Candidacy and Dissertation

The culmination of years of advanced study, ardent research, and dedicated attention to improving the global public health paradigm are the candidacy exam and subsequent dissertation. All PhD in Public Health students are expected to demonstrate competence in their area of study via successful completion of both.

Candidacy Exam

In June following your second year of study, you will sit for the candidacy examination to assess your potential to successfully undertake scholarly research at the PhD level.


After you pass the candidacy exam, you must prepare a dissertation proposal that outlines your research ideas and officially form a dissertation committee. The dissertation is the culmination of the PhD degree and should demonstrate not only your mastery of the literature of the subject, but also an ability to carry out independent research that results in a genuine contribution to public health knowledge, or an original interpretation of existing knowledge in an articulate and impactful way.


Although the time it takes to complete the PhD degree varies for each student, we expect that students will typically complete the candidacy in Year 2 and the dissertation defense in Years Four/Five. See a sample timeline of a typical PhD degree completion on the Doctorate page.

Are you ready to start creating pioneering solutions to some of global health’s most demanding issues? Apply to the PhD in Public Health today!