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Doctor of Science in Public Health

Doctor of Science in Public Health

The UMass Lowell Department of Public Health offers a doctoral program that focuses on public health, encompassing occupational and environmental health and epidemiology.

Admission Requirements

Doctoral training is built upon the substantial didactic training gained in the master’s degree programs. To be eligible for admission to a doctoral program, an applicant will need to demonstrate adequate preparation by providing the following:

  • A master’s degree in public health, epidemiology, quantitative sciences, or a related field.
  • Exceptional academic record, supported by undergraduate and graduate transcripts (generally considered to be a minimum GPA of at least 3.300 and 3.5 in quantitative sciences)
  • High GRE scores (generally a minimum combined score of 290).
  • A recent resume that indicates readiness to begin a doctoral degree program
  • A minimum of three letters of reference attesting to the ability to succeed in a doctoral program including capacity for conducting advanced research; creative talent; communication in English; promise of a successful career; and potential to work as a research assistant.  
  • A 1-3 page written statement of purpose.
    • This statement must address the motivation for pursuing a doctoral program, long term career goals, relevant work history that provides evidence of skills in scientific research and direct teaching or research experience.
    • The statement of purpose must provide an explanation of your research interests that you intend to pursue in your doctoral degree and what additional scientific contribution you hope to make to this field.
    • The statement of purpose must include a list of 1-5 Tenure Track faculty members in the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences who you would like to have as an advisor and doctoral dissertation committee chair. Tenure Track faculty members can be identified through the titles of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor. Those individuals with the titles of Clinical, Research, Teaching, or Emerita/us faculty with proper credentials may serve on a doctoral committee, but they are not eligible to serve as the chair of a doctoral committee.
  • Discussions and visits with potential faculty advisors are encouraged and an interview may be required.

For International Applicants

  • English proficiency testing including one of the following:
    • TOEFL minimum 79
    • IELTS minimum 6.5
    • Duolingo minimum 105 

Admission Deadlines

Applications are accepted once per year for entrance during the fall semester. Departmental consideration of applications will begin on December 15th. The deadline for consideration for the upcoming fall semester is January 31. Applications received after January 31 will be considered for the following admissions cycle.

Academic Advisor

For a doctoral candidate, the primary responsibility for evaluating progress will rest with the student’s academic advisor along with the Dissertation Committee. Upon matriculation, the student will be assigned an advisor in conjunction with the Graduate Student Coordinator and the student. The advisor must be from among the faculty of the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences. The advisor will assist the student in complying with all the university requirements in achieving eligibility for the degree, including selection of courses and aiding in the development of the dissertation.

Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

Degree requirements include at least 16 credit hours of courses beyond the master's degree plus at least 12 credits of dissertation research for a total of 36 post-master's credit hours beyond any previous graduate degree. A student with a master’s degree from another institution will need to show knowledge in all subject areas required for the equivalent Occupational and Environmental Health or Public Health master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Courses will be selected to ensure each student has met all the major master's competencies and is adequately prepared in research methods and background needed for their dissertation. At least six credits of advanced research methods electives and 1 semester of Work in Progress Seminar (PUBH.6090) are required of all doctoral students. There is no language requirement, but each major area may require additional advanced research methods courses. The student will work with a doctoral program advisor to propose a set of courses to meet the requirements and to prepare a preliminary thesis proposal. Following completion of all required course work, the student will be eligible to take a written qualifying examination. The exam will be designed to test the knowledge in the major field. Upon meeting the course and written exam requirements, the student must pass an oral qualifying exam based on their written dissertation proposal.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation will be based on a substantial body of original research carried out by the candidate. The selection of the research topic will be the responsibility of the student in consultation with the academic advisor. The student and advisor will develop a Dissertation Committee of at least 3 faculty members, with at least two from the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, one of whom must be from the Department of Public Health. The committee will review the student's progress and approve the dissertation. The dissertation will, in general, be in the form of three publishable manuscripts and will include an appropriate literature review and overview of the dissertation research. At a minimum, one of these manuscripts must be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal before graduation. The student is required to give an oral defense of the dissertation before the Committee and other faculty members. The defense is open to the public.

Course Requirements

The Public Health Doctor of Science program requires a minimum of 12 dissertation credits, a minimum of 16 course credits, and a minimum of 36 total credits beyond any previous graduate degree. Courses can be waived if the equivalent content has been completed previously in the master degree program. Note that the courses, and not the equivalent number of credits, may be waived. Even if course requirements are waived due to content from previous coursework, credit requirements still must be completed.

Public Health: Epidemiology

Examples of areas of research in which doctoral work is encouraged include: occupational epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, nutritional epidemiology, physical activity epidemiology, social epidemiology, and health services epidemiology.

Public Health: Occupational and Environmental Health (currently not accepting new candidates)

Likely areas of research include: Exposure science and biomarkers, exposure hazards and controls in health care, indoor air & healthy buildings, exposure hazards and controls in nanotechnology, sampling & analytical methods for airborne contaminants, exposure assessment for epidemiology, noise hazard assessment and control, toxic use reduction or integration of sustainable production and occupational hygiene, exposure hazards and controls in construction.