PhD in Community Health: Info for Doctoral Students

Oct 12, 2019

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in Community Health take on advanced studies in human behavior and public policy. Get more information about prerequisites, coursework, specialization options, and opportunities after graduation.

Essential Information

Ph.D. programs in community health prepare students for research, administration and policy careers in public health and health sciences. In some programs, students focus their studies on specific subjects that affect public health, such as nutrition, substance abuse and smoking. Other specialization options include workplace and environmental health.

In order to apply to one of these programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is preferred. Applicants with prior professional experience in community health are often given preference.

Ph.D. in Community Health

Students in Ph.D. in Community Health programs primarily focus on learning the research methods necessary for a career in community health, including theory development, data collection and case study analysis. Students entering these doctoral programs with extensive previous education in community health may be exempted from significant amounts of coursework and move more quickly into independent research and the writing of a dissertation. Common courses include:

  • Theories of community health
  • Introduction to epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Community health policy
  • Ethical issues in community health

Popular Career Options

Graduates from Ph.D. programs in community health are qualified for a wide variety of careers, including jobs in education, government, or the nonprofit sector. Possible job titles include:

  • Post-secondary community health professor
  • Federal, state or local government health agency analyst
  • Non-profit community health organization director
  • Community health research scientist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 23%, faster than the average for all occupations, for health specialties postsecondary teachers from 2018-2028. As of May 2018, postsecondary teachers of health specialties earned a median annual salary of $97,370. The BLS predicted that employment of social and community service managers would increase 13% between 2018 and 2028, also faster than average. These professionals earned a median salary of $65,320 in 2018. Epidemiologists could expect an average job growth of 5% from 2018-2028 and, as of May 2018, earned a median salary of $69,660.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

A Ph.D. in Community Health is widely viewed as the terminal degree in the field. In most careers in community health, certification is not required. However, some individuals may pursue optional certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). This certification demonstrates competency in the field and a commitment to continuing professional development. To earn certification, an individual must pass an exam in an area of specialization.

With a Ph.D. in Community Health, students gain advanced theoretical knowledge and research experience in the field. This educational background allows them to pursue academic careers in the field or positions as analysts and directors in organizations focusing on community health.

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