PhD Community Behavioral Health



Students entering the program will be trained at the graduate level in health promotion and behavior change from a public health perspective. Focus areas of coursework and research include maternal, infant, and child health, adolescent health, teen parents, health disparities, obesity, nutrition, food security, HIV and STDs, adolescent health, substance abuse, mental health, and built environment. Students will also have exposure to other key areas of public health (environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and policy and administration), which allows them to be integrated into the broader public health profession upon graduation.

Studying public health at UW-Milwaukee will allow for opportunities to apply doctoral research to real-world settings. CBHP PhD graduates will be well-prepared scientist-practitioners, able to lead interdisciplinary research and work with a range of communities on our most pressing population health issues. Demand for public health professionals is high in local, state, and federal government, academia, and within non-governmental and community-based organizations across the United States and around the world. This PhD program will prepare students to work in these sectors and more.

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All applicants must complete the required online application, including the personal statement and the CBHP application checklist. Applicants must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following program requirements to be considered for admission:

  1. A baccalaureate degree in a related field. At least one statistics course is preferred for admission. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (A=4.00) preferred.
    *While a completed master’s degree in public health or the social and behavioral sciences is encouraged, a master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission. For those applicants without a master’s degree in a relevant field, most successful candidates will have work, research and/or volunteer experiences that contribute to career development in community health and health promotion.
  2. Submission of scores on the General Test portion of the Graduate Record Examination; test taken within last five years. Submit scores to Public Health, code 0616 or to the UW-Milwaukee Graduate School.
    *While there is no minimum GRE score requirement, strong quantitative, verbal and writing skills are critical to successfully completing the program. Admitted candidates will typically score above 500 (153 revised test) in verbal reasoning, 600 (148 revised test) in quantitative reasoning and 4.5 in analytical writing.
  3. Three letters of recommendation, which should address potential for achievement in a graduate program in public health from an academic as well as personal standpoint.
    *At least one letter must be from a university faculty member.
  4. Submission of a writing sample and a current resume.

Applicants are encouraged to review the research interests of the faculty and contact those who are of interest.

For international applicants whose native language is not English, the Center for International Education provides English Language Proficiency Requirements including required TOEFL or IELTS scores, and students who attended an international university must also pay an additional fee for evaluation of international transcripts.

A select group of the most qualified candidates will be invited to participate in an interview process. In person interviews or internet-facilitated interviews (Skype, etc.) will be required for finalist candidates prior to admission.


Students in the PhD program in Public Health (Concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion) complete 72 credits. Coursework includes required core coursework, advanced community and behavioral classes and methods, electives, and guided research. In addition, students prepare for public health leadership through their own original research.

Students determine their Plan of Study in consultation with their faculty advisor the At-A-Glance curriculum grid and the Public Health Graduate Student Handbook provide assistance in creating an individualized Plan of Study for part-time and full-time students. Full-time students are expected to enroll in 12 credits per semester to complete coursework in three years. After passing preliminary exams, students normally take at least another year to finish the dissertation and complete the PhD program.


PH 801– 3 credits
This seminar course facilitates students’ immersion in interdisciplinary collaborative approaches to research that are fundamental to the field of public health. It will provide a number of ecological conceptual frameworks and the critical review and discussion of readings from public health research to frame a ‘common language’ to prepare for engaging in interdisciplinary collaborative research.

PH 819 – 3 credits
This core course in the School of Public Health is designed to provide students with a social and environmental justice perspective on public health problems and solutions. Students will read and discuss theories and research relevant to the link between justice and health.

PH 704 – 3 credits
This course provides basic epidemiological study designs used to describe and compare the health status of populations and assess the underlying determinants of health (risk factors) for disease, injury, and death. The course includes the basic strategies of outbreak investigations; risk factors for disease, injury, and death; measures of disease occurrence and mortality, survival, and prognosis; measures of association, statistical testing, and screening effectiveness; threats to internal validity; causal inference; ethical principles in the conduct of epidemiological studies; and applications of epidemiology including in public health screening, surveillance, and policy development.

PH 825 – 3 credits
This course provides an overview of the contribution and use of social and behavioral sciences approaches in public health research, policy, planning/evaluation, and practice and interventions.

PH 810 – 3 credits
Introduce the modern multivariable statistical analysis which is based on the concept of generalized linear models. Topics include linear regression, logistic regression, one-way and two-way ANOVA, and other topics including longitudinal analysis, missing data, mixed models.

PH 820 – 3 credits
The course is designed such that students will develop an understanding in fundamental aspects of environmental health as it relates to the impact of chemical toxicants, pathogens, and physical insults on organism health. It is also the goal of the course to aid in the understanding of the basic mechanisms of gene-environment interactions and how they relate to specific types of environmental diseases and disorders.

SOC 715 – 3 credits

COM 715 – 3 credits

HS 917 – 3 credits

ANTHRO 774 – 3 credits

ANTHRO 803 – 3 credits

SOC 715 – 3 credits

COM 715 – 3 credits

NURS 886 – 3 credits

HMS 870 – 3 credits

ED POL 711 – 3 credits

SOC WRK 705 – 3 credits

Current Faculty

Name Title PhD Degree Program of Study Research Area
Young Cho, PhD Associate Professor Sociology of Health Substance Abuse; Minority Health; Program Evaluation; Research Design
Paul Florsheim, PhD Associate Professor Clinical Psychology Adolescent Mental Health; Prevention Program Development for At Risk Youth; Pregnant/Parenting Adolescent Health
Amy Harley, PhD, MPH, DrPH Assistant Professor Public Health: Community Health Education Physical Activity; Healthy Eating; Health Disparities; Behavior Change; Community Engaged Research
Emmanuel Ngui, DrPH Assistant Professor Public Health: Maternal and Child Health Health Disparities and Health Equity; Birth Outcomes; Male Engagement; Social Determinants of Health
Renee Walker, DrPH Assistant Professor Behavioral and Community Health Sciences Obesity; food deserts; health disparities; social determinants of health
Lance Weinhardt, PhD Professor Clinical Psychology HIV/AIDS Prevention; Health Behavior
Alice Yan, PhD Assistant Professor Public and Community Health Adolescent Health; Built Environment (GIS); Chronic Disease; Health Communication

View the profiles of other Zilber School of Public Health faculty, affiliated faculty and adjunct faculty.