Tulane Home Tulane Shield logo linking to site home page

tracking code

PhD in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences

The purpose of the PhD program in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences is to train experts who will advance the field of social, behavioral, and population sciences through research, development and application of theory, and teaching. The PhD is a highly specialized training program, integrating theory and research in a focused substantive area of global importance. Graduates will have in-depth expertise necessary for a research career, and are expected to develop careers in universities, medical schools, and other higher institutions of learning as faculty members or in research organizations globally.

Admission Requirements

Students applying to the Doctor of Philosophy in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences program must meet the school's general admission requirements and submit materials per the application requirements.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 72 credit hours of coursework and doctoral studies beyond the baccalaureate, with a minimum of 30 didactic hours at Tulane, within the doctoral program. Coursework will be comprised of three levels.

Required Prerequisite Basic Foundation Courses (Pre-requisite courses required of all admitted students. These courses do not count toward the required 30 didactic hours at Tulane.)

SBPS 6030 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health or equivalent (3 Credits)
BIOS 6040 Intermediate Biostatistics (3 Credits)
SBPS 6340 Monitoring and Evaluation of Global Health Programs or equivalent (3 Credits)
SPHL 6050 Biostatistics for Public Health (3 Credits)
SPHL 6060 Epidemiology for Public Health (3 Credits)
SPHL 6070 Health Systems Policy & Management (3 Credits)
SPHL 6080 Design Strategies for Public Health Programs (3 Credits)
TBD Statistical Software Course or Skills- TBD by Student & Advisor
Note: Most entering students have working knowledge of statistical software (e.g., Stata, SAS, SPSS). This basic foundation requirement is for students without sufficient statistical software capacity. In such cases, the student and their advisor will determine the appropriate training that is needed.

Required Advanced Foundation Courses (18 Credits; required of all PhD students))

SBPS 7250 Research Methods in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (fulfills SPHTM advanced research methods requirement)** (3 Credits)
SBPS 7280 or SBPS 7290 Qualitative Methods (I or II) (2 Credits)
SBPS 8250 Advanced Research Methods in Global Health (fulfills SPHTM advanced biostatistics requirement)** (3 Credits)
SBPS 8750 Social Determinants of Health I (3 Credits)
SBPS 8760 Social Determinants of Health II (fulfills SPHTM advanced epidemiology requirement) (3 Credits)
SBPS 8820 Advanced Program Planning and Grant Writing (3 Credits)
SBPS 8800/8830 Senior Graduate Research Seminar (GCHB Doctoral Seminar) (1 Credit)

**If an entering student had previous graduate-level research methods coursework and/or exceptional prior training and competency, they could petition the instructor to challenge out of the required course. If approved by the instructor, the student would be free to take any other 7000/8000 course meeting the SPHTM Research Methods course requirements.

Elective Courses: 12 credits minimum; Additional credits as needed to reach 72 credit graduation requirement and/or fulfill Basic Foundation MPH-level prerequisite courses). Elective courses may include formal courses and independent studies. No more than 12 credits of independent studies may be applied toward the doctoral degree.

Research Ethics

Doctoral 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.


A 300-hour advanced Applied Practice Experience (practicum) that allows students to expand competencies and advance practice skills, under the direction of a qualified preceptor in the practice setting, is required. This practicum should focus on developing advanced leadership and management skills in global health disciplines. The advisor works with each student to develop measurable learning objectives prior to their practicum experience. Self-assessment and reflection as well as assessment of teams, peers and supervisors are important skills in future public health leaders.

Comprehensive Examination

On completion of the coursework listed above students will be required to pass a comprehensive examination to demonstrate knowledge of, and competency with, the Basic and Advanced Foundation coursework, as well as their specialty area.


Students must complete a dissertation representing theory–driven public health research that meets the school requirements for a PhD dissertation.

Contact Us

Department Interim Chair: David Hotchkiss, PhD

Program Director: David Seal, PhD

Program Manager: Anita Jobson-Wolfe

Email: gchb@tulane.edu

Phone: (504) 988-5391

Ready for More?

You can learn more in a webcast.

Request Information    Open House    Apply Now