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.

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 Program Requirements & Competencies–49 credit hours


  1. 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. Generate 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. Explain 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.


Students must complete 49 credit hours of coursework and doctoral studies beyond the baccalaureate, with a minimum of 30 didactic hours at Tulane, within the doctoral program.  Up to 18 Credits can be transferred from Master’s degree.

PhD Foundational Courses–18 credit hours

  • SPHL 6020 Foundations in Public Health (3 credits)
  • SPHL 6050 Biostatistics for Public Health (3 credits)
  • BIOS 6040 Intermediate Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • SPHL 6060 Epidemiology for Public Health (3 credits)
  • SPHL 6080 Design Strategies for Public Health Programs (3 credits)
  • IHSD 6300 Monitoring of Global Health Programs (3 credits)

PhD Core Courses–12 credit hours

  • IHSD 8250 Advanced Research Methods in Global Health (3 credits)
  • SBPS 8760 Social Determinants of Health II, or EPID 7120 Epidemiologic Methods II (3 credits)
  • SPHL 8080 Public Health Pedagogy (3 credits)
  • SPHL 7500 Public Health Grant Writing (3 credits)

If an entering student had exceptional research methods prior training and competency, they can petition the instructor to challenge out of the SBPS 8760 or EPID 7120 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.

Concentration-Specific PhD Required Courses–10 credit hours

  • IHSD 7200 Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice (3 credits)
  • SBPS 8750  Social Determinants of Health I (3 credits)
  • SBPS 7280  Qualitative Methods I: Basic Foundations (3 credits)
  • SBPS 8800/SBPS 8830  Doctoral Seminar (1 credit)

PhD Elective Courses–minimum 9 credit hours

Electives are selected from relevant advanced level courses offered within the department, school, or university in consultation with an academic advisor. 9 credits minimum; Additional credits as needed to reach 49 credit graduation requirement and fulfill PhD Foundation Course requirements.  Other courses may be taken with advisor and PhD program director approval. 

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.

Educational Teaching Assistant Experience

All PhD students at SPHTM are required to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for two SPHTM courses while enrolled in the PhD program. Students should register for Teaching Assistantship Educational Experience (0 credits) during the terms they complete each TA requirement. 

All other program requirements (e.g. research ethics, comprehensive exam, prospectus, and dissertation) remain the same across the old and revised programs, as outlined in the SPHTM PhD Handbook.

Contact Us

Department Interim Chair: David Hotchkiss, PhD

Program Director: Paul Hutchinson, PhD

Program Manager: Gale Marie Abass


Phone: (504) 988-5391

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