Program Overview

As part of this new doctoral degree program in Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, you will become a highly educated public health research professional prepared for leadership in governmental public health agencies, community-based public health organizations, and academic health centers. This research training will enable you to create innovative, evidence-based approaches to meet critical future societal health needs, particularly those of diverse populations. Students will also receive mentoring and experience teaching to educate the next generation of academic public health professionals and leaders in their field.

The Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences has two goals that shape the required coursework for the degree:

  1. To address the unique public health needs of the diverse population of northern and rural California. This region includes the Central Valley, a large population of 7-8 million people -- larger than 35 states. The population in this region is highly diverse in its cultures, racial/ethnic groups and backgrounds. Moreover, the region suffers from some of the worst health status indicators in the United States as well as potentially hazardous environmental exposures. Reducing the burden of acute and chronic illness and averting and managing health disasters is critical for the people in the region, and the graduate group’s research, education and service efforts are also relevant for the rest of the state and world at large.
  2. Emphasize public health translational sciences. The unique features of public health translational sciences include incorporating both epidemiologic and social science research techniques; acknowledging the non-linear manner in which research and policy interact; and, creating innovative approaches to evidence synthesis in the face of limited definitive study results.

The 56-unit Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences aims to build on the strengths and resources of the Department of Public Health Sciences and the wider UC Davis campus. The Ph.D. requires core research courses and rotations to allow students to practice research and translational techniques learned in the classroom. 

Our Unique Strengths

  1. Location: A significant advantage for a PhD in Public Health Sciences at UC Davis is the campus’s close proximity to the California Department of Public Health and other health-related government agencies in Sacramento. Opportunities for training in several state agencies are critical to meeting the doctoral program’s mission of preparing individuals to serve as practitioners, researchers, and teachers in local, state, national and international settings. Some of the leadership in these agencies are formally affiliated with UC Davis as Volunteer Clinical Faculty. Some examples of current active Volunteer Clinical Faculty include the Medical Director for Medi-Cal; Chief of the Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch, Cal EPA; Medical Consultant for CalPERS; Director of the California Cancer Registry; and, Chief of the Refugee Health Program, California Department of Public Health.
  2. Access to Interdisciplinary Research:  UC Davis is the only campus in the University of California system to house professional schools in Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Education, Law, and Management, as well as the established and highly regarded Colleges of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Letters and Science. The campus hosts interdisciplinary research centers which provide unparalleled opportunities for collaborative work with a new PhD degree program that have a primary focus on multidisciplinary population health and preventive research.  These research centers include: Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, UC Davis World Food Center, Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, and UC Center Sacramento.