Health Behavior and Health Education

Doctoral Program

Department of Kinesiology and Health Education

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Health Behavior and Health Education prepares students for academic and research careers in health promotion. The program looks at health education from different bio-behavioral and developmental perspectives to study a range of health behaviors and health concerns.

This program’s research focuses on a variety of risk and protective factors and their role in health and well-being across the life span. Many studies include an emphasis on the prevention of illness and the promotion and maintenance of optimal health. This program approaches research from varying levels that focus on interactions among individual, family, group and community factors. Students completing the Ph.D. program will expand upon their foundation in theory and methodology in the study of behavioral determinants of health, program planning, and intervention development.

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall

Deadline to Apply:
Priority: December 1
Final: May 1

GRE Required? No

Location: On Campus

Length of Program: 60 months, 63 hours 

Students applying to the doctoral program should have completed the required prerequisites and submitted their prerequisite form for the program. This ensures that students are fully prepared to conduct the research necessary for their degree.

The Ph.D. program is heavily focused on student research and required coursework. Students will focus on the following areas while they pursue their degree:

Health Behavior and Health Education Ph.D. (63 hrs)

  • Core Health Education (HED) Courses (15 hrs)
  • Statistics and Research Methods (12 hrs)  
  • Outside Supporting Work (6 hrs)  
  • Student Research (30 hrs)

The first two years of the Ph.D. program will focus heavily on setting the foundations of research. Core courses in Health Education and Research methods will set the groundwork for students’ movement to doctoral candidacy, and their dissertation.

Doctoral Degree Checklist

Students should ensure they complete the requirements for their program using the Degree Plan Checklist and Doctoral Progress Report Checklist. Students also should submit their Proposed Program of Study for their Doctoral Degree.

The prerequisites for doctoral study in Health Behavior and Health Education are a master’s degree from an accredited college or university and the completion of a minimum 3 hours of course work from each of the following areas (total of 9 hours):

  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • HED 386: Applied Research Methods
  • EDP 371 Introduction to Statistics
  • PSY 341 Health Psychology or SW 327 Human Behavior and Social Environment

Students applying to the Ph.D. program must have demonstrated capability of independent research by completing a thesis or publishing a research article(s). Students not meeting this requirement shall participate in a research project sponsored by a faculty member during the first year of study to demonstrate research ability.

Final acceptance and continuation in the program are contingent upon sponsorship by a member of the Health Behavior and Health Education faculty. This faculty member will serve as the student’s advisor. The admission of a student into the program and the selection of an advisor are by mutual agreement.

For acceptance into the Ph.D. program, in addition to meeting the above Graduate School requirements, the applicant must submit:

  • A letter of application, which includes a statement of career goals and research interests to the Health Behavior and Health Education faculty.
  • Three letters of recommendation, all preferably from current or former professors, are required.
  • If possible, a personal interview is recommended.

The Ph.D. degree for the Health Behavior and Health Education program consists of both coursework and research. The program is designed to train students in health education as well as research methods and a specific research topic. In addition to these required courses, students should ensure they meet the prerequisite requirements for the Ph.D. program.

Health Behavior and Health Education Ph.D. (63 hrs)

  • Core Health Education (HED) Courses (15 hrs)
  • Statistics and Research Methods (12 hrs)  
  • Outside Supporting Work (6 hrs)  
  • Student Research (30 hrs)
  • HED 395 Foundations of Epidemiology**
  • HED 395 Planning Health Promotion Programs*
  • HED 395 Theories of Health Behavior**

*  This course should be taken in the first semester of the 2nd year of the program.

** These courses should be taken during the first year in the program.

HED Specialization Electives – select two courses from the following:

  • HED 395 Adult Development, Aging and Health
  • HED 395 Child and Adolescent Health Psychology
  • HED 395 Physical Activity & Public Health Practice
  • HED 395 Risk and Resilience in Children and Adolescents
  • HED 395 Social Determinants of Health
  • HED 395: Health Promotion Strategies from Populations to the Individual Level
  • HED 395: Impact of Marketing on Public Health
  • HED 395 Cognitive Exercise Across the Lifespan
  • HED 395 Exercise and Mental Health
  • HED 395 Research Ethics

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 hours of graduate statistics and research methods with at least 3 hours in qualitative methods. Courses in experimental design, multivariate statistics, and qualitative research relevant to the student’s area of concentration may be included.

  • EDP 380P Evaluation Models and Techniques
  • EDP 380P Test and Scale Construction
  • EDP 382K Analysis of Qualitative Data
  • EDP 382K Correlation and Regression Methods
  • EDP 382K Factor Analysis
  • EDP 382K Survey of Multivariate Methods
  • EDP 384 Qualitative Research Methods
  • EDP 480C6-Statistical Analysis for Experimental Data
  • EDP 482K Experimental Design and Statistical Inference
  • N 397M Qualitative Research in Nursing
  • PSY 384 Structural Equation Modeling  

6 hours of organized courses outside of HED are required; 3 hours must be outside of the Kinesiology and Health Education Department. Students select these courses in consultation with their advisor.

Depending upon the student’s interests and background, the program of study must include research experience with a minimum of:

  • 8 hours of directed research
  • 4 hours of the departmental seminar
  • 18 hours of dissertation (HED 999rw)

Students must present empirical research at a local, state, or national conference prior to taking the comprehensive examination. Students must submit an empirical/data-based manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal prior to proposal of the dissertation and movement to doctoral candidacy.

The Ph.D. program for Health Behavior and Health Education involves students applying for doctoral candidacy. To be considered a doctoral candidate, students must pass a comprehensive exam in addition to their required courses. The exam is taken at the end of the spring semester of their second year, and after submitting a first-authored presentation at a professional conference. In order to advance to candidacy, the following requirements must be met:

  • Grade point of at least 3.0. Including a grade of B or higher in all coursework. Any grades lower than a B are subject to further review.
  • At least one (1) abstract or proposal submitted to a professional conference
  • Present research results at professional conferences
  • Progress toward publishing research in peer-reviewed journals

The exam requires students to discuss health theories and design a research study. This includes a comprehensive review of literature on a specific topic. The outcome of the examination will be either:

  • Advance to candidacy
  • Advance to candidacy with conditions
  • Continue in program without advancement
  • Drop from program

Students who advance to candidacy will complete their dissertation. This involves establishing a dissertation committee of Kinesiology and Health Education faculty in consultation with their graduate adviser.

Photo of faculty member John  Bartholomew
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, College of Education

Researches the effect of exercise on mental health to improve mood and reduce stress.

Photo of faculty member Darla M Castelli

Studies the relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance in children, adolescents, and emerging adults.

Photo of faculty member J. Mark  Eddy

J. Mark Eddy's primary area of expertise is the development, refinement and rigorous testing of culturally informed multimodal preventive and clinical psychosocial interventions to improve physical and mental health outcomes for children and families...

Photo of faculty member Carole K Holahan

Studies psychosocial factors in health behavior and health and well-being in adulthood and aging.

Photo of faculty member Esbelle M Jowers
Research Assistant Professor

Studies school and community-based interventions regarding physical activity, healthy eating, and the prevention of chronic disease.

Photo of faculty member Lara  Latimer
Assistant Professor of Instruction

Teaches from a holistic health perspective with a focus on personal health, including mental health, meditation and other stress management techniques.

Photo of faculty member Alexandra  Loukas
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Education

Focuses on adolescent and young adult problem behavior development, and tobacco use and cessation.

Photo of faculty member Charles  Martinez
Dean, College of Education

Focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families from vulnerable and underserved populations.

Photo of faculty member Pablo  Montero-Zamora
Assistant Professor

Focuses on understanding the factors influencing Latino/ youth substance use and mental health and how to translate this evidence into preventive interventions.

Photo of faculty member Keryn E Pasch
Associate Professor

Examines the relation between marketing influence on youth and young adult risk behavior such as substance use, nutrition, sleep and energy drink consumption.

Photo of faculty member Miguel  Pinedo
Associate Professor

My work primarily investigates how social- and structural-level factors relate to the epidemiology of substance abuse and related harms among Latinos. This research has expanded the focus from individual-level factors that influence health and unders...

Photo of faculty member Deborah  Salvo
Associate Professor

My research interests and expertise center in the reduction of spatial health disparities in access to environments that enable physically active lifestyles. Specifically, my work focuses on understanding the context-specific relations between the bu...

Photo of faculty member Seth  Schwartz

Identity, acculturation, cultural stress, crisis migration, adolescent development, family functioning, substance use, mental health, well-being

Photo of faculty member Mary A Steinhardt

Focuses on how individuals successfully adapt to stress and build health resilience.

Photo of Miguel Pinedo

Program Director
Miguel Pinedo

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