SBS PhD Admissions

The Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) doctoral program is based on the principle that health and health behavior are influenced by multiple psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural factors. It is targeted for master's prepared students who desire advanced training in the social and behavioral theories and methods used in public health. As a metropolitan research university, we are especially committed to health equity and social justice among urban populations. This program is designed for those who intend to teach and conduct original research utilizing rigorous scientific theories and methods to understand and influence the social and behavioral determinants of population health risk factors and outcomes. Graduates of the program are prepared to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, and translational research in community settings with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, and to design, implement, administer, and evaluate public health interventions and policies. The program emphasizes urban health and health disparity issues in Tennessee and the Mid-South region.

A research-based master's degree in a health-related or social/behavioral field is required for admission. Applicants with a professional master's degree (e.g., MPH) will only be considered for admission if they have appropriate research experience, such as having completed a master's thesis or having work experience in a professional research position. Applicants must demonstrate potential for further study by having maintained an average GPA of 3.0 or higher in their master's level coursework, and a competitive score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Other professional school standardized test scores (MCAT, DAT, GMAT or LSAT) may be substituted for the GRE by applicants who are working toward or who have already earned post-baccalaureate degree in medicine, dentistry, management or law.

Application materials will be reviewed by the faculty admissions committee. Admissions decisions are based on the overall quality of the applicant's scholarship and academic abilities as demonstrated by GPA, standardized test score(s), undergraduate and graduate completed coursework, research experience and recommendation letters, as well as alignment of the applicant's research interests and career goals with those of the program.

Consideration is given to the following in determining admissions to a professional degree program:
• Average grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale for master's level coursework
• A recent (within 5 years) GRE total score (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing combined)
• Applicants already holding a doctoral degree or professional equivalent obtained in the US may be exempt from the GRE requirement; other standardized test scores (MCAT, DAT, GMAT, or LSAT) may be substituted for the GRE by applicants who are working toward or have completed a post-baccalaureate degree
• Three letters of recommendation
• Applicant's written statement of purpose (750-1000 words) of interests and career goals
• Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to have a score of 96 or higher on the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 

 Application Deadline

Rolling admission
Priority consideration for applications received by February 1

Questions about the SBS PhD Program?

Satish Kedia, PhD, Professor and Coordinator
Social and Behavioral Sciences Doctoral Program

Current SBS Doctoral Students:

Mohammed Alam, MPH
Adam Alexander, MS
Weiyu (Vivian) Chen, MPH
Lindsey Grant, MS
Jayaprakash Kumar, MDS, MPH
Cardella Leak, MPH
Chris Obong'o, MS
Siri Ogg, MS
Michael Schmidt, MGD
Shayla Strayhorn, MPH
Kate Strickling, MS

Congratulations to our Doctoral Students in Social and Behavioral Sciences for Their Many Recent Scholarly Accomplishments:

Recent paper:
Alexander, A.C., & Ward, K.D. Understanding post-disaster substance use and psychological distress using concepts from the self-medication hypothesis and social cognitive theory. In press, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Travel award:
Jay Kumar: Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Health Disparities Network Travel Scholarship, to attend the 2018 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD

Student poster award:
Chen, W., Collins, C. C., Ward, K. D. (2017) How accurately do parents estimate children's weight status? Poster presentation at the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, Atlanta, GA. (Student poster award recipient from the Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section).

Poster presentations:
Chen, W., Al-sheyab, N.A., Alomari,M.A., & Ward, K.D. (2017, November). Asthma symptoms among adolescent waterpipe smokers: The Irbid-TRY. Poster presentation at the Third International Conference on Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Research, Beirut, Lebanon.

Kumar, J., & Ward, K.D. (2017, November). Do young adult waterpipe smokers in the U.S. notice health warning labels? Findings from Wave 1 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH). Poster presentation at the Third International Conference on Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Research, Beirut, Lebanon.

Kumar, J., & Ward, K.D., & Jiang, Y. Exposure to manufacturer-placed health warning labels on waterpipe tobacco packages. Accepted for presentation at the 2018 SRNT Annual Meeting, Baltmore, MD.

Leak, C.L., Harmon, B.E., Berg, B.K., Thurston, I.B., Nigg, C.R., Hayman, L.L., & Relyea, G. Influence on Children's BMI and Cooking Self-Efficacy in Latino Families (2017). Poster presentation at The Obesity Society 35th Annual Scientific Meeting, Washington, D.C.

Ogg, S.A. and Suns, C.C. (2017). Staging Liaisons: Developing Volunteer Leaders within the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC). Presented at the National Association of City-County Health Officials (NACCHO)'s Public Health Preparedness Summit held on April 25th to 28th, 2017, Atlanta, GA.

Schmidt, M., Kedia, S., Jackson, B., Pirkey, P., Dillon, P. Exploring initiation of methamphetamine use in an online support community: Applicability of the Theory of Planned Behavior—Poster Session, American Public Health Association, 2017.

Strayhorn, S., Cothran, F. (2017). Exploring the Experiences of Seeking Educational Information among African American Dementia Family Caregivers. Presentation to the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI) preconference of the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, Atlanta, GA.