Related Certificate

The Community and Behavioral Health Promotion (CBHP) doctoral program is designed to train students in social and behavioral science aspects of public health research and intervention with a particular emphasis on the development of community-level interventions. Faculty interest areas include: maternal, infant, and child health; health disparities; obesity; nutrition; food security; HIV and STD prevention; adolescent health; violence prevention; substance abuse prevention; creating healthy environments; and promoting mental health.

Students entering the program will be trained at the graduate level in community and behavioral health promotion from a public health perspective. Students will also have exposure to other key areas of public health (environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and policy and administration), providing a broad foundation of public health research and practice. The PhD in Public Health with a concentration in CBHP requires 72 course credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Coursework includes core courses as outlined below, research and methods courses, electives, and credits taken as pre-dissertation research supporting CBHP faculty research. In addition, students will prepare for public health leadership through their own original research.

Student research in community and behavioral health promotion may focus on the social and behavioral determinants of disease, illness, injury, and health, the interaction of social and behavioral factors with biological or environmental factors, or the efficacy of interventions to improve health through social and behavioral strategies within community settings.

This program aligns with UWM’s mission to further academic opportunities at all levels for women, minority, part-time students, and financially or educationally disadvantaged students. In addition, the program consistently strives for diversity within its faculty ranks to achieve the University’s goal for cultural competency in teaching and learning.

Upon graduation, a student completing the requirements for the PhD in Public Health with a concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion will be able to:

  1. Describe and critically evaluate the utility of key social and behavioral science theories for public health research.
  2. Design and implement theory driven community and behavioral health prevention and intervention research.
  3. Apply social and environmental justice philosophies, theories, and frameworks to public health research and the interpretation of research findings.
  4. Describe the social-political-historical contexts that have shaped the development of community engaged research including community based participatory approaches.
  5. Describe the unique contributions of community engaged approaches to community and behavioral health research and interventions.
  6. Critically appraise different methodological strategies in developing and implementing community engaged research.
  7. Apply qualitative and advanced quantitative methods to the study of public health problems, the assessment of community strengths and the evaluation of prevention and intervention programs.
  8. Use research findings to advocate for policies, programs, and resources that improve the health of communities.
  9. Demonstrate respect for the integrity and perspectives of others in all professional contexts.
  10. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of how to manage ethical issues in community and behavioral health research and practice.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


Applicants to the PhD program in Public Health with a concentration in Biostatistics should have completed academic programs that facilitated development of solid analytical skills. Applicable baccalaureate programs include mathematics, statistics, computer science, and engineering. Baccalaureate degrees in related fields will be considered. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (A=4.00) is required. Applicants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Each application will be evaluated individually primarily on the basis of academic achievement, although relevant work experience will also be considered.

Applicants to the PhD program in Public Health with a concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion should have completed academic programs that facilitated development of solid analytical and communication skills. Applicable baccalaureate programs include those in the social and behavioral sciences, health and health-related sciences, and biological sciences. Baccalaureate degrees in related fields will be considered. At least one statistics course is preferred for admission. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (A=4.00) is 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. Demonstrated communication and analytic skills are required. Applicants from diverse backgrounds with a strong interest in community health and health promotion are encouraged to apply. Each application will be evaluated individually on the basis of four key areas:

  1. Academic record/achievement.
  2. Work, research, and/or community experience.
  3. Commitment/interest/awareness of public health and community health promotion.
  4. Matching interest with current Community and Behavioral Promotion Health faculty.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the general test (verbal, quantitative, analytical writing) are required of all applicants. Submitted test scores must be from a test taken within 5 years of the date of application. While there is not a minimum GRE score requirement, strong quantitative, verbal and writing skills are critical to successfully completing the program.

Students must meet UWM Graduate School admission requirements. For international applicants whose native language is not English, the UW-Milwaukee Center for International Education Website provides English Language Proficiency Requirements including required TOEFL or IELTS scores. Students who attended an international university must also pay an additional fee for evaluation of international transcripts.

In addition, a personal statement, and at least three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's scholarship, research achievements, and/or academic potential are required for the application. The letters of recommendation should address the candidate’s potential for achievement in a graduate program from an academic as well as personal (e.g., commitment, integrity, ethical) standpoint. At least one letter must be from a university faculty member.

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

Applicants may be admitted with course deficiencies at the discretion of the ZSPH Graduate Program Committee. The student is expected to rectify these course deficiencies with a grade of B or better within three enrolled semesters. The academic program unit will monitor deficiencies. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree. For students entering with an advanced degree, the Admissions Committee can grant credit for relevant coursework at its discretion, but at least half of the graduate credits required for the PhD must be completed at UW-Milwaukee in doctoral status in accordance with Graduate School policy. Thesis, dissertation, and research credits must be completed at UW-Milwaukee.


A student who receives the Master of Public Heath degree must formally reapply to the Zilber School of Public Health to gain admission to the PhD program in Public Health before continuing studies toward the PhD.

Credits and Courses

Concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion

A minimum of 72 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s level must be completed to earn the degree, at least 35 of which must be earned in residence at UW-Milwaukee. The course list consists of required common Ph.D. core courses, CBHP core courses, research and methods courses, and elective courses. Also, students will be required to complete three credits of supervised research under the tutelage of the primary advisor prior to the required dissertation research requirement. This is to ensure that all students obtain hands-on, supervised research training. After achieving dissertation status, students will enroll in three research credits per semester for at least two semesters.

Required Core PhD Courses12
Intermediate Biostatistics 1
Intro to Regression for Understanding the SDOH
Applied Multiple Regression Analysis
Principles and Methods of Epidemiology
Seminar in Public Health Research
Social and Environmental Justice in Public Health
Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States
CBHP PhD Required Courses36
Introduction to Biostatistics
Theories and Models of Health Behavior
Program Planning & Implementation in Public Health
Program Evaluation in Public Health
Survey Research Methods in Public Health
Qualitative Approaches in Public Health Policy
Maternal and Child Health Foundations, Policy and Practice
Applied Analysis of Binary Outcomes in Public Health Research 2
Principles of Community Intervention Research
Research Design in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion
Community Engagement and Participatory Research Approaches in Public Health
Core Seminar in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion
Required Advanced Quantitative Courses 33
Choose at least one course:
Applied Categorical Data
Applied Survival Analysis
Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis
Advanced Quantitative Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling
Analysis of Cross-Classified Categorical Data
CBHP Elective Courses 49
Choose at least three courses:
Survey of Cultural Anthropology
Theories of Social Action: Theater, Ritual, Game
Public Health and Mental Health
Social Epidemiology
Cancer Epidemiology
Critical Perspectives on Nutritional Epidemiology and the Food System
Seminar in Health Outcomes Assessment
The Sociology of Inequality
Advanced Quantitative Analysis
Systematic Sociological Theory
GIS and Society
Advanced Geographic Information Science: Geographic Modeling
Individual Behavior and Social Welfare
KIN 732
Pre-Dissertation Research3
Research and Dissertation
Doctoral Thesis9
Research and Dissertation
Total Credits72

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student's studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. The entering student is assigned an advisor/major professor at admission based on fit and focus. The major professor serves as the student's research mentor and will guide the student in course selection, program planning, and research design. Students may change their advisor/major professor if the fit and focus change over time. Such changes will need approval of the graduate program committee. The major professor must have graduate faculty status.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements.

Preliminary/Qualifying Exam Process

The qualifying exams must be successfully completed within five years of initial enrollment in the Ph.D. program.

The preliminary exam is designed to assess a student’s mastery of knowledge and skills to ensure adequate preparation for individual dissertation research. Students taking the preliminary exam are expected to demonstrate knowledge, competency and mastery of core public health concepts, issues and content relevant to the CBHP PhD Program. The preliminary exam consists of three sections: an open book integrative review, a closed book exam focusing on a case study, and an oral exam. (Please refer to the CBHP Qualifying Exam Policies and Procedures.) At the discretion of the examining committee, a student who fails the qualifying process may be allowed one additional attempt with all or part of the examination. After successful completion of the qualifying process, the student will concentrate on the development of the dissertation.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.