Interdisciplinary Health, Doctor of Philosophy

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Interdisciplinary Health (IH) brings together students and faculty with specialties in several disciplines within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and the College of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide students with health related curriculum and opportunities in health-related research with an interdisciplinary focus. The research and curricular topics address important questions and issues related to health equity, disability, and psychosocial health.

IH students engage in interdisciplinary health-related research of the highest quality. The goal of the research is to integrate theoretical and/or applied perspectives to inform, aid, and improve knowledge, application, and assessment of health-related research.

Graduates from our doctoral program will be highly knowledgeable and qualified researchers, educators and leaders for interdisciplinary research that advances understanding of health equity, disability, and psychosocial health.

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60 - 109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 60
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.

Purpose Statement

Solutions to health-related issues are found at the intersection of the health and social sciences. The Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Health (IH PhD) provides students with foundational skills in four core courses that cover 1) health and social science theory and application to health, 2) an overview of interdisciplinary health-related research methods, and 3) grant-writing skills. The degree program also requires three additional courses in methodology/statistics, three specialized courses related to one’s area of research specialization, two elective courses, and original and independent research. Graduates from this degree are trained for professional roles that address complex state, tribal, regional, national, and international health issues. Through coursework and research experience (including dissertation research), students work with faculty with expertise in one or more of the following areas: health equity, disability, psychosocial health. The IH PhD program's rigorous training in health theory, application, methodology, and scholarship prepares graduates for successful careers as health researchers, advocates, and educators.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and application of interdisciplinary health frameworks. Aided by problem-based learning, students will apply and articulate substantive knowledge of the core disciplines including theoretical, methodological approaches and concepts. 
  2. Demonstrate advanced disciplinary knowledge in PhD one or more areas (health disparities, disabilities, or psychosocial health). Work collaboratively with and understand other disciplines in the context of health equity, disability, and psychosocial health. 
  3. Demonstrate the ability to identity and apply appropriate research methods for a given research question, with consideration of contextual, theoretical, and practical limitations. 
  4. Design and conduct interdisciplinary research/scholarship that makes an original and substantial contribution to one or more core disciplines. Design, execute and prepare for publication original research that will apply in-depth multidisciplinary knowledge to a defined area in interdisciplinary health. 
  5. Demonstrate professional skills and ethics involving leadership, management, and data interpretation pertaining to one or more of the following categories: health equity, disability, and psychosocial health. Demonstrate professional integrity, continued professional development, and development of knowledge and skills for basic and/or applied health research. 
  6. Demonstrate translational and communication skills on research questions, analyses, and results to variable audiences within and beyond the core disciplines. Assess the application of that knowledge to professional practice and demonstrate the interdisciplinary communication skills necessary to function effectively in today's academic and professional environment. 
  7. Demonstrate technological competency as the ability to use and integrate software and/or data management systems and tools of analysis typically applied within the core disciplines’ research and teaching arenas.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • BA, BS, MA or MS degree (or equivalent)
    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Personal statement of research direction and why the NAU Interdisciplinary Health PhD is a good fit.
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
Doctoral Requirements
  • This Doctoral degree requires 60 units distributed as follows:

    • Common Course Requirements: 12 units
    • Analytical Skills (Statistics, Research Methods, and Epidemiology): 9 units
    • Research Specialization Courses: 12 units
    • Electives: 6 units
    • Research Requirements: 21 units

    Take the following 60 units:

    Doctoral Requirements

    All of these coures must be taken in the first year.

    Analytical Skills (Statistics, Research Methods, and Epidemiology) (9 units):
    Students select from SBS/HHS graduate-level courses, with approval by advisor, SBS/HHS unit, and IH Steering Committee.

    Research Specialization Courses (12 units):
    Students select courses that build expertise in an area of research related to area strengths in SBS and HHS: Health Equity, Disability, Psychosocial Health with approval by advisor, SBS/HHS unit, and IH Steering Committee.
    Electives (6 units):
    Student select courses in areas that complement and/or add to focus area. Examples include (but are not limited to) scientific communication, health policy, medical anthropology, disability and wellness, global health, health psychology, statistics, research methods, and/or other applied courses (e.g., program evaluation). Courses are selected in consultation with and with approval by advisor, SBS/HHS unit, and IH Steering Committee.
    Research Requirements (21 units)
    Students must demonstrate independent research skill and expertise in area of focus by identifying a problem and research area in consultation with a dissertation chair and committee, and satisfactorily completing pre-candidacy research IH 685 (6 units) and a dissertation (minimum 15 units of IH 799). Students may accumulate more than 21 units of research experience. Only 21 units count toward the PhD requirements. Students must pass an oral defense of the dissertation.


  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

Additional Information
  • Transfer Credits : With approval from IH PhD steering committee, a maximum total of 12 units of prior graduate-level coursework can be applied to the IH PhD program coursework requirements. The number of units that can be applied to each requirement area is limited: Analytic skills (no more than 6 of 9 required units), Specialization/Area courses (no more than 6 of 12 units), or Electives (no more than 6 units).

    Course Prerequisites: Students should be aware some SBS/HHS graduate courses have prerequisites that must be completed prior to enrollment.

    Comprehensive Exam (P/F)
    Students must demonstrate competence in content in core courses and in area of program focus, and demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills in English. The timing of the comprehensive exam can occur after the 4th semester but no later than the 8th semester of the program.

    Research Competency Requirement
    Research competency must be demonstrated. For the IH PhD degree, this competency is demonstrated through successful completion of IH 601 (3 units); IH 685 (6 units), and the Analytical Skills requirements (9 units). This totals 18 units.