Public Health Ph.D. Program Overview

Mission of the School of Community Health Sciences

To develop, disseminate, and apply knowledge with an ecological approach to protect and promote the health of populations.

Vision of the School of Community Health Sciences

To foster equitable and healthy communities.

Values of the School of Community Health Sciences

  • Advancing Knowledge: We are committed to asking and answering important questions to advance public health through influential research
  • Embracing Diversity: We value the backgrounds and experiences of our students, faculty, and staff as partners with diverse communities to reduce disparities and promote equal opportunities to achieve optimal health.
  • Demonstrating Integrity: We strive in all endeavors to consistently demonstrate honesty, fairness, and respect to promote mutual trust and understanding.
  • Inspiring Learning: We cultivate a dynamic learning environment that includes meaningful conversations and experiential learning to engage and inspire professionals who are committed to advancing community health.
  • Succeeding through collaboration: We appreciate the importance of partnerships for achieving public health outcomes and endeavor to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones.


The goals of the SCHS programs are:

  • To prepare future public health practitioners, researchers, educators and leaders
  • To develop the knowledge base for public health through research
  • To be recognized for leadership in innovative approaches to public health
  • To engage with multiple communities through professional and scholarly service
  • To expose students to diversity in multiple venues

Summary of Degree Requirements

All Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of 72 graduate-level credits (69 credits beyond the pre-requisite requirements) to graduate. The Ph.D. program requires passing of a written comprehensive exam after the second year of coursework is completed, a written and oral dissertation prospectus, and a dissertation defense. Required coursework and recommended progressions are available under the Degree Requirements section of the handbook.

Graduate School Academic Requirements

All graduate students must maintain a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. If their GPA drops below 3.0 they are either placed on probation or dismissed. Undergraduate courses will not count towards graduate GPA.

  • Probation: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .1 to .6 points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are put on probation. Students are placed on academic probation for one semester. If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 by the end of one semester, they are dismissed from their graduate program. Thesis, dissertation, S/U graded credits, and transfer credits have no impact on a student's GPA.
  • Dismissal: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .7 or more grade points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are dismissed. Dismissed students are no longer in a graduate program but may take graduate-level courses as a Grad Special. Students wishing to complete their degree must obtain approval to take graduate-level courses, raise their graduate GPA to at least 3.0 and then re-apply to a graduate program. Any courses taken to raise their GPA will be included in the graduate special/ transfer credit limitation (9 credits for master's degrees)
  • Doctoral degrees: All course work must be completed within eight years preceding the awarding of the degree. Credits transferred into doctoral degree from a completed master's degree are exempt from this eight-year limit.

Transfer credits

Transfer credits are credits transferred from another institution. Credits completed at University of Nevada, Reno in another program do not need to be transferred. Transfer credit is requested by using the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form available on the Graduate School website (Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request) and must be signed by the student, advisor, and graduate director. Credits from a completed master's degree will be exempt from the 8-year time limitation for those students earning a doctoral degree.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistant (GA) positions are available for Ph.D. students for the first two years of the program. These positions will typically include teaching and/or research activities during the first two years, contingent upon satisfactory performance and good academic standing. Although funding is not guaranteed after the first two years, GA positions and other funding opportunities are available and most students will continue to receive support.

All graduate students holding a GA position are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship. GA positions include a monthly stipend, health insurance, and a partial tuition waiver. To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 9 graduate level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship.

State-funded GA positions may be held for a maximum of five (5) years for doctoral degree students.

General information about Graduate Assistantships and the Graduate Assistantship Handbook.

Health Insurance

All domestic degree seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). If a student has other comparable coverage and would like to waive out of the student health insurance, it is the student's responsibility to complete the University online waiver form prior to the deadline. If approved, a health insurance waiver is good for the current academic year only. A new waiver must be submitted each academic year. All international graduate students are required to carry student health insurance, and the cost will be automatically added to your student account. Any international graduate students with insurance questions must contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) directly.

Information about Graduate Student Health Insurance.

Leave of Absence

  • Continuous Enrollment: To maintain "good standing" all graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of three (3) graduate credits each fall and spring semester until they graduate. International students may be required to enroll in nine graduate credits each fall and spring semester depending on the requirements of their visa. All students holding assistantships (whether teaching or research assistantships) are required to enroll in a minimum of six (6) graduate credits each semester they hold the assistantship.
  • Leave of Absence: Students in good standing may request a leave of absence by completing a leave of absence form available on the Graduate School website (Leave of Absence Form) during which time they are not required to maintain continuous registration. Usually, a leave of absence is approved for one or two semesters. The leave of absence request may be extended by the student filing an additional leave of absence form. Students applying for a leave of absence should not have any "incomplete" grades which could be changed to "F" and have a detrimental impact on their cumulative GPA. Requests for leave of absences must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the leave is to begin.
  • Reinstatement: When a student has been absent for one semester or more without an approved leave of absence, he or she may request reinstatement via the Reinstatement form (available on the Graduate School website: Reinstatement Form). This form allows the program the option to recommend the student be re-admitted to their graduate program based on their previous admission OR require the student to re-apply for admission which would require students to submit a new application for admission and pay the application fee. The Notice of Reinstatement to Gradate Standing must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the reinstatement is to begin.


We honor differences and diversity of opinion, and will create opportunities for fair and equitable resolution. If there is any student grievance, whether it be regarding a grade, advisor, policy, or another issue, the grievance process should begin with the student's advisor, and can be facilitated through University of Nevada Reno's centralized Concierge Service.

The Concierge Service has seven categories in which student concerns can be filed:

  • General advising questions: Concerns that have not already been addressed by one's academic advisor
  • Grade Appeal: Complaints about a grade received in a course (students are required to consult with the instructor prior to pursuing this complaint)
  • Poor Advising: Complaints about the perceived quality and/or accuracy of academic advising
  • Poor Instruction: Complaints about the perceived quality of instruction for a course
  • Course Availability: Complaints about the availability of a course offering required for a student's program
  • Course Policies: Complaints about the policies being enforced in a particular course
  • Other: academic Complaints not covered in the previous categories

Upon receipt of the filed concern, the student is contacted within two business days to confirm receipt, request additional information (if needed), and to indicate initial routing of the issue. In some cases, a complaint may be immediately referred out to other offices for review (i.e. sexual harassment, academic integrity, disability compliance, etc.). Names are confidential depending on the cause. The students must disclose their names and student ID to the Concierge Service. In cases of grade appeals, the information will move into the procedure for grade appeals described in the administrative manual and in the General Catalog.

A grade assigned by an instructor is only subject to the appeals procedure if there was a clerical/ administrative error in the calculation and/or assignment of the grade, the grade assignment was based on factors other than the student's performance in the course and/or completion of course requirements or the grade assignment meant that the student was held to more demanding standards than other students in the same section of the course. The burden of proof of these conditions rests on the student.

There are four possible processes for grade appeals:

  1. Student consults with instructor before filing a grade appeal
  2. Student files a grade appeal using the online Concierge Service
  3. Student meets with the department chair or with both the department chair and instructor
  4. Department chair appoints a grade appeal review committee

Detailed directions for each of the processes can be found: Grade Appeal Policy and Procedures.

Graduate Student Association

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) represents all graduate students and promotes the welfare and interests of the graduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The GSA works closely with appropriate university administrative offices, including the Graduate School and Student Services and reports to the President of the University. The GSA government functions through the Council of Representatives, Executive Council and established committees.