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PhD in Health Promotion Sciences


The PhD degree is an advanced, research-oriented degree program requiring in-depth study of and research in a specialty area within the broad field of health promotion sciences. A minimum of 60 hours is required post-Master’s. Faculty expertise in health promotion sciences includes community engagement, anthropology, nutrition, gerontology, health education, health promotion, psychology, research methods, sociology, and other related disciplines. The department has identified social determinants of health, social justice and health equity, and minority health/health disparities as a major areas of research and instruction. Faculty members are most likely to accept a doctoral student when the prospect of productive academic and professional advancement is high.  Prospective students are encouraged to contact HPS faculty members to determine who could be an optimal mentor.

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The following are required:
  • The applicant must be in good standing with the college or university where currently enrolled or last attended.
  • Master’s degree in Public Health (or relevant Master's degree) from an accredited institution.
  • Completion of the five core public health courses.
  • Graduate grade point average of 3.5 or above.
  • Submission of the SOPHAS application and the supplemental OUHSC Hudson College of Public Health application.
  • Career goal statement uploaded through SOPHAS.
  • Current CV/Resume uploaded through SOPHAS.
  • Three letters of academic or professional recommendation uploaded through SOPHAS by the recommender. Applicants must list recommenders’ contact information on the application and then upon submission, SOPHAS will send instructions to each recommender on how to submit their letter electronically through the online portal.
  • Transcripts:
    • U.S. Applicants: SOPHAS requires a separate official transcript from every U.S. and Canadian institution attended be submitted by utilizing the instructions here. Applicants will enter the information in coursework section of the application utilizing the data from their transcript(s). Do not enter foreign courses taken at Universities outside the U.S. or Canada into the coursework section of the application.
    • International Applicants: There are two options for transcript and degree certificate evaluation:     
      1. Submit transcripts and degree certificates to the World Education Services ( for a course-by-course evaluation, and designate SOPHAS to receive the evaluation; or 
      2. Submit transcripts and degree certificates to the Educational Credential Evaluators ( for a course-by-course evaluation, and designate results to be sent from ECE to or to the following address:
             OUHSC Office of Admissions and Records
             1105 N. Stonewall Avenue, LIB 121
             Oklahoma City, OK  73117
  • International applicants are required to demonstrate English proficiency by submitting TOEFL (score of 88 or above) or IELTS (score of 6.5 or above) that meet the minimum required score. TOEFL scores must be submitted to SOPHAS using the designation code #5688.


PhD in Health Promotion Sciences:

  • Spring: October 15
  • Fall: June 15



Application Instructions for Current OU Students and OU Alumni can be found here.



Submit a SOPHAS application ( and required fee (click here to review information regarding SOPHAS fees and fee waivers). The documentation identified in the ‘Admission Requirements’ section must be submitted in SOPHAS.


Applicants to the OU Hudson College of Public Health are required to submit a supplemental application and fee. The supplemental application is available via the OU Health Sciences Center website at: note that the PhD in Health Promotion Sciences program will be listed under "Graduate College" in the online application (MS & PhD programs are listed under "Graduate College' but are taught by the Hudson College of Public Health). Applicants must select the same program(s) in the supplemental application as they did in the SOPHAS application.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no fee for the supplemental application


Student support opportunities to offset costs include graduate research assistantships and public health scholarships. Students may expect additional costs that include, but are not limited to, a personal computer, textbooks, insurance, and supplies. For financial aid information, contact the Financial Aid Office at (405) 271-2118.

Financial support opportunities for students:

Estimated Costs

Bursar’s Office – Tuition and Fees

Financial Assistance

Scholarship Opportunities



Curriculum: completion of a minimum of 60 credit hours post-Master’s degree. A Student who previously has not completed the MPH core courses or earned a MPH degree will complete the overview course in the first academic year of enrollment: 
  • BSE 5960 Overview of Public Health (3 credit hours) 
CORE COURSES (9 credit hours)
HPS 6633 Health Promotion Theory I: Individuals and Small Groups
HPS 6643 Health Promotion Theory II: Communities, Organizations, and Government
HPS 6943 Advanced Program Evaluation
METHODS COURSES (15 credit hours, not including any required pre-requisites)
Required Specific Courses:
HPS 6933 Qualitative Resarch Methods in Public Health
BSE 5173 or 5663 or 5183 Biostatistics Methods II or Analysis of Frequency Data or Intermediate Biostatistical Methods for Health Professionals
HPS 6953 Advanced Research Methods in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Two additional courses in either Qualitative or Quantitative Methods Electives, such as the following options:

Qualitative Methods Electives (Prerequisite: HPS 6933):
HPS 6453 Focus Group Research
HPS 6833 Social Marketing
SOC 5313 Mixed Methods
Quantitative Methods Electives (Prerequisite: BSE 5173 or BSE 5663):
BSE 5643 Regression Analysis
BSE 5653 Nonparametric Methods
BSE 6643 Survival Data Analysis
BSE 6663 Analysis of Multivariate Data
Substantive Area (Major):  15 credit hours

A minimum of fifteen credit hours in a substantive area of public health / health promotion will comprise the primary area of concentration specific to the student’s interests. Examples of concentration areas relevant to this department include social determinants of health, minority health, health disparities, nutritional health/food security, workforce development, health and aging, and social justice. Students and advisors must identify sufficient courses to satisfy the declared major. 

Related Area (Minor):  9 credit hours

A minimum of nine credit hours from relevant areas of public health or an established discipline in the social and behavioral sciences will comprise a secondary area of concentration specific to the student’s interests. 

Dissertation: (Minimum of 12 credit hours)

Dissertation work occurs in steps. Close collaboration with the faculty advisor and dissertation committee members is required throughout the process. 

  • The required coursework noted above (Core, Methods, Major, and Minor) is completed first.
  • Written comprehensive exams are then taken that cover three content areas: Theory, Methods, and the student’s substantive and related concentrations. The Theory and Methods content comprises a departmental exam. It will have no fewer than three evaluators and any faculty member in the department can submit questions and serve as an evaluator.  The Substantive Area exam will be prepared by the student’s dissertation committee. In the event that a student fails part or all of a comprehensive exam, she/he will be required to retake the exam.
  • Dissertation Proposal Oral Defense – Once the student has successfully passed the written comprehensive exams, the student will complete and orally defend a dissertation proposal under the direction of the five-member Dissertation Committee.
  • Dissertation Oral Defense – Once the student has successfully completed the dissertation work, the five-member Dissertation Committee will conduct the oral defense of the dissertation.

Other Opportunities and University Requirements (1 credit):
  • Doctoral students will have a range of teaching experience opportunities and may be invited to facilitate educational activities.  Such opportunities should be discussed by the student and their advisor and/or advisory committee to determine suitability. 
  • Doctoral students are required, prior to initiation of Doctoral research, to complete a one credit course in RCR approved by the Department, complete CITI training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and Protection of Human Research Subjects, and attend the OUHSC IRB In-House Education Program.

Course Sequencing

Not all courses are offered on an annual basis and certain courses are important prerequisites for other courses.  In order to assure that students are following the proper course sequence, all students must meet with their advisor each semester in order to complete enrollment for the next semester.  In addition, all students are requested to enroll for at least six credit hours per semester to facilitate students progressing through the curricula as a cohort.

Courses outside the College of Public Health can support a concentration and are acceptable curricular elements with advisor approval.  Students will work with faculty advisors to determine the optimal selection of coursework. 



This degree program is subject to the policies and procedures printed in Hudson College of Public Health Bulletin.


The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Hudson College of Public Health is Oklahoma’s only Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Accredited College of Public Health.

As part of our periodic re-accreditation process, we have prepared a self-study that examines in detail how we pursue our mission of protecting and improving the health of the people of Oklahoma, the United States, and other nations through: (1) education, public health workforce development, and cutting-edge research; (2) translating research and scholarship into public health practice and service; and (3) development and advocacy of evidence-based health management and policy.


The Doctor of Philosophy in Health Promotion Sciences program is NOT considered a STEM-designated degree program.

A STEM-designated program is an academic program that falls under at least one of the approved categories from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These categories are recognized by the government for their focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics. DHS's updated STEM-designated degree list can be found here:


PhD Programs Brochure


Department of Health Promotion Sciences
Hudson College of Public Health
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
801 NE 13th Street, Suite 165
Oklahoma City, OK  73104

Office of Student Services
Phone:  (405) 271-2308

OUHSC Office of Admissions and Records: (405) 271-2359 or 
OUHSC Office of Financial Aid: (405) 271-2118 or 


Click here to schedule a virtual, phone, or in-person prospective student appointment with one of our Advisors.

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