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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Biobehavioral Health (BB H)

Program Home Page

Rob Turrisi, Professor in Charge of the Graduate Program
Department of Biobehavioral Health
219 Biobehavioral Health Building
814-863-7424

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

The graduate program in Biobehavioral Health (BB H) is an interdisciplinary graduate program provided by the College of Health and Human Development and involving faculty from its departments. The focus of the program is on the interaction of biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental variables in the etiology and prevention of health problems and in the promotion of healthy human development. The program is designed to cultivate competence in basic and applied research, in the evaluation of biobehavioral health intervention strategies, and in university teaching. Graduates are prepared for research, teaching, or policy roles in health care settings, private and public research laboratories, government agencies, and universities including medical schools.

Special resources available in the college that students may draw upon and potentially participate in for their research programs include a Health and Human Development Consultation Center, Nutrition Clinic, and Speech and Hearing Clinic; Centers for Gerontology, the Study of Child and Adolescent Development, Developmental and Health Genetics, Locomotion Studies, Worksite Health Enhancement, and Developmental and Health Research Methodology; special laboratories in Behavioral Endocrinology, Biomechanics, Human Performance, Motor Behavior, and Nutrition; and extensive computer resources. Additional resources, including elaborate mainframe and super computer capabilities, are available in other parts of the University.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), or from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), are required for admission. Applicants should have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 (A=4.00), an above-average score on the GRE or MCAT, and three supporting recommendations. At the discretion of the graduate program, exceptions may be made to these requirements for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Admission will be offered to candidates who are the best qualified, in the judgment of the faculty, taking all factors in to account.

Entering students should have a basic background in biological sciences, the behavioral sciences, or a combination of the two. In addition, they should have a basic background in quantitative methods. In exceptional cases, superior students who do not meet these requirements may be admitted provisionally, while correcting their deficiencies. This must occur during their first two semesters in the program.

Master's Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Master of Science degree candidates must take five core courses in biobehavioral health and 12 additional credits in methods individually designed in consultation with and with the approval of their adviser and committee. All M.S. degree candidates must complete a formal master's thesis or a master's paper. Candidates selecting the thesis option must complete an additional 6 credits of master's thesis research (BB H 600) for a total of 33 credits. Candidates selecting the paper option must complete an additional 6 credits of individual studies (BB H 596) in lieu of the 6 thesis credits. The master's thesis will typically describe original research. The master's paper may describe original research, but may also involve a substantial review of the literature, or a substantial description of a new research-related procedure. The choice of thesis or paper options will be made by the student in consultation with the adviser. The student's advisory committee judges the quality and acceptability of the paper or thesis. Additionally, the thesis must be submitted to, and accepted by the Graduate School.

M.S. program course requirements: BB H core courses (15 credits: BB H 501, BB H 502, BB H 503, BB H 504, BB H 505); other methods courses (12 credits minimum: courses at the 400 or 500 level to be selected in consultation with the student's adviser); research credits (6 credits minimum or 6 thesis credits).

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

All doctoral students must take five core courses in Biobehavioral Health and 12 additional credits in research methods individually designed in consultation with and with the approval of the student's adviser and committee to develop doctoral-level competence in biobehavioral health and one or more related specialized areas.

Communication and Language Requirement. Doctoral students must demonstrate competency in spoken English as judged by the faculty and in technical writing as demonstrated in research papers and/or publications. In addition, they must demonstrate competence in one of the following areas: (1) a foreign language; (2) computer science; (3) college teaching; (4) logic or philosophy of science.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Bioethics

Admission Requirements
Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Biobehavioral Health and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program in Bioethics. Students must apply and be admitted to the dual-title degree program in Bioethics prior to taking the candidacy exam. In addition, applicants should have a junior/senior cumulative average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and an appropriate background in undergraduate coursework. Prospective dual-title students will write a statement of purpose that addresses the ways in which their research and professional goals reflect an interest in interdisciplinary bioethics research.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Biobehavioral Health Ph.D. students may pursue additional training in bioethics through the dual-title Ph.D. program in Bioethics. To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the Biobehavioral Health Ph.D. program. In addition, they must satisfy the requirements described below, as established by the Bioethics program committee. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student, their Biobehavioral Health adviser, and their Bioethics program adviser.

Additional course work
The dual-title Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health and Bioethics requires eighteen credits of course work beyond the requirements for the Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health, as follows:

  • 7 required credits (BIOET 501, BIOET 502, and BIOET 590), plus at least 3 additional BIOET credits at the 500 level.
  • 8 additional credits from a list of approved electives at the 400 and 500 level, with at least two credits at the 500 level.

Candidacy. In accordance with Graduate Council policy, there will be a single candidacy examination, assessing candidacy for both the primary program and the dual-title program. At least one member of the candidacy committee must come from the Bioethics program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ graduate faculty may serve in a combined role.

Comprehensive exam. The doctoral committee of a Biobehavioral Health and Bioethics dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the Bioethics graduate faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ graduate faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee is not also a member of the graduate faculty in Bioethics, the member of the committee representing Bioethics must be appointed as co-chair. The faculty member (or members) affiliated with the Bioethics Program will be responsible for administering a portion of the comprehensive exam that will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of various theoretical and methodological approaches to bioethics, and an ability to apply them to issues and problems (including, where appropriate, practical problems) in their primary field.

Dissertation and dissertation defense. A dissertation on a bioethics-related topic or with a substantial bioethics component is required of students in the dual-title Ph.D. program. The bioethics-related topic of the dissertation or the bioethics component will be approved by the student's doctoral committee. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Clinical and Translational Sciences

Admission Requirements
Doctoral students with research and educational interests in clinical and translational science may apply for the Dual-Title Ph.D. degree in Biobehavioral Health and Clinical and Translational Sciences following admission to the Graduate School and Biobehavioral Health graduate degree program and prior to taking the candidacy examination in Biobehavioral Health. An admissions committee comprised of faculty affiliated with the dual-title program will evaluate applicants. Applicants must have a graduate GPA of at least 3.5 in a research area related to human health. Prospective dual-title program students will write a statement of purpose that addresses the ways in which their research and professional goals will be enhanced by an interdisciplinary course of study in clinical and translational sciences.

Degree Requirements
Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

This dual-title degree program emphasizes interdisciplinary scholarship at the interface of basic sciences, clinical sciences, and human health. Students in the dual-title program are required to have two advisers from separate disciplines: one individual serving as the primary mentor in the graduate program in Biobehavioral Health and another individual serving as the secondary mentor in an area covered by the dual-title program who is a member of the Clinical and Translational Sciences faculty.

The Dual-Title Ph.D. Degree in Biobehavioral Health and Clinical and Translational Sciences requires: 1) completion of the Biobehavioral Health Ph.D. degree requirements, 2) CTS 590 (1 credit each semester for two semesters) and CTS 595 (a minimum of 6 credits), and 3) 18 elective credits that meet CTS program requirements, up to 12 credits of which may be double-counted from the BB H required course work. The 18 elective credits will be chosen from an approved list of courses maintained by the CTS program, covering the areas of epidemiology, bioinformatics, experimental design and interpretation, statistics, the regulatory environment, and scientific communication.

In accordance with Graduate Council policy, the candidacy committee must include at least one member of the Clinical and Translational Sciences graduate faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ graduate faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single candidacy examination which will include content from both the Graduate Program in Biobehavioral Health and the Clinical and Translational Sciences programs. The candidacy exam must be taken within four semesters (summer sessions do not count) of entry into the doctoral program.

The student’s doctoral committee must include at least one member of the Clinical and Translational Sciences graduate faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ graduate faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee is not also a member of the graduate faculty in Clinical and Translational Sciences, the member of the committee representing Clinical and Translational Sciences must be appointed as co-chair. The fields of Biobehavioral Health and Clinical and Translational Sciences will be integrated in the student’s comprehensive examination.

All students are required to conduct dissertation research that contributes fundamentally to the fields of Biobehavioral Health and Clinical and Translational Sciences. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

BIOBEHAVIORAL HEALTH (BB H) course list

 

Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2016

Blue Sheet Item #: 44-06-000

Review Date: 4/5/2016

Faculty linked: 5/27/14

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