Health Promotion Sciences, PHD

PhD in Health Promotion Sciences

The PhD in Health Promotion Sciences program prepares you for a high-level career in research, teaching/mentoring, consulting, policy development, or other leadership roles focused on the behavioral determinants of health, the promotion of health, and the prevention of premature disease and disability. With the skills and interdisciplinary knowledge you develop through your coursework, independent research, and relationships with faculty mentors, you will leave ready to lead in a variety of settings including universities, health promotion agencies at every level, healthcare systems and service organizations, and private industry.

Recommended Preparation

Applicants should have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, with preference for a master’s degree in a related field. Preference will also be given to applicants with a relevant health-related credential. Additionally, applicants should show:

  • demonstrated commitment to health promotion through education, work, and/or volunteer experience
  • demonstrated research experience as evidenced by a thesis-based master’s degree, authored publications, and/or a description of research activities in their personal statement
  • strong statistical background
  • strong match of research interest/experience with a graduate faculty member
  • minimum GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) in all courses of record; alternatively, applicants may present a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last two years of graduate study plus other evidence of research competence

Both a personal essay and a sample research paper or abstract are required elements of the admissions application.

Program Overview

In consultation with your faculty advisor, you will design a plan of study to meet your professional, educational, and scholarly goals. You will leave empowered to produce and defend a significant original contribution to knowledge in your field of specialization, demonstrate mastery of subject material, and conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner. The PhD program requires a minimum of 48 credits, including core coursework:

  • Health Promotion Courses (minimum 15 credits)
    • AH 5095 – Advancing Health Equity by Applying Social Determinants of Health Action Frameworks
    • AH 5200 – Design and Methodology of Behavioral Trials
    • AH 6181 – Experiential Learning in Health Promotion Research
    • AH 6305 – Program Planning & Evaluation for Health Professionals
    • AH 6324 – Critical Issues in Health Promotion, Disease, and Disability Prevention
  • Methodology & Statistics Courses (minimum 9 credits) – At least two courses must be of a statistical nature. Courses in advanced research methods are required in both qualitative and quantitative research.
    • AH 5005 – Biostatistics for Health Professions
    • AH 6306 – Research Methods in Allied Health
    • At least 3 credits of elective coursework, such as:
      • AH 6310 – Introduction to Systems Science and Complexity
      • AH 6015 – Analysis of Large Population-Based Datasets for Health Promotion
      • AH 5200 – Design and Methodology of Behavioral Trials
    • Electives/Cognate Courses (minimum 9 credits):
      • Selecting from courses offered in Allied Health Sciences or in other departments across the University, you will use your elective(s) to deepen your knowledge/skills and to work toward your dissertation research.
    • Developing Research & Academic Teaching Skills & Competence (minimum 6 credits)
      • AH 6184 – Graduate Seminar in Health Promotion Research
      • AH 6422 – Writing Successful Grant Proposals
    • Dissertation Preparation (minimum 15 credits)

    In addition, you will complete a doctoral general examination designed to assure that you have acquired and can effectively communicate the breadth and depth of the field. The exam will challenge you to think critically, creatively, and interdisciplinarily about areas of health promotion sciences. The general examination is overseen by your major advisor and doctoral advisory committee plus additional graduate faculty. The exam has both written and oral components and also includes an oral defense of your dissertation proposal. Successful completion of the exam demonstrates that you are a doctoral candidate with growing expertise in the health promotion sciences field and allows you to begin intense work on your doctoral dissertation and scholarly output associated with your dissertation work.

    For further program details, please see Typical Timeline for Program Completion and Typical Sequence of Courses.

    Graduate Assistantships

    A limited number of Graduate Assistantships with stipend, full tuition waiver, and health insurance benefits may be available. Currently, all Health Promotion Sciences PhD students are fully funded. These graduate assistantships include research and/or teaching assignments. For general information about graduate assistantships at UConn, please visit the Graduate School. Please see our Faculty Recruiting Graduate Assistants page for details about graduate faculty who are currently recruiting graduate research assistants.


    In order for an applicant to be considered for one of the following fellowships, the applicant must select that they wish to be considered in SLATE. Recipients of these fellowships will be the most academically promising members of the entering class of graduate students at the University of Connecticut. The criteria used to select recipients include the following:

    • Evidence of scholarly or creative achievement highlighted by the department or program in their nomination and evidence that the department or program provides the environment necessary for success in the areas of interest highlighted by the applicant.
    • Evidence of any prior scholarly or creative achievement by the nominee, e.g., publications, presentations, exhibits, performances.
    • Evidence that the nominee has been successful at previous academic institutions, e.g., letters of recommendation.
    • Quantitative evidence of academic accomplishment, e.g., undergraduate grade point average, GRE/GMAT (when available).

    The Jorgensen Fellowship (JF) is available to outstanding young scholars applying to doctoral programs. The award consists of a service-free fellowship providing a $20,000 annual stipend for five years.

    In addition, to be eligible for either the fellowships below, applicants must demonstrate a commitment to enhancing diversity in higher education and/or a commitment to enhancing diversity in their field of study.

    • The Harriott Fellowship (HF) is available to outstanding young scholars applying to doctoral programs. The award consists of a service-free fellowship providing a $20,000 annual stipend for five years.
    • The Crandall Fellowship (CF) is available to outstanding young scholars applying to master’s programs. The award consists of a service-free fellowship providing a $20,000 annual stipend for two years (MFA is for three years).

    For HF and CF fellowships students must submit a diversity statement through the SLATE application system. Students can demonstrate a commitment to enhancing diversity in higher education through participation in organizations or activities that (a) directly relate to increasing access to higher education and retention in higher education of individuals, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, cultural background, religion, or beliefs or (b) that help to ensure that individuals are welcomed and included in higher education environments regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, cultural background, religion, or beliefs. Such organization and activities might include participation/affiliation with TRIO programs, cultural/affinity organizations/centers, volunteer experiences, and college or university committees focused on these goals. Students provide evidence of this commitment through research and educational experience reflected on their CV/resume (articles, presentations, internship, and research experience), in their personal statement, or in letters of recommendations.