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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social and Behavioral Interventions

Offered By: Department of International Health

Onsite | Full-Time | 4 years

About the PhD in Social and Behavioral Interventions Program

The SBI program offers multidisciplinary training for researchers and public health practitioners who wish to use the social sciences in the design, implementation and evaluation of public health programs, particularly community-based interventions. The combined use of qualitative and quantitative methods is a defining characteristic of the program.

This is a STEM designated program. Eligible F-1 visa students can receive an additional 24 months of work authorization, beyond the initial 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

PhD in Social and Behavioral Interventions Program Highlights

Students are trained in survey research methods, in-depth open ended interviewing, focus group discussions, observation methods, social and environmental mapping, and computer-aided management and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Students are also given insight into factors related to gender and health, community participation in health programs, and cultural and environmental factors that affect global health.


Research opportunities around the world


Develop qualitative and quantitative skills


Learn by working in our field sites


Eligibility for a 24-month STEM OPT extension

What Can You Do With a Graduate Degree In Social And Behavioral Interventions?

Graduates are able to provide technical assistance in assessing the socio-cultural context surrounding public health interventions, and in the development, implementation and evaluation of social and behavior change programs to improve the health of underserved communities in a variety of settings. Visit the Graduate Employment Outcomes Dashboard to learn about Bloomberg School graduates' employment status, sector, and salaries.

Curriculum for the PhD in Social and Behavioral Interventions

Through multiple practicum opportunities, the program offers students an extensive hands-on exposure to the development and implementation of social and behavioral interventions globally or locally.

Browse an overview of the requirements for this PhD program in the JHU Academic Catalogue, explore all course offerings in the Bloomberg School Course Directory, and find many more details in the program's Academic Guides.


Courses Available in the Following Areas:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • Behavior change
  • Community mobilization
  • Maternal and child health
  • Anthropology
  • Social epidemiology
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Mental health
  • Indigenous health

Admissions Requirements

For general admissions requirements, please visit the How to Apply page. This specific program also requires:

Prior Graduate Degree

Master's degree in related field

Prior Work Experience

Not required but highly desirable

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores (GRE) are optional for this program. The admissions committee will make no assumptions if a standardized test score is omitted from an application, but will require evidence of quantitative/analytical ability through other application components such as academic transcripts and/or supplemental questions. Applications will be reviewed holistically based on all application components.

Student Spotlight

Diana Rayes

PhD Student, Class of 2024

Dissertation Title: Barriers and Facilitators to Mental Health Service Utilization Among Refugees in Sweden

Dissertation description: My dissertation research explores the barriers and facilitators to the utilization of mental health services among refugee adults in Sweden, with an emphasis on the Syrian population.  Findings from the Swedish example can be used to further understand mental health service utilization among refugee populations in other high-income countries, including the U.S., in order to improve the mental health services provided to refugees and migrants.

Dissertation organization: Stockholm University

Diana Rayes, PhD student

Program Faculty Spotlight

Associate Professor
International Health

Victoria M. O’Keefe, PhD, MS, works to achieve strengths-based and culturally informed suicide prevention, mental health promotion, and wellness among Indigenous communities.

Melissa Walls
International Health

Melissa Walls, PhD, MA, is an Indigenous researcher who works with American Indian and First Nations communities to promote health equity through culturally centered projects.

Caitlin Kennedy
International Health

Caitlin Kennedy PhD ’09, MPH ’04, is a social and behavioral scientist with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, and resource-limited settings.

Haneefa Saleem
Associate Professor
International Health

Haneefa Tasleem Saleem, PhD ’14, MPH, ’09, conducts research to inform and evaluate approaches aimed at improving HIV prevention and treatment and other health outcomes for people who use drugs globally.

Tuition and Funding

All full-time PhD students will receive the following support for the first four years of the program either through endowments, grants, or research projects: full tuition, individual health insurance, University Health Services clinic fee, vision insurance, and dental insurance.

Need-Based Relocation Grants
Students who are admitted to PhD programs at JHU starting in Fall 2023 or beyond can apply to receive a $1500 need-based grant to offset the costs of relocating to be able to attend JHU. These grants provide funding to a portion of incoming students who, without this money, may otherwise not be able to afford to relocate to JHU for their PhD program. This is not a merit-based grant. Applications will be evaluated solely based on financial need. View more information about the need-based relocation grants for PhD students.

Contact Us

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Elisabeth Simmons, MEd
Academic Program Administrator