Thank you for your interest in the Department of Global and Community Health’s PhD in Public Health. This page contains information for those interested in applying to the PhD in Public Health only. Please see the following pages for admissions to our other degree programs, including:
The PhD in Public Health is very competitive. Applicants must have:
- At least a bachelor’s degree, though a master’s degree is more common.
- Strong academic preparation, including good grades in quantitative courses.
- Demonstrated ability to conduct rigorous, academic research.
- Interest/alignment with a GCH faculty member’s research.
All applications are accepted in SOPHAS, an online application system where prospective public health graduate students can apply to multiple accredited schools using the same transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resume.
The application deadline to submit in SOPHAS is December 1. Submitted but unverified or incomplete applications (including the supplemental application) will not be considered after December 6. Applicants will be notified no later than April 1.
When applying to the PhD in Public Health, you must include:
- Official U.S./Canadian transcripts from ALL schools attended
- Two written statements
- Three letters of recommendation
No, the GRE is not required for the PhD in Public Health for the Fall 2022 class.
In addition to the requirements listed above, international students must submit:
- World Education Services (WES) ICAP course-by-course evaluation of academic records from institutions outside of the U.S. and English-speaking Canada.
- English proficiency test scores for applicants who attended post-secondary institutions outside of the U.S, Canada (excluding the province of Quebec), Commonwealth Caribbean, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.
Read more about international student requirements.
We only have fall intake for the PhD in Public Health. There is no spring admission for this program.
There are two separate statements required of applicants in SOPHAS.
(1) The Statement of Purpose and Objectives asks the following questions:
- Discuss your research interests, background, and academic and career goals.
- Why do you wish to obtain a PhD in Public Health and what are the reasons for pursuing your degree at George Mason University?
- Which 1-2 Global and Community Health faculty members would you like to work with? What research do they do that interests you?
(2) The Secondary Statement asks list of research or publications (if any), and any other information about your path to graduate school that may help to contextualize your academic record
Yes, it is encouraged that you reach out to faculty who do research that interests you before you apply to better understand their research portfolio. See above for the list of faculty currently accepting PhD students.
As this is a research-based degree, it is preferable to have letters of recommendation from former professors that speak to your intellectual and research capabilities.
There are many factors that make an application to the PhD in Public Health competitive, including:
- Clearly articulated public health research interest that aligns with at least one GCH faculty member.
- Good grades in quantitative reasoning courses.
After you submit your application to SOPHAS, and all components of the application are complete (e.g., no missing transcripts), they will “verify” it. We only review applications that are verified and complete.
After verification, you will receive an email with a link and instructions to the supplemental application. It’s not an automatic process, but know that the supplemental application email will be sent in the order in which applications are verified. The supplemental application is the domicile questionnaire – it tells us if you will receive in-state or out-of-state tuition. Once that is completed, you will receive an email indicating that your application is compete and “ready for review” – where it is sent to faculty reviewers.
The program may support doctoral students who are in good standing and making adequate progress towards their degree through Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) contracts. GTAs/GRAs will have their tuition waived and receive a stipend for living expenses. Students receiving stipends must be registered as full-time students (no less than 9 credit hours/term) during the period that they are receiving their stipend and be in good standing.
Students may choose to supplement their stipend by engaging in research or training beyond their required activities as a GRA or GTA. This additional work, related to public health services or research/doctoral training, may not total more than 10 hours per week.
Additional opportunities for funding include fellowships. Read more about graduate fellowship opportunities.
As is standard across graduate programs in the US, students must accept or decline our offer of admission by April 15. However, although it is nice to know earlier if you are coming or choosing to decline our offer so that we can make offers to other students, programs, including ours, cannot require that you make your decision before April 15.
In the offer of admission, your PhD advisor will be listed.
Our PhD program is designed for full-time study, and therefore, most students are offered tuition and stipend support in order to complete the program in a timely fashion. This is because, throughout your program, as a PhD student you will be involved in professional development opportunities, research, and teaching in addition to course work. Additionally, working closely with and building a professional relationship with your faculty mentor are key components of doctoral training. Such relationships are difficult to fully develop if a student is working on their degree part-time.
Any reduction in credits for a prior degree is done on a case-by-case basis after a student is admitted into the program. Mason policy 6.5.2 allows a maximum reduction of 30 credits in a 72-credit doctoral program like the PhD in Public Health.
Review the University Catalog for current course requirements in the PhD in Public Health.
The qualifying exam is a written exam that covers the basic material included in the PhD core courses. Typically, it is taken the summer after the first year in the program and should be attempted at the first opportunity after all the core courses have been completed.
Students are advanced to candidacy after they have completed all coursework (core and concentration courses) and have successfully defended their dissertation proposal. Typically, this will occur during the 3rd year of doctoral study. After advancing to candidacy, students are considered ABD (All But Dissertation) and must continuously enroll in GCH 999 until the dissertation is complete. See University Catalog AP.6.10.6 for more information.
The dissertation is a scholarly work of independent research that contributes to the scientific field of public health. Often the dissertation is completed as three publishable manuscripts that all address a single, unifying research question. The question may be addressed in three different ways, using three different populations or addressing different aspects of the question. The specifics of each PhD in Public Health student’s dissertation are developed in consultation with the student’s faculty mentor.
The student will develop a dissertation committee, complete and defend a dissertation proposal, and complete and defend the dissertation. The student must also submit the dissertation to the University Library by the deadlines set for that semester in order to graduate. Review AP.6.10 in the University Catalog for more information.
Isaac Chomitz, MPH
Academic Program Coordinator