College of Health Sciences offers new, interdisciplinary PhD program

Program combines multiple educational departments within the College

Media Contact: Patrick Luce, 401-874-4046 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 11, 2020 — Health and health care are constantly evolving disciplines requiring highly trained, critical thinkers to solve some of society’s most important health-related problems. The College of Health Sciences is expanding its interdisciplinary approach to health care, bringing multiple departments together to offer a new Ph.D. program in Health Sciences.

The program focus is on health, wellness and quality of life across the lifespan. Faculty members and students will work together on research projects to solve important health-related problems. The program allows students to gain experience in several of the disciplines that make up the College of Health Sciences —Communicative Disorders, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology and Nutrition and Food Sciences— and provides them with advanced knowledge and in-depth experiential training, preparing them to be leaders in critical health care fields.

“We know there are big societal challenges such as an aging population, obesity, health disparities, developmental disabilities. I think there is an urgent need for researchers and highly trained workforce leaders to protect and improve the health and wellness of the public,” said Associate Professor Alison Tovar, director of the program. “Careers in health sciences are really expected to see considerable growth over the next decade. We think we are well positioned to help train those future leaders.”

The unique, interdisciplinary program is geared toward students with a master’s degree in a related health field. Students will have access to the College’s cutting-edge research laboratories and clinics — some of which include the Healthy Eating Lab, the Speech and Hearing Center, Human Performance Laboratory, Energy Balance Laboratory, and Motion Capture/Virtual Reality Laboratory — helping them achieve breakthroughs in their research to make an impact in health care delivery.

“One of the goals for the future of this program is for it to be truly interdisciplinary,” Tovar said. “It’s a unique opportunity to bring together these different departments and tracks. Students from multiple programs will come together to help bridge these health disciplines.”

Students who complete the program can expect to work in a variety of environments, including higher education, federal and state health agencies, and private health facilities. Potential employment positions include medical science liaison, research scientist, medical communications specialist, medical or health manager, and more. The application process is on-going. Students can log on to the program’s website to apply and for more information.