The PhD in Public Health focuses on community-based and translational research. It prepares students to lead programs, and conduct independent investigations addressing public health topics relevant to culturally diverse groups, with an emphasis on those in the state of Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Translational research is the investigation of how to successfully transform scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into community applications to reduce disease incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) in health is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves investigators and members of the community in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. This approach increases the likelihood that interventions will be embraced by the community and that community members will gain knowledge, skills, and other benefits from the research.

In addition to learning to conduct research, PhD in Public Health students are expected to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and present at national and international forums. 

All PhD in Public Health students will complete required and elective coursework in cultural competence, evidence-based public health, policy/leadership, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and community-based participatory research. They will also complete mentored teaching and research practica. A brief overview of the PhD in Public Health degree requirements is provided below. For detailed information, please refer to the PhD in Public Health Handbook.

Credit Hour Requirements
PhD in Public Health students must accrue 35 or more credits prior to graduation from the program. It is expected that students will progress through the program on different pathways and—depending on whether or not they have an MPH upon admission and whether or not they plan to attend full-time—should be able to complete the program in 3-5 years.

Qualifying Phase
The purpose of the qualifying phase is to determine whether to encourage students to proceed in a doctoral program and if encouraged, to enable their advisors to assist them in planning an appropriate program. The milestones of the qualifying phase are (1) the approval of the qualifying paper and public presentation of the approved paper; and (2) the passing of the Qualifying Exam. Successful passing of this phase is reported to the Graduate Division via the Doctorate Pre-Candidacy Progress Form 1.

Practice Phase
The student completes PhD in Public Health courses and both a teaching and a research practicum.

Advance to Candidacy Phase
The student must complete a dissertation proposal and must pass an oral comprehension exam (which includes the defense of the dissertation proposal). Doctoral dissertation proposals are in the form of an overview, followed by methods for three studies that can yield manuscripts of publishable quality related to a central research theme. The results of the oral comprehensive exam, along with approval from the University’s Human Studies Program (Institutional Review Board) for the student’s research, are reported to the Graduate Division on Doctorate Advance to Candidacy Form 2.

Candidates must be registered for PH 800 Dissertation Research during the entire term in which the work for the degree is completed. The doctoral dissertation will be a substantial contribution to knowledge in which the student exhibits original scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research. Doctoral dissertations are in the form of an overview, three manuscripts of publishable quality related to a central research theme, and a conclusion that includes recommendations for further programming and research. 

Final Examination/Defense
A final oral examination in defense of the dissertation, which may also cover subjects related to the PhD in Public Health competencies, is conducted by the candidate’s full doctoral committee and is never less than one hour in length. The defense must be announced in the University’s Events Calendar and is open to the public. The results of the final examination/dissertation defense are reported to the Graduate Division on the Doctorate Dissertation Evaluation Form 3.

Dissertation Submission
ProQuest ETD is the service that the Graduate Division uses for the electronic submission of the doctoral dissertation. Students are strongly encouraged to submit their final manuscript to ProQuest at least 4 weeks prior to the end of the semester. The Doctorate Dissertation Submission Form 4 is completed after the final manuscript has been uploaded on ProQuest ETD. NOTE: All dissertations will be made available to the public online through ScholarSpace.