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Public Health Studies, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice offers a doctoral degree in public health studies, with five concentrations to customize your degree.

"The intersection of public health and social justice is when everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve the most optimal level of health and well-being they can have; when they can actualize their full potential to contribute to and be valued in — society, regardless of their social positions," Betelihem Tobo, Ph.D. candidate.

About the Program

SLU’s Ph.D. in public health studies provides expertise in research design, methods and dissemination. Students gain a solid understanding of public health science, including the distribution and determinants of health and disease across populations.

Research Concentrations

The Ph.D. in public health studies offers five concentrations: behavioral science and health education; biostatistics; epidemiology; health management and policy; and health outcomes research (in collaboration with SLUCOR).

Behavioral Science and Health Education (BSHE)

This concentration focuses on research design and evaluation of community-based interventions at individual, organizational, community or societal levels.

Areas of research:

  • Adolescent health
  • Global health
  • Health disparities
  • Health promotion, communication and disease prevention interventions for chronic diseases
  • Injury prevention
  • Maternal and child health
  • Nutrition and physical activity
  • Sexual and reproductive health
Biostatistics (BST)

SLU's biostatistics concentration focuses on research using analytical and statistical methods, computational and statistical programming and data management.

Areas of research:

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to study associations between the built environment and chronic diseases
  • Methodology and application of causal inference
  • Optimal experimental design
  • Statistical modeling of genetic and environmental effects on comorbidity
Epidemiology (EPI)

This concentration focuses on research about the distribution and determinants of health and disease in human populations.

Areas of research:

  • Cancer and chronic diseases
  • Exposure assessment
  • Global health
  • Implementation research in public health settings
  • Maternal child health
  • Neighborhood characteristics in the development of disease
Health Management and Policy (HMP)

This concentration focuses on research about policy, health economics, health care access, delivery and quality of health services.

Areas of research:

  • Health disparities
  • Health information technology and security
  • Policy change implications
  • Quality and access of care
Health Outcomes Research (HOR)

Our health outcomes research concentration focuses on research about the design and evaluation of services, medications, devices and diagnostics that optimize health outcomes.

SLUCOR areas of research:

  • Cardiology
  • Diabetes
  • Health care quality
  • Organ transplantation
  • Pharmacoeconomics
Program Highlights

The faculty at SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice use an apprenticeship model in which students are paired with a world-class faculty member as mentor from day one. Ph.D. students work independently as well as collaboratively with other students and faculty to forge their research pathways. Doctoral students are expected to produce high-quality manuscripts; participate in journal club; works-in-progress seminars; and academic and professional programming outside of the classroom. We showcase doctoral-student research at our fall symposium, as well as at local, regional and national conferences.

Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s Ph.D. in public health studies requires 72 credit hours (which may include some previous master’s-level coursework). Students take 45 hours of coursework to train in their research concentration area, 15 hours of doctoral courses and 12 credit hours of dissertation research.

Doctoral courses include:

  • Applied Research Skills
  • Design and Analysis in Public Health
  • Introduction to General Linear Modeling
  • Professional Development
  • Science, Theory and Public Health

In the most recent alumni survey, 96 percent of SLU graduates in public health studies stated they found a job in their field before graduation, or within six months of graduation. SLU’s public health doctoral graduates go on to work as academics in universities and researchers in medical centers, government, health systems, industry or community-based organizations.

Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
Cost Calculator
Financial Aid

Scholarships and Financial Aid
SLU’s doctoral program in public health has a limited number of graduate research assistantships, which are designed to allow you to work closely with your mentor or on research projects. Assistantships are typically awarded for two years and provide a stipend, student health insurance and tuition waiver (up to 21 credits annually). You will be informed about the terms and length of your award at the time of your acceptance to the program.

Applicant Criteria

This program is designed for individuals who already hold a master's degree in public health or a related field. The following criteria guide our decisions.

  • Evidence of exceptional intellectual ability, analytical and writing skills necessary to complete the doctoral program requirements.
  • Evidence of interest in an area of research and commitment to pursue it through the completion of a dissertation research project.
  • Presence of a willing and suitable mentor in one of the concentration research areas.
  • A minimum 3.50 GPA in graduate work and scored at least at the 50th percentiles for GRE verbal and/or quantitative reasoning.

To apply, you’ll need:

Application Requirements
Application form and fee
Three letters of recommendation
GRE scores
Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

Application and Assistantship Deadlines

All students are required to submit an application, even students currently enrolled in master's programs at the College for Public Health and Social Justice and other programs at SLU. The Ph.D. program only accepts applications for the fall semester.

The application deadline is January 15. Assistantships will be considered for top candidates.

Review Process

All admission decisions will be finalized by the end of March.