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Seton Hall University Health and Medical Sciences
Ph.D in Heath Sciences


To prepare our students to join the community of scholars, our learning journey is built upon foundational core coursework in the health sciences, research coursework, and key specialization coursework. 

As a mentoring doctoral program, we further assist our learning community in their scholarly journey of transformation by employing monthly research forums. The intent of the research forum is to set a learning environment in which students at varying stages in their research endeavors come together with faculty to engage in collegial dialog and engage in formal presentations. Engaging in research forum presentations along the graduate journey, enable our PhD students the opportunity to practice what some call "soft skills" of communication, evidenced based reflective skepticism, and critical thinking while fostering research collaborations, and sparking research interests.

Program faculty employ evidenced based education technologies and sound adult teaching and learning approaches rooted in the SOLO taxonomy supported by mind mapping, flipped learning and debate strategies to name a few to meet students’ individual needs. Our curriculum coursework has been approved by Quality Matters. 

Several competency expectations must also be achieved along the academic journey including successful completion of the programs qualifying examination, candidacy examination, open formal research proposal hearing presentation, IRB attainment, open formal research results presentation, open oral defense presentation, and finally UMI submission and acceptance. 

While, the program coursework is prescribed, students have the flexibility to, with faculty mentorship, develop their own research agenda to address their identified research problem. This opportunity for flexible research mentorship within the context of our three specialization areas, opens the opportunity for faculty across the University to mentor doctoral students and for the program to engage experts across the nation to co mentor students.  

Students in all specialization tracks take the core health science courses, which provide an understanding of the process and skills set needed for successful scholarly writing, the impact of philosophy of science as a scholar, today’s healthcare delivery system and its role and importance within a variety of organizations, and the role of scholarship of teaching and learning in doctoral education. All students also take core research coursework in both quantitative and qualitative research design, statistical analysis, and  the critical analysis of research, the scientific basis of investigation and the scholarly argument formation. Students, with faculty mentorship, select specialized courses in their chosen track and design individualized plans of study that meet their research needs and practice interests. See below for more information on the coursework. 

Academic Advising and Mentorship

Each student develops his or her educational program plan in consultation with, and with the approval of, an academic advisor. An academic advisor (a faculty member in the Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration) will be assigned to each student upon admission to the Ph.D. program. The advisor will guide you in selecting and completing your coursework and will participate in the selection of your dissertation committee.

Credit Requirements

  • This program of study requires the completion of a minimum of:
    • 57 credits beyond a master's degree, or:
    • 48 credits beyond a clinical doctorate.

Course requirements for those with a clinical doctorate will be adjusted in consultation with the student's academic advisor.

  • Students are required to complete a minimum of:
    • 12 credits of core foundational health science courses
    • 18 credits of specialization courses
    • 15 credits of research courses
    • 12 credits of dissertation

Doctoral Coursework

Core Courses: The goal of this portion of the program is to provide the basis for an understanding of the healthcare delivery system, philosophical values and an understanding of the importance of communication and teaching within an organization.

Specialization Courses: For this area of study, the student takes specialization courses designed to provide critical analysis and intervention skills and the scientific basis of practice. Selection of specialization courses is dependent on the track in which the student is enrolled (Health Professions Leadership, Movement Science or Speech-Language Pathology).

Core Research Courses: The goal of this portion of the program is to provide the student with a broad and comprehensive understanding of research approaches, designs and methodologies employed in the physical and social sciences used to explore problems of interest in the health sciences. Focus is also placed upon how to report findings and communicate appropriate to the audience of interest whether it be patients, healthcare agencies, granting agencies, or other scholars. 

For a full description of any of the courses, see the Graduate Catalogue.

Program Competency Exams:

Qualifying- The purpose of the PhD in HS Qualifying Examination is to provide students a mechanism to demonstrate sufficient research competencies to satisfactorily complete the program.

Candidacy- The purpose of the PhD in HS Candidacy Examination is to provide students a mechanism through which they can provide evidence that they:

A.  Have mastered a knowledge base that reflects a combination of core course work and course work in their area of specialization.

B.  Are able to demonstrate critical thinking by integrating their knowledge base with research and the health sciences, and

C.  That they have a good understanding of the topic they are planning to focus on in their dissertation research study.

Doctoral Dissertation: Students are required to conduct and defend an original research investigation for the purpose of advancing the body of knowledge in their own field. The Ph.D. candidate plans, proposes, conducts and completes a major research project under the guidance of a research faculty advisor and dissertation committee. The dissertation represents an intensive, highly professional training experience, the completion of which demonstrates the candidate's ability to address a major intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion while at the same time demonstrating a high level of competence and expertise.

The dissertation should be a theory-based, in-depth and original exploration of a well-defined problem that contributes to the body of knowledge in the candidate's field of study. The dissertation is theory-based to the extent that it tests or extends existing theory or creates new theory in the field. The dissertation is in-depth to the extent that the problem and approach selected are founded on a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the relevant literature. The dissertation is original to the extent that the underlying data is collected by the dissertation candidate.

Successful completion of the dissertation phase results in production of an approved oral defense presentation and an accepted dissertation manuscript by the SHU University Library- UMI. 

Dissertation Process

Admission: Planning for the dissertation begins when applying to the program. The admissions process involves "'matching" of applicant's research interests with the expertise of the program faculty. For this reason, program applicants should be able to articulate one or more areas of investigation they are interested in pursuing in the dissertation phase.

Pre-Candidacy Phase: Since these preliminary plans may change prior to candidacy, students should arrange an early meeting and maintain contact with their academic advisor to discuss their evolving research interests. Often, exposure to core or specialization coursework helps the student better focus on their proposed problem or may even result in selecting a new research direction. The academic advisor can help the student refine his or her interest and, if necessary, select an appropriate research advisor. Published faculty profiles can be helpful in this regard with respect to students' selecting an advisor whose research aligns with his or her interests. 

Dissertation: To be eligible for the dissertation phase, the student must have successfully passed the qualifying and candidacy exams and the 45 credits of pre-dissertation course work. The dissertation phase requires completion of a minimum of 12 credits of coursework, to include GMHS 9504-9505 (Dissertation I and II) and GMHS 9506 (Dissertation Advisement). Students who do not complete the required deliverables for Dissertation 1, 11, or the Advisement course as outlined in the course syllabus are required to sign up for GMHS 9507 DEA if they would like to receive faculty mentorship until the deliverables have been accepted by the course instructor (dissertation chair). The deliverables for DEA course are based upon outstanding deliverables from dissertation 1, 11, or advisement coursework, with due dates being determined between the student and faculty mentor. Students can choose to complete the outstanding dissertation deliverables without faculty additional support students and sign up for Doctoral Thesis Continuation THCN8999AA – (CRN#) or Doctoral Thesis Continuation THCN9000AA – (CRN#) which enables students to maintain an active registered status until the deliverables are completed.

PhD in HS Program Synchronous Online 6-Year Program Plan (minimum 57 credits)

Program Plan  Fall  Spring    Summer I 
Year 1
12 credits         

  1. GMHS 7503 Scientific Inquiry/Writing (3) required
  2. GMHS 7403 Philosophy of Science (3) required
  1. GMHS 6110 Health Services, Issues & Trends (3) required
  2. GMHS 6409 Styles of Teaching & Learning (3) required    
Year 2 
6 credits 
  1. GMHS 7500 Intermediate Statistical Methods (3) required
  1. GMHS 7508 Intermediate Statistical Methods II (3) required (pre-req. GMHS 7500)
Year 3 
6 credits 
  1. GMHS 7501 Quantitative Research Methods (3) required 
  1. GMHS 7605 Qualitative Research Methods (3) required 
Qualifying Exam Summer 
Year 3 
Year 4
9 credits 
  1. GMHS 6230 Leadership: Theory & Practice (3)* LS required
  2. GMHS 8113 Principles of Motor Control & Learning (3)* MS required
  3. GMHS 8509 Practicum (3)* SS required
  1. GMHS 7110 Strategic Planning for Health Care and Professions Education (3)* LS required
  2. GMHS 7602 Research Seminar required (3) (pre-req. GMHS 7500, 7501, 7508, 7605)
  3. GMHS 8508 Practicum (3)* MS & SS required
Year 5
12 credits
  1. GMHS 6302 Topical Seminar, Research 1 (Chapter 2) (3) required
  2. GMHS 8507 Practicum (3)* MS & SS required
  1. GMHS 6311 Topical Seminar, Research II (Chapter 1) (3) required
  2. GMHS 6210 Curriculum Development in Health Professions Education (3)* LS required
  1. GMHS Topical Seminar Research III (Chapter 3) (3) required
Candidacy Exam Summer 
Year 5
Year 6
12 credits 
  1. GMHS 9504 Dissertation Seminar I (4) required
  1. GMHS 9505 Dissertation Seminar II (4) required
  1. GMHS 9506 Dissertation Advisement (4) required

SS= Speech specialization only
MS= Movement science specialization only
LS= Leadership specialization only