Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and Portland State University (PSU) School of Public Health

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PhD in Community Health

Program Overview

Core Competencies

Program of Study


The Ph.D. in Community Health program provides students with intensive training in both community-engaged public health and advanced research methods.

The program provides advanced learning in research and instructional skills with a focus on community engagement and the social determinants of health.

The curriculum includes training in research methodology, epidemiologic study design, qualitative research, theory, and topical courses on social disparities, and elective courses selected to form a focused area of emphasis.

The program is also distinguished by its multidisciplinary faculty and emphasis on research experience.

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

For more information on the curriculum please see the Program Planner

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 – Laura Ehrlich, M.Ed.

Program Director – Cara Eckhardt, PhD