The Maternal and Child Health doctoral program provides training relevant to health problems and services for women, infants, children, and adolescents. Students learn how to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of these three groups, with an emphasis on low-income and minority populations, through training in research, policy and practice. The program is unique in its focus on the entirety of the family system and family health policy.

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The Maternal and Child Health Ph.D. curriculum requires 51 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree public health core (15 credits), including maternal and child health core courses (18 credits), research methods courses (12 credits), research internship (3 credits), electives (6 credits) and the dissertation (12 credits). Students in the Ph.D. program advance to candidacy after completing required coursework and passing a written qualifying examination. After advancement to candidacy, students much complete a dissertation proposal and oral defense, followed by the doctoral dissertation research and oral dissertation defense.

Students admitted full-time to the PhD. program post-master’s can complete this program within three years.


  • Describe the independent and interdependent determinants of health, disease, and disparities; including individual, familial, social, cultural, racial/ethnic, medical and environmental factors.
  • Design a study to test hypotheses on an MCH issue. Review literature, select appropriate design, data and methods, analyze data, draw appropriate conclusions, and summarize findings for publication.
  • Identify, analyze, and evaluate U.S. health care policy, program, and date surveillance systems.
  • Synthesize and translate MCH knowledge into understandable information to advance health literacy.
  • Formulate advocacy strategies to implement MCH policy while balancing interests of diverse stakeholders.


Courses Credits
FMSC 710 Maternal and Child Health from a Life Course Perspective 3
FMSC 720 Maternal and Child Health Study Design, Research Methods, and Epidemiological Applications   3
FMSC 730 Key Topics in Maternal and Child Health 3
FMSC 606 Ethnic Families and Health Disparities 3
FMSC 750 Family and Health Policy 3
FMSC 660 Program Planning and Evaluation 3
Electives (2) 6
EPIB 611 Intermediate Epidemiology 3
EPIB 651 Biostatistics II 3
FMSC 780 Qualitative Research Methods in Family and Health Research 3
FMSC 850 Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology 3
FMSC 689 Research Internship 3
FMSC 899 Doctoral Dissertation Research 12


The FMSC Department considers an empirical research internship to be an essential educational component in the preparation of doctoral level specialists in the family discipline. Therefore, the Department will require all Ph.D. students to complete empirical research in an internship course (FMSC 689) designed to enhance students’ research skills and productivity. The three-unit internship must be approved and supervised by an FMSC faculty member. A one-page abstract and an approval form should be submitted to the potential mentor and to the department Chair prior to beginning the internship. As the major requirement of the research internship, students will complete a scholarly article to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The article must be based on a student-analyzed data set and use quantitative, qualitative, or mixed research methods. If a doctoral student plans to write a policy paper, the article must include analysis of empirical data related to that policy. Students must be the first author, but the article may have coauthors (e.g. faculty mentor). The following guidelines for research internship paper are effective Fall 2012.

  1. All students are to work under the direction of an FMSC faculty. Exceptions to work with another faculty in the university must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  2. Once a topic and mentor is chosen, a timeline for completion should be filed with the Department Chair’s Administrative Assistant. The Chair will meet with all students working on the research internship periodically throughout the year to track their progress.
  3. The student may work as part of a research team, but should be the first author of the paper and should be involved in all aspects of the research and manuscript development. It is the research mentor’s responsibility to see that the student has a full learning experience – including conceptualization, analysis, and writing – in the process of conducting and publishing research.
  4. While there may be multiple authors on the paper, authors should only be included if they meet APA or AMA standards for authorship and have contributed to the manuscript in some meaningful way, as determined by the student and mentor.
  5. The purpose of the research internship paper is to strengthen and expand students experience and skills as a researcher. Therefore, students may not use a revision of their thesis as their research internship paper.

Students must complete the research internship prior to taking the qualifying exam.