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Apply to PhD in Community Health

Application Information

The PhD Community Health starts new students every other year. The next start date is Fall 2025 and the application will open next August 13th.

All documents are submitted to SOPHAS –

The GRE is no longer required. Any scores submitted will not be considered during application review.

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  • January 15 - Decisions provided by end of March

All application materials, including official transcripts from all schools attended and letters of recommendation, must be received in SOPHAS before the deadline in order to be reviewed. Applications completed after January 15 will not be considered.

Application Overview

The PhD in Community Health Admissions Committee considers each application holistically, on the basis of all components. We encourage all interested applicants to apply. Successful applicants typically demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Conferred master’s in public health or a related field
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Demonstrated experience in research that provides foundational knowledge for advanced study at the doctoral level

COVIDs Impact on The Application Process

Recognizing the serious challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic for student learning, faculty teaching, and academic performance assessment, the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (SPH) asserts the following principles: 

  • As part of our ongoing practice of performing individualized and holistic reviews of each applicant, OHSU-PSU SPH admissions committees will take into account the significant disruptions and challenges associated with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when reviewing applicants’ academic transcripts and other application materials.
  • As admissions committees review applications in future admissions cycles, we will respect decisions made by individual students and/or by their academic institutions with regard to the enrollment in or adoption of grading options of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Pass/No Record, Credit/No Credit, Pass/Fail, Pass/Not Passed, and others during the pandemic disruptions. We strive to form future graduate student cohorts composed of intellectually strong, diverse, and resilient individuals who will make the most of their graduate education opportunities at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.

Admission Requirements

  • Conferred master’s degree from an accredited or governmentally-recognized university
  • One college-level statistics

Application Requirements

Statement of Purpose (maximum of 1000 words)

We value the variety of paths that bring people to public health. We are interested in how your background and experiences have prepared you to be successful in the field of public health, the program you have selected, and at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. In your Statement of Purpose, please address the following:

  • How educational, professional/volunteer, community-based and lived experiences have provided you the perspectives and skills required to be successful in the PhD in Community Health program.
  • Reasons that doctoral training in the program to which you are applying are the next step needed to attain your career goals
  • The research areas or interests you anticipate pursuing (knowing that these areas may change) and the names of faculty within the program whose research is of interest to you.
  • How the mission of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, and the focus of the PhD program to which you are applying, align with your values and anticipated career direction.

Additional Statements (approximately 250 words each)

A just world is a healthier world. Public health professionals must be equipped to act against injustices caused by racism and oppression, and to ensure equitable health for all. We support our students in building the skills and experiences needed to achieve these critical public health goals.

  1. Please describe your experiences with, and confidence in, each of the broad skillsets listed, below. Please also comment on how your prior experiences (e.g., academic, professional, cultural, and/or lived) may have contributed to your levels of confidence in these areas. If you have had an opportunity for growth in any of these areas, please discuss the steps you took to do so.
    • Written communication
    • Quantitative skills
    • Analytic /critical reasoning
  2. What is the role of public health in addressing systemic oppression? Please describe how your awareness of systemic oppression, struggle, and resilience have shaped your view of the mission of public health, and your ultimate plans as a public health professional. For example, you might address racism, sexism, homophobia, gender policing, ageism, religious discrimination, design against disability, unstable housing, poor access to health care, insufficient income, legal adversity, periods of lasting hunger, or other systemic determinants of health.
  3. What do you hope to learn, and what experiences do you hope to gain, with regard to actively addressing injustices? Please be specific.

One Writing Sample

One writing sample demonstrating your ability to communicate in writing in a manner relevant to the field of public health you intend to enter. The sample could be an academic paper written for a graduate course, an academic journal article of publishable quality (it does not have to be published), or another professionally written product. The sample should demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely, think independently, perform analyses typically used in the field you plan to enter, and synthesize findings or observations to draw conclusions. Analyses may use qualitative, quantitative, or a mix of methodologies.  You should be the primary or sole author of the writing sample you submit.

Curriculum Vitae or Resume

Please provide a PDF or Word Document file of your CV or Resume.

Three letters of recommendation

You should ask your references to comment specifically on your written, analytic, and quantitative abilities. They should also address your potential for academic success in a doctoral program and for professional contributions to the field of public health where you aspire to work. Not all of these skills need to be covered in the same letter and instead may be addressed across letters.

You should choose references who know you through professional employment, volunteer work, or past academic experiences, and who are able to describe your skills, accomplishments, professionalism, and personality. A current professor, direct supervisor, and/or leader in an organization in which you are working or volunteering, for example, is well positioned to speak to your prospects as a doctoral student and as a public health professional. Recommendations from family members or friends outside of a professional/volunteer context are not encouraged.

Applicants who have graduated from a university or college degree program within the past three years should submit at least one academic reference from an instructor or professor in that program. References from individuals who have themselves attained a doctoral degree in your planned field of study, who understand doctoral education and/or work with people with doctoral training are strongly encouraged.

Official transcripts

Official transcripts from all higher education institutions attended (OHSU and PSU transcripts are also required for current and prior students)

World Education Services (WES) ICAP Course-by-Course evaluation of academic records from institutions outside the U.S. and English-speaking Canada.

English Language Proficiency

All graduate applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency in one of the ways outlined below. This requirement applies to all applicants, including permanent residents and U.S. citizens.

Completion of a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree in the U.S., Australia, English-speaking Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Ghana, or New Zealand, or minimum required official score on the International Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System-Academic (IELTS) exam. Test scores must be less than two years old at time of matriculation (unless continuous US residency has been maintained since the exam date). We do not accept the Duolingo English Test (DET) at this time.

  • TOEFL: Minimum overall internet score of 80 (minimum subscores of 18 in reading and writing) and have ETS send scores to SOPHAS using code 5688
  • IELTS: Minimum overall score of 6.5 and upload a copy of your Test Report Form from IELTS in your application. Applicants who accept an offer to study at OHSU-PSU School of Public Health are required to pay for and complete a background check ($35 or more, cost is dependent on the number and location of places lived).


OHSU requires immunizations for its students in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and from the State of Oregon. Students must comply with OHSU pre-entrance immunization requirements per Policy 03-30-150 and Policy 02-90-010, and remain in compliance for the duration of their enrollment at OHSU.

This means that all admitted students must provide proof of full COVID-19 immunization or receive an approved medical or religious exception prior to the start of the academic program. Admission into OHSU academic programs are considered conditional until proof of full vaccination is provided or a medical or religious exception is approved by OHSU. If students have not met the COVID-19 policy requirements by the first day of their academic program, their conditional offer of admission to OHSU will be withdrawn and they will be unable to take courses or start their programs of study or other academic activities.

Students admitted into non-clinical programs who have received exceptions will be required to complete COVID-19 testing as specified by OHSU and will receive additional direction related to required safety standards and practices. OHSU does not allow unvaccinated students to participate in in-person direct patient contact or in simulation activities involving in-person direct contact with standardized patients, and as such, entry into clinical programs for unvaccinated students will be prohibited.

PSU Campus COVID Policy

Portland State University’s COVID-19 Vaccine Policy requires all students who learn, work, and engage at PSU locations to submit either (1) an attestation confirming the student has been vaccinated against COVID-19; (2) an attestation confirming they will not be taking in person classes, living in on-campus housing and not be using in person services; or (3) submit an applicable exemption. See COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for more details.