Social and Behavioral Sciences

Sarah Collins headshot


Sarah Collins, Ph.D

Dr. Sarah Collins is an assistant teaching professor and the undergraduate community health program director in the department of health, sport & exercise sciences at the University of Kansas. She ultimately hopes to introduce and instill community health concepts of health equity and social justice to future medical providers and rehabilitation specialists to further expand community health’s mission beyond community-based initiatives, but also into clinical spaces.

Allen, Acquel Headshot


Acquel Allen-Mitchell, M.P.H., M.B.A.

Acquel Allen-Mitchell is passionate about advocating for environmental justice and her primary research focus surrounds addressing environmental injustice. She aims to incorporate community engagement principles within her research and attempts to reduce health disparities among underserved and marginalized communities. Acquel is mentored by Dr. Brittney Dixon, with whom she has collaborated on several projects.

Program overview

The emphasis of the Ph.D. in Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration curriculum is on the application of behavioral and social science perspectives to research on contemporary health problems. Program strengths include research to understand and influence health behaviors that are risk factors in disease and illness, or protective and health enhancing, as well as rigorous training in research methods, program design and evaluation.

The program is focused on the assumption that health and health behavior are impacted by multiple psychological, behavioral, social and cultural factors, which are central to addressing health problems and eliminating health disparities and inequalities. These factors must be understood and addressed at multiple social-ecological levels.

Each student and his or her doctoral committee jointly determine the student’s specific program of doctoral study. This process allows students to design a course of study uniquely suited to their particular needs and career goals. Upon successful completion of all program components, culminating in the dissertation defense, program graduates will be awarded the Ph.D. in Public Health.

Graduates may be employed at universities, federal and state government agencies (e.g. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or public health departments), health and environmental research firms, and non-profit local, national and international agencies.


  • Students will explore the unique issues faced by diverse groups and populations and acquire skills to achieve social and behavioral change
  • Students will develop advanced knowledge and skills in the social and behavioral sciences theories and methods used in public health
  • A prior graduate degree in public health or a related field is strongly preferred


  • A minimum of 90 credit hours of graduate coursework is required for the doctoral program.
  • All students must demonstrate through previous course work the attainment of basic level knowledge in epidemiology; public health administration systems, assessment and surveillance in public health, and public health program planning and evaluation. Students who do not demonstrate previous coursework in these basic areas must complete it before beginning their second year of doctoral study.
  • Graduate students must maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 for all coursework.
  • Full requirements are available in the Student Handbook.