Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • apply social and behavioral science theories in public health research;
  • produce effective scientific writing;
  • demonstrate grant-writing skills;
  • participate in interdisciplinary research;
  • communicate research findings to various audiences, including policy makers and community members;
  • design a research study that incorporates knowledge of pertinent cultural, social, behavioral, and biological factors;
  • design a theory-informed, community-based intervention research project;
  • design an implementation and evaluation plan for a theory-informed, community-based intervention;
  • formulate focused research questions to address gaps in community and behavioral health knowledge;
  • evaluate social and behavioral science research design, methodology, and analysis related to public health; and
  • evaluate how structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels.

The Ph.D. program in community and behavioral health requires at least 75 s.h. of graduate credit, including approved credit earned from a master's degree. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00.

Students must successfully complete a qualifying exam, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. The research topic must be approved by a student's dissertation committee.

During the first semester, students work with their academic advisor to develop a plan of study that satisfies their interests and professional goals as well as the program's requirements.

College of Public Health Core

Students complete the following (13 s.h.).

CBH:4105Introduction to Health Promotion and Disease Prevention3
CBH:7100Community and Behavioral Health Doctoral Seminar1
BIOS:4120Introduction to Biostatistics3
CPH:6100Essentials of Public Health2
CPH:7270Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health1
EPID:4400Epidemiology I: Principles3

Behavioral and Social Sciences Core

Students complete the following (21 s.h.).

All of these:
CBH:5220Health Behavior and Health Education3
CBH:5235Community-Based Participatory Research3
CBH:6205Designing and Implementing Interventions3
CBH:6220Health Communication Campaigns3
CBH:6230Health Equity, Disparities, and Social Justice3
CBH:7200Advanced Intervention Research3
CBH:7300Advanced Behavioral Theories3

Research Methods Core

Students complete the following (15 s.h.).

Both of these:
CBH:5305Evaluation: Approaches and Applications3
CBH:5310Qualitative Research for Public Health3
9 s.h. from these:
CBH:6115Ethnographic Field Methods3
CBH:6335Research Methods in Community and Behavioral Health3
BIOS:5120Regression Modeling and ANOVA in the Health Sciences3
BIOS:5130Applied Categorical Data Analysis3
EPLS:6209Survey Research and Design3
EPLS:6370Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis3
HMP:7940Primary Data and Mixed Methods3
PSQF:6243Intermediate Statistical Methods3
PSQF:6244Correlation and Regression4
PSQF:6249Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models3
PSQF:6252Introduction to Multivariate Statistical Methods3
PSQF:7375Topics in Educational Measurement and Statistics1-3
SOC:5160Research Design and Methods3
SOC:6170Introduction to Sociological Data Analysis3
SOC:6180Linear Models in Sociological Research3
SOC:7170Advanced Statistical Modeling of Data3
SOC:7180Structural Equation Modeling3

Content Area Electives

Students complete 14 s.h. of elective coursework in consultation with their advisor. The following is a list of suggested coursework; however, other courses may be approved with consent of the advisor. 

CBH:4140Feminist Activism and Global Health3
CBH:5230Public Health Issues in Overweight Management3
CBH:5350Foundations of Maternal and Child Health3
CBH:5435Substance Abuse Prevention and Early Intervention3
CBH:5440Prevention and Early Intervention of Mental Health Disorders3
CBH:6405Global Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health3
CBH:6410Special Topicsarr.
CBH:6415Independent Study in Community and Behavioral Healtharr.
GEOG:4150Health and Environment: GIS Applications3
HMP:5005Introduction to Healthcare Organization and Policy3
HMP:7940Primary Data and Mixed Methods3
HMP:7950Design Issues in Health Service Research3
HMP:7960Analytic Issues in Health Services Research I3
HMP:7965Analytic Issues in Health Services Research II3


Students complete 12 s.h. in the following.

CBH:7505CBH Thesis/Dissertation12

Ph.D. applicants must apply through the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). Applications must include academic transcripts, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and a writing sample. International transcripts should be evaluated by the World Education Service (WES) and submitted to SOPHAS. For detailed application information, visit How to Apply to the Ph.D. in Community and Behavioral Health on the Department of Community and Behavioral Health website.

The community and behavioral health admission committee considers several factors when evaluating applications for admission, including grade-point averages, letters of recommendation, intent and motivation for graduate study, and research interests. Students with deficiencies in one area may be admitted if all other components of their application are very strong.

Applicants must have a graduate g.p.a. of at least 3.40 and have earned a graduate degree from an accredited college or university in a related public health, social science, or clinical health field. Applicants who do not hold a graduate degree should apply to a master's program prior to application for the Ph.D. program. Ph.D. program applicants also must submit their master's thesis, or if no thesis is available, a sample of their scholarly writing.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit official test scores to verify English proficiency. Applicants can verify English proficiency by submitting official test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or DuoLingo. An acceptable TOEFL score is a minimum of 600 (250 computer-based test or 100 internet-based test), a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with no subscore lower than 6.0) or a DuoLingo score over 105. Automatic waivers of this requirement are granted for persons who have, or will have, completed a bachelor’s degree or more advanced degree at an accredited university in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada (excluding French Quebec), Africa (English speaking), Australia, or New Zealand.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

The application deadline is January 15 for the fall semester. Applications are not accepted for spring or summer semesters.

The graduate program coordinator and advisor works with admitted students to explore funding opportunities. A limited number of teaching and research assistantships are available. Assistantships offer financial support and tuition assessed at the resident tuition rate along with a tuition scholarship. They also provide valuable on the job training experience.

For more information on financing education through jobs, grants, and loans, contact the University's Office of Student Financial Aid.

The program prepares individuals for academic, research, and policy-making work in the social and behavioral health sciences. This academic specialty offers many career opportunities in academic and research institutions.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Community and Behavioral Health, Ph.D.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
75 s.h. must be graduate level coursework; graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a
First Year
CBH:7100 Community and Behavioral Health Doctoral Seminar 1
CPH:6100 Essentials of Public Health 2
CBH:5220 Health Behavior and Health Education 3
EPID:4400 Epidemiology I: Principles 3
BIOS:4120 Introduction to Biostatistics 3
CPH:7270 Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health 0
CBH:4105 Introduction to Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 3
CBH:6230 Health Equity, Disparities, and Social Justice 3
CBH:5235 Community-Based Participatory Research 3
CPH:7270 Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health 1
Content Area Elective b 3
Second Year
Qualifying Exam c
CBH:5305 Evaluation: Approaches and Applications 3
CBH:6205 Designing and Implementing Interventions 3
CBH:7300 Advanced Behavioral Theories 3
Content Area Elective b 3
CBH:7200 Advanced Intervention Research 3
CBH:5310 Qualitative Research for Public Health 3
Research Methods Core course d 3
Content Area Elective b 3
Third Year
CBH:6220 Health Communication Campaigns 3
Research Methods Core course d 3
Content Area Elective b 3
Content Area Elective b 2
Research Methods Core course d 3
CBH:7505 CBH Thesis/Dissertation 3
Comprehensive Exam e
Fourth Year
CBH:7505 CBH Thesis/Dissertation 3
CBH:7505 CBH Thesis/Dissertation 3
Fifth Year
CBH:7505 CBH Thesis/Dissertation 3
Final Exam f
 Total Hours75
Students must complete specific requirements in the University of Iowa Graduate College after program admission. Refer to the Graduate College website and the Manual of Rules and Regulations for more information.
See General Catalog and website for list of suggested courses and specifics; work with faculty advisor to determine appropriate coursework and sequence.
Taken at the end of first year second semester if entering with a relevant master's degree; taken at the end of second year first semester if entering without a relevant master's degree or enrolled part-time. See General Catalog and website for specifics.
See General Catalog and website for list of approved methods courses; work with faculty advisor to determine appropriate coursework and sequence.
Usually completed after most required coursework has been completed; see General Catalog and website for specifics.
Oral dissertation defense.