Students develop research skills essential to contributing to the scientific and professional literature in behavioral and community health. The program teaches students to evaluate the health needs of various populations and provides training to lead community health promotion programs and implement policies. This degree program emphasizes training in specific research skills and the ability to implement theoretical knowledge.

Find out more about the admissions process and deadlines.

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The PhD in Behavioral and Community Health consists of 48 credits of graduate coursework and an additional 27 credits of individually-directed research that compromises the dissertation phase of the program. The program provides students with the opportunity to develop research skills essential in making significant contributions to the scientific and professional literature in behavioral and community health promotion.  The goal of the program is to develop high-quality health professionals who have expertise in understanding the health needs of the nation and qualified to participate in developing community health promotion programs and policies.

We primarily admit full-time students; however, we do admit a limited number of outstanding part-time students who are able to maintain a high level of commitment and determination to obtain their degree through all phases of their program including the dissertation phase. All students must complete their degree in nine (9) years in accordance with University of Maryland Graduate School policy. Students must advance to candidacy within 5 years of enrolling in the program and then complete their dissertation within 4 years of advancing to candidacy.

In addition to these course requirements, all students MUST participate in annual individual progress meetings, and are expected to participate in bi-monthly department grand rounds presentations and monthly school-wide lectures. Students are also strongly encouraged to participate in school-wide student organizations and volunteer to serve on departmental, school and university committees.


The PhD in Behavioral and Community Health is a research degree. As such, upon completion of the degree requirements, all students are expected to demonstrate their ability to:

  • Identify critical stakeholders for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs, policies and interventions.
  • Identify individual, organizational and community concerns, assets, resources and deficits for social and behavioral science interventions.
  • Describe steps and procedures for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs, policies and interventions.
  • Apply evidence-based approaches in the development and evaluation of social and behavioral science interventions.
  • Implement public health strategies, interventions and programs.
  • Conduct evaluation and research related to behavioral and community health. 
  • Administer behavioral and community health strategies, interventions and programs.
  • Serve as a behavioral and community health resource person.
  • Communicate and advocate for public health.
  • Analyze and refine existing theory.
  • Use appropriate theory to describe, explain, predict, and/or change a particular health problem within a given population and context.
  • Be conversant about current health behavior theories and theory-based research.
  • Identify causes of the social and behavioral factors that affect the health of individuals and populations.
  • Specify multiple targets and levels of intervention for social and behavioral science programs and/or policies.
  • Conduct univariate and multivariate data analyses including statistical comparisons and predictions.
  • Conduct advanced statistical analyses including longitudinal, multilevel and survival data.
  • Create reliable and valid measurement tools.
  • Apply the steps involved in examining a conceptual model.
  • Assess limitations of the internal and external validity of research.
  • Critically appraise reports of research and evaluation.
  • Identify sources and processes for research funding.
  • Develop expertise in an area of independent research interest.
  • Present clear, engaging, and informative oral research reports.
  • Apply the steps involved in independent research.


PhD in Behavioral and Community Health Curriculum Overview

Program Co-Requisites:

Nine (9) credits of coursework in a minimum of two different health topical areas (e.g., smoking, alcohol, nutrition, etc.) These courses may be completed either prior to or following admission and must be completed prior to qualifying examination. They do not count as doctoral curriculum credits, and do not have to be graduate level courses.

Core Courses: (30 credits)

  Course Credits
HLTH 606* Foundations of Public Health Education 3
HLTH 665*   Health Behavior I 3
HLTH 671* OR
HLTH 672*
Public Health Communication 3
HLTH 672 Public Health Informatics 3
HLTH 710  Methods and Techniques of Research 3
HLTH 774P Community Health Program Planning  3
HLTH 776P Community Health Program Evaluation 3
EPIB 610* Foundations of Epidemiology 3
EPIB 650* Biostatistics I 3
HLSA 601* Intro. to Health Systems 3
MIEH 600* Foundations of Environmental Health 3

PhD Advanced Theory & Applications: (6 credits)

  Course Credit
HLTH 666P Health Behavior II    3
**, ***   Elective in Advanced Theory & Applications  3

PhD Advanced Research Methods & Statistics: (12 credits)

  Course Credit
HLTH 652P Quantitative Research Methods I in Public Health 3
HLTH 653P Quantitative Research Methods II in Public Health 3
HLTH 711P   Advanced Methods of Research 3
HLTH 712 P Applied Research Methods in BCH 3

Qualifying Exam

Must be taken either in the semester the student is completing her/his coursework or the next semester. Students must pass all sections of the In-School and Take-Home examination before beginning the 15 credits of individualized research, before advancement to candidacy, and before commencement of dissertation research.).

Individualized Research Plan: (minimum 15 credits)

  Course Credit
HLTH 898 Independent Study/Mentored research experience 3-6
**, *** Area of concentration (at least two 600+ level courses)  

Advance to Candidacy

Once the Qualifying Examination and the individualized research plan are completed, doctoral students must apply for Advancement to Candidacy using the Graduate School’s required form, which is available at

Independent Doctoral Dissertation Research: (minimum 12 credits)

HLTH 899                  Doctoral Dissertation Research 


Asterisk (*) = course may be waived if certain requirements are met
P = A pre-requisite course is required before enrolling in the course


All PhD students are required to complete a dissertation in either a traditional 5-chapter format or a multiple manuscript format. Students are expected to apply the concepts, strategies, and tools acquired through the course of their study to a research topic of individual interest. Dissertations that use multivariate statistics and apply and/or evaluate health behavior theory are preferable.

Recent PhD Dissertation Titles include:

  • The Challenge of Teen Nutrition: An Ecological View of Sociocognitive Influences on Urban, African-American Adolescent Diet Quality
  • The Role of Racial Identity in the Attitudes Toward and Intention to Enroll in Therapeutic Clinical Trials Among African Americans
  • The Influence of Religious Involvement on African American Girls Perception of the Ideal Dating Relationship
  • Demographic  and Psychosocial Correlates of Waterpipe Use Among College Students
  • The EASE Program: A Distress Tolerance Intervention for Middle School Adolescents

Upon graduating, PhD graduates have found employment with the following agencies/organizations:

  • Communicate Health, Inc.
  • The Food and Drug Administration
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Long Island University
  • Westat
  • The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Johns Hopkins University