Behavioral and Social Health Sciences

The signatures of Behavioral and Social Sciences training at Brown include health behavior interventions development and evaluation, and collaboration across disciplines and between researchers and communities. 

The Ph.D. program in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences trains students to contribute to the understanding and alleviation of contemporary global health problems resulting from modifiable behaviors, including smoking, alcohol and drug use, physical inactivity, nutritional habits and sexual behavior. Graduates of the program are expected to be innovative researchers in settings such as academia; health care organizations; and federal, local, and state governmental agencies.

Behavioral and Social Health Scientists conduct research at the individual, family, organization, community, and population levels. The signatures of Behavioral and Social Sciences health training at Brown University include health behavior interventions development and evaluation; exposure to basic research elucidating causal pathways between determinants, behavior, and health outcomes; collaboration across disciplines; and collaboration between researchers and communities.

Students have the opportunity to be mentored by faculty conducting research in content areas, including the addictions (smoking, alcohol and other drug use), exercise, nutrition and weight control, HIV/AIDS, and cancer; and with methodological foci in treatment outcome research, longitudinal data analysis, mechanisms of behavior change, community–based participatory research, screening and brief interventions, health disparities and culturally tailored interventions, pharmacotherapies, and multiple co–occurring health risk behaviors. Students benefit from a high faculty–to–student ratio, and opportunities to gain experience in writing for publication.

Additional Resources

The School of Public Health is home to several world-class research centers, such as the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Center for Health Promotion and Health Equity, Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, the International Health Institute, Mindfulness Center, and the Brown University AIDS Program. Our faculty members also collaborate with researchers at Brown's Population Studies and Training Center, Institute for Brain Sciences, Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, as well as the Rhode Island Department of Health. These centers and institutes offer doctoral students a rich learning environment in which to explore topics of interest.

Admission Information

The most competitive applicants will have an earned master's degree in public health or in a behavioral or social science field (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, communication). To be prepared to complete the doctoral degree requirements, applicants should have taken quantitative courses, such as undergraduate or graduate level calculus, statistics or probability coursework; and demonstrate research experience relevant to public health. A key element in evaluating applications is our assessment of the fit between applicant intellectual and research interests and those of one or more of the faculty. Students should identify potential faculty mentors in their application; advance correspondence with potential faculty mentors is highly recommended to establish fit. See a list of our faculty members open to taking students.

Applicants to this School of Public Health program should apply through SOPHAS, a centralized application service for accredited schools and programs in public health. The application opens each year in mid–August. Brown University School of Public Health GRE reporting code: 7765.

Admission Requirements

Application in SOPHAS, which includes:

  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official Transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume/CV
  • GRE General Test Scores: Not required
  • Application Fee

International Applicants:

  • Language Proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS if applicable)
  • Transcript Evaluation (if applicable)

Comprehensive application requirements are detailed on the School of Public Health's admissions requirements website.

Application Deadline: December 15

The application for fall 2022 admission will open in late August.

Admission Inquiry Form

Ph.D. Completion Requirements

A PhD degree in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences at Brown requires completion of 16 courses for students without a master's degree; up to four (4) of these may be fulfilled by prior graduate coursework. Doctoral students must maintain an average of B or higher in the coursework required for the Ph.D., complete written and oral qualifying exams, and a dissertation representing original contribution to the field.

Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Brown University
Box G-S121-4
[email protected]

Visit the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences


Department Chair: Christopher W. Kahler

Director of Graduate Studies: Kate B. Carey