Public and Community Health (PhD)
Message from the Director
Laura D. Cassidy, MS, PhD Professor
Institute for Health & Equity Research Director
PhD Program in Public and Community Health Director Epidemiology Division
The students in our program come from a variety of backgrounds with a strong motivation to improve the health of our communities; locally, nationally and internationally. They learn essential public health theories and research methods with a focus on community health improvement and community based participatory methods. There are many opportunities to work with research faculty, community organizations, clinicians and the MCW Centers. All our alumni have received prestigious job offers prior to graduation as faculty or post-docs in academia, foundations such as Robert Wood Johnson, and governmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control.
Public & Community Health (PhD) Program Details
About the Program
MCW's Institute for Health & Equity offers the first PhD program of its kind in Wisconsin and one of very few nation-wide with the purpose of transforming the research paradigm in public and community health by integrating the rigors of traditional public health sciences with the essential components of community health improvement through participation and partnership. This program is now offered in both a part-time and full-time format.PhD Program Goals
- Educate graduates who will conduct original research, impact policy development and become future faculty scholars with public and community health expertise.
- Emphasize integrated, interdisciplinary approaches to address important public and community health issues.
Capitalize on the diverse strengths of health sciences, population health, medicine, nursing and the social and behavioral sciences.
Learn more about the current students in the Public & Community Health PhD Program
Competencies and Curriculum
These competencies will be achieved through coursework, seminars, teaching, research projects, readings and research and the dissertation. While there are core courses, doctoral training is individualized and tailored to the interests and needs of the particular student. The responsibility of translating program requirements into an individualized program lies with the student and the faculty who are working with the student, including the faculty advisor, Faculty Committee and Student Advisory Committee. Intellectual independence, self-initiation and the ability to take charge of a body of knowledge with confidence and critical acumen are qualities to be developed throughout the program.
Basic Public Health Sciences
- Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of issues in substantive interest area in the public and community health sciences.
- Display a high degree of mastery in appropriate theories, analytical skills, research design and methodology in the public and community health sciences.
- Demonstrate experience in developing and sustaining community partnerships.
- Identify and apply strategies for interdisciplinary approaches that support collaborative models that interface public health with other health professional disciplines so as to improve the health of the public and community.
Research Preparation, Data Collection and Analysis
- Identify knowledge gaps in the selected field, critically analyze the literature, synthesize relevant information, and formulate focused research questions to address the gaps.
- Design and conduct original research that contributes to knowledge in selected field.
- Incorporate knowledge of cultural, social, behavioral and biological factors in formulating research questions, designing and implementing research.
- Identify the ethical implications of research methods.
Policy Development, Program Planning and Management
- Demonstrate knowledge in public and community health policy development, implementation and evaluation.
- Apply systems thinking skills in the assessment, development, implementation and evaluation of community health improvement efforts.
- Understand the grant writing process and demonstrate the ability to write and manage research grant proposals.
Dissemination to Professional and Lay Audiences
- Translate and disseminate research findings in order to improve public and community health in diverse populations.
- Effectively communicate orally and in writing, present public and community health issues and disseminate findings in area of expertise to appropriate professional and public audiences.
- Demonstrate teaching skills in working with students and other professionals in academic, research or practice settings and community settings.
- *Adapted from the following sources: Association of Schools of Public Health, Council on Linkages between Academia and Practice and the American Academy of Health Behavior, and developed in collaboration with faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Colleges of Health Sciences and Nursing.
- View PhD Curriculum and Competencies Plan (PDF)
- See below for the curriculum details
In order to satisfy the minimum requirements for admission, students must:
- Present evidence of capacity for graduate study in public health.
- Have a strong foundation in the quantitative, behavioral and biological sciences, regardless of undergraduate major.
- Provide a carefully constructed personal statement describing research interests, career goals and reasons for interest in graduate school.
- Have an average of 60% or greater on the scores of the Verbal and Quantitative components and 3.5 or greater on the Analytical Writing component of the Graduate Record Examination. Tests must have been taken within five years from the date of application. In special circumstances, the MCAT may be accepted at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.
Other indicators of a commitment to a graduate program, which are carefully weighed in the admissions process, include participation in public health research, particularly mentored research programs, and related professional and life experiences.
If students have an undergraduate degree in public health, they automatically meet the requirements.
If not, students will be required to have:
- 6 credits of psychology, sociology or anthropology
- 3 credits of anatomy, physiology or biology (minimum)
- 3 credits of statistics
- 3 credits of research methods
Students deficient in any of these may still apply on the condition that they indicate a plan for completing the necessary coursework prior to matriculation.
Applications for Fall 2019 admissions are due December 1st, 2018.
Additional Part-time Requirements:
- Master’s degree preferred
- Employment in relevant field
- Tuition paid by student
- One letter must be from current employer
- Part-time students have up to 7 years to complete the degree
Tuition and Fees
If you have questions regarding tuition or your account, please contact the Office of Student Accounts, at (414) 955-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please refer to the All Student Handbook (PDF) for tuition payment policies and information.
All full-time PhD students receive a full tuition remission, health insurance and stipend.
2018-2019 Stipend: $30,011
Masters, Certificate & Non-Degree Students
Students seeking financial aid for MPH, MS or MA degree programs, visit the Financial Aid Office website.
Current MCW Employees
Tuition Course Approval Form - Human Resources (PDF)
There will be a $100 late registration fee for anyone not completing registration by the date indicated on the schedule each semester.
There is also a $250 late payment fee for tuition not paid on time according to the Tuition Payments policy in the All Student Handbook (PDF).
Late payment fee is in addition to any late registration fee.
While there are core courses, doctoral training is individualized and tailored to the interests and needs of the particular student. The responsibility of translating program requirements into an individualized program lies with the student and the faculty who are working with the student, including the faculty advisor and Faculty Committee. Intellectual independence, self-initiation and the ability to take charge of a body of knowledge with confidence and critical acumen are qualities to be developed throughout the program.
Curriculum – Sample 4 Year Overview (Full Time)
- Introduction to Epidemiology (3 cr.)
- Community Health Improvement I: Foundations of Public and Community Health (3 cr.)
- Qualitative Methods (3 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Qualitative Data Analysis (3 cr.)
- Community Health Improvement II: Health Disparities and Underlying Determinants of Health (3 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Readings and Research (5 cr.)
- Ethics and Integrity in Science (1 cr.)
- Community Health Improvement III: Principles and Practices of Community-Academic Partnerships (3 cr.)
- Survey Research Methods (3 cr.)
- Readings and Research (2 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Elective (3 cr.)
- Ethics Course (3 cr.)
- Community Health Improvement IV: Translating Community Health Improvement into Policy: Theory and Practice (3 cr.)
- Health and Medical Geography (3 cr.)
- Readings and Research (1 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Research Ethics Discussion Series (1 cr.)
- Readings and Research (6 cr.)
- Dissertation Qualifying Exam
- Readings and Research (6 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Elective (3 cr.)
- Readings and Research (3 cr.)
- Elective (3 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Readings and Research (6 cr.)
- Readings and Research (8 cr.)
- Doctoral Seminar (1 cr.)
- Doctoral Dissertation (9 cr.)
* Subject to revisions
BIOETHICS 10222. Ethics and Integrity in Science (1 cr.)
This course provides the basis for understanding the ethical issues related to basic scientific and medical research, including animal and human subject research, fraud and misconduct, and governmental, institutional, and researcher responsibilities.
BIOETHICS 10444. Research Ethics Discussion Series (1 cr.)
Prerequisite: 10222 Ethics and Integrity in Science
The course is directed by members of the Bioethics Faculty and provides facilitated discussions of a series of topics in research ethics. Discussions are led by faculty and are focused on ethical issues that commonly come up in research. The course is meant to not only reinforce the basic ethics taught in the online course "Ethics and Integrity in Science" (Bioethics 10222B), which is a prerequisite, but also to explore the gray areas of the individual topics. The intent is to offer students illustrative examples of ethical issues that might arise in their careers, to emphasize the ethical principles that apply in such situations, and the provide practical guidance on how these types of situations should be correctly handled. This course is offered as a discussion series. Students are expected to attend and participate in the discussion.
PCH 19201. Community Health Improvement I: Foundations of Public and Community Health (3 cr.)
This course is for students enrolled in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. This course covers the central concepts and theories of public and community health. Students will obtain an in-depth understanding of the foundations of public and community health, theoretical models and research models that are used.
PCH 19202. Community Health Improvement II: Health Disparities and Underlying Determinants of Health (3 cr.)
Prerequisite: PCH 19201 Community Health Improvement I, General Epidemiology or Basic Biostatistics
This course is for students enrolled in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. This course will provide students with an in-depth introduction to health disparities and social determinants of population health. The course will help clinicians and other public health students and professionals develop and strengthen their knowledge, skills, and ability to critically examine issues of health disparities and to develop a better understanding of some of the underlying social determinants of health disparities, from a multidisciplinary perspective. The ultimate goal of the course is to help students develop the skills needed to apply knowledge and theory of health disparities and determinants of health in designing health services and epidemiological studies and interventions to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities.
PCH 19203. Community Health Improvement III: Principles and Practices of Community-Academic Partnerships (3 cr.)
Prerequisite: Community Health Improvement I and II
This course is for students enrolled in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. This course will examine concepts and techniques for organizing partnerships for health improvement at the community level. Students will learn about major models and methods of practice, analytical skills, and roles of partnership and coalition building in improving health outcomes. Through readings, case studies, and a community-based project, students will identify forces that facilitate and limit community partnerships and will develop action principles for work with communities. Additionally, course content will encourage students to consider the implications of health disparities in community organizing and partnerships.
PCH 19204. Community Health Improvement IV: Translating Community Health Improvement into Policy: Theory & Practice (3 cr.)
Prerequisite: Community Health Improvement I, II and III
This course is for students in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. Students will apply their knowledge of community health improvement to their understanding of health policymaking in the US. Students will gain understanding of theoretical foundations of policymaking, the policymaking process, and strategies for translating community health improvement activities into policy. Students will develop a policy and advocacy agenda for a current health policy issue.
PCH 19210. Health and Medical Geography (3 cr.)
Prerequisite: Biostatistics I
Geography and physical and social environments have important implications for human health and health care. This course will explore the intersections among geography, environments and public health, with an emphasis on geographical analysis approaches for health data, to address two key questions: (1) How can concepts from geography help us to better understand health and well-being? (2) How can geographic tools, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) be used to address pressing questions in health and medical research?
PCH 19220. Infectious Disease Epidemiology (3 cr.)
The Infectious Diseases Epidemiology course will provide graduate students a global understanding of infectious diseases from an epidemiological and public health perspective. We will start with a historical perspective of epidemiology (e.g. John Snow, Typhoid Mary). Then we will discuss general principles of infectious diseases such as temporal trends, seasonality, carriers, incubation period, and main modes of transmission. Basic concepts in microbiology as well as microbiological tools currently available will be described. Similarly, basic concepts in immunology required to understand the mechanisms of actions of vaccines will be provided. These topics will then be followed by a more detailed description of key pathogens grouped by the route of transmission. This will include pathogenesis, control, and global burden of disease.
PCH 19229. Survey Research Methods (3 cr.)
This course will introduce survey methodology for health research, including the broad concepts of survey design, conduct, and analysis. The course will include lectures, reading assignments, class discussions, individual and group presentations, and exams. Evaluation is based on class participation, assignments, presentations, and exams. Students will gain a detailed and comprehensive understanding of survey research methods including questionnaire design, sampling, data collection, avoiding and handling missing data, and analysis of survey data.
PCH 19230. Qualitative and Mixed Methods (3cr.)
This course is for students enrolled in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. Qualitative and mixed methods can be highly useful in the conduct of community-based population health research. This course will provide introductory classroom and field-based learning experience in qualitative methods research. Students will receive training in the design, and implementation of qualitative methods, and the integration of qualitative research in mixed methods projects. The course will include both the theoretical foundations of qualitative research and research design, and practical methods of data collection and analysis. In particular, this course will focus on linking the appropriate research methods to the theoretical and empirical questions being asked. Emphasis will be given to the appropriate uses of commonly-used methods in community-based health research. Course participation will provide students with the basic foundation necessary to develop a research study using qualitative or mixed method designs.
PCH 19232. Qualitative Data Analysis (3 cr.)
Prerequisite: Qualitative and Mixed Methods, or permission of the course director
This course will introduce students to the analysis of qualitative data in public health research. The aim of the course is to explore the process of transforming various types of qualitative data (interview transcripts, field notes, and other texts) into analyses and interpretations. We will introduce students to various analytic approaches, explore their use, and guide students in applying them to data. The course will explore both theoretical and practical dimensions of qualitative data analysis, including identifying themes, developing and using codebooks, making systematic comparisons, and building and testing models. Approaches to qualitative data analysis will include grounded theory and content analysis. Students will also be introduced to the use of computer software for coding and managing qualitative data. The course will emphasize the connection between theory and methodology, with particular attention to the relationship between the research question, study design, data sources, analytic approach, and interpretation of results. Course participation will provide students with the basic foundations necessary to analyze and interpret data collected through qualitative and mixed methods research projects. This course is for graduate students in the doctoral degree program for Public and Community Health.
PCH 19295. Readings and Research (varied credits)
Prerequisite: Approval from Program Director and/or student’s advisor
The course of study for Readings and Research is designed by each student with his/her advisor to focus on readings in literature in the student’s field, to build bibliographic resources for the dissertation, and to conduct supervised, independent research. During the first and second years, Readings and Research is also a time for the students to dedicate concerted efforts toward preparing for the Doctoral Qualifying Examinations.
PCH 19301. Doctoral Seminar in Public and Community Health (1 cr.)
This is a weekly seminar for students enrolled in the PhD Program in Public and Community Health. The seminar will consist of several types of activities: 1) presentations on content areas by faculty, community organizations, and community and academic partners in collaboration, 2) sessions focused on issues of professional development, 3) sessions focused on specific research skills or methods, 4) workshop and discussion sessions that provide students with a forum for engagement and collaboration around issues of mutual concern, and 5) student presentations. A total of 7 semester hours of this course are required for graduation.
PCH 19399. PhD Public and Community Health Doctoral Dissertation (9 cr.)
This course is required for the completion of the PhD degree. The PhD candidate must submit a dissertation based on original research of a high scholarly standard that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of public and community health. Each student is encouraged to draft one or more papers for publication in a peer-reviewed journal describing results of the research.
PCH 19150. Introduction to Epidemiology (3 cr.)
Course is open to all students enrolled in the Graduate School and to other qualified students with permission of the instructor. The course provides: 1) an overview of epidemiologic concepts; 2) an introduction to the approaches and techniques that are used to measure and monitor health status in populations; 3) an introduction to study designs to assess disease prevention and intervention; and 4) an introduction to clinical research study designs that elucidate causative factors for disease.
PCH 19225 Introduction to Statistical Analysis using Stata
PCH 19226 Regression Analysis Using Stata
The blend of research through community engagement is at the foundation of a successful doctorate in public and community health. This program will offer a rich array of independent research opportunities from which students can select. Exploration of these topics will begin in the doctoral seminar in the first semester and continue through the first two years. This research training will then be translated into direct community-based participation while students prepare dissertations.
The Medical College of Wisconsin and Institute for Health and Society's commitment to this model extends throughout the College and is integrated across its priorities in research, education, clinical care and community partnerships. More than 150 faculty work with over 200 community organizations to better identify health needs and to create solutions for the greatest areas of health risk, both in Wisconsin and nationally.
Biostatistics Consulting Services
The Biostatistical Consulting Center of the Division of Biostatistics offers statistical support to biomedical investigators. This support includes assistance with design and analysis of clinical trials, design and analysis of observational studies, design and analysis of surveys, assistance with public databases, sample size and power calculations and data analysis and interpretation.
Bioethics - Midwest Ethics Committee Network
MECN is a membership organization that supports and enhances the functioning of Wisconsin health care ethics committees. MECN provides bioethics resources, services, and educational opportunities that enable its members to network and stay up to date on important bioethics topics.
Center for AIDS Intervention Research
The research mission of the CAIR is to develop, conduct, and evaluate new interventions to prevent HIV among persons most vulnerable to the disease.
Center for Healthy Communities & Research
The CHC develops community-academic partnerships that improve health and emphasize health promotion and education in communities, research and evaluation on community-identified needs, as well as community-responsive education for medical students and residents.
Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children
The focus of this center is on preparing professionals to provide services that are effective and valued by children and families who have traditionally been underserved due to economic poverty, cultural barriers and other factors.
Clinical and Translational Science Institute
The five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award is being used to create a borderless, synergistic biomedical research enterprise that will accelerate the translation of research discoveries into new and improved medical treatments. The Medical College coordinates the grant, which is administered through a new academic entity recognized by all partner institutions – the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin.
Epidemiology Data Resource Center
The Epidemiology Data Resource Center (EDRC) is the Medical College of Wisconsin's centralized resource for secondary health and demographic data. The EDRC also provides expertise in the use of spatial data and geographic information systems (GIS).
Established in January 2010, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Global Health Program will establish a sustainable platform of global health partnerships to support the education, research, clinical, and public and community health training and collaborative activities of our faculty and trainees.
Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program
The resources found at this site provide links to information about Wisconsin health initiatives and data, proposal writing, and community partnerships.
The funded projects tab on this site lists funding awarded to community-academic partnerships committed to improving the health of Wisconsin residents. Each funded partnership consists of at least one community organization partner and one academic partner from the Medical College of Wisconsin and exemplifies the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program's vision to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin.
Human Research Protection Program
The Human Research Protection Program’s (HRPP) primary mission is to protect the rights, welfare and privacy of all individuals participating in research sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital. The HRPP oversees and supports the MCW/FH Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) which review all research studies involving human subjects for safety, compliance with regulations, scientific quality, and ethical standards.
Injury Research Center
The IRC-MCW is an interdepartmental collaboration of the Departments of Emergency Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, Neurosurgery, Surgery, Pediatrics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Population Health.
The Medical College of Wisconsin's nationally acclaimed programs in public and community health serve the social, health and education needs of the people in metro Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin.
PhD students in public and community health will have access to public health holdings that are housed in the MCW libraries as well as in other resource centers on campus. Students may use UWM’s library (through the Cooperative Access Program) and all libraries affiliated with the University of Wisconsin System. The PhD Program in Public and Community Health also has resources available to students.
Office of Research
The Office of Research supports a broad array of investigative endeavors across our campus. It is our goal to support administrative needs of investigators and research staff to facilitate scientific discovery, promote translational approaches to research, and foster scientific collaboration across the Medical College of Wisconsin campuses.
The PhD Program in Public and Community Health has the opportunity to connect with many community organizations either through community-academic partnerships, faculty connections, student work with these organizations, or seminar sessions. Please look over some of these sites to see the wide range of community assets available to PhD students.
- Benedict Center
- Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, Inc.
- Center for Urban Population Health
- Children’s Health Education Center
- City of Milwaukee Health Department
- Community Advocates
- Ecocultural Family Interview Program, City of Milwaukee Health Department
- Fondy Food Center
- Guest House
- Holton Youth and Family Center
- Johnson Park Health Alliance
- Journey House
- Lindsay Heights
- Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc
- Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council – Inclusive Communities Program
- Milwaukee Health Care Partnership
- Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
- Milwaukee Latino Health Coalition
- Pan-African Community Association (PACA)
- Sixteenth Street Community Health Center – Community Development/Revitalization and Health
- United Community Center
- United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee
- Urban Ecology Center
- UW Milwaukee – Zilber School of Public Health
- Vistelar Group-Bullying
- Voces de la Frontera
- Westside Healthcare Association (Progressive Community Health Centers)
- Wisconsin Center for Health Equity
- Zilber Family Foundation
MCW Graduate School
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-6555 (fax)