May 27, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
    
2023/2024 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use, Ph.D.


(Major Code: 49075) (SIMS Code: 558213)

General Information

The School of Social Work at San Diego State University and the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, offer a joint doctoral program in interdisciplinary research on substance use. This program is designed to prepare the next generation of leaders in substance use research with the knowledge and skills to improve health and develop substance use interventions, policies, and programs that are relevant to impacted populations and reduce suffering related to addiction and substance use.

The program focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to address the use and misuse of substances and the social and health consequences of such use and related policies. Interdisciplinary training opportunities draw from a variety of disciplines including anthropology, economics, global health, Latin American studies, neuroscience, pharmacology, political science, psychology and psychiatry, public health, and social work. The program will include a prevention research orientation focusing on the development and evaluation of disease prevention and health promotion recommendations and public health policies and programs. A harm reduction research perspective is also emphasized to reduce health problems associated with drug use and co-occurring disorders. Students acquire advanced skills and knowledge in these areas, building on a solid foundation of current and emerging theory, research methods, and analytic approaches related to scientific and cultural understanding of substance use and related problems. Using a socio-ecological perspective, students will gain critical understanding of the etiology and epidemiology of substance use, and its related problems, as well as the effectiveness of interventions, policies, and programs designed to ameliorate such problems. Graduates of the program will be prepared to take leadership roles in areas such as academics, clinical practice, governmental and non-governmental agencies, policy, and research.

Admission to the Degree Curriculum

Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited (U.S. or equivalent) college or university from a related social/behavioral science or professional program (e.g., social work, public health, psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics). It is expected that applicants will have minimum grade point averages of 3.2 (undergraduate) and 3.5 (graduate) or better, and sufficient research experience (e.g., peer-reviewed publication record, prior coursework in graduate-level statistics, and research methodology) to successfully complete degree requirements in a timely manner. Minimum acceptable GRE scores are at the 55th percentile. Students who speak English as a second language will be required to demonstrate proficiency in spoken and written English through the TOEFL examination, TOEFL scores must be submitted to SDSU, Institution Code 4682, http://www.ets.org.

Advancement to Candidacy

In order to advance to candidacy, students must (1) complete their coursework, (2) pass a comprehensive examination, (3) develop a proposal of their dissertation research (NIH-style proposal format), and (4) pass an oral defense of their dissertation proposal with their committee. The comprehensive examination will be objective and cover areas including data analysis, research methods, pharmacology, and theory. The material for this examination will be taken from course materials related to each of these respective sequences. Students must achieve at least 80 percent within two attempts in order to pass.

Specific Requirements


In addition, each student will complete a take-home qualifying examination and the dissertation.

All students must complete a minimum of 60 units and residency requirements on both campuses to include 24 semester units at SDSU and 36 quarter units at UCSD; and a minimum one year residence on each campus. Required SDSU course-work includes

UCSD Coursework


Required UCSD coursework includes

  • MED 231
  • MED 257A
  • MED257B
  • Two UCSD electives.