The doctoral program in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences is inherently multidisciplinary. By fostering collaboration between scholars at Brown and the communities they serve, our students learn to effectively evaluate, develop and deploy health behavior interventions.
Our faculty and students engage in research that seeks to:
- Identify the social, psychological, and behavioral risk factors for disease and illness
- Understand the psychosocial determinants of health care
- Understand health protective behaviors, relationships, and institutions
- Develop and evaluate health-promoting interventions that are grounded in behavioral and social science theory
Students in the Doctoral Program in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences demonstrate mastery of relevant theory and methods, assessed via coursework and examinations, and complete a dissertation that represents original research.
As part of their education, all BSHS doctoral students are expected to develop a facility in the following core competencies:
- Analyze and explain health behavior using component principles of behavioral and/or social science theory.
- Critically evaluate quantitative and/or qualitative research methods and draw appropriate inferences from research findings.
- Develop or refine a theory-based public health intervention with clear behavior change goal(s).
- Design a plan to evaluate the fidelity, the active ingredients/mechanisms of change and the efficacy of a health behavior intervention.
- Appraise the state of knowledge and knowledge gaps within a substantive area of health behavior.
- Design and conduct original research on health behaviors and outcomes, using appropriate methods and analyses and adhering to ethical research principles.
- Demonstrate advanced communication skills by authoring original research that is disseminated to the scientific community.
To learn more about coursework, degree requirements, and more, consult the BSHS Ph.D. Doctoral Handbook:
Admission is open to qualified applicants from many disciplinary backgrounds. The program seeks students with strong potential for independent scholarship in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences (BSHS), evidenced by excellence in relevant coursework and recommendations from those in a good position to evaluate the applicant’s capabilities to pursue graduate-level research. The most competitive applicants will have earned a Master’s degree in Public Health or in a behavioral or social science field (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, communication), or demonstrated research experience relevant to public health. All applications receive a holistic review.
Submission of GRE scores is NOT required or expected by the BSHS Program. Only if applicants lack other evidence of quantitative, verbal, or analytic writing ability should they consider providing a GRE score. Per Graduate School policy, TOEFL scores are required for students whose native language is not English. However, language proficiency examination scores are not needed from students from a non-US university where the primary language of instruction is English, or for students who hold a Bachelor's or Master’s degree from a US institution.
To be prepared to complete the quantitative requirements for the BSHS degree, a background in probability and/or calculus beyond just experience with statistics is strongly recommended. All applicants are asked to provide a statement about their preparation to engage in doctoral-level biostatistics.
Students will be matched with a faculty research advisor during admission and therefore should identify potential specific faculty advisors in their application. Potential applicants should review the list of faculty in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) who are able to take on the advisement and funding of a doctoral student; advisors’ availability can change yearly. When contacting faculty whose research corresponds with their own interests, students should include a description of their research interests/training goals and a CV to help facilitate meaningful conversation and/or appropriate referral to other faculty colleagues. Admission will signify the willingness of one or more faculty members to serve as primary advisors.
The Brown University School of Public Health does not require the GRE. Applicants who would like to submit their GRE results are able to include them as part of their application, however, applicants who do not submit GRE scores will not be penalized. Other standardized tests (e.g. MCAT, LSAT) may be submitted as well. All submitted standardized test scores are interpreted in the context of the entire application; there are no minimum scores required. TOEFL scores are required for students whose native language is not English but may be waived for those who hold a Bachelor's or Master’s degree from a U.S. institution.
All students admitted to the Behavioral and Social Health Sciences Ph.D. program receive full funding in the form of a fellowship, teaching assistantship or research assistantship. The funding package includes tuition, health insurance and an annual stipend.