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Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements

A master's or equivalent graduate degree is required for admission to the PhD program. In addition, we encourage prior graduate training in the areas noted below. Students applying without prerequisites may be admitted, but will be required to complete appropriate courses before being permitted to the core curriculum. The program currently works with three master's-level programs to provide articulated master's-PhD training, as described below.


Knowledge from prior coursework or vocational experience at the equivalent of college senior or graduate level in each of the following areas.

Social or behavioral sciences (15 semester hours minimum):

Knowledge of essential facts and concepts concerning the relationships among individuals and society, social organization and individual psychology; and the relationships among culture, belief and behavior. This could be satisfied by coursework in psychology, sociology and anthropology.

Human biology or physiology (six semester hours minimum):

Familiarity with the functioning of the human body in health and disease states, including an understanding of cellular and organ system processes; an appreciation of evolutionary theory and the mechanisms by which evolution operates on both cellular and population levels; and an understanding of the interplay between the evolution of disease and host response. This could be satisfied by coursework in human biology, physiology, pathophysiology or biological anthropology.

Statistics (three semester hours minimum):

Prior coursework and current familiarity with statistics, including probability theory, parametric and nonparametric methods, and acquaintance with basic multivariate techniques.

Epidemiology (three semester hours minimum):

Prior coursework at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level with the basic concepts and methods of epidemiology, including measures of risk, mortality, distribution of disease, role of bias and confounders, and study design.


Demonstrated academic excellence is required for admissions as evidenced by:

  • an undergraduate grade point average of 3.25 (out of a possible 4.0 points) or better, a graduate grade point average of 3.5 or better
  • scores in the top 30th percentile (averaged) of the GRE

Admission to the program is highly competitive; minimum GPAs and GRE scores for acceptance in any given year may be higher than the minimum levels indicated here.


The applicability of a student's prior coursework will be decided by the program's executive committee after reviewing the student's transcript and additional materials. If the student does not have the requisite health and behavioral sciences educational background or grade point average, the student may be admitted on a conditional or provisional basis, and additional coursework required in accordance with graduate school rules.

Prospective students should not be dissuaded from applying to the program if they do not meet all of the requirements for admission. In some cases, employment experience may be counted toward meeting a requirement. In other cases, students may be admitted conditionally upon their completion of a list of prerequisite courses that will be established at the time of admission. Students should be sure to address this issue in completing the graduate application by specifying the academic and vocational experience they possess that meets, in part or full, the admission requirements described above.


The program does not currently offer master's-level training in HBSC. Instead, we urge interested applicants to pursue relevant master's degree training in one of the social, behavioral or health sciences disciplines. In addition, we work closely with three master's programs at UC Denver: the concentration in medical anthropology within the Anthropology MA program offered by the Anthropology Department, the Master of Science in Public Health offered by the Preventive Medicine and Biometrics Department, the Master of Social Sciences program, and the Master of Arts in Sociology. Contact these respective programs for more information on these degree options and our program for how their requirements articulate with those for the Health and Behavioral Sciences PhD.


The program admits students only for the fall semester, which typically begins in mid- to late August. The deadline for the receipt of all application materials is Feb. 15 for admission the following August.


At the UC Denver Downtown Campus, all graduate applications are now submitted electronically. Begin the application process online​.

If you have any difficulties, call the program assistant at 303-556-4300.

Applicants should invest considerable thought and effort in preparing their application. For instance, in the essay (Part II, question 6) applicants should provide information on:

  • their academic training and any employment related to public health or health care
  • their experiences with inter- and multidisciplinary perspectives
  • how they envision using their doctoral degree to improve the health status of human populations and individuals

Students should also indicate the kinds of research foci that interest them the most.


In addition to the online application, there are several other application materials that are required and which should be mailed to the offices of the Program in Health and Behavioral Sciences (Campus Box 188, University of Colorado at Denver, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, Colorado 80217-3364):

  • Three letters of recommendation (both the letter and the form) from three references. Download the recommendation form (pdf) three times. We suggest that you address an envelope with the HBS address shown above for each person that you have asked to recommend you. Then insert a Recommendation Form into the envelope, put a stamp on it and deliver it to the person writing the recommendation.
  • GRE scores from a test taken within the last five years
  • Two copies of the official transcript from each college or university that you have attended
  • Application fee of $50 (make check out to the University of Colorado)


There are four kinds of financial aid available: graduate student stipends/fellowships; tuition assistance; research assistantship positions funded by grants to specific program faculty; and the regular package of financial aid (primarily loans) available through the Financial Aid Office.

Newly admitted students, out-of-state students and students demonstrating outstanding scholastic achievement receive priority when assigning departmental sources of funding. Students interested in research assistantships should contact the individual faculty member with whom they wish to work regarding potential assistantship positions.

All other aid should be requested through the UC Denver Financial Aid Office, NC 1030, Campus Box 125, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364. Telephone: 303-556-2886.