Skip to Main Content

PhD in Community Health

The PhD Community Health application will open every other year. The next start date is Fall 2023.

PhD in Community Health

Our Health Promotion and Community Health graduate programs prepare you to drive social change, advance health equity, and remove barriers to community health. 

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (SPH) unites two outstanding research universities that have spent decades working to help reduce health disparities and designing innovative solutions to public health challenges. 

Our graduate degrees in Health Promotion and Community Health equip you to identify the root causes of health problems and to devise interventions that create healthier communities from local to global levels. You will have opportunities to work with leading experts in the areas of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), social determinants of health, sexual and reproductive health, food systems and nutrition, physical activity, aging, and other pressing issues. 

As a unique partnership between two world-class universities, the OHSU-PSU SPH unites health and scientific expertise with advanced scholarship in governance, public policy, urban studies, social work, and education. We offer a stand-alone Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, as well as dual degrees that pair the Health Promotion MPH with a Master of Social Work (MSW) or Master of Urban Planning (MURP). These graduate programs provide the foundation for those pursuing the terminal degree in this discipline, a Ph.D. in Community Health. 

These programs excel because of their:

  • Commitment to equitable, socially just access to health and health-supporting resources for all.  
  • Holistic approach that is built on collaboration among experts from multiple academic disciplines.
  • Emphasis on solving real-world health challenges.
  • Partnerships and engagement with a breadth of populations and social groups.  
  • Deep relationships with state, county, and local agencies; schools; nonprofit organizations; and other community stakeholders.
  • Tight-knit culture that fosters supportive relationships among faculty and students.
  • Direct access to OHSU’s medical and scientific experts and PSU’s leading scholars in community engagement, public policy, urban affairs, and the social sciences.

Ph.D. in Community Health

OHSU-PSU’s Ph.D. in Community Health equips you with superior skills in research methodology, qualitative research, data analysis, and epidemiologic study design. You will acquire an interdisciplinary skillset and a range of analytical frameworks that you can apply to address community health challenges.

Because the OHSU-PSU SPH has such a strong presence in the community, Ph.D. candidates in the Community Health program have robust opportunities to make an impact on public health. You will be able to collaborate with stakeholders on a wide range of upstream factors, such as housing, transit, education, employment, air and water quality, and other issues that affect the public’s health. The program qualifies you for a career as university faculty or in executive leadership for government agencies, major nonprofits, health care networks, insurance companies, and other organizations. 

Accreditations and Rankings

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). 

Schedule an Appointment with a Graduate Admissions Specialist

Core Competencies

Program Guide


Students graduating from this program will be able to:

  • Identify gaps in the field of Community Health by critically analyzing relevant peer-reviewed literature; design timely, responsive and feasible research questions.
  • Identify and synthesize theoretical frameworks across various topics, including health policy, health behavior, the social determinants of health, and pedagogy.
  • Master and synthesize multiple approaches to research design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation so that these skills can be appropriately applied to a variety of research questions in the field of Community Health.
  • Recognize and evaluate the impact of social, cultural and contextual factors on health outcomes.
  • Translate and disseminate knowledge and research findings to public, professional and student audiences both orally and in writing, integrating current pedagogical theory in the specific context of teaching.
  • Critically analyze and synthesize information from multiple sources to identify and monitor current and relevant issues concerning health systems and policy.
  • Demonstrate ethical conduct and cultural competence in research critique, design and analysis.

The doctoral program in Community Health from the OHSU-PSU School of public health is the culmination of 108 total credits in the following areas:

  • Coursework requirements, including Mentored Research credit hours and Dissertation credit hours
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation Proposal and defense
  • Doctoral Dissertation and defense

Please refer to the Program Guide for an overview of degree requirements and a current program of study

Upon successful completion of coursework, students must pass a written and oral comprehensive exam. Before advancing to PhD candidacy, students will complete and defend a dissertation proposal. Students will then design, implement, and analyze a research project. The final product is a written dissertation with an oral defense of the dissertation work.

Application questions – Josh Hodsden, MBA

Registration questions –

Program Director – TBD