Doctoral Degree in Public Health Administration: Program Overview

There are several degree options for students who want to study public health at the doctoral level. Read on to learn more about prerequisites, curriculum options, and post-graduation opportunities.

Essential Information

Doctoral degree programs in public health administration, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Health, Public Policy or Health Policy and Administration, train students to conduct healthcare policy research in academic settings. The program usually culminates in a dissertation, which is a substantial body of research aimed at advancing knowledge in the field. Most programs take five years to complete.

Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field to be considered for admissions to a doctoral program in public health administration. However, many programs require students to hold a master's degree, and those with a Master of Public Health (MPH) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Public Health receive preference. Applicants should also expect to submit GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Ph.D. in Public Health Administration

These programs are highly interdisciplinary, integrating concepts in medicine, business, law, political science and public health. Most programs allow students to choose a concentration in an area such as ethics, economics, decision-making, evaluative statistics or management. From there, students select an even more narrowly focused area in which to conduct independent research, such as healthcare services, mental health, public health, international health or environmental health.

Examples of courses that might appear in the curriculum include:

  • Economics in healthcare
  • Policy writing
  • Legislative change
  • Issues in healthcare
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Research methodologies

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Most graduates of doctoral programs in public health administration pursue careers in academia, where they can focus on teaching, research, and/or writing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for postsecondary teachers will increase faster than the average for all occupations, at 13%, between 2014 and 2024, with a mean annual salary of $71,060 as of May 2015. ( The mean annual salary for postsecondary teachers in the health specialties is $114,510 as of May 2015.

Overall, doctoral programs in public health administration are designed for students who want to conduct advanced research in the field. By offering both general training in public health and specialized study opportunities in a particular field of interest, these programs position students for career success in academia.

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