What Can You Do With a PhD in Public Health?

Graduates with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Health qualify for various jobs in research and postsecondary education. Job titles and duties vary depending upon a graduate's area of concentration.

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Career Options for Graduates

A Ph.D. in Public Health prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in the field. Explore some of these careers and degree program information, including specializations, common courses, admissions requirements, and writing requirements.

A Ph.D. in Public Health prepares graduates for jobs in research, postsecondary teaching, policy development and analysis, public health program evaluation and management, community practice, and healthcare administration. Students are prepared for these high-level public health positions through study in research, theory, and their area of emphasis. Possible employers could include colleges and universities, research facilities, and government agencies. Positions may include public health program evaluator, epidemiologist, vaccine researcher, behavioral scientist, policy developer, public health veterinarian, tropical disease specialist, and professor.

Degree Program Information

A Ph.D. in Public Health is an academic degree that prepares students to teach and conduct research at colleges, universities, and other settings. Students can choose to concentrate in areas such as international health, epidemiology, nutrition, social and environmental science, biostatistics, and health management. Additional concentrations may include child, maternal, and global health and nutrition.

Typical college courses in a public health Ph.D. program include environmental health, public health statistics, epidemiology, ethics, health promotion, infectious diseases, scientific writing, industrial hygiene, food safety and toxicology, pollution, and environmental law.

Admissions Requirements

Admission requirements vary per program, but students typically need a Master of Public Health (MPH) in order to be accepted into a Ph.D. program. Some schools accept a Master of Science in Public Health. Students who do not meet these requirements generally must complete applicable master's degree courses after enrollment but prior to beginning the Ph.D. program. In addition to the master's degree requirements, schools may seek applicants with a specific length of public health work experience, along with GRE or GMAT scores.

Writing Requirements

Aside from coursework, most students enrolled in the public health Ph.D. program must also complete a writing requirement, such as a dissertation. A dissertation is a written report outlining the findings of original, independent research conducted by the student. Dissertations may include topics such as family planning, HIV infection, mad cow disease, childhood obesity, cancer risk, air pollution, and sexual behavior.

Graduates of a doctoral program in public health can work in positions as professors, epidemiologists, policy developers, and public health program evaluators. Doctoral programs in the field typically require a dissertation and allow students to specialize in a particular area, such as international health or health management.

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