Degree Requirements

The curriculum consists of 78 credits requiring a minimum of four years of full-time effort.  All students must complete:

  • 21 credits of core courses
  • 27 credits of concentration courses
  • 30 credits of dissertation research

*Up to 18 credits will be considered for transfer credits for candidates with graduate degrees.

Additional requirements for degree completion are outlined below:

Preliminary Examination

After successfully completing all core and required concentration courses, students must pass a preliminary written examination. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to test the preparedness of the student for the doctoral research phase of the program. The examination will emphasize the integration of the student's knowledge in the core courses and their chosen concentration. Upon successful completion of this examination, the student can proceed to the selection of their dissertation committee for the preparation and defense of the doctoral dissertation requirement.

The examination will be prepared and graded by the Preliminary Examination Committee (PEC). Members of the PEC will be appointed by the Dean of the SHTM based on nominations from the Doctoral Program Co-Directors. The PEC will include three faculty members from the HRS program, one in each of the concentrations. Results will be communicated to the students no later than two months after completion of the exam. The exam may be repeated if the Doctoral Program Co-Directors consent.

Advancement to Candidacy

Upon passing the Preliminary Examination, students will formally name their dissertation committee to be headed by the student’s primary research mentor and based on the dissertation proposal topic.  The student and their mentor will select members to the committee who can make unique contributions to the proposed research for the dissertation. The committee will consist of four members, three of whom are affiliated faculty within the program and one holding the role of “outside member”.  The outside member will have expertise within the field to evaluate the thesis but will not be part of the HRS program.  At least one of the three other affiliated members will possess expertise in a branch of research outside that of the student’s research. A proposal for the dissertation should synthesize the literature on an important topic related to one of the designated concentrations and identify gaps in the literature that clearly demonstrate the importance for the student’s planned dissertation research.  A proposal defense will take place where the topic will be evaluated by the dissertation committee in terms of the merit of the contribution of the work, the feasibility and appropriateness of methodologies proposed, and the competency of the candidate to complete the work.

Following the successful completion of all degree requirements of the Graduate School and program, students may be advanced to candidacy.  The Dean of the Graduate School confers this status upon recommendation from the Doctoral Program Co-Directors.  Students must advance at least one year prior to the dissertation defense.


The dissertation must be an original scholarly investigation that meets the standards in the field for scholarly publications.  Preliminary research to develop a dissertation topic will normally begin in the second year of study, while the third and fourth years will be mainly devoted to developing and refining the doctoral research. Seminars organized by the program related to research in progress (i.e., a formal research in progress presentation) will provide an opportunity for students to present their thesis material to other students and interested faculty.

Once the dissertation has met the approval of the dissertation committee, a dissertation defense committee is formed consisting of the members of the dissertation committee but is chaired by someone other than the dissertation committee chair (the student’s primary mentor). A public presentation and defense of the dissertation is then scheduled  

Graduate Seminar in Research Writing

The Graduate Seminar in Research Writing will be held regularly throughout the academic year. The purpose of the Graduate Seminar in Research Writing will be to provide pre-doctoral students and doctoral candidates with a collegial environment in which to present work and obtain experience in presentation and comments on their work. Seminars will be informal gatherings that provide an additional forum to address and further students' educational goals.

Seminars will also be a forum for speakers on topical subjects as well as for discussion of issues related to the ethical and responsible conduct of research, manuscript writing, scientific presentations, and submission of grants. All doctoral students will be required to attend the Graduate Seminar in Research Writing.

Practicum in Teaching

New York State requires all doctoral students obtain teaching experience. Doctoral students will be provided with teaching opportunities and are expected to develop their teaching skills through the Practicum in Teaching. This is a one semester requirement fulfilled after passing the Preliminary Examination. Teaching opportunities for doctoral students will primarily be as teaching assistants in graduate courses.  For doctoral students admitted with a Bachelor’s Degree, participation as a TA in the 3 undergraduate programs in SHTM is permissible. There are many other undergraduate programs on the SBU campus that may provide additional opportunities for students as well. For graduate students admitted with a Masters degree, there are opportunities to teach undergraduate or Masters level courses within SHTM. Undergraduate Programs within SHTM include the Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences, Clinical Lab Sciences and Respiratory Care.  There is also a Masters in Health Policy and Management. There are also two professional graduate programs in Physical Therapy (DPT) and Occupational Therapy (BS, MS). These two programs are faculty intensive and annually recruit for teacher assistants (TAs) for classroom activities and are examples of TA opportunities for the Ph.D. students.