Doctor of Behavioral Health Degree Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of the DBH degree?
The Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) degree is an innovative, applied clinical doctorate that focuses exclusively on integrated health care. The DBH degree was originally designed by Dr. Nicholas A. Cummings to address the unmet educational need to prepare behavioral health providers to practice in primary care and other medical settings as part of an interdisciplinary team. This degree is also relevant for allied health care providers interested in whole-person health care. The DBH Program will prepare students to deliver patient-centered care, work in interdisciplinary teams, employ evidence-based practice and quality improvement approaches, and utilize informatics.

What is the difference between a PsyD and a DBH?
The Cummings Institute offers a Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) degree. The DBH is an applied, clinically focused degree program that culminates in an applied project completed in a medical setting, as compared to traditional PhD programs focusing on research culminating in a written dissertation.

What is a PhD in Behavioral Health?
The Cummings Institute offers a Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) degree. The DBH is an applied, clinically focused degree program that culminates in an applied project completed in a medical setting, as compared to traditional PhD programs focusing on research culminating in a written dissertation. To learn more about what sets the DBH apart from a PhD, review this infographic.

When can I start the DBH program? Are admissions deadlines rolling?
The DBH has two (2) entry points, Fall and Spring I. The deadlines for admissions are not rolling. Upcoming deadlines are provided on the Admissions page.

Are any competency exams or test scores required for admission?
No competency examinations are required for admission.

What is the average degree completion time?
The DBH degree requires completion of sixty (60) credits. Students have a maximum of five (5) years to complete the program. Courses are offered in 4 terms throughout the academic year, Fall, Spring I, Spring II, and Summer. One of our program’s strengths is its flexibility. Students may enroll in one (1) to three (3) classes per term. The degree completion timeline is contingent upon how many courses a student takes per term. Most of our students take two (2) to three (3) classes a semester, and at that rate they obtain their degree in an average of three (3) years.

How many hours per week are spent in class?
Our students estimate that one (1) three (3) credit course requires an average of twelve (12) hours of reading, studying, and writing per week. If you work full-time (as the majority of our students do) it is advised that you take a maximum of 2 courses per term.

A student with a goal of completing their DBH degree in three (3) years will average two (2) courses per term. A student enrolled in two (2) three (3) credit courses equals a total of six (6) credit hours, which averages a total of 24 hours of reading, studying, and writing per week.

Is an internship required for the DBH?
The DBH at CGI does not require an internship.

Is a dissertation required for the DBH?
The DBH Culminating Project fulfills the doctoral degree requirement in lieu of a traditional dissertation. Completion of a culminating project includes: An applied research paper, demonstrating design, implementation, and evaluation of a project to address a problem identified in the healthcare setting; a well-supported proposal to solve that problem with an innovative integrated care solution; and a live Culminating Project Defense and/or IRB review (if required for human subjects research).

Does my Master's degree count towards a CGI DBH?
In order to be eligible for admissions into CGI's DBH program, evidence of Master’s Degree or higher from a accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B average) or better in the field of Behavioral Health or similar (Counseling, Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy) is required.

Credits earned in a Master’s program are not transferable to the DBH.

To learn more about admissions requirements and transfer admissions visit the general Admissions page and DBH Admissions page.

What is the faculty and student ratio?
The current faculty to student ratio at CGI is 10:1. The favorable ratio ensures that faculty are available to give each student the support they need to succeed within each course.

What is the minimum number of courses students are required to take per term?
Full-Time Enrollment (FTE) is 3 semester credit hours or more per term. Part-Time Enrollment (PTE) is 2 semester credit hours or less and no fewer than 1 semester credit hour, per term. Additional information regarding DBH curriculum and credit hour requirements can be found on the DBH page.

How much does it cost to take one (1) course?
Tuition for one credit in the DBH, IBH, and TIC programs is $400. Military discounts are available. A three (3) credit course would be $1,200 at the standard rate.

For full details on tuition and fees, visit the Tuition page.

Do I have to pay the full program tuition at the start of the DBH program?
No, Cummings Graduate Institute works hard to make tuition affordable and accessible for our students. Cummings Graduate Institute has developed several payment programs to accommodate all budget types. The Cummings Graduate Institute Tuition Payment Programs offer zero-interest payment plans.

Can I call myself a doctor with a DBH?
The use of the “Doctor” title may be prohibited in certain areas. Every country, state, and employer is different when it comes to the use of the “Doctor” title. Students should research local legislation and employer practices related to the use of the “Doctor” title. Our goal is no surprises - but legislation is evolving quickly. Making an informed decision means knowing the landscape of healthcare in your local area.

Can I enroll in the DBH and a non-degree certificate program at the same time?

CGI refers to this concurrent enrollment. Concurrent programs are defined as two or more academic programs that may be pursued at the Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies (CGI) by a student resulting in completion of the requirements for two or more degree-seeking and or non-degree seeking programs. Enrollment in concurrent programs is regulated by CGI. Overlap of credits allowed (i.e., where credit hours can count towards more than one program) is governed by the Concurrent Program Enrollment Policy.

Visit the Concurrent Program Enrollment Policy to verify the requirements and steps for pursuing concurrent program enrollment at CGI as a prospective student, currently enrolled student, alumni, or withdrawn student. Concurrent enrollment questions can be directed to the Admissions office at

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The totally online DBH program offered by Cummings Graduate Institute of Behavioral Health Studies is focused on the professional I have grown into: a synergistic disrupter for the healthcare industry, who is passionate about Wholistic Healthcare (e.g., health, behavioral health, and Social Determinants of Health and Mental Health), rendered skillfully through interprofessional teams. The program pillars of medical literacy, integrated behavioral health interventions, and entrepreneurship resonate loudly with me. The healthcare industry will continue to change, with doctoral level professionals needed to play a major role in any successful transformation. My goal is to further advance my knowledge-base, professional standing, and industry commitment to be part of these transformational efforts. In this way I can heed the Quadruple Aim: assuring quality-driven patient-centric care is rendered at the right time, through the right population-based treatment processes, at the right cost, and by empowered professionals embracing the work and committed to their charge.

Ellen Fink-Samnick MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CRP DBH Candidate, Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies March 11, 2020