Doctoral Degree Programs

Up to 12 credits of coursework taken at another accredited graduate degree granting institution (and that are not courses counted toward another degree) can be transferred into their SPH degree plan if they satisfy PhD program course requirements or electives. 

Additional required courses within the doctoral degree program may be waived if either (1) the specific courses were taken as a part of the MSPH, MPH, or MHA at Texas A&M School of Public Health and the student earned either an A or a B, or (2) similar courses were completed within the previous five years at another accredited graduate degree granting institution.  In the second instance, the student must demonstrate that the course content either matched or exceeded the content of the required coursework in question and that the student received either an A or a B for the course.  Finally, students may be allowed to substitute more advanced or otherwise more appropriate courses for required coursework depending on prior experience or interest area.

Irrespective of waivers, transfer credits, or substitutions, students are still accountable for the general content of the core courses during the qualifying examination process.  All transfer credits, waivers, or substitutions must have the approval of the student’s advising committee, the department doctoral committee, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

No more than 21 semester credit hours of the doctoral degree program may be accounted for by transfer or waived courses.  Thus, the minimum required number of credits, assuming the maximum number of transfer and or waived semester credit hours, is 44 semester credit hours.  

Doctoral Student Preliminary Examination (Qualifying Examination)

After the Preliminary Examination and defense of the dissertation proposal have been completed successfully, the student will be admitted to candidacy for the Dr.PH or PhD. Refer to the department or departmental doctoral program guide concerning the Preliminary Examination, other required exams and the dissertation proposal requirements. The Preliminary Examination will be administered by the second week of June each year. 

Student Doctoral Committee Membership and Chair

A student’s committee shall be comprised of a minimum of four voting members (see Membership and Charge policies; SPH Policies & Procedures).  Criteria for committee membership are as follows: 

    1. Voting members must either have a doctoral degree or a terminal doctoral degree with research training

    2. The committee chair (see below) and at least one committee member must be principal faculty members within the relevant department(s)

    3. One voting committee member must be a principal faculty member within SPH but external to the relevant department(s)

    4. All voting committee members must be members of the SGS graduate faculty for Ph.D. and M.S.P.H. students or SPH faculty for Dr.P.H. students, and

    5. Additional non-voting members may be added at the discretion of the student-doctoral committee and the department doctoral committee

Committee composition must be approved by the relevant department head(s) and the Departmental Doctoral Committee. 

A student’s committee must have a designated chair.  Criteria for being a committee chair (either for a Student Advising Committee or a Student Doctoral Committee) are as follows: 

    1. The committee chair must have a tenured or tenure-track appointment within SPH

    2. The committee chair must be a principal faculty member within the relevant department(s)

    3. The committee chair must have been a voting member on a student doctoral committee within the past five years (through completion of the dissertation) 

    4. Committee chairs must be approved by the relevant department head(s) and the Departmental Doctoral committee

Exceptions to the criteria outlined above must be approved by the relevant department head(s) and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Doctoral Program Capstone Proposal

The capstone proposal will be submitted to the student’s doctoral committee no earlier than successful completion of the qualifying exam and no later than one month prior to scheduled comprehensive exam.  The capstone proposal will be either a dissertation proposal or a proposal for three professional papers of publishable quality (see attachment outlining options).  

Doctoral Program Capstone Product(s)

In addition to the standard dissertation option, doctoral students may select a second option that includes the preparation and submission of three manuscripts of publishable quality.  Each of these manuscripts must be completed following admission to the doctoral degree program.  At least two of the three manuscripts must be based upon empirical research conducted by the student.  The third manuscript may be either a journal article or a comparable book chapter that addresses other research content, e.g., a comprehensive literature review, a contribution to the theoretical literature, or a related scholarly effort.  At least one of the three manuscripts must be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal prior to the capstone completion and final examination. 

General Requirements for all doctoral students’ capstone project

    1. Title page

    2. Signature page indicating requisite approvals

    3. Project Abstract

    4. Dedication page (optional)

    5. Acknowledgement page (optional)

    6. Table of Contents

    7. List of Figures

    8. List of Tables

Option 1: Dissertation

    • Chpt One: Introduction (including a comprehensive review of the pertinent background literature for the project) 
    • Chpt Two: Methods (including a detailed description of all methodologies, materials, and protocols used in the generation of the data)  
    • Chpt Three thru n: Results (description of collected data and observations)           
    • Chpt n + 1: Discussion (overall summary of conclusions and interpretation of the data with integration of new observations into the existing body of knowledge)

References:     A single reference section consisting of all references cited in all chapters

Option 2: Three Publishable Papers

    • Chpt One:  Introduction (a comprehensive review of the pertinent background literature for the major project content)
    • Chpt Two thru n:  Results presented in manuscript form (each chapter would therefore have the typical manuscript format of an overview/literature review, materials & methods, and summary)
    • Chpt n + 1: Discussion (overall summary of conclusions and interpretation of the data with integration of new  observations into the existing body of knowledge

References:  A single reference section consisting of all references cited in all chapters.

Doctoral Program Capstone Completion and Final Exam

The student will participate in a formal public oral presentation of either the content of the dissertation or at least one of the three completed and SDC-approved capstone papers.  Following the presentation, a private oral examination over the capstone product(s) will be conducted by the SDC.  Any student who fails this examination will be instructed by the SDC on the necessary preparations for a second required oral defense at a specified time.  The SDC will report the examination results (along with evaluation ratings by members) to the DDC and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Submission of the Final Doctoral Program Capstone Product

The dissertation or other capstone product with SDC committee member signatures must be submitted to the appropriate office one month before the degree is conferred.