Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Public Health, Ph.D.


  • 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. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is granted in recognition of high attainment in a specified field of knowledge. It is a research degree and is not conferred solely upon the earning of credit or the completion of courses. It is granted after the student has shown proficiency and distinctive achievement in a specific field, has demonstrated the ability to do original, independent investigation, and has presented these findings with a high degree of literary skill in a dissertation. The mission of the programs of study for the Doctor of Philosophy degree is to prepare public health professionals to make substantive contributions to public health inquiry and practice.


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

Major Research Areas:

Faculty major research areas are listed at: http://health.usf.edu/publichealth/index.htm

Admission Information

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

  • Official Transcripts (Sent ONLY to SOPHAS)
  • A thorough statement of purpose and objectives indicating the applicant’s interest on obtaining a degree in public health, and how they hope to contribute to the field.
  • Both SOPHAS and USF applications and fees are required for USF’s College of Public Health Graduate Programs.
  1. Complete a SOPHAS application at www.sophas.org and submit all required application materials to SOPHAS.  All application materials must be submitted only to SOPHAS.
  2. Complete and submit the USF graduate application and fee at https://secure.vzcollegeapp.com/usf/.  Do not upload or submit any application materials directly to USF.
  3. Allow two to four weeks for SOPHAS to verify the application.  Make sure to follow up with SOPHAS regularly to meet all of their requirements to verify your application.
  4. Monitor the email that you provided in SOPHAS for application decisions and other communications.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • At least three 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

  • Doctoral Core: 9 credit hours
  • Other Required Courses: 4 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 – 85 Credit Hours Post-Baccalaureate

  • MPH Core: 9 credit hours
  • Doctoral Core: 9 credit hours
  • Other Required Courses: 4 credit hours
  • Concentration: 12 credit hours minimum
  • Electives: 33 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)


Other Required Courses (4 Credit Hours)

Concentration Option Requirements (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students select one of the following concentrations:

Biostatistics (12 Concentration Credit Hours)

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.

Health Services Research (12 Concentration Credit Hours)

Electives (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

Post-Bachelor’s students complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of electives.  

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 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 review the exam and determine the outcome.  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 Committee 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 qualifying 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  https://www.usf.edu/graduate-studies/students/electronic-thesis-dissertation/index.aspx.  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 Preliminary 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.

Guidelines for student progress:
Each Ph.D. student will have an annual review consistent with concentration guidelines.  

Concurrent Degree

Also available as a Concurrent Degree