Focus | Coursework and Length of Training | Careers

Our PhD program is a full-time, in-person program.  At the heart of Sociomedical Sciences’ intellectual community, our doctoral program offers cutting-edge training under the direction of some of the world’s leading social and behavioral scientists, historians, and public health researchers. Through coursework, opportunities to work alongside faculty on their own research, and students’ own dissertation research, our students become scholars who use social science theory and methods to address public health’s most pressing questions.  Our PhD students concentrate in a specific discipline (Anthropology, History, or Sociology).

Coursework and Length of Training

Students in the PhD program complete coursework in the discipline in which they concentrate as well as in public health. The doctoral program handbook provides specific information about course requirements and other milestones.

PhD students take up to three years for coursework, although applicants with a master’s degree (either in social science or in public health) can apply for advanced standing and thus complete the coursework in two years. PhD students must also fulfill additional requirements for advanced training in their chosen discipline.

Funding Packages 

Beginning in the autumn of 2016, the Department of Sociomedical Sciences has offered five years of funding to all incoming doctoral students. The five-year funding package includes a 12-month stipend, as well as tuition and fees. These five-year packages in some cases combine funding from existing NIH training programs or endowed scholarships with additional funds provided by the department and/or school.  Over the course of their training, students are expected to complete “rotations” in research, teaching, and grant-writing.

Prospective students are encouraged to apply for external funding at the same time as they are applying to the program, and all SMS students are expected to submit applications for external funding. SMS doctoral students have an outstanding record of success with NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and with NIH F31 awards, and the department provides additional support. Unfortunately, NIH training programs are not applicable to international students.


Graduates of our doctroal program secure positions at leading research and teaching institutions, both in the United States and around the world, or in senior roles at government and non-governmental agencies. Read profiles of some SMS doctoral program alumni, and job titles of program alumni to get a sense of the different opportunities available to graduates.

SMS PhD information Session: Tuesday, 26th September 2023; 5:30-6:30pm EDT

SMS PhD Info Session


Where can I go if I want to learn more about the doctoral programs?