PhD in Public Health Sciences

Welcome to the PhD in Public Health Sciences, where you can launch your career into advanced inquiry and expert analysis of challenges facing the public health field. The PhD is the final step toward a career in research and higher academics, with the goal to grow future research faculty in the field of Public Health.

You see the power of research. Well-structured and insightful studies can open the door to new possibilities. Research has the potential to change minds and the world, but it requires individuals with the right skills to bring it to realization.

Specialize in Epidemiology to bring your logic and analysis skills to bear on research opportunities. Through advanced epidemiological studies, gain intensive research, writing and publishing experience, securing your position in this critical field within Public Health. Epidemiology Curriculum

Focus on Health Behavior Research to achieve insights into the psychological, social and cultural factors that affect human health and health behavior. Develop research that advances policy, improves program planning and delivers improved outcomes. Health Behavior Research Curriculum

This highly selective program offers tuition and fees funding to select candidates. View Current Student Profiles.


students collaborating at a desk


About The Program

Research Faculty Career Goals. UNTHSC is committed to nurturing PhD students whose career goals are positions as research faculty members at Tier I institutions. Our program includes intensive expectations in contributing to ongoing research projects, the establishment of publications, and academic conference presenting.

Full-time. Students take 9 hours each semester. The program carries a heavy research and publication expectation as well as professional development hours. Students serve as teaching assistants at least once a year. Employment outside the university is prohibited.

On-campus. UNTHSC is located in Fort Worth, Texas. A vibrant location within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Take advantage of our excellent city centers and low cost of living.

3-5 Year Program. Students are expected to complete the program in 3 to 5 years depending on their standing upon entrance. Students with completed MS degrees aligning with Ph.D. concentration will have the quickest path to completion, MPH students will have some additional Master's level work to complete and students entering following a Bachelor's degree will require 5 years to complete the program.

Fall Entrance. New students begin the program each Fall semester. There are no Spring or Summer start options.

Small PhD cohort. Current admission trends indicate a small admitted class of just 2-4 students in each discipline, allowing for an intense and personalized experience.

Faculty Mentors

When considering your Ph.D. institution, it's important to ensure a strong match with one or more mentor faculty members.

Matches at HSC are based on research topics or by research methodology. This means candidates who are interested in a research topic that isn’t currently represented in our faculty may identify a mentor based on their research methods. This will allow for a broader range of research topics on our campus, better reflecting the broad scope of public health work. Below are brief descriptions of current faculty research areas. We encourage you to review the full biographies of those most likely to serve as matches for your field.

  • Dr. Tracey Barnett:

    Dr. Barnett’s work focuses on risk behaviors across the lifespan. Her primary area includes adolescent and young adult risk behaviors, focused on substance use including but not limited to alternative tobacco, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Her secondary area includes the role of tobacco with adult cancers, including tobacco cessation programs. This research has included mixed methods, qualitative interviews, and focus groups, web-based surveys, and secondary data analysis.

  • Dr. Stacey Griner:

    Dr. Griner’s work focuses broadly on maternal and child health, sexual health, oral health, and evidence-based guidelines. She utilizes mixed methods, which includes survey-based research, secondary data analyses, interviews, and focus groups. Her work is guided by health behavior theories and implementation science frameworks to translate research into practice.

  • Dr. Ubydul Haque:

    Dr. Haque studies the transmission of infectious disease in an international context. More specifically, he examines the risk factors and the spatial spread of arbovirus transmission using modern computational tools and statistical techniques. Recently he has been using similar approaches to investigate and determine the risk factors and the spatial spread of COVID-19. 

  • Dr. Nolan Kline:

    Dr. Kline’s research focuses on the social and political determinants of health and health equity.  His work is informed by qualitative, community-based participatory research methods and social theories focused on structural inequality. His current research focuses on 1) the health-related consequences of immigration enforcement policies and 2) intersectional LGBTQ+ Latinx social movements to advance social justice and health equity.

  • Dr. Dana Litt:

    Dr. Litt studies the etiology and prevention of adolescent and young adult risk behavior, including substance use. Her research utilizes a variety of research methods including cross-sectional, longitudinal, experimental, and mixed-methods designs.  She also develops and tests brief interactive online and text-messaging interventions seeking to reduce risk-taking among adolescents and young adults.

  • Dr. Melissa Lewis:

    Dr. Lewis’ theory-driven research focuses on the etiology and prevention of health-risk behaviors. Across her portfolio of research, she has incorporated complex study designs using web-based surveys via phones to assess behavior and cognitions multiple times a day, and behavior change interventions testing web-conferencing and text message content.   

  • Dr. Justin Luningham:

    Dr. Luningham’s research focuses on developing quantitative methods that make sense of complex behavioral data. His recent work utilizes computational statistics, machine learning approaches, and latent variable models to study the genetics of mental health disorders. He also has extensive experience modeling and evaluating multivariate survey/questionnaire data, analyzing longitudinal data, and synthesizing data across multiple datasets. Substantively, he is interested in mental and behavioral health outcomes across the lifespan."

  • Dr. Eun-Young Mun:

    Dr. Mun meta-analyzes and synthesizes data from clinical trials to examine the comparative effectiveness of competing treatment strategies and delineate mechanisms of behavior change. She utilizes latent variable modeling, generalized linear mixed-effects modeling, Bayesian modeling, and statistical machine learning for data integration, classification and prediction, estimation, and causal inference to advance alcohol clinical trials, mHealth interventions, and clinical neuroscience.

  • Dr. Rajesh Nandy:

    Dr. Nandy studies the use of novel statistical methods and machine learning techniques to solve complex problems in the clinical diagnosis of neurological disorders. Specifically, his research methods focus on the use of neuroimaging data and various blood biomarkers towards the early diagnosis of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Dr. Malinee Neelamegam:

    Dr. Neelamegam studies aging and its related comorbidities, with a focus on neuropsychological outcomes. Her research focuses on vulnerable populations impacted by health disparities. She utilizes numerous study designs and quantitative research methods. Her work is guided by global health principles and implementation science frameworks.

  • Dr. Usen-sa Nguyen:

    Dr. Nguyen’s research ranges from perinatal to geriatric epidemiology and seeks to understand factors associated with socioeconomic and racial disparities in health and healthcare utilization. She applies a variety of study designs and analytic methods to assess and control for confounding and selection bias such as collider-stratification bias and includes matching, risk-set sampling, propensity score methods, and the use of marginal structural models for causal mediation analysis.

  • Dr. Erica Spears:

    Dr. Spears’ research examines the role and influence of social structures on racial minority health. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze data. Her work is guided and informed by community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles.

  • Dr. Erika Thompson:

    Dr. Thompson studies maternal and child health and sexual and reproductive health issues. Her research methods include quantitative and qualitative mixed methods, complex national survey data, and behavioral epidemiology approaches. Most of her research involves collaborations with community organizations.

  • Dr. Scott Walters:

    Dr. Walters’ research focuses on designing and evaluating behavioral health interventions, most notably those that combine human and technological approaches. His current projects are testing ways to improve cancer risk screening, employment success, alcohol and drug interventions, and health advocacy. He also serves as the Steering Committee Chair for the HEALing Communities Study, which is developing a national model to address the opioid crisis.

  • Dr. Andrew Yockey:

    Dr. Yockey examines and implements the use of unique statistical methods and survey procedures to study substance use prevention and child/adolescent health risk behaviors. He also utilizes meta-analytic, longitudinal, and multi-level techniques to improve statistical modeling and functional analysis. His latest research has investigated the use of geospatial approaches for improving our understanding of substance use in at-risk communities.

  • Dr. Zhenyang Zhou :

    Dr. Zhou’s major research interests are statistical methods development and applications in the areas of human genetics/genomics, substance use, clinical trials, and other areas. His methodological projects cover gene-environment interaction detections, genetic association tests, and sample size calculation methods. He analyzes large datasets, uses zero-inflated data analysis, and conducts outcome evaluations.

Admission Requirements

UNTHSC conducts holistic application reviews. A completed bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is required. No specific degree or prerequisite coursework is required. Ph.D. candidates must have a minimum 3.25 GPA in their prior studies.

Applications are reviewed once they have been completed and verified by SOPHAS. UNTHSC does not offer conditional or provisional admission. All items must be received in order for an application to be reviewed and a decision rendered. 

Well-qualified candidates with strong research match potential will be invited to interview between December and February.

To Apply:

  • Create an account in SOPHAS online application portal.sophas pic

In addition to the SOPHAS required documentation of official U.S./Canadian transcripts and C.V./Resume, please provide the following additional documentation with your application.

  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives (personal statement)

    Your statement is intended to give you the opportunity to submit a tailored narrative that will describe your education, experience, and professional career objectives. It should include:

      • Why are you interested in pursuing your chosen degree and concentration?
      • What are your career goals and how will this program prepare you for your career?
      • Highlight your relevant experience in prior coursework, professional, or volunteer work.
      • Reasons for interest in UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
      • Address any areas of weakness in your application.

There are no formal word count or page limitations; however, we recommend that you limit your statement to two pages or less.

Your statement should be original and unique to each program you are applying to. Furnishing false or incomplete information, including plagiarism on any part of your statement or in any related application materials, will result in an automatic rejection of your application. (Brief quotes are permissible if accompanied by quotation marks and a reference to the source of the quote.) 

  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation. Ideal sources include academic professors, advisors, and professional supervisors. 
  • Writing Sample or Publication (optional)
  • World Education Service (WES). ICAP Course-by-Course evaluation of academic records from institutions outside the U.S. and English-speaking Canada (if applicable). 
  • GRE Official Score Report. The GRE exam remains a requirement for the PhD in Public Health programs.

Program Candidate Profile

Well Qualified Candidate Profile:

  • Master's degree in strongly aligned field
    • Most often includes public health, mathematics, psychology and medical sciences
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher
    • Minimum GPA of 3.25 is required; average GPA of 2020 Admit = 3.8
  • 120 Hours in Academic Research experience
    • 1 Letter of Recommendation from Research Supervisor/PI

Application Deadline and Timeline

Priority Deadline: December 1st.

Admissions Application Deadline: January 15th. Application closes at 11:00 CST.

Review Process: PhD applicants are reviewed primarily in the months of December, January and February. Review will continue until all seats are filled. Applicants will be reviewed for best fit with concentrations and faculty mentors. If invited for an interview, applicants are expected to participate in either an on-campus interview or a technology-assisted interview.

Funding & Expectations

Students admitted to this highly selective program are offered a generous package from the university. This package includes:

  • Four fully funded years of tuition & fees
  • A living stipend currently valued at $30,000 annually
  • Health insurance

Ph.D. candidates are expected to spend 20 hours a week providing research support for SPH Faculty and complete at least 1 teaching assistant assignment each academic year. Ph.D. candidates are also expected to complete 7 publications and 1 dissertation over the course of study. Ph.D. candidates should be pursuing a career as a research faculty member at a Tier 1 University. 

Early application is recommended for this competitive program. Priority deadline is December 1st. Final deadline is January 15th. Offers will be made until seats are filled. Seat count changes year to year based on currently active students.

Financial Aid is available to support additional living expenses. Contact Financial Aid for specific questions and counseling

International Students

Applicants who have degree coursework from institutions outside the U.S. must submit a credential evaluation from World Education Services (WES). We require the iCAP WES This will be submitted to the SOPHAS system for your final application.

International applicants must demonstrate satisfactory proficiency in oral and written English before being considered for admission. Minimum requirements: TOEFL internet based = 85. Meeting minimum scores does not guarantee admission.

International applicants should submit their application 6 weeks prior to the international applicant deadline. This will allow sufficient time for WES to process the transcript evaluation report and adequate time for visa processing.

Visit our International Student Office site to learn more about the I-20 process, estimated Cost of Attendance and other key factors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

We’re glad you have questions. Graduate school is a big step and requires careful consideration. You’re always welcome to email or call us for answers, but for your convenience, we’ve curated our responses to the most common questions from our applicants. You may view our "Frequently Asked Questions" page by following this link: