Graduate Study FAQ

How do I apply? (Deadline Jan. 15, 2019)

Students interested in applying should apply by Jan. 15, 2019 for admission in the Fall 2019.

Our graduate program is a mentor based system, meaning that you will work with a faculty member during your first two years on a research project of mutual interest. To be admitted, you must meet the requirements of the Graduate Division and have a faculty member who is interested in working with you. This faculty member will be your mentor during the first two years.
Step 1 - Review faculty descriptions and their individual websites, particularly their research and teaching interests. Identify which faculty have interests that match your own. 
Step 2 - Contact the faculty members whose research interests coincide with your own. You can contact more than one faculty member.
Step 3 - Apply for admission through UC Merced's Graduate Divison. Details and online application forms are available on the  Graduate Division website.
Step 4 - When you submit your application, make sure to indicate in your cover letter the faculty member or faculty members who you are interested in working with.

Is there funding for Ph.D. Students?

Yes. At the current time, all Ph.D. students receive financial support through a Teaching Assistantship. There are also a limited number of Fellowships and Graduate Research Assistantships available. For a list of fellowships, go to:

What courses will I be taking?

Our curriculum has a strong base of coursework, including courses in the five core areas of public health (environmental health, social and behavioral health, health services research, epidemiology, and statistics) within the empahisis areas; prevention sciences, environmental health, health services/health policy. A sample course of study is:

Prevention Sciences and Population Health


Fall Semester

Spring Semester


First Year


PH 201: Foundations of Public Health

Soc 210: Statistics 1: Regression Analysis


PH 203: Research methods in Public Health

PH 204: Environmental Health


PH 202: Epidemiology

Elective Course


PH 208: Professional seminar

PH 208: Professional Seminar


Second Year - Elective Courses


PH 207: Health Behavior

PH 205: Health Services Research and Policy


Soc 211: Statistics 2: Categorical Regression

PH 222 Program Design & Evaluation


PH 221: Social Epidemiology & Health Disparities

PH 233: Prevention of chronic and infectious diseases


PH 208: Professional seminar

PH 206: Health Communication



What if I already have a Masters of Public Health or a clinical degree?

The proposed course of study includes a number of courses that constitute the basis of public health. Students who have obtained a masters degree at another university may petition to have courses in the required course of study waived.


What are the milestones I have to meet and the time to degree?

The Ph.D. is expected to take four to five years to complete. Students who enter with a Masters of Public Health or a related field can petition to have courses waived. This might shorten the length of time to completion of degree.

Students will be actively engaged in research from the start of their graduate training through the end of their doctoral work. This research emphasizes close work with a faculty mentor, with increasing independence over the years of training. The major milestones students achieve through their course of study include:




Second Year Research Thesis

Research skills in Public Health are best acquired through classroom instruction and participation in research. The Second Year Research Thesis will be conducted with your major advisor.

End of second year of study

Qualifying exam

The Qualifying Exam in Public Health consists of proposing, completing, and orally defending a substantial research paper.

End of third year of study

Dissertation proposal

The Dissertation Proposal reviews the relevant literature and defines the area of inquiry of the proposed Dissertation, provides a clear statement of actionable research aims, questions, and/or hypotheses that will be addressed in the Dissertation, and outlines the methodological and analytic approach that will enable the proposed research to address these aims, questions, and/or hypotheses.

During fourth year of study


The Doctoral Dissertation is the culmination of the Ph.D., in which the Doctoral Candidate demonstrates the capability to conduct research independently that makes an original contribution to knowledge of a quality that can be published in a reputable scientific journal.

Fourth or fifth year of study