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Program Overview and FAQ

Doctoral study in Public Health is focused on acquiring the conceptual and methodological skills necessary to operate as an independent researcher. In the U.C. Merced Ph.D. program in Public Health, this is accomplished through coursework and research, under a mentorship model in which students work closely with a supervising Faculty Advisor who has primary responsibility for overseeing that student’s training. At the same time, students may broaden their research training through involvement in research programs conducted by other faculty.

Students take coursework in foundational areas of public health (including research methods, epidemiology, and biostatistics) and select electives from within public health and occasionally across other disciplines represented on campus, including psychology, biology, and sociology. Most coursework is completed in the first two years of the program. We also host a regular seminar series that invites guest researchers working across public health disciplines to discuss their latest research with students and faculty.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

Please see our Application page!

Is there funding for Ph.D. Students?

Yes! Most Ph.D. students are offered financial support through teaching assistantships. There are also a limited number of fellowships and graduate research assistantships available. For a full list of support sources at UC Merced, visit the Graduate Division's Financial Support page.

What courses will I be taking?

Our core curriculum includes coursework in the foundations of public health as a discipline, research methods, epidemiology, and biostatistics; students also take an advanced methods course and choose from various elective options. A fuller description can be found on our Curriculum page.

What is the expected time to degree?

The Ph.D. is expected to take five years to complete. A sample five-year program can be found on our Curriculum page.

What if I already have an MPH or clinical degree?

Applicants are generally expected to have an MPH or other relevant graduate degree, and/or 2+ years of professional experience. All of our coursework is taught at the doctoral level, and students can waive out of coursework only under rare circumstances.



Updated April 2024