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Public Health Graduate Curriculum

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) in three emphasis areas; prevention sciences, environmental health, health services/health policy. A sample course of study is:

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

First Year

PH 201: Foundations of Public Health

PH 211: Public Health Stats I

PH 203: Research methods in Public Health

PH 204: Environmental Health

PH 202: Epidemiology

Elective Course

PH 208a: Professional seminar

PH 208b: 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 220: Environmental Epidemiology

PH 216: Health Policy


PH 206: Health Communication

Elective Options

PH 293: Journal Club – 1 unit – Take twice between years 2 and 4


PH 216: Health Policy

The course is designed to provide students with an overview of health policy issues and research in the field while simultaneously developing rigorous critical analysis and research skills. Students will learn about a range of local, state, and federal policies in the U.S. to improve population health outcomes, including health care policies (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) and public health policies to promote health. They will also learn about the health policymaking process.

PH 220: Environmental Epidemiology

This class is designed to give students an overview of research and statistical methods commonly encountered in environmental epidemiology. Through the structured lectures, students are introduced to epidemiologic concepts and methods applied to evaluation and control of the broad health consequences of human-environment interactions involving various physical (i.e., pollution) and social environments. The case study seminars (labs) aim to help the students bridge the connection between fundamentals of study design, principles in epidemiologic methods, and sophisticated data analyses/statistical modeling approaches.

PH 222: Program Design and Evaluation

Public health programs encompass a ride range of efforts and strategies – from individual-level behavior change interventions to community-level coalitions to state- or national-level policy change. Evaluating these efforts is a critical function of public health researchers and practitioners. Evaluation ensures that public health efforts meet the needs of target populations, meet program goals and objectives, effectively use resources, and, ultimately, have a positive impact on well-being. In this semester-long graduate course, students will engage in problem-based learning as they develop an evaluation plan for a Central Valley agency. They will wear two hats as they develop skills as both scholars and practitioners of evaluation. Course topics will include ethics of evaluation; working with stakeholders and participatory approaches; developing goals, objectives, and logic models; research design; data collection; and dissemination of results. The course will be run as in a seminar and workshop format in which students gain practice critiquing the evaluation literature, facilitating discussions, peer-reviewing work, and engaging in hands-on problem-solving.

PH 290: A Deeper Dive into Toxicology and Risk Assessment (under development for Spring 2022)

This course will introduce students to basic principles of toxicology and its use to characterize dose-response relationships for cancer and non-cancer risk assessment. Students will complete risk assessment problem sets to understand how regulatory agencies use this information to determine acceptable and unacceptable risks. In addition, students will read case studies to examine how toxicology and risk assessment methods have been applied in current real-world environmental health controversies, such as regulatory decisions surrounding chlorpyrifos, PFAS substances, artificial food coloring in foods, and other materials.


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

Updated  April 2021