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PhD in International Health and Sustainable Development

The PhD program in International Health and Sustainable Development (IHSD) prepares the next generation of global public health researchers to conduct state-of-the-art research on global health and development issues, to reduce inequities, and to shape a sustainable future for the planet. The PhD program provides students with the skills to identify, assess, and apply scientific theories and research methodologies; to conduct original scientific research studies in resource-constrained settings; to leverage research findings towards best practice and strategic planning for global health programs; and to teach, mentor and advise students, programs, development officials, and governments. Students will develop understanding of relevant theories, the capacity to employ inter-disciplinary and mixed-method research approaches, cultural competency, and the skills for ethical conduct of research.

The primary objectives of the IHSD PhD are:

  • To provide strong instructional coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and mentorship that enable students to design and conduct field-based research and/or support large-scale program planning and monitoring and evaluation endeavors, analyze primary and secondary data to achieve research goals, and communicate research findings to different audiences for program and policy decision-making.
  • To develop a cadre of independent researchers who will advance global health knowledge and practices in post-graduation employment to reduce health inequities and support the goals of sustainable human development.

As part of the IHSD PhD, students will work alongside faculty, public health researchers, and their classmates, all of whom share a commitment to better global health, reduced inequities and a more sustainable future.

This program will begin accepting applications in August 2021 for the Fall 2022 launch.

Admission Requirements

Students applying to the Doctor of Philosophy in International Health and Sustainable Development program must meet the school's general admission requirements.

Degree Requirements & Competencies


Upon completion of the program, the graduate should be able to:

  1. Apply global health and development theories to critique empirical and theoretical knowledge relevant to health and development issues and factors associated with inequities in resource poor settings.
  2. Formulate evocative, relevant, and clear research questions addressing global health and development issues.
  3. Conduct applied qualitative and quantitative field research, including working with local partners, maintaining appropriate cultural sensitivities, addressing ethical issues, and managing and analyzing primary and secondary data.
  4. Communicate research methodologies, scientific findings, and programmatic and policy implications of research findings to the scientific community and program implementers.
  5. Teach in an area of specialization, whether substantive, regional/geographic, and/or methodological.

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.


SBPS 6030 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health or equivalent (3)
IHSD 6300 Monitoring of Global Health Programs or equivalent (3)
SPHL 6020 Foundations in Public Health or equivalent (3)
SPHL 6050 Biostatistics for Public Health or equivalent (3)
BIOS 6040 Intermediate Biostatistics or equivalent (3)
SPHL 6060 Epidemiology for Public Health or equivalent (3)
SPHL 6080 Design Strategies for Public Health or equivalent (3)

Program Course Requirements

IHSD 8200/ SBPS 7200   Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice or Development Issues: Measurement and Practice (3)
GCHB 7280  Qualitative Methods I  (2)
GCHB 8250  Advanced Research Methods in Global Health (3) (fulfills SPHTM advanced biostatistics requirement)**
SBPS 8750  Social Determinants of Health I (3)
SBPS 8760  Social Determinants of Health II or Epidemiologic Methods II  or EPID 7120 (fulfills SPHTM advanced epidemiology requirement)** (3)
SPHL 7500  Public Health Grant Writing (3)
SPHL 8080  Public Health Pedagogy (3)
SBPS 8800/ SBPS 8830  Senior Graduate Research Seminar (Doctoral Seminar) (1) 

Total 21 credits


  • IHSD 7020 Communication Research for Family Planning
  • IHSD 7070 Social Determinants of HIV/AIDS
  • GCHB 7160 HIV Surveillance in Hard-to-Reach Populations
  • IHSD 7210 Survey Data Analysis in FP/RH Research
  • IHSD 7440 Household Sampling Applications in Developing Countries
  • GCHB 7290 Qualitative Methods 2
  • SBPS 8200 Evaluation Theory
  • HPAM 8310 Organizational Theory and Assessment
  • HPAM 8350 Policy Analysis with Natural Experiments and Panel Data
  • HPAM 8500 Research Development and Communication

**If an entering student had exceptional research methods 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 (6 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 9 credits of independent studies may be applied toward the PhD degree.

Research ethics

IHSD doctoral candidates will complete the CITI ethics training course (or equivalent) no later than the end of the second year of their program, and will remain certified for the duration of the academic program.

Comprehensive Exams

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.

Prospectus and Dissertation

After passing the comprehensive exam a student must defend their prospectus. Upon agreement of all committee members, a student will defend the prospectus in an oral exam which is open to the school. Students need to follow all deadlines and submit all forms as specified in the school PhD handbook.

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

Contact Us

Department Interim Chair: David Hotchkiss, PhD

Program Director: Paul Hutchinson, PhD

Program Manager: Gale Marie Abass

Email: ihsd@tulane.edu

Phone: (504) 988-5391

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