Public Health PhDs

A Doctorate of Public Health (DPH) is an advanced degree for individuals pursuing topics in Public Health. There are various specializations offered by different universities, such as Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Health Promotion, and Disease Prevention. In addition, individuals can choose an online program versus an in-seat program, with funding options ranging from scholarships, to studentships and stipends, depending on this university. Below is a list of top PhD programs in Public Health that are either partially or fully funded.

  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers 5 PhD programs related to Public Health:

Doctor of Public Health: This degree is designed to prepare individuals for high-level leadership to make a difference in the fields of Public Health and Health Care. This is a revolutionary, multidisciplinary degree that provides mastery of skills in management, leadership, communications, and innovative thinking. Individuals will learn to us advanced analytical and managerial tools to lead organizational and social change.

Program Requirements: This program consists of two years (75+ credits) of coursework and one year of completing the DELTA Doctoral Project. This program also has qualifying written and oral examinations.

Who Should Apply: Applicants must have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in the health sciences or in other related fields (biology, medicine, psychology, economics, business, etc.) and at least 4 years of full-time public health and/or service experience in a related field, which can include previous coursework or internships in public health related courses/fields. Beyond the formal qualifications, applicants who demonstrate an appetite and vision to effect change and have an interest in a broad cross-section of public health and private areas in public health.

Funding: For this program, financial aid is determined on a case-by-case basis, and it is not guaranteed that all the costs will be covered. There are scholarships and grants available that are based on merit, need, diversity, or a combination of these. In addition, students are encouraged to review external funding sources.

PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health: Individuals will gain expertise in the prevention and treatment of diseases that affect millions of people while pursuing a PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health. Students will learn both mechanistic and quantitative approaches to biomedical research, while specializing in one of four areas offered: the metabolic basis of health and disease, immunology and infectious disease, gene-environment interactions, and inflammation and stress responses. Regardless of what area is chosen, each area investigates biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches to understanding disease. Current research in their laboratories include aging, AIDS, asthma, diabetes, infection, kidney disease, nutrition, obesity, and others.

Program Requirements: Training starts with a 10-week laboratory rotations over the first year, followed by full-time doctoral research in a chose laboratory. The program also has interdisciplinary training with courses from molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, toxicology, infectious diseases, and biostatistics. At the end of the second year, students must take preliminary qualifying exams to assess their laboratory investigative abilities. It is expected that the student’s research will result in publication of one or more original research papers. The final project consists of writing and defending a dissertation.

Who Should Apply: Those who apply must demonstrate a desire to work towards the pursuit of scientific research. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and undergraduate preparation in advanced-level biology and chemistry in addition to physics and calculus.

Funding: All students admitted to the PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health program, including international students, are guaranteed full funding, which includes a stipend, tuition, and health insurance for 5 years.

PhD in Biostatistics: During the course of this program, individuals will develop deep expertise in the theory and practice of biostatistics and bioinformatics. Students will learn to work with big data, use powerful statistical tools to drive discovery, conduct original research from around the globe to identify and solve problems that threaten the lives of people everywhere.

Program Requirements: Students are expected to take progressively harder courses to prepare for qualifying exams and choose a dissertation of their research topic of interest. The students are also expected to participate in Working Group seminars offered by the university. Students must take 16 credits a semester, and the total number of credits taken is dependent on what the student emphasizes in. All students must spend time as a teaching assistant and have to limit employment outside of the university while pursuing their degree.

Who Should Apply: All applicants must have a strong background in mathematics with college level coursework through multivariable calculus and one other semester of linear algebra. Applicants must also know at least one computer programming language. It is strongly encouraged to have additional coursework in probability, statistics, numerical analysis, and advanced calculus or real analysis, as well as in biology, computational biology, and genetics. Experience with statistical programs such as SAS, Splus, Stata, or SPSS is also encouraged. Knowledge of scripting languages like Python or Perl and some familiarity with relational databases is recommended for those pursuing bioinformatics.

Funding: All students admitted to the PhD in Biostatistics program, including international students, are guaranteed full funding, which includes a stipend, tuition, and health insurance for 5 years.

PhD in Health Policy: This degree will prepare individuals for a career focused on health policy challenges that affect the lives of millions. Individuals will receive broad, interdisciplinary grounding in health policy along with specialization in decision science, economics, ethics, evaluative science and statistics, management, or political analysis. Students can also choose from one of four areas of special interest: global health, mental health, health care services or public health.

Program Requirements: Two years of graduate level coursework, including one full year of core course work comprising the first year. After the first two years, students will take written general and concentration examinations that also have an oral component to them. Students in their third year will attend a weekly research seminar where students present their research that is in progress. A dissertation based on original research and a dissertation defense is required for graduation.

Who Should Apply: Any candidate who demonstrated enthusiasm for the rigorous pursuit of knowledge in health policy is encouraged to apply. Although a previous graduate degree is not required, most successful applicants have a prior master’s degree and/or relevant work experience in the field of health policy.

Funding: All students, including international students, receive a multiyear funding package that typically includes tuition, fees, and a stipend to cover living expenses.

PhD in Population Health Sciences: This program is focused on multidisciplinary research that will prepare individuals for a career focused on challenges and solutions that affect the lives of millions, globally. Students will gain deep expertise and power analytical and quantitative tools needed to solve a wide range of complex, large-scale public health issues. Individuals choose from one of five preliminary fields to study: environmental health, nutrition, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, or global health and population. All students are trained in pedagogy and teaching and are required to work as a teaching fellow or a research assistant. Weekly evening seminars are also required for addition classes in grant-writing modules and training opportunities.

Program Requirements: Completion of core courses and courses in areas specializations, participation in research assistantships and teaching fellowships, and successful completion of program-wide and field of study assessments, dissertation prospectus and oral defense are required for graduation. The first two years consist of coursework, with qualifying exams occurring directly after. The third and fourth years are used to complete the dissertation requirement.

Who Should Apply: Anyone who has demonstrated enthusiasm for the rigorous pursuit of scientific public health knowledge is encouraged to apply. Although a previous graduate degree is not required, applicants should have successfully completed coursework in introductory statistics or quantitative methods. Preference will be given to applicants who have either some relevant work experience or graduate-level work in their desired primary field of study (environmental health, nutrition, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, or global health and population).

Funding: All students, including international students, receive a multiyear funding package, which includes tuition, fees, and a competitive stipend.

  1. Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program from Boston University School of Public Health

The DrPH degree program is intended for experienced public health professionals who seek advanced training for leadership positions in public health. This practice-oriented degree program will train public health professionals to develop, implement, and evaluate public health programs and policies nationally and internationally.

Program Requirements: The DrPH program requires students to complete at least 48 credits, however, those having prerequisites to meet will be asked to complete additional coursework. Students must also complete written and oral qualifying examinations, complete a public health practice dissertation and oral presentations of both the dissertation proposal and the final dissertation.

Who Should Apply: Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Students must also complete the GRE to submit test scores for acceptance into the program.

Funding: 93% of those who attend receive funding in the form on need-based aid, fellowships, scholarships, loans, or tuition remission. In addition, there are options from external funding sources available, including scholarships and fellowships. Students also have the option of choosing to work on campus as a research assistant, teaching assistant, or other work-study jobs.

  1. PhD in Public Health at Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

For this degree, students have the option of choosing an emphasis in Epidemiology, Environmental Health Sciences, and Health Policy and Management.

Epidemiology: This concentration trains established public health researchers with a higher level of professional skills that are necessary for conducting epidemiological research. Students are able to conduct research and pedagogic work related to epidemiology and public health. This emphasis requires 75 credit hours to complete the degree, including 15 dissertation credits. However, 21 credit hours from an MPH degree can be transferred.

Environmental Health Sciences: This degree focuses on identifying and exploring common biological and environmental pathways that contribute to a broad range of diseases in an effort to detect and control adverse influences of the environment on human health. Research topics of interest for this degree include cancer, cardiopulmonary disease, neurodegenerative disease, cognition and behavior, along with the emerging area of environmental health impacts. Those who pursue this degree can choose a concentration in Environmental Toxicology or Brain, Behavior, and the Environment.

Health Policy and Management: With this concentration, students are prepared to analyze health services, health systems, and health policy/management from a systems perspective. Students will apply systems modeling to the design and evaluation of health systems and health policies. Students must complete their dissertations in 4 years and is a fully hybrid curriculum, with 70 credits required for graduation.

For all of the programs at FIU, the following holds true:

Who Should Apply: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university/college, or in the case of foreign students, an accredited institution recognized in its own country as preparing students for further study at the graduate level.

Funding: In addition to scholarships offered by the University, students can get graduate assistantships and fellowships to help cover the cost of tuition. In addition, there are external funding opportunities available for students who need additional funding.

  1. Walden University PhD Programs in Public Health

Walden University is an online school offers several doctorate programs for Public Health professionals:

Doctor of Healthcare Administration: This program is designed to prepare individuals to be a visionary leader and social change agent in today’s healthcare environment. Individuals will learn holistic knowledge and advanced business strategies that are needed to manage the healthcare delivery demands of organizations and communities.

Program Requirements: For those who have a master’s degree in healthcare administration or related field, students must complete 78 credits, with two residencies and a doctoral dissertation. Those who have a master’s degree in an unrelated field will have to complete 98 credits and two residencies that equal a minimum of 8 days. These students must also complete a doctoral dissertation. Students have 8 years to complete all their requirements.

Doctor of Public Health: Individuals will focus on the practical application of public health principles and integration of knowledge in the areas of communication, marketing, public policy and advocacy, economics, analysis of community health data and surveillance systems, behavior change theories, and program implementation and evaluation. Students will also integrate and apply research methods in community-based practice settings to improve the health of the community.

Program Requirements: Those who have a Master of Public Health degree must complete 78 credit hours, with two residencies and a doctoral dissertation. Those who have a master’s degree in an unrelated field will have to complete 104 credits and two residencies that equal a minimum of 8 days. These students must also complete a doctoral dissertation. Students have 8 years to complete all their requirements.

PhD in Health Education and Promotion: This degree explores both individual and population health, focusing on health behavior theory and techniques for changing health behaviors. This will be done by reviewing case studies that touch on current trends and research and explore best practices from a global perspective. Students will gain the knowledge and skills to plan, implement, and evaluate prevention programs and services to help individuals lead healthier lifestyles.

Program Requirements: Individuals with a Master’s Degree in Health Education and Promotion must complete 83 credits, those who have a Master of Public Health must complete 98 credit hours, and those who have a master’s degree in an unrelated field will have to complete 113 credits. There are 6 specializations to choose from: behavioral health, global health, management and leadership, population health, research, or online teaching in higher education. Each specialization requires four PhD residencies that equal a minimum of 16 days and completion of a dissertation for graduation. Students have 8 years to complete their dissertation.

PhD in Health Services: Students will discover how to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare policy, broaden their knowledge or healthcare ethics and law, and engage in scientific inquiry to advance research and practice in health services. Students will also design, implement, and evaluate public health policies.

Program Requirements: There are 4 specializations to choose from: community health, healthcare administration, leadership, and public health policy. Each specialization requires the completion of 106-108 credits and four PhD residencies that equal a minimum of 16 units and completion of a dissertation for graduation, including a proposal and oral presentation. Students have 8 years to complete their dissertation.

PhD in Public Health: The aim of this program is to build upon skills and expertise to become a more effective scholar-practitioner and make compelling contributions to advancing wellness among diverse populations. Students will conduct their own original research and learn how to apply public health research to promote positive social change concerning the health of communities worldwide.

Program Requirements: Those who have a Master of Public Health or MS in Public Health must complete 88 credit hours, and those who have a master’s degree in an unrelated field will have to complete 119 credits. There are 2 specializations to choose from: community health education and epidemiology. Each specialization requires four PhD residencies that equal a minimum of 16 days and completion of a dissertation, including a research proposal and oral presentation, for graduation. Students have 8 years to complete their dissertation.

For all of the programs at FIU, the following holds true:

Who Should Apply: Applicants must have at least a master’s degree.

Funding: For graduate students, they have the option of fellowships, grants, loans, and scholarships that can help pay towards tuition and other costs. There is also a possibility for tuition reduction if applicants are eligible.

  1. Doctor of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

This program aims to prepare individuals for domestic or international careers in public agencies or private sector settings that emphasize on improving population health by integrating and applying a broad range of knowledge and analytical skills in leadership, policy, program management, and professional communication. Students can choose a data analysis track (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed), or choose from one of four concentrations: environmental health, health equity and social justice, health policy and management, and implementation science.

Environmental Health: This concentration emphasizes the skills necessary to assess the needs for occupational and environmental health services at regional, national, and international levels, the development of policy and the regulatory framework. Coursework focuses on biomedical and behavioral sciences, epidemiology and statistics, engineering and management technologies, management concepts, and communication skills. There is also the option of a Health Security Track, which focuses on training to identify, analyze, and mitigate the impact of domestic and international health threats, including epidemics, natural disasters, technological accidents and international attacks.

Health, Equity, and Social Justice: This concentration is focused on understanding and dressing the multiple determinants of health, particularly among disadvantaged and marginalized groups in both high in­come, and low and middle-income settings. Students will learn about innovative epidemiological, social and behavioral tools to assess population health, and acquire skills relevant to the design, implementation and evaluation of health programs designed to benefit the poor and marginalized groups, including the development and management of intersectoral partnerships.

Health Policy and Management: The focus of this concentration is in integrating and applying knowledge and skills in leadership, practice, policy analysis, program and budget management, and communication, with an emphasis on the applications of policy, practice and management perspectives to contemporary health problems. Students have the option of picking the healthcare management and leadership track, which focuses on measuring, monitoring and improving the clinical and financial performance of health services organizations, as well as training leaders for organizational change.

Implementation Science: This concentration is focused on developing and sharing evidence to support the formulation, implementation and scale up of new health policies and programs, through the application of interdisciplinary tools and approaches to study processes in complex health systems. This provides students with the skills to work collaboratively and integrate diverse perspectives into cogent intervention designs and implementation strategies. Students will learn how to support implementation and adaptation of public health programs based on evaluation and learning, and how to synthesize and present complex information to policy-makers and practitioners.

Program Requirements: The program requires the successful completion of a minimum of 56 credits of course work, plus 8 credits for dissertation for a total of 64 credit hours, regardless of track chosen. Students must take a comprehensive written exam at the conclusion of the required coursework, a preliminary oral exam before conducting their dissertation, and a final oral examination. Students must complete the program in a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 9 years.

Who Should Apply: Applicants must have a Master of Public Health or equivalent degree and intends to pursue a leadership position as a public health professional.

Funding: Graduate students have various options to choose from regarding funding, including scholarships, fellowships, and funding through the Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fund.