Interdisciplinary Programs

Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations (ESDP)

The Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations (ESDP) is to prepare professionals who can conduct research and lead innovation that enhances educational and life outcomes for diverse populations.  This would include those who represent cultural or linguistic minorities, those with exceptionalities (gifted and disabled), those from economically challenged (and especially high-poverty) backgrounds, those impacted by gender biases, and those with other relevant learning or behavioral differences. To accommodate the widest range of student research interest in diversity issues there are three concentrations. Metropolitan Education Studies, Pedagogical Studies for Diverse Populations, Health Disparities within Diverse Populations.  This doctoral program is especially suited to preparing graduates with the research acumen needed to move easily into higher educational/postsecondary settings, P-12 central administration at the local, state, and national level, and leadership roles within school based settings, or non-academic positions within nonprofit organizations, specifically those with a research component. The minimum admission requirements are those of the UAB Graduate School. However, admission is highly selective, and most successful applicants have qualifications much higher than the minimum. Application packets must be complete in the Graduate School office before the applicant can be considered for the program.

Contact Information

For detailed information please visit the program website (, or contact Dr. Andrew McKnight (Program Director), Dr. Tondra Loder-Jackson (Metropolitan Education Studies Concentration Advisor), Dr. Susan Spezzini (Pedagogical Studies for Diverse Populations Concentration Advisor), or Dr. Laura Forbes (Health Disparities within Diverse Populations Concentration Advisor).

The Ph.D. in Health Education / Health Promotion

The Ph.D. in Health Education / Health Promotion is a University of Alabama System degree jointly administered by three units: UAB School of Education, UAB School of Public Health, and UA College of Human Environmental Sciences. Students draw upon the expertise and resources of a diverse and highly qualified faculty. Graduates in the Ph.D. program develop advanced training to become leading researchers, clinicians and faculty in a variety of work settings such as universities, businesses, government agencies, and foundations. We strive to create a rigorous scholarly and supportive atmosphere for students to develop intellectually to acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to be highly competent and ethical health education professionals.

This program is designed to provide students with the coursework and practical experience to become leading researchers and practitioners in Health Education and Health Promotion. Course work includes a core of courses in advanced research and statistical methods, social and behavioral sciences, and the completion of a research internship and dissertation.

For more information regarding the Health Education/Health Promotion program, visit the Health Education/Health Promotion Graduate Catalog page.

Ph.D. Health Education/Health Promotion Program of Study

Students may enter the program with a master's degree in health education, or a closely related health field. Prerequisite coursework includes Foundations of Health Education, Health Education Planning and Evaluation, and Research Design and Statistics. These requirements may be corequisite components in the program.

Students entering the program with a master’s degree may transfer appropriate coursework to this program; however, this will not reduce the number of courses required. Students will not be required to retake coursework already completed but may be required to complete prerequisites as part of their planned course of study.

A required review of student credentials prior to admission will identify strengths and needs. This review will provide students with a blueprint for their course of study and will be conducted by the program director and faculty advisor. The PhD program accepts applications in the fall for admission to the program during the subsequent fall term.

The PhD degree program will require students to complete a minimum of 73 credit hours: 43 hours of coursework, 12 hours of research internship, and 18 hours of dissertation research. Students will meet regularly with a faculty advisor to plan course enrollment. A minimum GPA of 3.50 is required.

Research and Statistics Prerequisites: Students are required to have completed the following courses (or equivalents) BEFORE enrolling in the Advanced Research and Statistical Methods Core. These are not included in the 73 hour degree total.

EPR 594Introduction to Educational Research Design3
EPR 596Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Educational Research3
EPR 608
EPR 607
Statistical Methods and Action Research
and Microcomputer Applications to Statistical Analysis
EPR 609Statistical Methods and Research in Education: Intermediate3
Total Hours13

The specific components of the PhD program in Health Education and Health Promotion are outlined below.

Ph.D. through the School of Education

I. Health Education and Promotion CORE Courses
CHHS 731Advanced Theoretic/Scientific Basis of Health Education/Promotion3
CHHS 732Advanced Planning and Implementation of Health Education/Promotion Programs3
CHHS 740Evaluation and Research Methods in Health Education/Promotion Programs3
CHHS 734Health Education Seminar I1
CHHS 735Health Education Seminar II1
CHHS 736Health Education Seminar III1
II. Advanced Research and Statistical Methods Core13
Principles of Epidemiologic Research
Qualitative Research: Inquiry and Analysis
Computer Applications and Advanced Statistical Methods
Graduate Research Design 1
Survey Methods in Educational Research
Mixed Methods Approaches to Educational Research
III. 600+ level Coursework in the Social and Behavioral Sciences 218
IV. Research Internship (Pre-requisite GRD 717) 312
V. Dissertation18
Dissertation Research
Total Hours73

Comprehensive Examination

A written comprehensive examination is required of all candidates for the Ph.D. degree. To be eligible to sit for comprehensive exams, students must have successfully completed CHHS 731, CHHS 732, and CHHS 740. Students must register for a minimum of 3.0 hours of graduate work during the semester in which the comprehensive exam is taken. The exam must be passed unconditionally before the student can defend his/her proposal and be advanced to candidacy. 

To prepare, students should review all materials from listed coursework as well as other related courses and supplementary material. This exam is designed to test the student’s ability to take a given population and design an appropriate, theory-based health intervention to the situation. Each student must synthesize and apply what has been learned throughout the program. On the day of the exam, students will be given questions that require them to write a paper, describing an appropriate, theory based program to address the chosen health issue/population. This must involve thorough planning, implementation, and evaluation. A planning model (i.e. PRECEDE/PROCEED) should be used as a framework for the paper.

The Comprehensive exam will be offered twice each year and is written and graded by the graduate faculty in the doctoral program. Grading of the comprehensive exam is done blinded, and by consensus. Students who fail to achieve passing scores will have one attempt to remediate within a calendar year. If a student fails a section for the second time, they will be dismissed from the program.

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations

EDC 750Critical Pedagogy for Diverse Populations3
EDF 755Educational Studies in Diverse Populations: Theory of Inquiry3
EDF 765Metropolitan Education Studies Proseminar 3
CHHS 742Health Disparities in Diverse Populations3
Research Courses
EPR 609Statistical Methods and Research in Education: Intermediate3
EPR 696Qualitative Research: Inquiry and Analysis3
EPR 710Computer Applications and Advanced Statistical Methods3
EPR 792Mixed Methods Approaches to Educational Research3
GRD 717Principles of Scientific Integrity3
Total Hours27

Concentration Courses

12-36 Credits

Once the prerequisite coursework has been satisfied, you will follow an interdisciplinary program of study in one of the three concentrations:

  • Pedagogical Studies
  • Metropolitan Education Studies
  • Health Disparities


24 Credits

  • Dissertation Seminar: 3 credit hours
  • Dissertation Research - (Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy.). Note: one semester with at least 6 credit hours is required
  • 9 credits of directed dissertation research or additional research courses specific to intended dissertation