A Diverse Degree Option for Health Professionals


A doctorate in public health is the highest degree one can earn in the field. The degree is designed for students who have earned a master’s in public health or its equivalent and want to become a leader in the public health field. They have the analytical skills, program management experience and communication skills to drive change and make a difference anywhere across the globe.

Online Doctorate Degrees in Public Health

Any doctorate program is demanding, and even more so if that program is online. Students complete coursework remotely, taking intensive classes on leadership and management in the public health field. Because they don’t have daily face-to-face interaction with professors and peers, students are often expected to participate in class discussions via an online system, such as Blackboard. These interactions help to broaden the students’ knowledge base and also get feedback from others with very different belief systems and perspectives.

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Students are expected to approach the requirements from an individual outlook, taking their unique professional background and interests into account as they complete the coursework. A residency is required for a doctorate in public health, which the student completes through a series of field experience segments and a written culminating project.

An online doctorate program in public health requires a great deal of dedication from the student. Self-motivated, driven individuals do well in an online program.

Can I earn my doctorate in public health completely online?

In most cases, a doctorate program cannot be completed 100 percent online. A dissertation must be presented to a panel of experts and peers, and a residency also typically accompanies a doctorate in public health. However, many post-graduate programs are specialized to the individual student’s needs so check with your program advisor for more information.

How long will it take to earn my degree?

A doctorate in public health generally takes a minimum of two to three years to complete. Those attending school part time should expect to complete the program requirements in five to six years. Program requirements often vary by university, however, so check with your enrollment advisor for more information.

What is the difference between a DrPH and a PhD in public health?

A DrPH is designed for individuals who wish to become leaders in the health sector, rather than enter a career in academia. A PhD is for students who wish to enter academia or a research setting after graduation.

Can I earn a specialization with my doctorate?

Typically, no. Doctorate programs are specialized by nature, so as you take the coursework necessary for your dissertation and residency, you will take classes that are of interest to you. So while you won’t earn a specific specialization, your dissertation will ultimately define it for you.

Doctorate Degree in Public Health Scholarships

At the doctorate level, scholarships often come in the form of dissertation funding and fellowships. These opportunities are invaluable in experience for both the funding agency and the student. Students are able to take their time researching specific public health needs or working in the field while learning more about their future career. The funding agency benefits in the form of manpower and research that will ultimately help benefit its cause.

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Professional Associations for Public Health

Professional associations, especially at the post-graduate level, are an avenue for students to network and make professional connections that will carry over to their careers. There are many associations from which to choose, from those that focus on general public health to those that focus on one specialty. Many associations offer discounted membership fees for students.