The Department of Health Behavior and Policy offers two Ph.D. programs, Healthcare Policy and Research and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The Department also provides academic support for the M.P.H. program, administered by the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Division of Epidemiology. 

The Ph.D. program in Healthcare Policy and Research trains students to use economic and statistical frameworks and methods to address important health policy issues. In preparation for academic careers or senior research positions in government or the private sector, students receive methodological and policy training supplemented with electives in health services research, economics, statistical methods, decision sciences, organizational theory and other public health domains.

The Ph.D. program in Social and Behavioral Sciences equips students with an understanding of health as the intersection of structural, cultural, social, behavioral and biological factors. The program offers strong methodological and theoretical training to prepare students to make meaningful, independent scientific contributions to public health.  Students acquire the skills necessary to become scientists, educators and program administrators in a broad spectrum of healthcare settings.

Both Ph.D. programs offer:

  • A core curriculum in research methods and statistics
  • A range of interdisciplinary electives
  • Dedicated mentored research experiences
  • Professional development seminars
  • Access to VCU Health research institutes and centers
  • Stipend and tuition defrayment for up to 4 years
  • Opportunities for financial support for dissertation expenses
  • Financial assistance to attend professional meetings
  • Small class sizes
  • Emphasis on applied research.


The department provides pre- and postdoctoral training focused on cancer and health disparities, as well as a multidisciplinary internship for visiting international scholars. Training is tailored to each fellows interests in a variety of practice settings.  Fellows and scholars receive mentorship from experienced faculty with the opportunity to take classes at VCU.  Programs are competitive and require application review.