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PhD in Community Health Sciences

Offering Department: 
Program Description: 
The PhD in Community Health Sciences is an academic degree that prepares students for a career in which research predominates. The curriculum integrates basic and applied approaches to address public health problems in the community, using the key tools of assessment, planning, and evaluation. Training for the PhD is highly specialized, emphasizing the in-depth expertise necessary for a research career. It emphasizes the integration of theory and research in a focused substantive area; this content area is developed by each student in consultation with his or her guidance committee. 

The doctoral program consists of a period of intense self-development under faculty guidance. Some of this development involves formal classroom activity, but a very large share of the learning takes place informally, in non-credit seminars, in self-study, in employment on research projects and as teaching assistants, and in seeking out opportunities for interaction with faculty and other professionals on the UCLA campus. Since each student has a unique background and plan for his or her future career, doctoral training is individualized, tailored to the interests and needs of the particular student.

Preparation for the Degree

Students who have not taken the following courses (or their equivalents) are required to do so: CHS 212; Biostatistics 100A, 100B, and 406. These courses do not count toward the minimum course requirements for the doctoral degree, and must be taken for a letter grade.

If the student does not have a master’s degree in public health, the following courses are also required. These courses do not count toward the minimum course requirements for the doctoral degree, and must be taken for a letter grade.

  • School of Public Health core courses for the Masters in Public Health (MS):  Biostatistics 100A, B, and Epidemiology 100
  • Community Health Sciences (CHS) core courses: CHS 210, 211A, and 211B

Program Requirements

Course Requirements

  • A minimum of 48 units in residence in the doctoral program. Only four units of individual studies (CHS 596) may be counted toward this requirement; the Doctoral Roundtable does not fulfill any of this requirement.
  • The 2-quarter theory class, CHS 270 A&B: Foundations of Community Health Sciences
  • As the PhD is a research degree, students are expected to take substantial course work in research methodology (i.e., data collection) and statistics (i.e., data analysis). The type of methods studied should be appropriate to the kind of research that will be conducted for the dissertation and thereafter.
  • Doctoral Roundtable (CHS 286) every quarter for the first two years of doctoral study.
  • Students minor in a PhD-granting department outside the School of Public Health in a discipline relevant to Community Health Sciences. The minor should provide a theoretical foundation and, therefore, may notbe in methodology or statistics. Four graduate-level courses (16 units) are required, and must not include a 596 course.

The CHS Doctoral Handbook courses document (below) outlines recommended courses in methodology and statistics.

Additional Requirements

  • Minor area exam
  • Departmental Exam - a standardized examination administered by the CHS Doctoral Committee
  • Oral Exam – the defense of the dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation
  • Dissertation Defense

Typical Course Sequencing

The typical sequence for the doctoral degree is two years of coursework, followed by preparation and completion of two written qualifying exams, preparation of a research proposal, oral qualifying exam (proposal defense), completion of a dissertation, and oral dissertation defense.  Doctoral students are advanced to candidacy after they have passed their oral qualifying exam. 

Time To Degree

The typical time to degree for the PhD in Community Health Sciences is six years. The maximum amount of time permitted to obtain the degree is eight years.


Desired Qualifications

In addition to meeting the University’s minimum requirements, the department requires:

  • A masters degree in public health or other appropriate degree in a related field with a grade-point average of at least 3.5 for graduate studies
  • Acceptance by an initial doctoral advisor in the department
  • Although not required for admission, work experience in the field is viewed favorably when competing applications are judged

Admissions Process

Applicants are only admitted in the Fall.  Applicants who wish to be considered for all financial aid considerations should have their applications, letters, transcripts and official GRE scores here at the School of Public Health by December 1 of the year preceding the desired entrance year.

The application process has three steps. You must:

  1. Submit an on-line application and pay the application fee at SOPHAS,
  2. Submit an online application and pay the application fee at UCLA Graduate Admissions, and
  3. Mail required academic documents and test scores to SOPHAS and to UCLA's School of Public Health.

For complete application instructions and the list of required materials, review the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Admission Application Check List and Submission Instructions.

As we receive many more qualified applicants for the program than there are available spaces, meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission to the program. 

Tuition and Fees

For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.

Please see FSPH Financial Opportunities page for information on awards, scholarships, training opportunities, employment, summer internship funding, and need-based aid. Please note that opportunities listed under 'Summer Internship Funding' are only applicable to MPH students.


Graduates of the program generally assume teaching, research, and managerial positions in universities, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, international health agencies, and research centers.

Graduates often enter careers in the following areas:

  • Direct application of information, research, and technology to health problems
  • Promoting public and policy maker awareness of health problems, devising and advocating public policies to address those problems, and monitoring the implementation of policies
  • Community organizing and community development to address health problems
  • The design, implementation, and evaluation of community-based public health interventions
  • Teaching and research at research and other academic institutions
  • Research in government and independent agencies and research centers
  • Overseeing research and demonstration grants in private foundations and government

Faculty in this Department

Faculty in the department of Community Health Sciences have backgrounds in public health, medicine and diverse disciplines within the social and behavioral sciences.

For a list of faculty in this department, please click here.

To search all School of Public Health faculty members by name, department or area of expertise, click here.

Helpful Links

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information or questions, please contact Kathy Yi or 310.825.8314.


*This information is intended as an overview, and should be used as a guide only. Requirements, course offerings and other elements may change, and this overview may not list all details of the program. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the registrar’s office.

PDF icon Doctoral Handbook 2019-21.pdf1.5 MB

* Admission requirements listed are departmental requirements, and are in addition to the University's minimum requirements. Many programs receive more applicants than can be admitted, so meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission. Every effort is made to ensure minimum admissions requirements are up to date - for the most up-to-date information on the University's minimum requirements, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division.

** Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.