Doctor of Philosophy in Health Education and Health Promotion (HEP) 2016-17

Catalog 2016-2017

Program Description:  The PhD program in health education/promotion provides students with instruction and research experience to become scientists and practitioners in health education and health promotion. The program combines the resources of academic units from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior, UAB School of Education, Department of Human Studies), and the University of Alabama (UA) College of Human Environmental Sciences, Department of Health Science.

Health Behavior doctoral 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 techniques and methods for research and program evaluation. Students study these topics in depth as they apply their knowledge and skills to conducting research and writing proposals and manuscripts.  They have opportunities to become involved in faculty research projects on a broad range of health issues such as behavioral interventions, family and adolescent health issues, obesity prevention, prevention and control of addictive behaviors, sexual health risks including HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, community based health promotion, health communication, program evaluation, and translation of research findings.

Graduates of our doctoral program often go on to research and service careers in academic settings or public agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our doctoral-level training in the social and behavioral sciences places a heavy emphasis on research training and application, with faculty involving PhD students in their research. Another vital part of our department’s doctoral level training is one-on-one research mentoring with our students to foster their development through activities such as participation in manuscript and proposal writing. We aim to prepare our students as social and behavioral scientists who will conduct rigorous public health research and application of findings. 

The Department of Health Behavior PhD competencies are to enable the students to:

  • Analyze the individual and social influences on health behavior with the aim of developing, evaluating, and implementing solutions to health behavior problems
  • Evaluate theoretical models of health and health behavior considering societal, structural, community, and organizational influences.
  • Design community-based health behavior intervention programs.
  • Conduct a comprehensive review of literature and identify gaps.
  • Develop a health behavior dissertation research proposal with detailed plan for conducting the study and performing the analyses.
  • Conduct dissertation research from design through analysis and interpretation.
  • Effectively communicate results in an oral presentation and manuscript appropriate for degree.

Admission:  Applicants should have a strong academic record and meet the minimum requirements for admission to the School of Public Health

Curriculum:  The PhD program requires completion of a minimum of 73 hours of graduate credit, satisfactory performance on the qualifying exam, and completion of a doctoral dissertation.  All PhD students must meet the graduation requirements of their department and the UAB Graduate School.

Directed Research   

Students are required to complete at least twelve directed research credit hours.  The goals are to provide experience in planning, conducting, and reporting behavioral science  research under the mentoring of a faculty member or a researcher employed by an agency such as the CDC, NIH, or  health department;  to provide opportunities to develop manuscripts for publication, conference paper presentations, grant submissions or other “research products”; and  to help prepare for dissertation work.

Qualifying Exam  

Doctoral students are required to take a qualifying examination before proposing a dissertation.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation requirement provides students with a comprehensive and original research experience. Students conducting dissertation research must complete of a minimum of 12 dissertation credit hours.  Students complete credits for the dissertation after completing coursework, passing qualifying exam, and being admitted to candidacy.  Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two semesters of dissertation research after they successfully propose in order to graduate; including the semester they graduate.