Doctoral Supervisory Committee will have up to three weeks to review the exam and determine the outcome of either Pass or Fail.  No more than two attempts will be allowed for the student to take the qualifying exam and earn a Pass.  If the student receives a Fail on the qualifying exam on the first attempt and the Doctoral Supervisory Committee recommends that the student complete remedial work, the second attempt at the qualifying exam must be initiated within three- months of completion of remedial work.  If the student earns a Fail on the first attempt, and the Commttee determines that no remedial work is needed, the student will have a second attempt to pass which must be initiated within three months.  If the student does not earn a Pass on the qualifying exam on his/her second attempt, the student will not be admitted into doctoral candidacy.  After successful completion of the qualfying exam and appropriate paperwork is submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies, the student is admitted to candidacy and may register for dissertation hours.

Dissertation (18 Credit Hours Minimum)

All students must follow the University’s “Guidelines for Dissertations and Theses” found at  The Dissertation must conform to one of the following two available options per USF degree requirements.  For details, consult the USF Graduate Catalog Degree Requirements Section.

  • Option 1: Traditional format inclusive of Part 1 Perliminary Pages, Part II Text, Part III References/Appendices, Part IV About the Author.
  • Option 2: Collection of articles/papers instead of chapters inclusive of Part I Preliminary Pages, Part II Collection of Articles/Papers, Part III References/Appendices.  

After the Doctoral Dissertation Committee has determined that the final draft of the Dissertation is suitable for presentation, the Committee will request the scheduling and announcement of the Dissertation Defense.  Consistent with USF Graduate Degree Requirements, a copy of the announcement should be sent to the USF Office of Graduate Studies and posted in a public forum preferably two weeks in advance of the defense date.

In addition, the Concentration in Biostatistics and the Concentration in Epidemiology have additional format requirements. Consult with the dissertation committee and concentration lead or information on the format options and requirements for these two concentrations.  

Guidelines for student progress:
Each Ph.D. student will undergo an annual review consistent with concetration guidelines.  A summary of the annual review will be provided to the student and placed in the student’s advising file.

Concurrent Degree

Also available as a Concurrent Degree  

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