PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences

The PhD in behavioral and community health sciences prepares students to conduct research and teach in the social and behavioral sciences areas of public health and in academic settings. The PhD is focused on training researchers in the behavioral and community health sciences to integrate state-of-the art theory, designs, and analysis approaches to examine current problems in public health.

Careers

Recent graduates hold the following positions:

  • Director, Office of Health Survey Research, University of Pittsburgh
  • Post-doctoral fellows at the University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, VA Pittsburgh Health Care System
  • Epidemiology intelligence officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Health services epidemiologist at the Altarum Institute
  • director, Project Silk, University of Pittsburgh Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
  • President and senior technical advisor, INSIGHT: Innovative Social Change in Global Health, LLC

Recent Dissertation Titles

  • Childhood Adversity and Its Effects on Health Over the Lifespan: Analysis of the Allegheny County Health Survey
  • Exploring the Relationship between Cognitive Health and the Social Environment of Older Adults
  • A Participatory Approach to Physical Activity Among People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
  • Gays in the Neighborhood: How Neighborhood and Context Impacts HIV and Substance Use Risks and Resiliencies of Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York City
  • Exploratory Research on Health Care Providers' Perspectives on Expedited Partner Therapy to Treat Patients with Chlamydia

Browse titles in D-Scholarship, the institutional repository for research output at the University of Pittsburgh.

Competencies

Graduates will be able to...

  • Apply critical thinking and problem solving skills using various models and conceptual frameworks from the social and behavioral sciences;
  • Employ a social ecological perspective to the design and implementation of public health research programs;
  • Apply qualitative and quantitative methodologies in order to design and conduct rigorous and scientifically valid research at various levels of human activity including the intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, community, public policy domains.
  • Demonstrate a social justice perspective in the consideration of and sensitivity to ethical issues that influence public health, health policy, and the delivery of health care;
  • Apply data management and analysis skills and demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills in the dissemination of research findings.

Requirements

  • 72 credits
  • Coursework in health behavior and community education
  • Coursework in public health foundations
  • Advanced coursework in statistics and research methods
  • Teaching practicum and a course in university teaching
  • Advanced dissertation research and coursework in an area of specialization

Full program information

DrPH-PhD Student Handbook 2017-18
PhD checklist

Admissions

Contact

Patricia I. Documet, MD, DrPH 
Associate Professor, Director of doctoral programs
6133 Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
412-624-1601
pdocumet@pitt.edu

PhD Student News

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Burke and O'Malley help National Domestic Violence Hotline 

Burke and O'Malley help National Domestic Violence Hotline

Professor Jessica Burke and student Teagan O'Malley (BCHS '12 '19) developed a framework for evaluating and improving the effectiveness of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which responds to over 1000 calls for help each day. Burke and O'Malley engaged multiple stakeholders including service ... (08/13/2019)
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Meet joint-degree student Laurenia Mangum (BCHS/SocWk), Coverdell Fellow 

Meet joint-degree student Laurenia Mangum (BCHS/SocWk), Coverdell Fellow

Laurenia Mangum worked within the children, youth, and family sector in the Philippines while in the Peace Corps. “The BCHS program compliments my social work background and serves as a great transition from the Peace Corps. It meets my needs without compartmentalizing the studies into one particul... (05/01/2019)
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Aging in Brazil 

Aging in Brazil

THE GERONTOLOGIST - Tramujas Vasconcellos Neumann and Albert give a brief overview of aging in Brazil by presenting some of the demographics and characteristics of the older adult population, the principles and innovative processes used in developing the main legislation for the rights of older peo... (12/04/2018)
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Thistle Elias and Yuae Park share their research at APHA 2018 examining barriers preventing participants in the WISEWOMAN program from implementing healthy lifestyle changes 

Thistle Elias and Yuae Park share their research at APHA 2018 examining barriers preventing participants in the WISEWOMAN program from implementing healthy lifestyle changes

APHA - Professor Thistle Elias (and alumna, BCHS '12) and doctoral student Yuae Park (BCHS '20) share their research examining the barriers preventing some participants in the WISEWOMAN (WW) program from implementing healthy lifestyle changes at APHA's 2018 annual meeting. The researchers interview... (11/24/2018)
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BCHS team tries new technique to share research with LGBTQ youth (video) 

BCHS team tries new technique to share research with LGBTQ youth (video)

Post-doctoral researcher Robert Coulter (BCHS '17), BCHS's Jessica Burke, and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) tried using a video approach to share highlights of Coulter's recent research on how welcoming school environments reduce drinking among both LGBT+ -identified students and their heterosexual count... (11/24/2018)
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Mary Hawk, Co-Founder of Open Door Pittsburgh 

Mary Hawk, Co-Founder of Open Door Pittsburgh

Pitt Public Health alumna and professor, Mary Hawk (BCHS '12) is a founding member of this local housing program that uses harm reduction and housing-first approaches to engage marginalized people living with HIV/AIDS in clinical care. Hawk published the first study to use HIV viral load to measure... (08/03/2018)
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