Ph.D. in Health Sciences Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Individualized Program of Study?

The Individualized Program of Study (12 credit hours) is a flexible program of courses to focus on content areas for the student to build knowledge/skills to meet career objectives. The plan is proposed by the student and approved by the academic advisor and can include F2F, online, hybrid or independent study courses taken at NIU.

What benefits are there in a degree with a broad topic?

The Ph.D. program in Health Sciences (Ph.D. HS) will address the need for academic faculty and professionals in health and human sciences organizations that hold a research-intensive terminal degree. There is a growing societal demand for university programs to educate professionals in the health and human sciences such as nurses, physical therapists, speech pathologists, family practice professionals, nutritionists, family social services providers, health agency administrators and numerous others. The societal need coupled with the aging of faculty in many of these professions has created a significant gap between the demand for university faculty to educate the health professionals and the number of individuals prepared to take on the university faculty role in these professional programs. Also, with the emphasis on outcomes measurement and program improvement, agency administrators can benefit.

What does it mean that this is an "interdisciplinary" program?

The Ph.D. HS program emphasizes an orientation to learning and research which includes a collaborative approach to develop students as future members of teams that include different disciplines. It has been suggested that complex or systems problems can be best addressed by interprofessional teams. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), interprofessional education (IPE) is an experience that "occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other" (WHO, 2010). This array of educational backgrounds will allow students and faculty from different disciplines to combine ideas and strategies for a more comprehensive learning experience.

In spring 2014, a group of CHHS faculty discussed what interprofessional means to them:

  • Collaboration between all parties involved including professionals
    • Thoughtful and meaningful
    • People with various skills coming together
      • The sum is greater than the parts
    • Team Work
      • A group cannot succeed unless all members are successful
  • Connectedness
  • Exchange of ideas/ Sharing of knowledge
  • Reliance on others to have a good result
    • Respect
    • Trust
    • Persistence
    • Commitment
    • Encouragement
Upon completion of the program, what opportunities are available?

The mission of the Ph.D. HS is to prepare students from a wide range of professions to function effectively as interprofessionally-oriented scholars and researchers within health-related academic and nonacademic settings. The program is designed to prepare students to become faculty, researchers and leaders in health sciences professions.

Program Description

What specializations are available?

Faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) at Northern Illinois University have expertise in:

  • Health disciplines (including audiology, gerontology, health education, medical laboratory sciences, nursing, nutrition/dietetics, physical therapy, public health, rehabilitation counseling and speech-language pathology) and
  • Human sciences (including early childhood studies, family and consumer sciences, hospitality management and textiles, apparel and merchandising.

The Ph.D. HS is not a collection of disciplinary doctorates and no specific specializations have been identified. Specialization is dependent on the agreed area of research. For instance, a student interested in specializing in language development might have a mentor with expertise in speech-language pathology, family and child studies or rehabilitation counseling depending on the particular research questions.

What are the guidelines for submitting three publishable manuscripts as opposed to a traditional dissertation?

Students who complete the requirements in the format of a sequence of three publishable articles resulting from the dissertation research will need to obtain approval for publication guidelines from the dissertation committee chair. As is standard practice among doctoral degree granting institutions, NIU's policy requires that dissertation research must involve original contributions to the field and be developed under the supervision of the approved dissertation committee. For both formats, the dissertation process will culminate with a student defense and feedback from the committee.

What is the length of the program?

Information about the proposed course schedule for full-time and part-time students is available on the website. Examples of course delivery schedules posted there show plans for full-time students to complete within three years and part-time students four years.

Applying to the Program

How do I know if I am eligible to have my GRE scores waived? Do I need to submit any other test scores?

Students who have earned a graduate degree with at least a GPA of 3.5 from an accredited institutions may be exempt from taking and/or turning in GRE scores. To request to have your GRE scores waived, please submit this waiver form to the College of Health and Human Sciences.

International, non-immigrant students must meet language test requirements (IELTS and TOEFL). An IELTS score of 60.5 or TOEFL score of at least 80 on the TOEFL iBT, 213 on a scale of 0-300 or at least 500 on the older scale of 310-667, is required. The score must be for an examination administered no more than 24 months prior to the beginning of the academic term for which a student is applying to.

When will I hear back about the status of my application?

The priority consideration deadline for applications is February 1. Applications will be screened in February by the Admissions Committee. We will set a plan for interviews as appropriate, either F2F or via SKYPE. Our goal is to notify applicants of their status (accepted, wait-listed or denied) beginning in April. NOTE: For admission approval, a CHHS faculty member must be identified. Check the faculty research webpage for faculty research interest areas. If a faculty member agrees, send that update to us.

How competitive is the program?

We typically receive applications from two to three individuals for each opening. Our limitation is to find a match of research interests with college faculty.

Cost of the Program

Contact Us

Ph.D. in Health Sciences
Wirtz Hall 323
815-753-6169 (fax)

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