Program Overview


  • The mission of the PhD in Rural Health Sciences is to prepare students for research careers focused on improving the health of rural populations using multidisciplinary approaches. 


  • Health equity in rural America

Guiding Principles

  • To achieve its mission and vision, the program has four Guiding Principles: rural focused, multidisciplinary, team-based, and community-oriented.

Curriculum Summary

  • The 3-year, multidisciplinary curriculum requires 64 hours to complete, including 40 hours of traditional didactics/seminar, 6 hours of field-based practicum, and at least 18 hours of dissertation.  The curriculum draws from the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, epidemiology, statistics, communication, management, economics, and political science.
  • All PhD students spend a summer semester immersed in an underserved rural Georgia community to design, implement, and evaluate the impact of a novel health promotion initiative, and will additionally complete their dissertation research within a rural Georgia community.

Program Competencies

  • Upon completing the PhD in Rural Health Sciences, students will be able to:
    • Competency A: Incorporate knowledge of rural culture, demography, sociology, healthcare systems, and health equity into rural health efforts (Rural Culture and Systems)
    • Competency B: Engage rural communities in collaborative efforts to improve health and wellbeing at the individual, family, organizational, policy, and systems levels (Community Collaboration)
    • Competency C: Communicate health information effectively with a wide range of stakeholders at varying levels of health literacy (Health Communication and Health Literacy)
    • Competency D: Utilize systems thinking to assess the needs and assets of a rural community, develop a corresponding plan of action, secure funding for the plan, and implement the plan (Program Development)
    • Competency E: Design, conduct, and disseminate rigorous, multidisciplinary research designed to improve the health of rural communities (Research)
    • Competency F: Manage organizations and programs focused on improving the health status of rural communities (Organizational Planning and Program Management)