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PhD in Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences

The purpose of the PhD program in Global Community Health and Behavioral Science is to produce experts who will advance the field of global community health through research, development and application of theory, and teaching. The PhD is a highly specialized academic program, integrating theory and research in a focused substantive area of global importance. The GCHB PhD program has a strong theoretical base, is focused on health promotion and behavior change research, and emphasizes the social determinants of health, biostatistics, epidemiology, qualitative methods and research methods. A focus on health disparities and cultural competence are common themes throughout the coursework.

Program Competencies
  • Analyze major social and behavioral sciences theories for application to evidence-based research.
  • Analyze qualitative and/or quantitative data in order to answer significant research questions in social and behavioral sciences.
  • Synthesize the interdisciplinary perspectives within public health.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate independent theory-based scientific research in an academic or practice setting.
  • Translate and disseminate knowledge of global community health problems in a specific area.
  • Adapt a well-rounded persona with a clear research focus including demonstrating ethical conduct, cultural sensitivity, and a sense of academic integrity.
Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the school's admission requirements for entrance into Doctoral  programs at SPHTM.

Applicants to the PhD program must have completed a master’s degree in a related field with an outstanding academic record. Applicants are interviewed by faculty members during the admission review. Acceptance will also depend on the capacity of faculty mentors to mentor additional doctoral students.

Complete applications must be received by the priority deadline of December 1 to be considered for fellowships and other student funding. To be considered for admission to GCHB doctoral programs without funding, the completed application must be received by January 15.

A complete application includes all required documentation --career statements, letters of recommendation and verified transcripts and GRE scores. We recommend applications and required documentation be submitted in sufficient time for SOPHAS to receive and verify transcripts and GRE scores to meet the respective deadlines.

Degree Program Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 72 post-baccalaureate degree credits with at least 30 credits of doctoral study at Tulane SPHTM. Up to 42 credits may be applied from the MPH or equivalent master’s degree.  These credits will be reviewed and those that do not fulfill the PhD competencies may not be accepted. If a prerequisite course or equivalent has not been fulfilled, the student must take the course in addition to the 30 credits of advanced doctoral study, but may count toward the total 72 credits. 
The advisor works with the students in identifying the course of study in the doctoral program. If the doctoral student does not have a prior public health degree, they must obtain a grounding in public health. See Doctoral Student Handbook.

Prerequisite Coursework: (from prior master’s degree )

  • BIOS 6030 Introductory Biostatistics or equivalent
  • EPID 6040 Epidemiological Methods 1 or equivalent
  • GCHB 6030 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health or equivalent
  • GCHB 6020 Planning of Health Education or equivalent
  • GCHB 6120 Monitoring and Evaluation or equivalent
  • Statistical Software Course or Skills

Advanced Doctoral Study (at least 30 credits)

  • GCHB 7250 Research Methods in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (3)
  • GCHB 8750 Social Determinants of Health I  (3)
  • GCHB 8760 Social Determinants of Health II  (3)
  • GCHB 8820 Advanced Program Planning/Grant Writing (3)
  • GCHB 8250 Advanced Research Methods in Global Health (3)
  • GCHB 8800/8830 Senior Graduate Research Seminar (1)
  • GCHB 7000/8000 Qualitative Methods (2)
  • SPHL 8500 Interdisciplinary Seminar (1)

Elective Courses (11 credits)

Selected from courses offered within the department, school, or university in consultation with an academic advisor. Additional credits may be needed to obtain a total of 72 credits.

Research Ethics

Students are required to take online research ethics training via CITI or another equivalent training program in research ethics. This certification must remain current throughout the program duration.

Comprehensive Exam 

On completion of the coursework listed above, students will be required to pass a comprehensive examination to demonstrate PhD program competencies, as well as knowledge related to their specific content area of expertise.


PhD students must complete a social behavioral science or community health dissertation based on original research that advances the field of knowledge, practice, or policy. Dissertations may have a strong applied focus and must demonstrate independent thinking with the potential to make unique and original contribution to the scientific literature.

Contact Us

Department Chair: Richard Oberhelman, MD

Program Director: David Seal, PhD

Department Administrator: Anita Jobson


Phone: (504) 988-5391

Ready for More?

You can learn more in a webcast.