Global Health Track Handbook

Table of Contents

Checklist of Key Milestones

Introduction and Program Faculty/Staff

Welcome to the Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Public Health (Global Health), a collaborative degree program between the San Diego State University’s (SDSU) School of Public Health and the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD) School of Medicine. The program is jointly overseen by an overall JDP Steering Committee and a Global Health Steering Committee. It is supported by a larger Global Health Faculty Group of interdisciplinary professionals from both institutions. Students in this program will complete course work and conduct research at both universities over a period of about four years. Faculty from each campus will serve on advisory and dissertation committees, providing the student with extensive exposure to experts with varied interests and proficiencies.

Faculty and Staff SDSU UCSD
Co-Directors Elizabeth Reed, ScD, MPH
Associate Professor
School of Public Health (Hepner Hall 136B)
5500 Campanile Drive, MC 4162
San Diego, CA 92182-4162
Phone: 619-594-1517
Angela Bazzi, PhD
Associate Professor, Global Health
Family Medicine & Public Health
9500 Gilman Dr., MC 0725
La Jolla, CA 92093-0725
Fax: 858-534-4642
Coordinators Mandi Graham
School of Public Health (Hardy Tower 119)
5500 Campanile Drive, MC 4162
San Diego, CA 92182-4162
Phone: 619-594-3348
Carrie Goldsmith
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0631
La Jolla, CA 92093-0631
Phone: 858-246-5423
Admissions Brenda Fass-Homes
School of Public Health (Hepner Hall 129)
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4162
Phone: (619) 594-4492
Carrie Goldsmith
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0631
La Jolla, CA 92093-0631
Phone: 858-246-5423
Student Representative(s)

Elizabeth Frost (second year student)

Ashley Swing (second year student)

Briana Cortez Chronister (third year student)

While in this program you should document your affiliation on all professional listings and citations, including memberships, presentations, publications and other professional affiliations as follows:

San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego | Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Global Health).

The two co-directors are the Program Co-directors, to whom all students will report on an annual basis (Annual Progress Evaluation). The student will be contacted by the Coordinators to schedule the semi-annual reviews. Two weeks prior to these review sessions, students will be asked to complete and submit to the coordinators, a progress report (Form 6).

The Program Co-directors also consult with a Steering Committee that is charged by the Director of the SDSU SPH and the UCSD Dean of Medicine with guiding the development of the Global Health JDP program. The Global Health JDP is a dynamic and innovative full time research degree program that will benefit from student input. A second-year student will be included as a representative on the Steering Committee.

Members of the Steering Committee for 2021-22 include the following individuals:

Susan Kiene, PhD
Associate Professor
Global Health
Eileen Pitpitan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Global Public Health
Jenny Quintana, PhD
Environmental Sciences
Holly Shakya, PhD
Assistant Professor
Global Public Health
Student Representative(s)
Elizabeth Frost (second year student)
Ashley Swing (second year student)
Briana Cortez Chronister (third year student)

Learning Objectives

The Mission of the JDP in Public Health (Global Health) is to prepare leaders and researchers in academia and public health practice who:

  • work to solve health problems that transcend borders,
  • recognize the principles of social justice and health equity as a key basis for their work,
  • acknowledge the value of cross-cultural learning, and
  • practice health diplomacy in the pursuit of global peace and development.

At the completion of the program, graduates of the Global Health track should be able to:

  • Analyze contemporary global health issues using quantitative and qualitative analysis, behavioral science, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools, evaluation technology, and other public health skills in order to describe and address a variety of global health challenges.
  • Work within the political economy of existing global health programs and organizations, using a broad understanding of historical perspectives, cultural contexts, health systems, environmental concerns, and global health governance instruments.
  • Apply skills to identify, study, prevent, and respond to emerging, re-emerging, and persistent infectious disease threats of global importance.
  • Apply skills to identify, study, prevent, and respond to the growing epidemics of non-communicable diseases, including, among others, cardiovascular disease, cancers, injuries, and mental health problems.
  • Apply skills to identify, study, and respond to health services and health policy issues  (e.g., access to care, disparities, financing, health technologies, quality issues)  affecting global populations.
  • Recognize, understand, and explain unique US/Mexico regional, bi-national public health problems, and governance issues including the intersection of health and culture, which arise in regions with substantial population migration.
  • Write or contribute to the writing of research or program proposals, scientific reports, and evaluations, and be able to evaluate the writings of other health professionals.
  • Design, conduct, and evaluate global health and health services research projects that demonstrate cultural understanding, adherence to bioethical principals, and recognition of the global cooperation necessary for the success of such programs.
  • Assume leadership roles in global health research and practice using skills in human resource management, budgeting, report writing, and public speaking.

Registration Information

As a student in the Global Health Track of the JDP in Public Health, you are required to complete residency requirements at both institutions. These include a full year of coursework at each University (SDSU – 24 units & UCSD – 36 units) prior to advancement to candidacy and at least a full year of research at either University after advancement to candidacy.  To maintain access to student health services and options to purchase health insurance at SDSU, students must register at SDSU for at least six units every semester.  These units could be classes (usually only during the first year) or PH-897 (the ‘placeholder’ for research activities) in subsequent years.

Students fully supported with a UCSD administered fellowship or training (not research) grant will register at UCSD full time, and the grant will pay fees at UCSD or SDSU. Please check with Carrie Goldsmith and your faculty mentor’s grant administrator about specific requirements, as this is a case-by-case issue.

Establishing Residency for Non-California Residents


New incoming students that are non-California residents will most likely establish residency at SDSU. This is the case since the first year is completed at SDSU and the fees are paid on this campus. For details please go to the Office of Admissions website and please be sure to review the California Residency for Tuition Purposes. The residence determination dates are September 20 for Fall and January 25 for Spring.


Students seeking classification as a resident for tuition purposes must have established residence in California for more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date for the term during which s/he proposes to attend the University. The student must have relinquished any previous residence. The residency deputy is the only person authorized to advise on residency matters. Additional information is available. Inquiries should be directed to the Residence Deputy at the Office of the Registrar, (858) 534-4586. For additional information refer the Office ofGraduate Studies website regarding incoming graduate students.

Employment while Conducting Research

The doctoral candidate is a full time student prior to the successful defense of the student’s dissertation. However, employment up to 50% time is permitted for graduate students. It is expected that the remainder of their time is devoted to their studies or research. Therefore, the student should not secure full-time employment until the student’s dissertation is successfully defended. The doctoral candidate should consult his/her Dissertation Chair to determine the optimal time to start applying to jobs and postdoctoral opportunities.

Proposed Course of Study

The course of study should take into consideration: (1) required courses; (2) required teaching experience; (3) courses that would assist in passing the oral and written qualifying examinations and formal defense of a dissertation, (4) courses that provide expertise in public health research and practice, and (5) required field practicums.

It is expected that all students will have at least a Master’s degree in a relevant field (which could include an MPH or MS in health, nursing, and sociology, as well as Masters Degrees in fields such as international relations, economics, and health administration; medical and other doctoral level health degrees are qualified preparatory degrees), but some students may have to take additional coursework or obtain pre-requisite competencies in public health fields such as epidemiology and biostatistics.

Candidates should have completed the equivalent of one year of epidemiology course work as well as at least one semester of biostatistics and one each semester of data analysis and study design. Appropriate courses are available at SDSU for completion through Extended Studies or during summer terms (if available). The JDP does not pay for summer fees or tuition, however.

Although students may be taking courses on only one campus in a particular semester/quarter, they must be enroll at SDSU every semester (UCSD enrollment is only required under special circumstances). See Registration Information drawer in the General Manual.

Year One

Primary Mentor

During the first year (if not already established during the admissions process), students should decide on a primary mentor who will advise them about course requirements, options, and possible dissertation ideas. This mentor may or may not be the eventual chair of the student’s Dissertation Committee, but nonetheless will be valuable in supporting the student’s learning agenda. The mentor may be chosen from either SDSU or UCSD faculty, but should be a member of the Global Health Faculty Group (see Faculty Page). The student’s advisory committee or the co-directors should be consulted early in the first semester to help identify the right mentor match for students. Generally speaking, the student should meet with his/her mentor at least monthly during the first two years of the program; a mentor agreement (Sample Mentor Agreement) should be signed by the student, mentor, and Program Co-directors and filed with the SDSU Coordinator. Mentors may be changed with written consent of the mentor(s), student, and Program Co-directors.

Students and mentors will have access to a Global Health Canvas Homeroom at SDSU ( in which communications, announcements, notable journal articles, and field experiences may be shared. We will review the Homeroom during the Doctoral Seminar in Year One.

Advisory Committee

The faculty mentor will assist the student in organizing an Advisory Committee during the first year of study. The committee will be comprised of three members: the student’s primary faculty mentor (committee chair) and two other faculty members approved by the advisor. At least one member of the committee must be from SDSU and one from UCSD. The Advisory Committee works with the student to shape the educational experience (including choice of electives) and also regularly monitors program progress to ensure that advancement to candidacy proceeds in a timely manner. The chair is also available to assist the student with problems affecting relationships with faculty, colleagues, or the department as a whole. The student is responsible for seeking meetings, as needed, with his/her advisory chair and committee members. Once the student has advanced to candidacy, the Dissertation Committee assumes the above roles. Please note that a JDP form is not needed to organize your Advisory Committee. Do, however, contact both SDSU and UCSD coordinators with the names of your committee members. The Advisory Committee typically (but not always) will form the basis of the larger Dissertation Committee.

With a Master’s degree in public health or equivalent pre-requisites, the first year in the JDP will be at SDSU with completion of 24 units, including core coursework and the doctoral seminar; this will fulfill the SDSU residency requirement.

Depending on the background and experience of the student, and with the approval of the Program Co-directors, students may also fulfill the teaching requirements during this first year. For example, teaching assistantships with responsibility for curriculum development, lecturing, and student evaluation for undergraduate or graduate courses may be available.

The summer between first and second year may be an optimal time to complete a required international field practicum (see the Global Health Field Practicum drawer for details) or to assist in teaching summer session courses such as PH 101 at SDSU. These practicums may also be done during the summer between the second and third years or during the third and fourth academic years. The JDP does not cover registration/tuition fees for any summer courses, however, and so credit for summer field experiences is assigned in the following Fall semester or quarter as Independent Study.

Year Two

The second year is typically spent at UCSD, completing core classes, electives, and the UCSD residency requirement (based on 36 quarter unit requirements for full time enrollment). During this year, students should start to formulate a plan for dissertation research, select a chair and proposed dissertation committee with guidance from their Mentor and Advisory Committee, and complete the field practicum requirement. Students may advance to candidacy at the end of the second PhD year only if requirements for advancement have been met (including completion of course work). The summer between the 2nd and 3rd year is another opportunity to complete the field practicum, and might be an opportunity to set up potential research activities abroad that will be used in the dissertation project. See the Advancement to Candidacy ;drawer for further information.

Year Three and Beyond

Beginning in the third year, students continue with electives on either campus and begin or continue to fulfill teaching requirements. In general, students will be in residence during the third and following years at the campus that provides the faculty expertise and optimum environment for completing the dissertation. The program expects students to complete dissertation research in 2-3 years after advancing to candidacy; the maximum time allowed for completion of the degree is four years after advancing to candidacy. However, tuition waivers currently expire after a total of six years overall in the program.


All students in the Global Health concentration must complete a minimum of 60 units as the residency requirements on both campuses: 24 semester units at SDSU and 36 quarter units at UCSD; this is a minimum of one year residence on each campus. Each student’s program will be guided by their Mentor, with advice from their advisory committee (in the first two years) and their Dissertation Committee after advancing to candidacy.

Refresher or other remedial courses may be required among the electives to ensure a strong foundation in research theory and methods and to sustain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students are actively encouraged to enroll in courses in anthropology, psychology, sociology and international relations and economics (or other fields) in order to achieve a stronger theoretical foundation and to supplement methods courses taken in public health courses. Other courses could include additional statistical, epidemiological, behavioral, or other methods courses and/or proposal and scientific writing courses. The required course and recommended electives lists are shown below:

Required Courses

SDSU, Year One
Course Units Title
PH 780 3 Global Health I (Fall)
PH 800 3 Sem: Professional Seminar in Public Health (Fall)
PH 850 3 Global Health Practicum (Fall or Spring)
PH 880* 3 Program Planning and Evaluation (Spring)
*Not currently offered, choose an Advanced Epi course, as appropriate.
UCSD, Year Two
Course Units Title Instructor
FPM 258A 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series I (Fall) Bazzi
FPM 258B 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series II (Winter) TBD
FPM 258C 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series III (Spring) Nebeker
FPM 270 4 Cultural Perceptions about Health and Disease (Fall) Tsuyuki

FPM 280B

FMPH 291

4 Practicum in Health Behavior II – Analytic (Winter) Norman/Skaathun

FPM 280C

FMPH 2291

4 Practicum in Health Behavior III – Writing (Spring) Martinez/Wynn


SDSU Prerequisites

Year One
Course Units Title
PH 601 3 Epidemiology (Fall)
PH 601 3 Epidemiology (Spring)
PH 602 3 Biostatistics (Fall)
PH 602 3 Biostatistics (Spring)
PH 603 3 Behavioral and Social Science in Public Health (Spring)
PH 627 3 Advanced Statistical Methods in Public Health (Fall)
PH 627 3 Advanced Statistical Methods in Public Health (Spring)

SDSU Strongly Recommended Courses

Year One
Course Units Title
PH 628 3 Multivariate Statistics (Fall)
PH 649 3 Border and Global Health Surveillance (Spring)
PH 682 3 GIS/Public Health Spatial Analysis (Fall)
PH 700A 3 Sem: Migration and Global Health (Fall)
PH 800 1 Sem: Research (Fall)
PH 861 3 Behavioral Measurement (Spring)
PH 867 3 Sem: Grant Writing Health Behavior (Spring)

UCSD Suggested Elective Courses

Year Two
Course Units Title Instructor
MED 231 4 Mixed Methods Research (Spring) Hurst
MED 239 2 Health Frontiers/Tijuana Elective Please contact instructor before enrolling
FPM 244 2 San Quentin Field Course (Fall and Spring) Garfein
FPM 278 4 Scale Development (Springg) Strong
FPM 288 Introduction to Qualitative Methods Hurst
FPM 289 (ABD) 2 Mexico Migration Field Training Program Please contact instructor before enrolling
FPM 297 2-4 Practicum/Independent Study (Fall, Winter, Spring) Approval required from Track Directors
MPH Courses or Other Doctoral-Level Courses Approval required from Track Directors

* PH 700F at SDSU, or FPM 288 at UCSD or other qualitative methods training is highly encouraged, as a pre-requisite for MED 231 (Mixed Methods Research)


Electives not listed as suggested options should be approved by one or both co-directors prior to enrollment. For example, the program might not approve an elective on surfing science! Electives should serve to enhance your professional education in global health.

Other Requirements

In addition to the core course and practicum requirements listed above, the following are also required for this completion of the JDP in Public Health (Global Health):

  • Proficiency in a statistical software program (SAS, SPSS, STATA or other approved program). Evidence of use of this software for data analysis, completion of a standard course, or plans for taking such a course should be provided to the Dissertation Committee.
  • Proficiency in language/culture appropriate to the dissertation topic (level of proficiency decided in consultation with dissertation committee)
  • Completion of IRB ethics tutorials from UCSD or SDSU ( and SDSU (SDSU Research & Innovation); submit confirmation emails to These tutorials should be completed prior to participating in any organized research activities, preferably prior to the first year summer session and should be re-done every two years.

Typical Course Load

The suggested course load for year 1 is below:

SDSU – UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health – Global Health Track

Example Course of Study – Year 1 (SDSU)

Course Units Title
PH 623 3 Epidemiological Methods (or another appropriate Epi methods course based on skill level)
PH 627 3 Advanced Statistical Methods in Public Health (or another appropriate Biostat course based on skill level)
PH 780 3 Global Health I
PH 800 3 Sem: Professional Seminar in Public Health
Course Units Title
PH 628 3 Multivariate Statistics (or another appropriate Biostat course based on skill level)
PH 861 3 Behavioral Measurement
PH 867 3 Sem: Grant Writing Health Behavior
 2-3 Units of Computer Laboratory (SAS, SPSS, R)
PH 629 ** 3 SAS for Biostatistics II (in conjunction with PH 627)
PH 700A 2 SEM : SPSS
PH 700A 3 SEM: Data Analysis Using R
** Typically PH 627 & PH 629 are taken in conjunction.

**PH 850 Global Health Practicum (Fall or Spring)

The suggested course load for year 2 is below:

Example Course of Study – Year 2 (UCSD)

Course Units Title Instructor
FPM 258A 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series I Bazzi
FPM 270 4 Cultural Perceptions about Health and Disease Tsuyuki
6 Electives or Independent Study
Course Units Title Instructor
FPM 258B 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series II TBD
FPM 280B/FMPH 291 4 Practicum in Health Behavior II – Analytic Strong/Skaathun
6 Electives or Independent Study
Course Units Title Instructor
FPM 258C 2 Public Health Doctoral Lecture Series III (Spring) Nebeker

FPM 280C/ FMPH 291


4 Practicum in Health Behavior III – Writing (Spring) Martinez/Wynn
6 Electives or Independent Study

Note: Units are presented as semester units for SDSU and quarter units for UCSD.
UCSD quarter units x 2/3 = SDSU semester units.

Global Health Field Practicum

The goals of the required field practicum are to:

  • Develop leadership skills in global health research and/or practice settings. This may take result from planning and evaluating a global health project in the field site. The student should have a substantial role in this and be able to reflect on the skills needed for such activities.
  • Develop effective oral and written communication skills. The student should present a report of findings from the field experience at a national, state, regional, or local conference. In addition, a written report (using the field report format or journal article submission) is required.
  • Learn cultural competencies. The field report should reflect on cultural challenges, resolutions, learning needs, and lessons learned during the field experience.
  • Gain expertise in analysis of global health issues. The student should provide an analysis of the work conducted by the host agency or researcher in the field site; this analysis should reflect on how the project was planned, evaluated, and financed; unmet needs, future directions, and alternative approaches should be discussed.

Although the setting for the required practicum should be in another country, some US-based experiences could also apply (such as Washington, DC, assignments to the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, etc.), but students must consult with Program Co-directors on these exceptions. Conducting field research under the guidance of the student’s mentor may also meet the Field Practicum requirement. This practicum consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of 12 units, decided upon in consultation with the Program Co-directors. Each three units is equivalent to 180 hours of activity. These units would be awarded as credit during the academic year following summer practicum experiences, or if conducted in Year 3 or 4, during that academic year. In rare instances, students who already have substantial experience in cross-cultural, global health settings may be allowed to opt out of this requirement. Students who qualify should speak with the Global Health co-directors regarding this option.

Students are eligible to receive international travel grants from the SDSU Office of International Affairs ( and may receive support from research mentors if working on funded international research. In addition, the JDP is seeking outside funding and collecting information on possible fellowships (such as with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to support such experiences; these will be found on the Canvas Global Health Homeroom. The Program Co-directors and members of the Global Health Faculty Group will assist students in finding appropriate field practicum sites. Some options for field practicums are described below. Students are encouraged to consult with the Program Co-directors and Global Health Faculty group members early in their first year to develop possible field practicum sites.

Prior to initiation of these field experiences, the student must develop a plan in conjunction with the practicum field supervisor and his/her mentor (currently, we expect the student and field mentor to develop a mentorship agreement similar to the example in the Appendix).

The student will visit a travel clinic to obtain recommended vaccines, malarial prophylaxis, and advice on specific medical issues (such as post-exposure prophylaxis for various infectious diseases) depending on the location of their field placement. All students will have recommended and required vaccinations, including Hepatitis A and B vaccines (see for current international travel advice). Students must also have current health, evacuation, and repatriation insurance that is valid in the field placement site prior to initiating the practicum. Foreign and domestic travel insurance is available for free for those traveling on UCSD-related business ( Please consult the health and safety section of the SDSU Study Abroad program at and fill out required forms for SDSU. Students must also register with the US Consulate in the field practicum country prior to departure at

Field Practicum Check List

  • Develop Practicum learning plan (mentor agreement) with mentor and field supervisor
  • Obtain funding from SDSU OIP or other resources
  • Review health requirements on and OIP websites; complete required forms
  • Obtain recommended and required vaccines and prophylactic medications
  • Review cultural, safety, and other travel-related information on website
  • Register with US consulate in field site country prior to departure
  • Assure medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance
  • Assure access to funds and banking services
  • Establish communication system with mentor, family, and on-site supervisors
  • Review required field practicum report format with mentor and supervisor
  • Obtain guide books, background material, language aids, and other materials that will optimize cultural learning experience abroad.
  • Prepare pictures of family, home, etc. to share with hosts; purchase small gifts to provide to colleagues, family stays, and others (San Diego memorabilia is always good!)

Upon Arrival

  • Notify the mentor, family, and Office of International Programs of arrival, contact information, emergency contacts, and addresses.
  • Develop a contact list of individuals and agencies with which the student will work, learn from, and network. Keep this in both electronic and written format (a research journal or e learning tool could be helpful). Thank you letters may be sent to these persons after return.
  • Identify banks or other financial resources through which funds may be transferred if needed.
  • Identify health facilities in case of future need.
  • Have some fun…see the country…try the food…make some friends!


Current recurring options for Field Practica at SDSU include VIIDAI (PH 626, International Health Epidemiology Practicum, Fall/Brodine or PH 664, Health, Society and Human Behavior, Spring/Elder) . Faculty will offer other experiences to be identified and arranged specifically within their research programs, with multinational organizations such as the WHO, and with non-governmental organizations working abroad.


Practicum opportunities are arranged by UCSD faculty members with various NGOs, agencies (e.g., Project Concern, International Relief Teams, COMUSIDA), and faculty research mentors.

In order to meet the international field practicum requirement for the PhD degree, the student must complete a field report in the form of an APHA Field Action Report ( 30 days of return from the field. Students are encouraged to consider submitting their report to AJPH or other journals. Briefly, the format is as follows:

Format of the Field Practice Report

  • Length: 3000 words plus references, tables, graphs
  • Font: Arial 11, 1.5 line spacing
  • Margins: 1 inch


Write short, catchy titles that capture the reader’s attention and highlight the uniqueness of the program.

Abstract (250 words)

(Structured): This should summarize the paper. Give a brief overview of 1) the problem addressed by the program; 2) the policy issues involved; 3) the geographic location of the program and the population it attempts to reach; 4) the approach used to resolve the problem; 5) the results obtained; and any recommendations for further research or program development.

Program Description (1000 words)

Provide enough detailed information about the program to enable the reader to decide whether this effort could be replicated and what resources it would take to do so. Mention the history of the program and, if relevant, describe the key stages in program development, from acquisition of resources to current operational status. Interesting or unusual aspects of the program that merit a more detailed description, such as participant perspectives, staffing needs, volunteer training, special problems and solutions, or compelling situations may merit a more detailed description under a separate heading or as a sidebar box to the article.

Discussion and Evaluation

Summarize the evidence for the program’s effectiveness. What has been most successful and most disappointing in the student’s appraisal? What could have been done differently? What additional resources would have helped? Be explicit about funding sources and program costs.

Next Steps

Assess the viability/sustainability of the program and future challenges and opportunities. Comment on practical experiences and implications for other programs. What further research is needed for this program to be more successful or provide new knowledge?

Key Findings

Use 3 or 4 bullets to highlight key outcomes and public health implications of the program. Write in lay terms easily understood by policymakers, the media, and readers outside of the field of public health.

Global Health Practicum and Research Funding

Global Health: Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying (qual) exam has two components: one is the written examination at the end of coursework, and the second is the advancement to candidacy oral exam (defense of dissertation proposal). Both can be taken by the student at any time after completion of the required coursework at both campuses. It is expected that this should be at the end of the second year of study.

Global Health: Part I: Written Examination

Writing is perhaps the most important skill necessary for the production of new knowledge and its application in practice by public health researchers and practitioners. Hence, the Qualifying Examination relies heavily on a written product. The student should schedule the Written Qualifying Examination with the student’s 3-member Advisory Committee after completing all required coursework (24 semester units at SDSU and 36 quarter units at UCSD). First, the student and the Chair of the committee should jointly decide on the format of the Written Qualifying Examination (see below). The Advisory Committee will develop the specific assignment based on the student’s dissertation interests, and assign the examination via email on the predetermined day. After the examination is assigned, the Student will have two weeks to complete the written assignment. The student should submit the examination to the Chair who will distribute it to the Committee. Written comments will be provided to the student within two weeks. The student will then have two weeks to provide written responses and a revised draft to the committee. The student may discuss individual comments with each of the committee members. Once the committee approves the written exam, the student may proceed with Advancement to Candidacy (see below).

Guidelines for Qualifying Exam PDF

Core Competencies for the Written Qualifying Examination Candidacy

The core competencies that will be assessed on the written qualifying examination are as follows:

  • Ability to critically review research in an area
  • Skill/knowledge of research design
  • Knowledge of appropriate measurement techniques, including quantitative and qualitative
  • Knowledge of appropriate statistical analysis techniques
  • Ability to ground the proposal or paper in an appropriate theory
  • Ability to design an appropriate intervention or set of recommendations
  • Knowledge of appropriate research ethics if developing a research proposal
  • Knowledge of political economy, cultural issues, and governance challenges if developing a white paper

Part II: Advancement to Candidacy

Upon successfully completing the written qualifying examination, the student will begin the process of Advancement of Candidacy. This will involve the following steps:

  1. Identifying a dissertation topic area.
  2. Meeting with the Advisory Committee to determine the additional members of the Dissertation Committee; it is expected that the chair of the Advisory Committee will be either the chair or a member of the Dissertation Committee.
  3. Writing the dissertation proposal with guidance and oversight from the chair of the committee.
  4. Orally defending the dissertation proposal in front of the Dissertation Committee (i.e., the oral qualifying exam).

Step 1: Identifying a Dissertation Topic Area

The first step is to identify a dissertation topic. The usual process is to prepare a brief (one page) description of the proposed dissertation project and consult with JDP faculty to refine ideas.

Step 2: Identifying a Dissertation Committee (complete JDP-2; Dissertation Committee Establishment Form)

The Dissertation Committee will consist of a minimum of five members, including the Chair. Four members (including the Chair) will be internal members, and one will be an external (outside) member. Internal members will have their primary affiliation with SDSU or UCSD; there must be one external member from either campus.These affiliations may be, but do not need to be, with the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH)—SDSU or the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science —UCSD. The external member may not have their primary affiliation with GSPH or HWSPH, but must be tenured at either SDSU or UCSD.

Doctoral Committee Membership Rules PDF

At SDSU, in general, any tenured/tenure track faculty could be eligible to serve on a JDP-Global Health Dissertation Committee if this is approved by SDSU’s Graduate Division. Adjunct faculty with academic files that are reviewed by the campus committee on academic promotions are eligible to be one of the key five member committee, others can be a sixth, non-voting committee member. If a particular faculty person at SDSU is not currently on the approved to serve list, a student (and their Advisor), along with the SDSU coordinator, should work with the Graduate Division to seek the formal approval. The appendix lists faculty members from UCSD and SDSU who are currently eligible to serve on JDP dissertations as internal members. The student should begin selecting the committee as soon as appropriate and check with the Co-Directors of the Global Health concentration to ensure that the committee composition complies with all rules.

After identifying the possible committee, the student must complete JDP Form 2 to formalize the nomination of the Dissertation Committee. After the Dissertation Committee has been nominated and approved by the graduate deans of both universities, the student will meet with all committee members to discuss a dissertation topic.

Step 3: Write the Dissertation Proposal

The PhD dissertation should consist of original global health research that adds significantly to the existing state of knowledge. The project should include original data collection, although the Dissertation Committee may waive this requirement provided that the student has had significant experience with original data collection through other projects.

At the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, each student has the option of submitting a traditional dissertation or a dissertation consisting of three peer-reviewed manuscripts. Students should present their choice of method as part of the presentation of the dissertation proposal. If the committee agrees to this peer-reviewed manuscript option, students must also present a discussion of each of the proposed manuscripts as part of the oral exam. Any changes in papers that have been successfully defended (even those requested by peer-reviewers) must be approved by the chair of the committee. If it is a major change, including a change in paper topic, the full committee needs to approve it. For both options, all students must conduct a formal defense of the completed dissertation.

  • Option 1: The traditional dissertation typically includes the following sections or chapters: introduction, literature review, methods, results, and discussion. Appropriate appendices, i.e. data collection instruments and informed consent forms, should be included.
  • Option 2: The alternative dissertation includes: 3 or more published or submitted empirical manuscripts accompanied by a short introduction and discussion as well as a comprehensive set of appendices. All manuscripts should relate to the central theme of the dissertation. The role of the Dissertation Committee is to review these manuscripts for evidence that the research in the dissertation proposal had been satisfactorily completed. The student must be first author on these manuscripts and co-authorship will be subject to the rules now standard in the field. It could be expected that Dissertation Committee members may provide reviewer comments to the manuscript if they are concerned that the manuscript is not of publishable quality. In such cases, the student, the committee chair, and the concerned committee member will meet to discuss changes that need to be made to the manuscript to improve its chances of publication. This will not occur if the manuscript has been accepted for publication in a reputable journal. Appropriate appendices are data collection instruments, informed consent forms, etc. If choosing Option 2, prior to scheduling the defense, students need to send a letter to the Dean of Graduate Studies at UCSD which outlines the proposed papers and provides evidence of co-authors permission to submit the manuscript/paper as evidence of independent work for the purposes of a dissertation.

Step 4: Orally Defend the Dissertation Proposal (Successful defense leads to advancement to candidacy) (Email Mandi Graham to Route JDP Form 3)

Please Note: Students must fill out the JDP Form 2 to nominate their committee and have it approved by all parties—JDP Co-Directors and both graduate deans—before proceeding with their dissertation. Allow 4 – 6 weeks for the approval process.

Once the dissertation proposal is completed, the student can schedule an oral defense of the proposed research. After selecting a date when all of committee members can be present, students must circulate the proposal at least 10 days prior to the defense date. At the oral defense, the student will present the dissertation proposal and answer questions from committee members. Typically, a PowerPoint presentation is prepared to highlight key elements of the proposed research. The presentation should not last longer than 30-45 minutes to allow sufficient time for questions. Successful completion of the proposal defense will allow advancement to candidacy. If the committee feels that the student is not adequately prepared to conduct the proposed project, he/she will be advised of committee concerns and may be asked to re-defend the proposal at a later time. Unanimous agreement among Dissertation Committee members is required for passing. Students should take the JDP Form 3 “Report of the Qualifying Exam and Advancement to Candidacy” to the proposal defense. All committee members will sign this form indicating that the student has passed this milestone. When this form has been completed and processed, the doctoral student is considered a doctoral candidate.

Teaching Experience

A teaching requirement is part of the Global Health PhD, thus assuring students the option of future academic work. Students should contact the two program coordinators for possible Teaching Assistant positions in the Graduate School of Public Health or at UCSD’s HWSPH. Generally, students will assist one of the core faculty members with existing courses, either in the graduate school or in the undergraduate public health programs at UCSD and SDSU. In addition, undergraduate courses (PH101, HHS 350) are opportunities for PhD students to have substantial, paid roles in teaching during third and fourth years.

Annual Progress Report


Each year you will participate in a comprehensive progress review. The pre-candidacy students will be contacted by the Coordinators to schedule the in-person reviews with their Mentors and the Co-directors and to complete their online evaluation. The evaluation is used to track the student’s progress through the program. Please use the following link to the online Annual Spring Evaluation Tool to complete the in-person evaluation.

If the student has completed residency requirements, established their dissertation committee, but has not yet advanced to the In-Candidacy status, the student’s committee chair will be responsible for the generation of the evaluation with the program Co-Directors.

If students advance to candidacy in winter or spring quarters, they do still need to participate in the in-person evaluation with the co-directors that year. However you will not need to complete and online evaluation tool. You just need to complete the Annual Doctoral Student Progress Review Form Word doc


Each student in PhD candidacy is to receive an annual substantive progress review. At least three members of the student’s doctoral dissertation committee are to participate in the review. The review should cover the student’s progress to date, recommended modifications to the dissertation’s scope or methodology, and timetable for completion. The doctoral committee chair shall write up the results of the review and discuss them with the student. All members of the doctoral committee participating in the review (at least 3 including the Chair), the student, the UCSD and SDSU directors and the Program Chair at UCSD are to complete the online progress report. Please use the following link to the online Annual Spring Evaluation Tool to complete the in-person evaluation.

You will be contacted by the UCSD Graduate Coordinator, to verify who is participating in your Annual Evaluation, as access to the Evaluation Tool needs to be established each year.

The Spring Evaluation is due to the UCSD Graduate Coordinator by June 1.

Please note: failure to complete the spring evaluation will create a hold on your account, which will prevent you from registering the following fall quarter. The only exemptions for submitting Spring Evaluation are for students who will advance to candidacy or graduate in spring quarter when the evaluation is due. Students need to notify both Co-directors, via email, in either of these cases. Also, those students who are on an active Leave of Absence (LOA) are not required to submit a Spring Evaluation.