PhD in Public Health Admissions

Thank you for your interest in the Department of Global and Community Health’s PhD in Public Health. This page contains information for those interested in applying to the PhD in Public Health only. Please see the following pages for admissions to our other degree programs, including:


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health is a full-time degree program providing high quality instruction public health and training in research methods and data analysis. The program offers two concentrations: Epidemiology and Social and Behavioral Sciences. See PhD in Public Health page for a more detailed overview.

Why Apply for a PhD in Public Health at George Mason?

Our program offers unique benefits including:

  • One on one mentorship with experienced faculty member
  • Tailored program of courses and small PhD class sizes with a diverse group of PhD students and faculty
  • Research opportunities at the start of the program
  • Proximity to public health job opportunities at the local, state, federal levels in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. (including DHHS agencies such as the CDC, NIH, HRSA, and more)


Exceptional applicants are offered funding that provides for tuition and living expenses. Funding is limited and competitive. Strong applicants are automatically considered for a graduate research assistantship, which provides tuition waivers, health insurance, and a stipend in exchange for up to 20 hours a week of research support. This includes international applicants.

The PhD in Public Health is very competitive. Qualified applicants have:

  • A bachelor’s degree, though a master’s degree is more common.
  • Strong academic preparation, including good grades in quantitative courses.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct rigorous, academic research.
  • Interest/alignment with a GCH faculty member’s research


You can apply to the PhD in Public Health Program through SOPHAS. 

SOPHAS provides step by step instruction on application. You can search for the PhD program by typing “George Mason” into the search bar and selecting your PhD concentration that you intend to apply to. Applications to begin the program fall of next year are due December 1st. Please see the FAQ section below for questions regarding required documents and more.

Application FAQs

How do I apply for the PhD in Public Health?

All applications are accepted in SOPHAS, an online application system where prospective public health graduate students can apply to multiple accredited schools using the same transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resume. 

What is the application deadline for the PhD in Public Health?

The application deadline to submit in SOPHAS is December 1. Submitted but unverified or incomplete applications (including the supplemental application) will not be considered after December 8. Applicants will be notified no later than April 1.

What are the application requirements?

When applying to the PhD in Public Health, you must include:

  • Official U.S./Canadian transcripts from ALL schools attended
  • Resume/CV
  • Two written statements
  • Three letters of recommendation

Is the GRE required for the PhD in Public Health?

No, the GRE is not required for the PhD in Public Health.

What are the international application requirements?

In addition to the requirements listed above, international students must submit:

  • World Education Services (WES) ICAP course-by-course evaluation of academic records from institutions outside of the U.S. and English-speaking Canada.
  • English proficiency test scores for applicants who attended post-secondary institutions outside of the U.S, Canada (excluding the province of Quebec), Commonwealth Caribbean, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.

Read more about international student requirements.

When can I start the PhD in Public Health?

We only have fall intake for the PhD in Public Health. There is no spring admission for this program.

What should I include in my Statement of Purpose and Objectives?

There are two separate statements required of applicants in SOPHAS.

(1) The Statement of Purpose and Objectives asks the following questions:

  • Discuss your research interests, background, and academic and career goals.
  • Why do you wish to obtain a PhD in Public Health and what are the reasons for pursuing your degree at George Mason University?
  • Which 1-2 Global and Community Health faculty members would you like to work with? What research do they do that interests you?

(2) The Secondary Statement asks list of research or publications (if any), and any other information about your path to graduate school that may help to contextualize your academic record

What faculty members will work with doctoral students?

Can I reach out to faculty before I apply?

Yes, it is encouraged that you reach out to faculty who do research that interests you before you apply to better understand their research portfolio. See above for the list of faculty currently accepting PhD students.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

As this is a research-based degree, it is preferable to have letters of recommendation from former professors that speak to your intellectual and research capabilities.

What makes a competitive application for the PhD in Public Health?

There are many factors that make an application to the PhD in Public Health competitive, including:

  • Clearly articulated public health research interest that aligns with at least one GCH faculty member.
  • Good grades in quantitative reasoning courses.

What happens after I submit my application for the PhD in Public Health to SOPHAS?

After you submit your application to SOPHAS, and all components of the application are complete (e.g., no missing transcripts), they will “verify” it. We only review applications that are verified and complete.

After verification, you will receive an email with a link and instructions to the supplemental application. It’s not an automatic process, but know that the supplemental application email will be sent in the order in which applications are verified. The supplemental application is the domicile questionnaire – it tells us if you will receive in-state or out-of-state tuition. Once that is completed, you will receive an email indicating that your application is compete and “ready for review” – where it is sent to faculty reviewers.

Are there funding opportunities?

The program may support doctoral students who are in good standing and making adequate progress towards their degree through Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) contracts. GTAs/GRAs will have their tuition waived and receive a stipend for living expenses. Students receiving stipends must be registered as full-time students during the period that they are receiving their stipend.

Students may choose to supplement their stipend by engaging in research or training beyond their required activities as a GRA or GTA.  This additional work, related to public health services or research/doctoral training, may not total more than 10 hours per week.  

Additional opportunities for funding include fellowships. Read more about graduate fellowship opportunities.


If I am admitted, when do I need to make my decision?

As is standard across graduate programs in the US, students must accept or decline our offer of admission by April 15. However, although it is nice to know earlier if you are coming or choosing to decline our offer so that we can make offers to other students, programs, including ours, cannot require that you make your decision before April 15.

If I am admitted, how will I know who my PhD advisor will be?

In the offer of admission, your PhD advisor will be listed.

Can I do this program part-time?

Our PhD program is designed for full-time study, and therefore, strong applicants are offered tuition and stipend support in order to complete the program in a timely fashion. This is because, throughout your program, as a PhD student you will be involved in professional development opportunities, research, and teaching in addition to course work. Additionally, working closely with and building a professional relationship with your faculty mentor are key components of doctoral training. Such relationships are difficult to fully develop if a student is working on their degree part-time.

If I have already have a Master’s degree, can any coursework be waived?

Any reduction in credits for a prior degree is done on a case-by-case basis after a student is admitted into the program. Mason policy 6.5.2 allows a maximum reduction of 30 credits in a 72-credit doctoral program like the PhD in Public Health.

What courses must I take in the PhD in Public Health?

Review the University Catalog for current course requirements in the PhD in Public Health.

What is the Qualifying Exam?

The qualifying exam is a written exam that covers the basic material included in the PhD core courses. Typically, it is taken the summer after the first year in the program and should be attempted at the first opportunity after all the core courses have been completed.

What does it mean to “advance to candidacy”?

Students are advanced to candidacy after completing 

Students who complete all public health core and concentration core course requirements, pass the qualifying examination, and successfully defend their dissertation proposal may advance to candidacy. 

See Program Policies on advancement to candidacy in the university catalog.

What is required of the dissertation?

The dissertation is a scholarly work of independent research that contributes to the scientific field of public health. Often the dissertation is completed as three publishable manuscripts that all address a single, unifying research question. The question may be addressed in three different ways, using three different populations or addressing different aspects of the question. The specifics of each PhD in Public Health student’s dissertation are developed in consultation with the student’s faculty mentor.

The student will develop a dissertation committee, complete and defend a dissertation proposal, and complete and defend the dissertation. The student must also submit the dissertation to the University Library by the deadlines set for that semester in order to graduate. Review AP.6.10 in the University Catalog for more information.

Program Contact

Isaac Chomitz, MPH
Academic Program Coordinator