Sociomedical Sciences

Program Category: PhD Programs

Chair: Lisa Metsch


Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

Please note: The degree for this program is conferred by GSAS, but program specifics, such as admissions, degree requirements, and financial aid, are administered by other schools of the university.

The Sociomedical Sciences PhD program is interdisciplinary, with study divided between the Mailman School of Public Health and one of several departments in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (AnthropologyHistoryPsychology, or Sociology).

The PhD is designed for individuals who wish to combine training in a social or behavioral science discipline with research on questions significant to public health and medicine. We train students to advance knowledge in their discipline of choice while also answering questions central to public health. This includes applying social science theory and methods to the study of social factors related to health status and health care needs, exploring the social structure of health care delivery systems, and analyzing the relation between these systems and the populations they are designed to serve.

Fellowships and other forms of funding are awarded to incoming students in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Research experience is considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students, and most graduate fellowships and Graduate Research Assistance-ships involve some form of research apprenticeship.

In the statement of academic purpose, applicants to the PhD program are strongly encouraged to clearly indicate the discipline in which they intend to concentrate (anthropology, history, psychology, or sociology), to articulate the questions they hope to explore at the intersection of that discipline and public health, and to discuss how that area of prospective scholarship will advance knowledge in that discipline or answer vital questions in public health. Applicants should also note the faculty members with whom they would be interested in working.

Special Note for Applicants to the SMS PhD Program:

As of Fall 2011, all Mailman applications at the master’s and doctoral level were moved to the Schools of Public Health (SOPHAS) common application. Applicants apply through the School of Public Health, but the PhD degree continues to be granted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants will see that the SOPHAS application contains a number of questions on public health work experience and public health leadership aspirations. PhD applicants should answer those questions but should also know that their answers will not be weighted heavily in the admissions process. For the PhD program, we seek students with a demonstrated capacity for academic excellence and the ability to ask innovative and important questions at the juncture of their discipline of choice and public health.

More detailed information may be obtained from Andrea Constancio, Program Coordinator, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, 722 W. l68th St., New York, NY l0032, or ac995 [at]

Before contacting Ms. Constancio, students should review information about the program available on the department website and on the Mailman page for prospective PhD students.

Sociomedical Sciences Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality and Health

This fellowship is supported by the first NIH-funded program to focus on gender, sexuality, and health. The fellowship is designed to prepare students for research and teaching careers in historical and/or social scientific approaches to gender and sexuality. Many of our fellows explore how social and cultural aspects of gender or sexuality shape reproductive and sexual health.

The department invites applications from individuals interested in a multidisciplinary program that combines rigorous graduate studies in anthropology, history, psychology, or sociology with specialized courses and doctoral research apprenticeships in gender, sexuality, and health. The department will support one or two fellowships annually for up to five years.

Fellowships are awarded to outstanding applicants admitted to the Sociomedical Sciences PhD program who demonstrate an interest in scholarship on gender, sexuality, and health and who indicate on their application to SMS the desire to be considered for the fellowship. NIH regulations stipulate that the fellowship can only be used to support US citizens or permanent residents. In 2012 the program was renewed for another five years of funding, with support from the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Students should apply directly to the SMS PhD program and indicate their interest in the fellowship on the External Funding section of the application. Applicants for the fellowship should also note in their 500-word personal statement their interest in gender and sexuality and briefly outline a prospective area of research for their doctoral dissertation.

For additional information, see the Training Grant in Gender, Sexuality and Health page on the Mailman website.

Degree Programs: Full Time