Doctorate Degree Programs in Public Health

Essential Information

Public health professionals trying to advance in their careers might benefit from a doctoral degree program in public health. They can pursue a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), which tends to be more practice-oriented, or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Health, which often focuses more on research. Most programs require a master's degree, GRE scores, and, for some programs, three years professional experience. Students must also complete a dissertation.

Doctor of Public Health

Those interested in a doctorate in public health study advanced methods of program execution and learn to train others to implement public policy initiatives. DrPH programs provide practical knowledge to help professionals communicate the health-related needs and issues of a community and to present ideas that could change a community's safety and health. DrPH candidates typically are required to complete a thesis or research dissertation.

A master's degree in public health is usually required for entry into a DrPH program. Some colleges and universities accept students who don't have a Master of Public Health (MPH), but require that they complete preparatory classes. Schools also might require at least three years of paid professional experience in a leadership role and submission of GRE scores, a resume or curriculum vitae (CV), letters of recommendation and transcripts. Doctor of Public Health programs typically expand on core concepts learned in an MPH program. Topics covered in a DrPH program might include the following:

  • Methods of research
  • Ethics and law
  • Urban health
  • Leadership seminar
  • Health management

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health programs are designed for individuals who already have extensive experience in public health but seek advanced knowledge in a defined area of research. Ph.D. candidates often select an area of concentration, such as epidemiology, nutrition, environmental health or biostatistics. They also complete core courses and a dissertation. Prospective Ph.D. students typically need to submit letters of recommendation, GRE or MCAT scores, a resume or CV, and college transcripts, in addition to having a bachelor's or master's degree in public health or a related field, such as social sciences. Applicants also might be required to write a statement of purpose defining their research goals and have at least three years of paid public health experience showing leadership.

In addition to completing classes and seminars related to their research and dissertation, Ph.D. candidates in public health might take the following core courses:

  • Public relations and marketing
  • Strategic management
  • Health economics

Popular Career Options

DrPH graduates often assume advanced leadership positions with public health organizations or institutions. Specific job titles might include the following:

  • Manager of public health
  • Health service manager
  • Public health analyst
  • Public health specialist

Popular Career Options

Government agencies, medical centers, universities and nonprofit organizations are just a few examples of employers seeking public health educators. Available jobs might include the following:

  • Research scientist
  • Health educator
  • Public health administrator
  • Director of public health

Individuals seeking a career in public health education may be interested in a Doctor of Public Health or a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health degree program. A Doctor of Public Health focuses on practical knowledge, while a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health primarily teaches students to research and find advanced knowledge in a topic.

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