PhD in Community Health Sciences

The Doctor of Philosophy in Community Health Sciences (CHS) program was approved by The Board of Regents in 2010.  This degree is administered by the Community Health Science & Policy (CHSP) Program of the LSUHSC School of Public Health.

The new generation of public health professionals must be able to identify and examine determinants of health that operate at individual, familial, organizational, and community levels and develop effective multi-level interventions to address these factors. Training in Community Health Sciences is uniquely suited to prepare public health professionals to meet these challenges. Doctoral candidates will engage in studies and interventions that focus on the multiple determinants of health at the individual, social, and population levels. The program curriculum includes coursework, research, and practical instruction in community health promotion, health education, systems theory, research and intervention design including traditional (experimental), applied (community-based participatory) and other approaches, as well as statistical methods, data analysis and interpretation. The program of study culminates in an empirical dissertation based on independent and novel research that generates new knowledge in the field of community health sciences. Graduates will be positioned to join the faculty of major universities, serve as senior executives in local, state, and federal government, industry, and non-profit entities, and share expertise with public leaders and community partners, and the media.

Graduates completing the Community Health Sciences PhD will have the ability to:

  • Examine and evaluate the role of cultural, social, and behavioral determinants of health and health disparities.
  • Synthesize advanced socio-ecological theory, research methodology, and statistical procedures to design, implement and evaluate CHS research and interventions.
  • Formulate policy changes needed to support and sustain CHS interventions.
  • Synthesize research results for the purpose of oral and written communication, instruction, and dissemination.
  • Distinguish and prioritize individual, organizational, and community concerns, assets, resources and deficits relevant to CHS interventions and policy change.

Assistantships/Fellowships for PhD Program

A limited number of assistantships are available to full-time students pursuing a PhD in Community Health Sciences.  Assistantships entail a commitment of up to twenty hours per week working with faculty on research projects or in a teaching capacity.  There is no central listing of openings. Students interested in obtaining an assistantship are encouraged to visit the school’s various institutes and program websites or contact faculty directly.

Program Requirements

The GRE is highly recommended but optional. Please note, it is up the applicant to make their justification and supporting evidence clear in their personal statement if they are not submitting the GRE. This should include highlighting strengths in quantitative, analytic, and verbal abilities. Academic references and/or examples via transcripts, manuscripts, reports, specific applied skills, etc. could be ways to highlight abilities in the absence of a GRE.

A minimum of 60 credit hours are required for students with a prior MPH degree.  Additional foundation public health courses may be required depending on a non-MPH student’s background.

All students will take a minimum of 27 core curriculum credited hours, in addition to a minimum of 18 elective hours (9 credits content electives, and 9 credits methods electives, and a minimum of 15 dissertation credit hours.

Transfer Curriculum

Students applying for the PhD degree may receive up to 18 semester hours of transfer credit at the discretion of the Community Health Sciences Program, providing that those courses were completed with a “B” or better, are judged to be equivalent to courses offered by the School of Public Health, and were not used to receive another degree.

Community Health Sciences Core Curriculum

  • CHSP 7202 Health Behavior Change (3)
  • CHSP 7203 Advanced Research Methods in Community Health Sciences (3)
  • CHSP 7207 Advanced Community Analysis, Ecology, And Health Disparities (3)
  • CHSP 7353 Fundamentals of Multi-Level Design and Analysis (3)
  • CHSP 7410 CHS Teaching Practicum (2)
  • CHSP 7700 Community Health Sciences Seminar I (1)
  • CHSP 7701 Community Health Sciences Seminar II (1)
  • CHSP 7702 Community Health Sciences Seminar III (1)
  • CHSP 7900 Dissertation Research (15 minimum)
  • BIOS  6102  Biostatistical Methods II (4)
  • GENET 247 Proposal Writing (2)
  • PUBH 6200 Essentials of Public Health (3)
  • PUBH 6221 Fundamentals of Public Health Ethics (1)
  • Content Electives (9)
  • Methods Electives (9)
  • Total (60)

Community Health Sciences Curriculum
(Click here for Community Health Sciences PhD Curriculum Requirements and Electives)

Other Electives

The remaining credit hours necessary to meet minimum requirements will be chosen from graduate level elective courses.

Qualifying Exams

All PhD students will be required to pass a comprehensive written and oral examination before being formally admitted to candidacy.  The written and oral exam is based on materials covered in the PhD core courses and is thus taken after completion of these courses.  The qualifying exam is completed when the student passes both this written exam and successfully defends their research prospectus. The student is then a PhD Candidate and may move forward with their approved research.


All doctoral candidates are expected to complete and defend a dissertation that is a significant contribution to the field, suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal of international repute.

For more information about the PhD in Community Health Sciences at LSUHSC, please refer to the student handbook or contact:

Stephen Phillippi, PhD
Chair of Community Health Science & Policy

Unless otherwise approved by the Program Director, all applications should be submitted through SOPHAS by the application deadline.