Degree Information

Introduction

U.S. graduate schools offer several types of doctoral degrees in public health, including joint degree programs that allow scholars to specialize in two or more fields. Most graduate degree programs prepare scholars for the Certified in Public Health (CPH) professional credential, which is issued by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). Earning and maintaining a CPH credential shows public health employers you have mastered current academic concepts and professional standards.

As the field of public health is so multidisciplinary, doctoral candidates focus on a wide range of social, economic, medical, and statistical topics that influence public health policies and methods. Applicants are generally expected to have a master’s in public health or a related field, such as healthcare administration.

Related Graduate Degrees

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): This is the most common doctoral degree conferred by academic institutions. PhD programs generally emphasize research, theory, and pedagogy. Your studies culminate in a dissertation that demonstrates your mastery and research contributions to the field of public health.
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH): These programs award a more career-oriented degree that emphasizes leadership in public health and medical organizations. DrPH dissertations tend to focus on the practical application of theory in public health practice.
  • Doctor of Science (ScD or DSc): This path is similar to a PhD, placing a strong emphasis on academic research and theory.
  • MD/PhD: Physicians can bring invaluable experience and knowledge to the field of public health. This joint degree enables graduates to serve as physician researchers, investigators, or scientists for a number of academic, medical, and government agencies.

Accreditation

While some fields rely on multiple accreditation agencies to evaluate programs, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the primary national agency that issues accreditation to public health programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. CEPH evaluates the standards, outcomes, and quality of applicant schools and programs, based on objectives defined by its parent organization, the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

The CEPH Accreditation Process

Schools or programs must first apply for accreditation, conduct an internal review of their own performance and then subject themselves to a CEPH peer review and on-site inspection. Next, CEPH collects public opinions regarding the school or program, publishes a report on the total findings, hosts an evaluation review meeting, and then issues an accreditation decision.

Once a program or college becomes accredited, they are subject to ongoing reviews to ensure they meet CEPH standards, outcomes and objectives.

Schools vs. Programs

Due to academic and administrative differences, public health schools and public health programs are measured by different CEPH criteria:

  • Schools of public health offer diverse undergraduate and graduate programs spanning the field of health and medical disciplines. For instance, a school of medicine might offer graduate degrees in public health, clinical research, biomedical science, and healthcare administration.
  • Public health programs on the other hand, are narrower in scope. Students may still choose specialties like public policy or statistical research within these programs, but the degree conferred is standardized.

As of June 2013, CEPH instituted a process for granting accreditation to standalone bachelor degree programs, or degree programs that are not affiliated with a larger School of Public Health or graduate program in public health. Undergraduate students should note that public health minors, associate degree programs, and professional certificates are not accredited by this agency.

Application Process

Graduate applicants to CEPH accredited schools that are members of the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPPH) gain access to the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). SOPHAS is a streamlined applications system available for CEPH-accredited public health schools and programs. SOPHAS allows students to fill out a single, centralized application to multiple schools. This system can help you save a significant amount of time, allowing you to apply to a network of schools with a single application.

Whether or not you opt to use SOPHAS, you'll need to prepare unique application materials to each school. Carefully review the required application materials for each school well before admissions deadlines:

  • Online or print applications
  • Sealed copies of official transcripts
  • Official score reports from all required tests (GRE is the most common, however some academic institutions also accept the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT)
  • Letters of recommendation from professors who know your work and interests well
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement and/or research samples demonstrating your knowledge and experience in public health
  • If using SOPHAS, supplemental materials

Keep in mind that graduate applicants in public health are expected to have a few years of professional or volunteer experience in their field of interest. For instance, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, requires candidates to have at least two years of postgraduate professional experience. Requirements at these levels involve significant time commitments; be sure to review admissions requirements well in advance.

Contact your local health agencies and universities to learn more about volunteer and internship opportunities near you or consider involved in a national service program:

Concentrations

Public health education programs are growing quickly in popularity. Overall, annual graduates from U.S. schools of public health rose 69 percent between 2000 and 2011. As the field expands, degree concentrations available to students at all levels are growing. Here are the most common and high-demand focuses in public health today:

  • Finance: These degrees prepare students for managing the large-scale budgetary needs for public health delivery systems. Potential subjects include healthcare finance, health economics, and nonprofit accounting.
  • Marketing: Social media communications, grassroots organization, and media relations tie public health efforts together, creating strong bonds between stakeholders, administrators, and the public.
  • Organizational Management: Prospective healthcare leaders delve into managerial decision-making strategies, governance, performance analytics, and stakeholder awareness in organizational management concentrations.
  • HR Management: Students starting out in public health thrive when they are able to recruit effective and qualified talent. MPH students who pursue this specialization delve into employee selection, conflict management, labor laws, and staff retention.
  • Gender and Sexuality: This specialization focuses on the concerns of the LGBT community, often an underserved population across public health initiatives.
  • Research Methods: This specialization takes a research-intensive approach to crafting future public health policies and programs. Prospective courses prepare students to conduct targeted community surveys, statistical analyses, and ethnographic research.
  • Family Health: Students in a family health specialization examine how family units influence health, development, and nutrition in individuals. Possible topics covered include divorce, domestic abuse, and childhood development.
  • Health Education: Students who pursue this specialization plan, implement, and evaluate educational outreach programs for target demographics. Class topics include social media communications, community organization, and community nutrition.
  • Biostatistics: The public health sector has a strong need for biostatistics researchers who can identify community health needs based on collected data. Statistics must also be monitored in order to assess the continued effectiveness of a given program. Possible subjects include clinical trials, probability theory, regression analysis, and statistical theory.
  • Environmental and Occupational Health: Professionals with a background in this specialization ensure that schools, workplaces, and public facilities meet safety and environmental guidelines. Potential courses include workplace hazards, pollution assessment, chemical cleanup strategies, climate change research, and hazardous waste management.
  • Epidemiology: This specialization prioritizes disease prevention and treatment efforts across environments with a variety of economic resources, cultures, government infrastructures, and communities. Professionals in this field often become experts on vaccinations, infectious diseases, and cancer prevention.

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  1. Harvard University

    Private Doctorate 11 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 677 Huntington Ave.
    • Boston, MA
    • (617) 432-1025

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Public Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences in Public Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy
    • Doctor of Science in Global Health and Population
    • Doctor of Science in Nutrition
    • Doctor of Science in Social and Behavioral Sciences
    • Doctor of Science in Environmental Health
    • Doctor of Science in Epidemiology
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  2. Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis

    Public Doctorate 6 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 714 North Senate Avenue, Suite 250
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • (317) 278-0377

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy and Management
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Dental Surgery
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  3. Indiana University at Bloomington

    Public Doctorate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1025 East Seventh St
    • Bloomington, IN
    • (812) 855-0068

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology -C
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Occuptional Health -C
  4. Jackson State University

    Public Doctorate 3 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 350 West Woodrow Wilson Ave., Suite 320
    • Jackson, MS
    • (601) 979-8806

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Public Health in Behavioral Health Promotion and Education +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Health Policy and Management +O
  5. Johns Hopkins University

    Private Doctorate 49 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 615 North Wolfe St.
    • Baltimore, MD
    • (410) 955-3540

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Public Health in Environmental Health +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Science +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Healthcare Management and Leadership +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in International Health +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Mental Health +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Child and Adolescent Health and Development +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Population and Health
    • Doctor of Public Health in Reproductive, Perinatal, and Women's Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Diseases: Molecular Mechanisms and Pathophysiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Exposure Sciences and Environmental Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Cancer Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Trials
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology of Aging
    • Doctor of Philosophy in General Epidemiology and Methodology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Genetic Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Investigation
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Behavioral Sciences
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Bioethics and Health Policy
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Economics and Policy
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Services Research and Policy
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health and Public Policy
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Systems
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Human Nutrition
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Behavioral Interventions
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Mental Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Child and Adolescent Health and Development
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Population and Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Reproductive, Perinatal, and Women's Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy / Doctor of Medicine
    • Doctor of Science in Cancer Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Science in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Science in Clinical Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Science in Clinical Trials
    • Doctor of Science in Epidemiology of Aging
    • Doctor of Science in General Epidemiology and Methodology
    • Doctor of Science in Genetic Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Science in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Science in Environmental Epidemiology
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  6. Kansas State University

    Public Doctorate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 311 Trotter Hall
    • Manhattan, KS
    • (785) 532-2042

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
  7. Loma Linda University

    Private Doctorate 5 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 24951 North Circle Drive
    • Loma Linda, CA
    • (909) 558-4578

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Public Health in Health Policy and Leadership
    • Doctor of Public Health in Health Education +O
    • Doctor of Public Health in Preventive Care
    • Doctor of Public Health in Nutrition
  8. Louisiana State University Health and Sciences Center

    Public Doctorate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 2020 Gravier Street, 3rd Floor
    • New Orleans, LA
    • (504) 568-5700

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Behavioral and Community Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  9. Meharry Medical College

    Private Doctorate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd, Jr. Boulevard
    • Nashville, TN
    • (615) 327-6634

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Master of Science in Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  10. Morgan State University

    Public Doctorate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1700 East Cold Spring Lane
    • Baltimore, MD
    • (443) 885-4012

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Public Health
    • Doctor of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Science
  11. Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine

    Private Doctorate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • One Gustave L. Levy Place
    • New York, NY
    • (212) 241-7941

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  12. New York Medical College

    Private Doctorate 5 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 40 Sunshine Cottage Rd.
    • Valhalla, NY
    • (914) 594-4531

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy and Management
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Physical Therapy
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
  13. New York University

    Private Doctorate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 41 East 11th Street, 7th Floor
    • New York, NY
    • (212) 992-6741

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Basis of Public Health -C
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Services and Systems -C
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Behavioral Science -C
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Population & Community Health -C
  14. Northeastern University

    Private Doctorate 3 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 316K Robinson Hall
    • Boston, MA
    • (617) 373-7729

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Environmental Determinants of Health -C
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Service & Policy -C
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor in Pharmacy
  15. Northwestern University

    Private Doctorate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 680 N. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1102
    • Chicago, IL
    • (312) 503-0027

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
  16. Ohio State University

    Public Doctorate 9 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 250 Cunz Hall
    • Columbus, OH
    • (614) 247-8196

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Health Sciences
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Behavior and Health Promotion
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Services Management and Policy
    • Master of Health Administration / Doctor of Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
  17. Oregon State University

    Public Doctorate 6 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 123 Women’s Building
    • Corvalis, OR
    • (541) 737-3220

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise Physiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Movement Studies in Disability
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Neuromechanics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Activity and Public Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Sport and Exercise Psychology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Sport Pedagogy
  18. Pennsylvania State University

    Public Doctorate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • Department of Public Health Sciences, A210
    • Hershey, PA
    • (717) 531-1502

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics -C
  19. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

    Public Doctorate 15 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 683 Hoes Lane West, P.O. Box 9
    • Piscataway, NJ
    • (732) 235-9700

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Education and Behavior Science
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Systems and Policy
    • Doctor of Public Health in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Public Health in Health Education and Behavioral Science
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Dental Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Pharmacy
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Psychology
  20. Saint Louis University

    Private Doctorate 12 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 3545 Lafayette Ave., Suite 300
    • St. Louis, MO
    • (314) 977-8100

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Doctorate

    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Behavioral Science and Health Education
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Biostatistics
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Epidemiology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Health Management and Policy
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Studies in Health Outcomes Research and Health Services Research
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work
    • Master of Public Health / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Public Health / Doctor of Medicine
    • Master of Social Work / Juris Doctor
    • Master of Health Administration / Juris Doctor