Doctor of Philosophy in Health Studies


The School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology (SHPK) offers a Ph.D. in Health Studies designed to prepare students to conduct research in health promotion and health education. All Health Studies doctoral students are expected to work with faculty to acquire and develop the skills required to become independent, ethical, and skilled researchers. 

The Ph.D. requires a minimum total of 96 semester credit hours (SCH) in which students must select one focal area: Higher Education, Population Health, or Communication Sciences. Graduates are eligible to take the MCHES® Exam to become Master Certified Health Education Specialists.

Leveling Requirement: Earned degree in Health Education, Health Promotion, Health Behavior, Community Health, or Public Health; or HS 5413.

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Successfully design and implement a health education/promotion research study.
  2. ​Successfully design a health education/promotion grant proposal.
  3. Successfully demonstrate written and oral communication skills through professional presentations and peer-reviewed publications. 


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

This academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements


  1. A degree in health education, health promotion, public health, or community health or HS 5413;
  2. Three semester credit hours of graduate-level research methods; and
  3. New doctoral program students will be required to successfully complete an orientation within the first year.

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

96-98 semester credit hours, including semester credit hours from master’s level work and 6 semester credit hours for dissertation.

Appropriate and Related Work from Master's Degree35
Health Studies Core
HS 6353Social Epidemiology3
HS 6443Theoretical Foundations of Health Promotion3
HS 5423Ethnic and Cultural Factors in Health Decisions3
HS 6563Advocacy and Leadership in Health Promotion3
HS 5383Program Planning and Implementation in Health Promotion3
HS 6453Strategies in Health Promotion Planning and Delivery3
HS 6483Evaluation in Health Promotion3
HS 6073Seminar in Health Education3
HSC 6831Integration of Theory and Research in Health Sciences1
Focal Area - Select one of the following15
Higher Education
History of Medicine, Public Health, and Health Promotion
Principles and Methods of Teaching for Health Professionals
Curriculum Development for Health Professionals
Select two electives from Health Studies in consultation with Advisory Committee
Population Health
Global Health
Psychosocial Aspects of Health
Population Health
Select two electives from Health Studies in consultation with Advisory Committee
Communication Sciences
Seminar in Communication Sciences (taken two times)
Research Application in Communication Sciences (taken two times)
Seminar in Pedagogy
Research Tools I6-8
Select one of the following
Applied Statistics in Health Promotion
Advanced Psychological Statistics I
Applied Statistical Principles
Select one of the following
Advanced Psychological Statistics II
Statistical Inference
Research Tools II
HS 5013Data Collection and Analysis3
HS 6043Quantitative Research Methods in Health Promotion3
Practical Experience Requirement
HS 5003Internship/Professional Affiliation in Health Promotion3
HS 6983Dissertation3
HS 6993Dissertation3
Total SCHs96-98

Interdisciplinary Studies and/or Transferred Semester Credit Hours

Up to 35 semester credit hours from a closely related master’s degree may be applied to the required 96 hours, as deemed appropriate by the Advisory Committee. 

Component Required Curriculum

25 semester credit hours of Health Studies core coursework.


15 semester credit hours from one of three focal areas: higher education, population health, or communication sciences.

Research Tools

6 semester credit hours of research methods and 6-8 semester credit hours of statistics. Students interested in conducting qualitative research must also take a qualitative research methods course in addition to these 6 semester credit hours.


6 semester credit hours of dissertation work with the committee chair. The first 3 credit course focuses on the development and oral defense of the research proposal. The student enrolls in a second 3 credit course to conduct the dissertation study, analyze results, and present findings. Both courses may be repeated, but only three hours of credit count toward the degree for each course.

Qualifying Examination

Candidates for the doctoral degree must pass a qualifying process and comprehensive examination ascertaining a student's:

  1. breadth and depth of knowledge requisite to perform successfully within the profession,
  2. understanding and application of a discipline's foundational literature, and
  3. readiness to complete a dissertation

The exam is comprised of four written sections over selected areas of the student’s emphases and an oral defense of written responses. May be repeated once. Students are eligible to begin the comprehensive exam process during their final semester of coursework and after completing all prerequisites (if admitted conditionally), all research tools, and all core courses. The exams may be repeated only once. A student who fails a second comprehensive exam attempt will be removed from the Health Studies doctoral program.

Final Examination

Oral examination conducted by the Dissertation Committee over the candidate’s research after the dissertation is completed. May be repeated at the discretion of the committee.

Minor (if sought by student)

The hour and course requirements for a minor in Health Studies are flexible and are determined by major and minor committee members and the student's background and interests. Students should consult with their Advisory Committee for information on minors outside of Health Studies. Minors typically include 12 to 18 hours of coursework.