Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)

Health Behavior Major

Description of Program

The Ph.D. in Health Behavior (ranked #1 in the nation among non-schools of public health and #5 including all schools of public health) prepares graduates to conduct scholarly inquiry in a broad spectrum of areas emphasizing health promotion and prevention of health problems. Research and creative activities include both basic and applied work in program planning and development; evaluation of the program effectiveness; and examination of lifestyle and health behavior in relation to nutrition, exercise, stress, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse, individual development and family health, communicable disease, human sexuality, and related areas.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for this degree are prescribed by an advisory committee for each individual student. Common requirement components include:

  • Research Skills – Typically 9 credits of course work providing required skills to conduct research, such as statistical analysis.  These credits to not count toward the 90 credits required in the major, minor, electives, and dissertation portions of the degree.
  • Major – 30 credits minimum
  • Minor – 12 to 15 credits
  • Electives –  0 to 28credits (may include second major or minor)
  • Dissertation – 20 to 30 credits
Special Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to develop skills by participating in research activities independently or in collaboration with faculty members and other graduate students. Through funded associate instructor (AI) appointments, most doctoral students also acquire essential skills and experience in teaching various health topics in different settings. Students are strongly encouraged to publish research results in professional journals and via presentations at national conferences. A limited number of fellowships and scholarships are available to the best qualified students.


Most graduates pursue careers in higher education as professors and researchers while some complete postdoctoral fellowships or pursue research or executive careers in governmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and voluntary health agencies.

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