Public Health Sciences: Specialization in Health Promotion (PhD)

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Sciences specialization in Health Promotion (PHSCPHDHP)
Unit: School of Public Health and Information Sciences (GH)
Department: Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Program Webpage

Program Information

The PhD in Public Health Sciences, Specialization in Health Promotion degree program at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences is designed to prepare students for careers in higher education, upper level management positions in government and private nonprofit health agencies, and research positions with universities, government agencies and in the private sector. In addition to gaining a solid foundation in the theories and concepts of the discipline, students also achieve competency as independent researchers.

Areas of research for faculty include emergency and disaster response and preparedness, health decision and risk analysis, infection prevention, preventive medicine, cognitive and social influences of health-related decision making on health outcomes, and policy and program evaluation.

Competencies

The successful student is able to demonstrate:

  • Advanced knowledge of behavioral and cognitive sciences related to public health education and promotion
  • Expertise in planning, implementing, and evaluating theory-driven health promotion interventions in a variety of community and clinical settings
  • Research, evaluation, scholarship and leadership skills that may be applied in higher education, government, and community health agencies

It is expected that prior to graduation, students in the program have demonstrated these competencies by completing the curriculum, passing the qualifying exam, successfully defending the dissertation, participating in collaborative research and service projects with public health agencies, and serving as an instructor and mentor for master’s level and beginning doctoral students.

Competency in the basic principles and application of epidemiology is a requirement for all students in the School. If a student has not had sufficient exposure to epidemiology prior to matriculation, he or she is required to take a course in epidemiology as part of the program of study.

Curriculum

The typical progression through the health promotion curriculum is:

  • Program of Study (year 1)
  • Required and elective coursework of 48 credit hours (years 1 and 2)
  • Qualifying examination (year 2)
  • Candidacy
  • Dissertation research and preparation (within 4 years of entering candidacy)
  • Oral examination/dissertation defense

Faculty Advisor

The Director of the PhD program will assign advisors for each doctoral student. Upon matriculation in the program, each student will meet with his or her assigned advisor and develop a program of study, which will include courses in public health theory and principles, research design, and statistics as well as selected cognate courses. The program of study will identify a set of courses for the development of competencies in areas of public health knowledge that are relevant to the student’s area of interest. The program of study may be modified as the student’s needs change or course availability is altered.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and, in most cases, should have completed a master’s or other graduate degree related to the theme of the doctoral program. Applicants who have a master’s degree in a different discipline may be admitted with the stipulation that they complete foundation coursework during their enrollment for the doctoral degree. This coursework is in addition to the outlined curriculum and is negotiated with the student’s academic advisor on a case-by-case basis.

  • The formal application, curriculum vitae, personal statement, application fee, at least two letters of recommendation, official transcripts of all college work, and official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test must be submitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions, louisville.edu/graduate/apply
  • The personal statement should be a one-to-two page essay which discusses the student’s background in health promotion, why the student is attracted to the field, and how the degree helps the student reach his or her career goals.
  • In addition, prior work experience relevant to the health promotion discipline is also considered as a factor in acceptance into the program.
  • International students are required to submit TOEFL scores and a foreign credential evaluation of their transcripts. These are required no later than thirty days before the first day of classes of the semester in which the applicant plans to enroll.

For specific information about the degree specialization or the application process, students should contact the Director of the PhD Program, Dr. Muriel Harris, at muriel.harris@louisville.edu or (502) 852-4061, or the Department Chair, Dr. Richard Wilson, at richard.wilson@louisville.edu or (502) 852-3443.

Program Requirements

Upon matriculation in the program, each student meets with his or her assigned advisor and develops a program of study that includes courses in research design and statistics as well as selected cognate courses. The program of study may be modified as the student’s needs change or course availability is altered.

If a student has not had sufficient exposure to epidemiology prior to matriculation, he or she is required to take a course in epidemiology as part of the program of study. In addition, the program of study includes development of competencies in other areas of public health knowledge that are relevant to the student’s area of interest.

Curriculum

Students with a Master of Public Health (MPH) and those with master’s degrees from other disciplines may be admitted to the PhD program. For those students entering from other disciplines, leveling courses will be required. The leveling courses include the MPH core courses, and they must be completed prior to beginning courses in the student’s PhD degree plan.

The PhD curriculum consists of a minimum of 48 credit hours, at least one semester of teaching, and a dissertation. The degree plan consists of the following:

  • Foundational Requirements (15-18 credit hours)
    • Epidemiological Methods (3 credit hours)
    • Theory, Approaches, Planning, & Interventions (6-9 credit hours)
    • Advanced Evaluation (3 credit hours)
    • Policy & Politics (3 credit hours)
  • Methods & Statistical Analysis (18-24 credit hours)
    • Advanced Biostatistics (3 credit hours)
    • Measurement (3 credit hours)
    • Quantitative Research Methods (3-9 credit hours)
    • Qualitative Research Methods (3-9 credit hours)
  • Teaching (3 credit hours)
  • Cognate Area of Study (12-15 credit hours)—determined by faculty advisor
  • Dissertation

Coursework

Foundational Requirements15-18
Epidemiological Methods (3 hours)
Epidemiological Methods
Epidemiologic Methods II
Theory/Applied Theory/Approaches/Planning/Interventions (6-9 hours)
Theoretical Basis of Health Promotion
Psycho-Social Foundations of Health Decision Making
Community Organizing and Health Policy Advocacy
Administering Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Programs
Advanced Evaluation (3 hours)
Advanced Program Evaluation
Policy & Politics (3 hours)
Health Care Law and Politics
Methods & Statistical Analysis (18-24 credit hours)
Advanced Biostatistics3
Advanced Statistics I
Statistics I
Measurement3
Health Sciences Data Collection Instrumentation
Evaluation and Measurement in Education
Psychometrics and Affective Instrument Development
Survey Research and Attitude Measurement
Quantitative Research Methods3-9
Systematic Reviewing and Meta-Analysis
Secondary Data Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Applied Statistics
Research Concepts and Design
Intermediate Applied Statistics
Applied Multiple Regression
Multivariate Educational Statistics
Health Promotion Research Methods and Design
Geographic Information Systems in Public Health
Statistical Methods for Research Design in Health Sciences
Biostatistical Methods I
Biostatistical Methods II
Multivariate Statistical Analysis
Categorical Data Analysis
Mixed Effect Models and Longitudinal Data Analysis
Advanced Linear Models
Generalized Linear Models
Nonlinear Regression
Advanced Statistics II
Advanced Statistics III
Statistics II
Research Methods
Qualitative Research Methods3-9
Community Based Participatory Research
Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
Qualitative Field Research Methods
Qualitative Data Analysis and Representation
Qualitative Research Methods
Teaching
Seminar-Based Courses
ELFH 683College Teaching3
or ELFH 607 Principles of Educational Leadership
or ELFH 672 Instructional Design and Development
or ELFH 661 Adult & Organizational Learning
Practice
Undergraduate/Graduate Teaching Experience
Cognate (determined with advisor, see below)12-15
Minimum Total Hours45

COGNATE: 12-15 credit hours; courses to be determined with guidance from advisor based on area student chooses to develop content expertise

DISSERTATION: hours as needed

Qualifying Examination 

Upon completion of all formal course work, typically at the end of the second year of coursework, students will take a written qualifying exam to demonstrate their ability to synthesize and apply concepts from those courses. Results will be given to students within six weeks of completion of the exam. The exam will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis; students who don’t pass the exam on their first attempt will be given time to prepare to sit for the exam one additional time. The retake of the exam must be attempted within six months at a regularly scheduled exam date (February, July or October) following the first attempt at the discretion of the specialization and in consultation with the student. If a student fails to pass on the second attempt, the student will be dropped from the program. Once the qualifying exam is successfully completed, students will be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

See Student Handbook for additional information.

Dissertation

A dissertation, based on original research conducted by the student, is required of a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Health Promotion. The dissertation is to be a scholarly achievement that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent research and a thorough understanding of research principles, concepts, and techniques in health promotion. The dissertation must follow the guidelines of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies located at louisville.edu/graduate/current-students/thesis-dissertation-information.

See Student Handbook for additional information.

Dissertation Committee
The student’s dissertation research will be guided by, and the final product approved by a Dissertation Committee. The Chair of the Committee, who must come from within the department, will be appointed by the Dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences upon the advice of the Chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences.

The Dissertation Committee shall consist of at least four members to a maximum of six members. The Chair of the Committee and at least one other committee member must be from the department. Additional members should be from outside of the department or school. Students are encouraged to meet with their committee chair regarding prospective committee members who will mentor them throughout this process. A committee member must have a doctoral degree, be credentialed to teach graduate-level courses relevant to the degree, and have recent involvement in research, scholarship, or creative activity within the previous five years. The Dean of Academic Affairs at SPHIS must approve the members to serve on the committee. The Committee will subsequently be approved by the School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

Dissertation Proposal
The student will work with the Dissertation Committee, and especially with the Chair throughout the process of preparing their Dissertation Proposal. The student will schedule meetings to present their dissertation proposal for approval once it has been review by members of the committee. The final oral defense of the dissertation must be completed within four years of entering candidacy after passing the Qualifying Exam.

Dissertation Defense
Once the student has completed work on the dissertation, the student will schedule a date with his/her Dissertation Committee for the final oral examination during which the student will defend the dissertation. The dissertation must be approved by the committee and the Chair of the Department by majority vote before it can be submitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. The defense is a public event to which members of the University community will be invited as well as those the student worked with on the project.

Dissertation Preparation
The dissertation copy must follow the guidelines of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies located at louisville.edu/graduate/current-students/thesis-dissertation-information.

Dissertation Submission
The following steps must be taken to submit the final copy of the dissertation electronically after oral defense and approval of the committee:

  1. Final document must be converted to a PDF (following the guidelines as noted above) and sent to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies and the department’s administrative assistant.
  2. Submit as advised by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies through the ThinkIR repository.
  3. The signature page within the electronic version must have the names of your committee members typed under the signature line; the signatures cannot be scanned into the document.
  4. Submit a signed signature page on white paper, with original signatures, to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.