Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health Sciences

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Sciences prepares students to make a positive impact on population health by shaping public health education, practice and policy.

Students in the Public Health Sciences PhD program at WVU learn to identify and address public health issues and improve the health of communities and their access to quality healthcare. It is ideal for students who want to engage in and lead hypothesis-driven research and evaluate public health interventions. 

The program provides cross-disciplinary teaching and research experiences that prepare graduates for jobs in academia, research and the public and private sectors. Graduates are able to identify, investigate and solve public health challenges. They are leaders, researchers, advocates and agents of change in the public health landscape.

Program Overview

Depending on the student’s selected major and academic standing, the Public Health Sciences PhD program at WVU requires specified courses, plus electives, teaching practicum, graduate seminars, qualifying exam, dissertation and research rotations.

The early years of the program emphasize courses in research and statistical methods complemented by theoretical and process-oriented coursework relevant to the student’s chosen area of specialty. During the later years of the program, students are engaged in their dissertation research and given the freedom to diversify their training through elective courses.

Graduate seminars give students the opportunity to lecture and lead discussions, and research rotations allow them to engage with faculty on their research projects. In some majors, students also have the opportunity to complete a field experience designed to enhance their training with real world insights.

Students work closely with their academic adviser to develop a tailored plan of study.


The Epidemiology concentration in the Public Health Sciences PhD program focuses on the analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It provides rigorous, comprehensive training in epidemiologic methods for clinical and population-based research including study design, statistical analysis and interpretation of results. The concentration is based on the premise that knowledge of genetic, physiologic, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to understanding the underlying causes of complex human diseases needed to develop and evaluate effective preventive and treatment measures.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration in the Public Health Sciences PhD program incorporates both theory and application and emphasizes both evidence-based, theory-driven primary prevention of disease and injury and health promotion research and practice. The curriculum is designed so that students receive methodologically intense training and one-on-one research experience with faculty in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.