Program Overview

Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) Overview

The PhD degree in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance (IRSU) is awarded jointly by UC San Diego and San Diego State University:

This is an addiction research program designed to train researchers using cutting-edge, investigational data analytics and methodologies to reduce the national and global burden of substance use and misuse.

The curriculum was designed to prepare the next generation of leaders in substance use research with the knowledge and skills to advance evidence-based and applied substance use interventions, programs and policies. The program has a decidedly global health flavor that focuses research on the inter-connectivity of psychological, pharmacological and environmental factors related to substance use. The interdisciplinary aspect of the program provides the opportunity for students in various backgrounds including psychology, social sciences and criminal justice to streamline their focus on addiction and substance use research.

"Our program provides advanced education and training specific to the interdisciplinary field of substance use.”

National and global research and policy needs amidst climate of ongoing concern over the impact of substance use disorders and addiction will afford JDP IRSU Program graduates with ongoing job opportunities to offer a highly needed specialization in substance use research.

The program builds on mutual and complementary strengths of faculty in both institutions and will be the most productive doctoral programs in the nation associated with a School of Social Work.


Each year, in the Fall semester, four students will be admitted with funding (tuition and a $22,000 yearly teaching/research stipend) for up to 4 years.  See the Financial Support & Costs page for details.

Admission Requirements

Students are expected to be available for full-time participation in the program.  

Applicants must have a Master’s degree and evidence of foundational research experience (e.g., peer-reviewed publication record, prior coursework in graduate-level statistics and research methodology).

Please note that this degree does not focus on counseling studies.  It seeks to promote substance use reduction through research methodology studies.

See the Admission Requirements page for details.

Program Learning Outcomes

Program graduates will have the skills to:

  1. Apply and build upon extant social science theories and conceptual models related to substance use research
  2. Lead new avenues or research in substance use and addiction prevention and treatment
  3. Develop and evaluate applied prevention programs, broadly defined, related to substance use and misuse and associated health and societal outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

Doctoral students in the JDP in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use will:

SLO 1: Analyze and articulate the underlying assumptions of theories related to primary and secondary prevention of substance use, misuse and addiction and its attendant problems.

SLO 2: Identify, apply and build upon extant social science theories related to substance use and misuse.

SLO 3: Employ and refine conceptual models to guide research studies and develop intervention programs related to substance misuse and associated health and societal outcomes.

SLO 4: Articulate the ecological complexity of substance use (i.e., factors at the biologic level [e.g., genetics] and physical, social, economic, environmental and policy environment levels that interact in complex ways to shape an individual’s substance use behaviors).

SLO 5: Evaluate extant science to guide research and the development of applied prevention and treatment programs related to substance use and misuse.

SLO 6: Independently conduct advanced multivariate statistics (e.g. multilevel regression, structural equation modeling, multinomial regression, etc.) and qualitative analysis (including mixed methods analysis) to explain substance use and related problems.

SLO 7: Analyze and articulate how substance use programs and policies designed to address substance use and misuse can benefit and/or adversely impact disenfranchised populations in the U.S. and globally.