Doctorate in Health Education/Health Promotion

Professor-sitting-on-desk-in-front-of-bookshelves

About the Program

The PhD in Health Education / Health Promotion is a University of Alabama System degree jointly administered by three units: UAB School of Education, UAB School of Public Health, and UA College of Human Environmental Sciences. In addition to rigorous coursework and immersive practical experiences, students draw upon the expertise and resources of a diverse and highly qualified faculty. Graduates in the PhD program develop advanced training to become researchers, clinicians and faculty in higher education, government agencies and foundations.

Aligned with National Competencies

Recently, in a study published in the Journal of Health Education, this program was ranked as the seventh best Ph.D. program in Health Education in the United States. The core courses were developed using the Responsibilities and Competencies of Health Educators, developed by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Coursework includes the knowledge and skills needed to be eligible and prepared to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. For more information on the benefits of CHES and the National Commission for Health Education, visit their website, http://www.nchec.org/health-education-credentialing.

Program Outcomes

The course of study for this Ph.D. program has been designed to prepare students for employment in faculty positions at colleges and universities as well as leadership roles in the United States Public Health Service and other community agencies. At the completion of the Ph.D. program, students will have:

  • Developed a clear conceptualization of the theoretical and philosophical basis of health education and health promotion.
  • Developed skills to effectively plan, implement and evaluate health education and health promotion programs.
  • Clarified the psychological and sociological influences on health education and health promotion.
  • Developed knowledge and skills to become independent researchers.
  • Completed a significant research internship experience.

Students learn to use theories and methods from the social and behavioral sciences to develop programs that encourage healthy behaviors. They learn state-of-the-art methods for research and program evaluation. Students have opportunities to become involved in faculty research projects on a broad range of health issues. The PhD program requires completion of a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit, satisfactory performance on comprehensive exams, and completion of a doctoral dissertation.

Career Options

Career options at this level of education and training include but are not limited to the following:

  • Tenure track faculty appointments in a university/college setting
  • Director of health services/health promotion in a university/college setting
  • Research and clinical positions in a university/college setting
  • Administrative positions in public health and non-profit settings
  • Research/policy analyst positions in public health and non-profit settings
  • Many others

Program Sequence


The sequence of steps for a prospective student from admission to graduation is outlined below:
 
  • Satisfaction of Admission Requirements
  • Meet with Program Director
  • Plan Course of Study
  • Completion of CORE Coursework
  • Completion of Comprehensive Examination
  • Formation of Doctoral Dissertation Committee
  • Approval of a Proposal for Doctoral Dissertation
  • Admission to Candidacy
  • Completion of Dissertation Hours
  • Final Defense of Dissertation
  • Submission of Final Copies of Dissertation to the Graduate School
  • Graduation and doctoral hooding ceremony

Program of Study


Coursework

Students may enter the program with either a bachelor's or master's degree in health education, or a master's degree in a closely related health field. Prerequisite coursework includes HE 610 Foundations of Health Education (or equivalent course), and HE 606 Issues in Disease Control (or equivalent course). These requirements may be co-requisite components in the program. If coming from an un-related field, additional pre-requisite courses may be necessary. This will be determined by a review of transcripts. A review of student credentials prior to admission will identify academic strengths and the need for additional coursework. This review will provide students with a blueprint for their course of study. The Ph.D. program requires students to complete minimally 72 semester hours: 36 hours of coursework, 12 hours of research internship, and 24 hours of dissertation. The specific components of the Ph.D. program in Health Education and Health Promotion are outlined below:

Health Education/Promotion Core
HE 705 Advanced Theoretical/ Scientific Basis of Health Education/ Health Promotion
-Offered Fall
3 hours
HE 710 Planning and Administration of Health Education and Health Promotion
-Offered Spring
3 hours
HB 740 Advanced Program Evaluation Offered Fall 3 hours
HE 700 Seminar I, II, III Offered Fall, Spring, Fall 3 hours
   
Research and Statistics Prerequisites:
Students are required to have completed the following courses (or equivalents) BEFORE enrolling in the Advanced Research and Statistical Methods Core.
EPR 608 Statistical Methods and Research in Education: Introduction (with EPR 607 lab)  
EPR 609 Statistical Methods and Research in Education: Intermediate  
EPR 596 Introduction to Qualitative Methods of Educational Research  
EPR 692 Introduction to Educational Research Design (will become EPR 594)  
   
Advanced Research and Statistical Methods Core
EPR 710 Advanced Multivariate Statistics 3 hours
EPR 610 Advanced Epidemiological Research Methods 3 hours
EPR 696 Theoretical Foundations of Qualitative Research 3 hours
EPR 792 Mixed Methods in Educational Research 3 hours
   
Social and Behavioral Sciences Minor Minimum of 12 hours
Students work with their faculty advisor to create the social and behavioral sciences minor. The courses in this minor are designed to enhance the student’s knowledge base related to the dissertation topic of interest. Students may transfer previously completed courses to meet this requirement only if these courses have not been applied to previous degree requirements. However, students must complete a total of 72 credit hours of Doctoral work above the Master’s level.
Research Internship Minimum of 12 hours
Dissertation Minimum of 24 hours
Total:  Minimum of 72 hours
Note: If the academic advisor foresees deficiencies in the student’s progress/coursework (i.e. writing quality issues, research competency), additional courses may be required. This is why the checklist says “MINIMUM of…”. The advisor and program director will make the final decision regarding the quantity and content of any additional coursework.

Research Internship

A research internship is required. The internship gives students an opportunity to engage in a meaningful research experience by working with ongoing faculty research projects. The internship may be carried out in any one of the three academic units contributing to the PhD program or with approved research projects in other academic units at UA or UAB, or with the CDC, NIH, or other governmental or private agencies.

The true intent of the research internship is to prepare the student to complete a research-based dissertation. This includes working with your chair to develop a “concept paper/ proposal”; this becomes the framework for the first three chapters of the dissertation. Research internship hours should also be spent in the following manner:
  • Working with faculty inside/outside of the department on research projects and/or grants
  • Development of scholarly publications
  • Presenting at state, regional and/or national professional conferences
  • Additional research-related activities as determined by your advisor/mentor

Core Comprehensive Exams

A written comprehensive examination is required of all candidates for the Ph.D. degree. The core comprehensive exam is offered on the second Thursday of January and June of each year. The exam must be passed unconditionally before the student can defend his/her proposal and be advanced to candidacy.

Prior to taking the exam, students must have completed the health education/promotion core course requirements. Students should NOT assume that “A” level performance in their coursework is adequate preparation for the comprehensive exam. Students must be registered for at least three semester hours of graduate work during the semester(s) in which the comprehensive exams are taken.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is designed to provide students with a significant research experience. The doctoral dissertation requires completion of 24 credit hours.  Students will begin dissertation hours only after the completion of all coursework, successful complete of comprehensive exams, and after being admitted to candidacy. Each student will work closely with his/her doctoral dissertation chair and committee in the development of a dissertation proposal.

Advising


All new doctoral students will be advised by the Program Director upon admission to the PhD program in Health Education and Health Promotion (year one). The Program Director will assist the student in the evaluation of previous work and selection of coursework for the year. During year two, students will be assigned to a specific faculty advisor/mentor.  Students should consult their advisor at least once per semester to review their course of study. Each doctoral student will select a dissertation chair after successful completion of the comprehensive examinations. Oftentimes, the academic advisor/mentor also becomes the dissertation chair; but this is not a requirement.

For answers to any questions you may have about advisement, contact the Program Director: Dr Retta Evans, 205-996-2701, rrevans@uab.edu

Learn More

Apply

Application Deadlines

  • Spring Admission: October 30
  • Fall Admission: April 30

Application Requirements

Candidates for admission must have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution in community health and human services or a health-related field. Admission to doctoral study is initiated through the Graduate School. Applicants will:
  1. Request official transcripts of all college coursework to send to UAB Graduate School;
  2. Submit three (3) letters of recommendation from professors or others who are qualified to judge your ability to complete doctoral coursework;
  3. Complete the GRE indicating UAB as the recipient of your scores; and
  4. Submit writing sample(s), such as an essay describing your academic training, professional experiences and career goals, or scholarly papers presented during professional meetings.

Ph.D. applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.00/4.00 or greater for prior college coursework and preferred GRE scores of 156 or greater for Verbal Reasoning and 156 or greater for Quantitative Reasoning. Faculty considers GRE scores as one indicator of an applicant’s potential success in the doctoral program. Admission to the program is competitive.

In addition, the following criteria will be considered:
  • Evidence of current/future scholarship.
  • Statement of career goals related to health education and health promotion.
  • Recommendations from faculty or other professionals capable of judging the applicant’s ability to complete graduate work.
  • Professional experience.
  • Fit within the research agendas of Health Education faculty.
For answers to any questions you may have about the application process contact the Program Director: Dr Retta Evans, 205-996-2701, rrevans@uab.edu

Application Process

  • Complete online application using Apply Yourself, the Graduate School application system.
  • Submit application fee payment
    Domestic: Application fee waived
    International: $60.00
  • Request that your references submit recommendation letters online via the Apply Yourself system.
    Note: Electronic submission is the preferred method. If your references prefer to mail a recommendation letter, it should be mailed to the Community Health and Human Services program:

    UAB School of Education
    Department of Human Studies
    Community Health and Human Services Program
    207 Education Building; 901 13th Street South
    1530 3rd Avenue South
    Birmingham, AL 35294-1250

  • Request one (1) official transcript to be mailed by the issuing institution to the Community Health and Human Services program:
    UAB School of Education
    Department of Human Studies
    Community Health and Human Services Program
    207 Education Building; 901 13th Street South
    1530 3rd Avenue South
    Birmingham, AL 35294-1250
  • Request one (1) official transcript to be mailed by the issuing institution to the UAB Graduate School:
    UAB Graduate School
    511 HUC; 1400 University Blvd.
    1530 3rd Avenue South
    Birmingham, AL 35294-1150
  • Submit official GRE or MAT test score
    GRE Institution code: 1856
  • Submit official TOEFL test score (for international applicants only):
    Institution code: 1856
  • Mail Financial Affidavit of Support (for international applicants only) to:
    UAB Graduate School
    511 HUC; 1400 University Blvd.
    1530 3rd Avenue South
    Birmingham, AL 35294-1150

Comps Preparation


Guidelines to Prepare for Comps
A written comprehensive examination is required of all candidates for the Ph.D. degree.  The core comprehensive exam is offered on the second Thursday of January and June of each year. The exam must be passed unconditionally before the student can defend his/her proposal and be advanced to candidacy.  The Comprehensive Examination will cover material outlined in the following core classes:
 
  • Advanced Theoretical and Scientific Basis of Health Education and Health Promotion
  • Planning and Administration of Health Education and Health Promotion Programs
  • Advanced Program Evaluation
The purpose of the comprehensive exam is threefold. First, to examine your knowledge of the basic tenets covered in these courses. Second, to examine your ability to relate these tenets to the design, implementation, and evaluation of the health education and health promotion programs. And third, to assess your ability to build cogent answers based on the work of other scholars in the field of health education and health promotion.    Keep in mind, this is a criterion reference exam. You are not competing with other students. With these thoughts in mind, listed below are some guidelines to help you prepare for the examination.
 
To prepare, review health education theory, program planning, implementation and evaluation materials from previous coursework as well as other documents/websites/textbooks.  Each student must synthesize and apply what has been learned throughout the program.  The student must specify why this is necessary, how it will be achieved, who will be involved, and how results will be used during planning. This exam is designed to test the student’s ability to take a given population and design an appropriate, theory-based intervention to the situation.
 
Be sure to gather, review, and file supporting documents and publications. You will be expected to cite the work of others as you frame your answer. Exact bibliography data will not be required, but you will be expected to reference the work of other scholars. Expand the breadth and depth of your knowledge and application of key concepts beyond the scope of what was covered in class. The purpose of the core course classes is to provide background information and provide a blueprint for your self-study. In other words, passing the core classes does not mean you will pass the comprehensive exam. You will need to show intellectual growth.
 
Work with others. You are encouraged to:
  • Study with other students
  • Share materials
  • Consult with students who have taken the test previously
  • Discuss key concepts with faculty
The comprehensive exam is blind graded as “PASS”, “INCOMPLETE” or “FAIL”. A failed exam must be retaken at a subsequent regularly scheduled examination date.  Failed exams can only be retaken once.  If a student fails a section for the second time, they will be dismissed from the program.

Dissertation


Doctoral Dissertation
The doctoral dissertation is designed to provide students with a significant research experience. Students will begin dissertation hours only after the completion of all coursework and comprehensive exams. Each student will work closely with his/her doctoral dissertation chair and committee in the development of a dissertation proposal.  The doctoral dissertation committee should include a minimum of five faculty members.  The chair must come from the student’s entering unit.  Typically, the committee is made up of a chair, methodologist, content expert(s) and another interested faculty. The dissertation chair will assist in the formation of the committee, although it is the student’s responsibility to negotiate committee membership. This process usually happens naturally during years 2 and 3, as students take more classes and engage with a broader range of faculty. Students must submit a “Graduate Study Committee Form”, which can be found on the Graduate School website, to finalize this process. Once a student has successfully defended their dissertation proposal, and filed the appropriate paperwork with the Graduate School, they can be admitted to candidacy and begin their research. Students cannot collect or analyze data ahead of committee and IRB approval.
 
Final Defense
An early final defense date is strongly recommended in order to allow time for completing the final requirements before graduation (i.e., format approval and submission of final document to the Graduate School). Set the date and time of your final defense well in advance and at a time when all committee members can attend. Determine from your committee members how far in advance of your defense date they require a completed copy of your manuscript for review. As soon as possible after your final defense, complete any changes or corrections to your manuscript that were requested by your committee and obtain signatures of all committee members and your Program Director on your approval form.
 
It is the student’s responsibility to submit a completed dissertation for online review to the Graduate School no later than 2 weeks (10 business days) after the final defense. The student will be notified when their dissertation manuscript has been reviewed (usually within 5 – 7 days) by the UAB Graduate School. Under certain circumstances, submission extensions may be granted for students who defend well before the final semester deadline for final defense. Extensions will not be granted past the submission date for the final defense deadline.
 
Additional information about graduation requirements can be found in the Graduate Catalog, Graduate Student Handbook, and by contacting Graduate School staff.
Phone: (205) 934-8227
Fax: (205) 934-8413
gradschool@uab.edu