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The mentorship and support I’ve received through the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) as a predoctoral fellow has been invaluable and was a big factor in my decision to attend YSPH.

Adam Viera
PhD candidate

PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mrs. Rabi Ibrahim holds her 4-month-old son Muktar Tanko, as nurse Karimatu Abdulmalik prepares for their maternal-child health session at the rural health clinic in Maikunkele village, Bosso, LGA, Niger State, Nigeria. © 2013 Adrian Brooks, Courtesy of Photoshare.

The Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Department aims to understand and improve health equity, both domestically and globally. SBS provides instruction in the theory and methods of the social and behavioral sciences that emphasize individual, interpersonal, community, and structural influences on health, illness, and recovery. The primary emphases are focused on (1) understanding the psychosocial, behavioral, community, and societal influences on health in the general population, with a focus on those who are disadvantaged; and (2) creating multilevel interventions that eliminate barriers to health, from infancy to old age. The SBS curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on integrating methods from epidemiology and the social sciences, training scientists with a broad skill set that allows them to answer a host of complex research questions. The department has numerous research strengths including in HIV/AIDS, aging health, community engaged health research, maternal child health, mental health, health equity and disparities, and stigma prevention and health.

This program does not require General GRE test scores.

Degree Requirements - PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences

2022-23 Matriculation
The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 15 course units. Course substitutions must be identified, approved by the student’s advisor and DGS.

PhD Required Courses (5 course units)

  • EPH 508 Foundations of Epidemiology and Public Health - 1 unit
  • SBS 574 Developing a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Intervention - 1 unit
  • SBS 541 Community Health Program Evaluation - 1 unit
  • SBS 593 Community-Based Participatory Research in Public Health - 1 unit
  • EPH 600 Research Ethics and Responsibilities - 0 units
  • EPH 608 Frontiers in Public Health* - 1 unit
  • SBS 580 Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health - 1 unit
  • SBS 610 Applied Area Readings for Qualifying Examinations - 1 unit
  • SBS 699 Advanced Topics in Social and Behavioral Sciences - 1 unit
  • One of the following (1 Unit:)
    CDE 617 Developing a Research Proposal or EMD 625 How to Develop, Write, and Evaluate an NIH Proposal


  • PhD Electives in Methods or Statistics** – 3 course units
  • PhD Electives (5 course units)

*Students entering the program with an MPH or relevant graduate degree may be exempt from this requirement

** Courses should be at 500 level or above and can be taken at other departments; Some examples include S&DS 563, Multivariate Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences, CDE 516 Epi II, SBS 676 Questionnaire Development

rev. 09.08.22


Students are strongly encouraged to get involved in research by working with faculty members on ongoing research studies throughout their doctoral work. Further, students will gain research experience during their coursework by working on real data. It is expected that students publish 1-2 papers a year during the doctoral program to develop their research portfolio and to be competitive for academic positions after completion of their doctoral degree.

Recent Dissertation Projects

  • Role of Ageism in Elder Abuse - A Socioecological Approach
  • Developing E-Covery: An App-Based Intervention to Support Recovery From Co-Occuring Alcohol Use and Opioid Use
  • Developing, Implementing, and Pilot Testing an Informed Decision Aid for Opioid Agonist Therapies for Prisoners in Ukraine
  • Gentrification, Displacement and Health: Moving from Risks to Solutions
  • Intervention to Overcome Mental Health Disparities in Criminal Justice-Involved Transgender Women
  • Elucidating Pathways Between Structural Stigma and Adverse Birth Outcomes
  • The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Women's Engagement in the PrEP Care Continuum