Ph.D. in Health Sciences


Program Description: This PhD program will prepare individuals for research and teaching careers in academia and industry. A significant shortage of professors and clinical science leaders exists in many health science disciplines. There is a need to replace and fill these positions now and in the future. To meet the shortfall of faculty and clinical research scientists, this PhD degree focuses on specific areas within the health sciences in one of two tracks: physical health sciences and social health sciences.

The physical health sciences track focuses on physiological and epidemiological issues related to human health across the lifespan and the social health sciences track focuses on psychosocial issues affecting human health across the lifespan.

The student will be admitted into a specific area of emphasis based on a declared department/unit affiliation. Each track will have a total of 18 hours of emphasis courses and a research seminar class each semester designed to develop the student’s research interest within that area of emphasis. A Major Advisor, assigned to each student, will guide the types of emphasis courses based on the program of study. Students will also select a Dissertation Chair either at the beginning of the program or as soon as they identify their research interest area. The PhD in Health Sciences Handbook includes specifics about the student’s Dissertation Committee. Examples of possible emphasis courses for each track are provided below. Some of the emphasis courses will be focus seminars.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must meet general requirements for admission to the Graduate School. In addition to these general requirements, Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences requires the following for admission to the Ph.D. program:

  1. A minimum 3.5 grade point average (GPA) on all prior graduate level course work is strongly preferred.
  2. A completed graduate level course in statistics
  3. A completed graduate level research course
  4. A completed master’s degree or higher in a related field from a program accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body.
  5. A completed thesis or comparable project from the master’s or higher prepared degree
  6. Three letters of recommendation: Two of the three must be academic references with at least one of those from your previous graduate program faculty/administrator.
  7. A letter discussing research interest area(s) and professional goals.
  8. A current license to practice in related field of study in the U.S. (e.g. nursing, social work, speech pathology, K-12 teaching) – if applicable to the discipline
  9. A curriculum vita or resume.

Applicants who do not meet the 3.5 GPA, but who have a GPA of 3.0 on prior graduate level course work may be considered for provisional admission on an individual basis. Factors that will be considered in the admission decision are GRE, GPA on graduate level course work, research interest, scholarly activities, professional leadership, and work history.

In order to be considered for admission, please use the following application deadline. This is the deadline for all materials to be submitted including the application, all transcripts, reference letters, CV, and letter discussing research interest area and professional goals.

Click here to start the application process – All materials must be submitted by Feb. 1 for admission to the Fall semester.


Ph.D. Program Requirements

Grade Requirements

  • A student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to remain in good standing in the Ph.D. program. If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 3.0, he/she will immediately be placed on academic warning, and will have the next long semester, or subsequent summer enrollment to raise their GPA to a 3.0.
  • A student who has earned a grade of “B-“ or lower in two Ph.D. courses at the graduate level or who has earned a grade of “B-“ or lower twice in the same graduate level course will be removed from the program. For the purpose of removal, a grade of “B-“ or lower is counted in the student’s academic record, even if the course has been successfully repeated with a grade of “B” or better.
  • If a student receives a grade of “F” in any course, he/she will be dismissed from the program.
  • If a student is admitted to the doctoral program provisionally, based on a low GPA, he/she must complete the first 8 semester credit hours of coursework with a grade of “B” or better in each course. A provisionally admitted student will be dismissed from the program if a grade of “B-“ or lower is made in any course during the probationary period.
  • Valid grades are C or higher. A “C-“ and “D” are not valid grades in this program. Plus/minus grading is at the discretion of the instructor of record for “C” or higher grading.

Teaching Requirements

Teaching undergraduate courses is considered an important part of the graduate training program. Each student is required to participate in four semesters of teaching (equivalent of 3 credit hours of undergraduate coursework per semester). In order to teach in years 2 and 3 of the PhD program, each student must successfully meet the pedagogy 1 and II course requirements and pass each of those courses with a “B” or better before moving into the teaching phase. If the teaching requirements are not met, the student will be dismissed from the program.


Residency Requirements

Students are expected to complete a minimum of five consecutive semesters (first two years) of full-time graduate study at TCU prior to comprehensive exams. Doctoral students holding appointments as teaching fellows or research assistants are considered full-time students for purposes of the residency requirement, provided that the time beyond that required by their appointments is devoted fully to their graduate program. In order to graduate, students must be registered in at least one hour of dissertation during the semester in which they complete degree requirements, and demonstrated enrollment in the semester prior to degree completion as well.


For those accepting a TCU assistantship, the 54 hours as outlined in the curriculum sequence table above must be completed in three consecutive years. If this requirement is not met, a student may continue completion of the 54 hours; however, he/she will be required to cover the cost of tuition.


Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations

After the 42 hours are completed, as stipulated in the curriculum sequence chart of non-dissertation courses, each student must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination with a CEC comprised of faculty involved in the student’s coursework to be evaluated. The Associate Dean of Research appoints the CEC in consultation with the Major Advisor, Oversight Committee, and student. These examinations will be written with an oral examination follow up and will be scheduled for the summer after completion of the coursework. Ordinarily, the written and oral comprehensive exams should be completed within one academic semester (including summer) of completing course work.  If either exam is failed a second time, the student will be dismissed from the program.


Candidacy Requirements

Upon successful completion of the written and oral comprehensive examinations, a student is accepted to candidacy. The maximum period allowable between matriculation and acceptance to candidacy will be three years. Once in candidacy, a student will have three years to complete the dissertation requirements successfully; this period can be extended only if approved by the Oversight Committee, Major Advisor, and the Harris College Associate Dean of Research.


Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation is based upon the successful completion of an original research project. Each student defends his/her dissertation in an oral examination before his/her dissertation chair and committee. Faculty and students are permitted to attend the dissertation defense. 12 hours of credit is required minimally before the oral dissertation may be scheduled and defended.

For more information about the Ph.D. in Health Sciences, visit the TCU graduate catalog

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