Community Well-Being Ph.D.

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Program Requirements

CWB Students complete the following requirements for the PhD:

  • Research training with faculty advisor
  • Teaching
  • Required Coursework: 60 credits. Up to 30 credits may be transferred from a master’s program
  • Qualifying Exam
  • Advancement to Candidacy
  • Dissertation
  • CWB Forum

Program Timelines:

  • Approved Program of Study - Spring Year 1
  • Qualifying Exam proposal meeting – Summer Year 2/
  • Qualifying Exam completed and Admission to Candidacy – Fall Year 3
  • Dissertation Proposal – Spring Year 3
  • Dissertation Defended – Spring Year 4 

Research Training

The primary focus of doctoral study for CWB students is research training, which takes place in the context of apprenticeship with a research advisor and supported by coursework in research methodology. This research experience is designed to provide the student training with respect to varied aspects of the research process such as conducting literature reviews, developing research designs, building relationships with community members and partners, collecting data, conducting analyses, and writing papers and articles. In addition to participating in the advisor’s research program, students also receive mentorship on developing their own ideas in order to develop their Qualifying Exam, Dissertation, and ultimately an independent program of research. Students are also expected each year to submit abstracts for presentation at conferences and other relevant settings such as the UM research forum, SCRA Biennial, SCRA Eco conferences, APA, and others.

Research Advisor

A research advisor is assigned to each admitted student in the letter of admission, based on fit with research interests as determined during the admissions process. The research advisor must be a member of the CWB faculty. The research advisor will serve as the student’s research mentor, and as the Chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee and Qualifying Examination Committee. In order to be in good standing in the CWB program all students must have a research advisor. If a transition to a different advisor becomes necessary, the student may take no longer than one semester or the summer to identify a new advisor.

Upon completing the Qualifying Examination, and prior to advancement to candidacy the student must specify who will chair their dissertation committee. Students, who wish to change research advisors while in the program, should consult the SEHD Handbook for guidance about choosing advisors and the change of advisor form.

The program director will serve as the academic advisor for all CWB students, whose role is to help students develop their program of study.


In order to prepare for academic positions students are required to receive training in teaching. All students are expected to serve as a teaching assistant at least once during the first two years of training. Students in this role are expected to engage in a variety of teaching related activities including attending the class in which they are assisting, developing a rubric for an assignment, grading, and as appropriate guest lecturing.

Required Coursework

To obtain the PhD students are required to complete 60 credits of coursework and 12 credits of dissertation research.

Of the 60 credits required for the PhD, 30 are foundational courses at the master’s level. These courses are offered in the EPS Department’s Community and Social Change Program. Students who have completed a master’s program in community psychology are likely to have taken most of these courses and may transfer in the credits. Students who have not completed a master’s in community psychology are required to take these courses or equivalents.

Students may substitute these master’s level courses with equivalents at the doctoral level. For example, EPS 628 Managing Community Organizations in the Professional Skills category may be substituted by a course concerned with professional development relevant to doctoral students. The EPS626 Multicultural Communities in a Globalized Society requirement in the Foundations category could be fulfilled by a doctoral level course that a) addresses issues of multiculturalism; b) includes some consideration of community issues; and c) includes application of multicultural concerns to practice or research. Students are also encouraged to develop independent study opportunities to apprentice with faculty on research related to these topics that can lead to manuscripts suitable for publication in academic journals. Students will discuss these options with their advisor and the program director as they develop a Program of Study, subject to approval by the advisory committee.

The other 30 credits are to be taken in advanced doctoral level courses and are required for all students.

After finishing most required courses and passing the qualifying examination, the CWB Program Faculty reviews the students’ overall progress in the program to consider advancement to doctoral candidacy.   

The Dissertation is a comprehensive APA-style report of original research that contributes to existing theory and knowledge in community psychology. The dissertation proposal is to be completed within one year of the successful passing of the qualifying examination. The purpose of the dissertation is for the student to demonstrate scholarly expertise in a chosen research area and competence in independent scholarship with respect to developing a review of the literature, articulating a research question, designing a study to answer the question, collecting data, conducting analyses, reporting and interpreting the findings. 

CWB students are expected to conduct an empirical study, including primary data collection.  In some situations, secondary analysis may be appropriate. Approval by the University of Miami IRB is required.  

The dissertation should follow the standard format, with chapters covering Introduction, Review of the Literature, Methods, Results, and Discussion.  Students are expected to have a proposal and a defense meeting.  

The primary purpose of the CWB Qualifying Examination is to determine the candidate’s potential and readiness for completing the doctorate in Community Well-Being. The exam is designed to assess the students’ competencies in Community Psychology. The exam is a portfolio of the students’ work with 4 components 

  • Critical Review of empirical literature relevant to the students’ emerging program of research. The review should identify an existing empirical literature on the topic of interest to the student and critique it, applying a theoretical lens rooted in Community Psychology.  
  • Research Report on an empirical study written in the traditional form of a research report in APA style. The report should include a literature review, methods, results, and discussions sections. Students can build data available through the research advisor’s ongoing research or collected by the student.  
  • Research and Career Statement and CV.  The statement should describe the students’ professional research biography and identity.   
  • Statement of Teaching Philosophy. Students will be asked to submit a Teaching Philosophy Statement written formally, in the format expected in academic job applications.     


Students are to develop a qualifying exam proposal under supervision of their research advisor and present it to the Qualifying Examination Committee. The examination committee may approve the proposal or request additional information and request revisions prior to approval.  

Upon completing the portfolio students will submit all 4 components to the Qualifying Exam Committee and schedule a presentation meeting.  During the committee meeting faculty will ask the student questions about the products and come to a consensus about approving the exam.  

CWB students are encouraged to attend and participate in the CWB Forum [held 4-8 times per year], and attendance is mandatory during their first 3 years in the program. The Forum is a gathering of CWB faculty, students, and other interested faculty and students from other departments and programs where they present on their research and discuss community psychology theories, research and practice.