The PhD program in Data Sciences for Global Health, jointly offered by BITS Pilani and the One Health Trust (OHT), offers training in global health issues and cutting-edge research methodology with rigorous fieldwork and data analysis. This program provides full-time, advanced education in global health plus expertise in qualitative and statistical/quantitative skills leading to an interdisciplinary degree. The BITS Pilani and OHT faculty have vast research experience in infectious disease dynamics, antimicrobial resistance, vaccines and immunization, environmental health, gender equity and livelihoods, health and development, health systems, and economics.
Students will spend part of their tenure in the program at the BITS Pilani Hyderabad campus and the other period housed at the Nimai Valley Center.
The students must complete six core courses covering three main subjects (24 credits) during the first year. Before the end of their second year, students will defend their thesis proposal and research plan. From their third year onwards, PhD candidates will present their work at seminars, conduct fieldwork, and communicate their research outcomes through research papers that will together form a PhD dissertation. Students must maintain a minimum grade of D and CGPA of 5.50 in all semesters. Each academic year will have two semesters.
The first year will involve course work in the following six core courses:
The coursework will help students build a strong theoretical foundation in global health and equip them with data skills. The first-year activities will take place on the BITS Pilani campus. A qualifying exam will be held at the end of the first year. Students will be promoted to the second year only if they pass at least two of their main subjects. The exam will include a written test and viva on the courses taught. BITS and OHT will jointly conduct the written exam and viva.
In the second year, students will draft a detailed research proposal to undertake thesis work and submit to their advisory committee for review. The students should take independent study/classes from faculty members from BITS-Pilani or OHT, in their research areas of interest (directed individual study), as they work on their research proposal and papers. A rotation method can be used to learn from various faculty members. Students are also encouraged to learn grant writing from their notional supervisor(s) and apply for research grants. At the end of each semester, students are expected to submit term papers, based on their research.
Students are strongly encouraged to find a potential advisor(s) during their second year. The main advisor will be from BITS Pilani and their co-advisor can be from OHT. Students will also choose a doctoral advisory committee (DAC) consisting of two members, from among the faculty members of BITS Pilani and OHT.
A candidacy/oral exam will be held at the end of the fourth semester. The exam will include an oral presentation on the research proposal developed in the second year. The proposal will be defended in the presence of a peer group and faculty of the concerned departments. Following the approval of the research proposal, students can then register for thesis units (maximum of 10 units per semester). A minimum of 40 thesis units should be completed to submit the thesis for examination.
After advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, students are expected to present their progress at least twice each semester to their supervisors and DAC. Additionally, they are expected to submit progress reports to their respective DAC members at least once per semester. Students are also encouraged to present their research in seminars or conferences organized by BITS, OHT, and elsewhere.
Eligible students may apply for the PhD program in Data Sciences for Global Health, commencing in July 2023. The online application forms will be available at bitsadmission.com in November 2022 through May 2023. The number of students admitted will vary based on the availability of positions in the department, funding, and the merit of applicants.
Applications to the PhD program are invited from candidates with a master’s degree in any basic science or liberal arts discipline. We also accept applications from candidates with a bachelor’s degree in medical, dental, veterinary, pharmaceutical, or alternative health sciences and engineering. Applicants from other fields are also encouraged to apply.
The minimum eligibility requirements for admission are as follows:
Applicants should submit the following:
Statement of research purpose (maximum two pages), indicating the candidate’s academic background, broad research interests, career goals, and how a PhD in Data Sciences for Global Health from BITS Pilani–OHT will advance their career goals.
Two letters of recommendation
The shortlisted applicants will be interviewed about their knowledge of global health, data sciences, and research interests. OHT will participate in the interviewing panel. There will be no written exam, but grades from previous written exams will be considered.