PhD in Population Health at ASU's College of Health Solutions

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PhD in population health The doctoral program in population health at ASU’s College of Health Solutions offers advanced training and study that bridges health care and public health systems. Through the program, you can address the social, environmental and policy determinants of health and improve health outcomes for local populations with your own impactful research and its application to the communities you explore and collaborate with. The 84-credit program can be completed in three to five years and prepares you to become a researcher, educator and leader who is dedicated to advocating, promoting and achieving improvements in population health.

Population health vs. public health Population health is broader than and inclusive of public health. Population health concerns itself with the pattern of determinants, interrelated conditions and systemic variations that affect health outcomes for groups of people united by commonalities such as their area of residence or health concerns, while public health focuses on directives and education that aim to improve health broadly. Researchers who are interested in deep connection and understanding of the communities they serve — as well as a desire to improve health at the community level — are prime candidates for a career in population health.

Improve health and reduce inequalities.


Much faster than average job growth expected for medical and health services managers through 2029 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Median salary in 2020 for medical and health services managers U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

ASU is



in the U.S.

College of Health Solutions 602-496-3300

for total research expenditures among institutions of higher education without a medical school. National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey

PhD in population health program As a doctoral student, you will be engaged in research throughout the program, allowing you to strengthen your knowledge while building your credentials.

Featured courses POP 591 Seminar: Evaluating the Population Health Literature Conduct critical analyses of literature with topics such as research methodology, statistical and causal inference and accurate presentation of results, ethics in research, and regulatory requirements for conducting translational research.

POP 605 Population Health Systems Science and Theory Understand systems science theory and methodology and its application to population health.

POP 610 Social Epidemiology Consider how society’s human activities and social interactions yield differential exposures that result in health disparities. Explore dynamic social relationships and human activities that exacerbate those disparities.

POP 615 Organizational Behavior and Theory in Population Health Discuss questions and perspectives relevant to understanding organizational behavior and theory across population health, including health care and public health sectors. Analyze strengths and weaknesses of theories and examine how they can be used as a foundation for research on health care and public health organizations, as well as their implications for health management and policy.

BMI 515 Applied Biostatistics in Medicine and Informatics Learn the statistical methods used to analyze quantitative data collected in clinical trials and epidemiologic studies. Students will learn and use SAS statistical software to analyze biomedical data.

Choose from three tracks Doctoral students will specialize with 15 credit hours of coursework in one of three areas:

Health equity This track trains students to conduct empathetic research that incorporates the lived experience of people vulnerable to health disparities. Using an asset-based approach that considers the knowledge of communities to be a positive contribution, students will collaborate with populations to address social determinants of health with a goal of improving health outcomes. Students in this track study social epidemiology and program planning and evaluation, conduct community-based participatory research and develop a theory-based and applied understanding of health, environmental and social equity.

Complex adaptive systems Students will learn about theory, models and techniques used to analyze complex systems and data. These interrelated systems — government agencies, non-profits, community groups, advocacy organizations and health care settings — each provide expertise on pressing community health problems that can be learned from and improved upon. Students will also explore the factors that influence the behavior of organizations and how they adapt to change.

Urban environments for health In this track, students will learn about the health challenges facing city-dwelling populations, including new and reemerging infectious or noncommunicable diseases, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and poor water quality. Students will be prepared to meet those challenges from an evidence-based and transdisciplinary environmental perspective.

Finding your mentor Your mentor is the key to your success as a PhD candidate. You will work with your mentor from the beginning to the end of the doctoral program. Multiple faculty members conduct research within each track — explore your options with the faculty listings on and email potential mentors to gauge compatibility. Opt for a mentor based on mutual research interests who has the availability and expertise to support your plan of study.

The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University translates scientific health research and discovery into practice. Its programs prepare students to address the challenges facing our populations to stay healthy, improve their health, and manage chronic disease — all toward improving health outcomes.

College of Health Solutions 602-496-3300


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