Doctor of Public Health

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A Doctor of Public Health at Boston University in his full academic regalia. Note that the color of the hood, salmon pink, is the unique academic color of Public Health, which differs from a PhD in other disciplines (usually blue). Convoc16-9.jpg
A Doctor of Public Health at Boston University in his full academic regalia. Note that the color of the hood, salmon pink, is the unique academic color of Public Health, which differs from a PhD in other disciplines (usually blue).

A Doctor of Public Health (abbr. DrPH, Dr.PH. or D.P.H.; Latin doctor publica sanitas) is a doctoral degree awarded in the field of Public Health. DrPH is an advanced and terminal degree that prepares its recipients for a career in advancing public health practice, leadership, research, teaching, or administration. [1] The first DrPH degree was awarded by Harvard Medical School in 1911. [2]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

A terminal degree is a university degree that can signify one of two outcomes. In some cases, it is the highest degree that can be awarded in a specific academic or professional track. In other cases, it is a degree that is awarded when a candidate completes a certain amount of coursework but does not go on to doctoral work. Some students enroll in a terminal Master's program with the goal of preparing to enter a PhD program. For certain professions and research grants it means the lowest degree to be considered qualified.

Harvard Medical School Medical school in Boston, MA

Harvard Medical School (HMS) is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1782, HMS is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States and is ranked first among research-oriented medical schools in the 2020 rankings of U.S. News and World Report. Unlike most other leading medical schools, HMS does not operate in conjunction with a single hospital but is directly affiliated with several teaching hospitals in the Boston area. The HMS faculty has approximately 2,900 full- and part-time voting faculty members consisting of assistant, associate, and full professors, and over 5,000 full- and part-time, non-voting instructors. The majority of the faculty receive their appointments through an affiliated teaching hospital.


According to the United Nations, the world face unprecedented challenges such as climate change, noncommunicable diseases, aging populations, health crises, wealth gap, and the overreliance on the internet. [3] DrPH graduates, who received trainings in evidence-based public health practice and research, are expected to have the competences to convene diverse stakeholders, communicate across a range of sectors, and settings, synthesize findings, and generate practice-based evidence. [4]

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It was established after World War II, with the aim of preventing future wars, and succeeded the ineffective League of Nations. Its headquarters, which are subject to extraterritoriality, are in Manhattan, New York City, and it has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

In a corporation, a stakeholder is a member of "groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist", as defined in the first usage of the word in a 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. The theory was later developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s. Since then it has gained wide acceptance in business practice and in theorizing relating to strategic management, corporate governance, business purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The definition of corporate responsibilities through a classification of stakeholders to consider has been criticised as creating a false dichotomy between the "shareholder model" and the "stakeholders model" or a false analogy of the obligations towards shareholders and other interested parties.

Given the core competencies developed during the program, DrPH graduates often occupy executive leadership roles in private and public sectors along with non-profits, universities and multilateral entities such as WHO and the World Bank. In addition, some DrPH graduates pursue academia including teaching and research.

World Health Organization Specialized agency of the United Nations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.

Core competency model

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Core Competency Model Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Core Competency Model.png
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Core Competency Model

The common elements addressed in all DrPH degrees are: 1) a professionally-oriented and competency-based curriculum and 2) core competency domains. [4] The DrPH core competency model highlights the transformative leadership role that DrPH graduates play in advancing the field of research and practice in public health. According to The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the DrPH competency model has seven domains of skills that every DrPH program should aim to develop:

Combined, these skills allows DrPH graduates to create linkages and synergies between research and practice. Often, rather than serving as technical experts, DrPH graduates are more likely to supervise or collaborate with technical experts to solve multifaceted 21st century problems. For instance, their roles require breadth across many areas of public health rather than depth of technical skills in a single one. [1] By having these competencies the ASPH considers the DrPH a professional degree offered for advanced education and training in public health leadership. [5] An entire list of domains and skills can be found here.

Comparison with a Ph.D.

A DrPH degree is categorized as a terminal degree on a par with the degree of Ph.D., Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Social Work, or Doctor of Psychology. [6] [7] Awarding of a such degree signifies recognition of distinguished scholarly accomplishment in the professional field. [8] However, a DrPH is primarily designed for those who plan careers involving professional practice, teaching, or research, and often emphasizes interdisciplinary studies. [8] In comparison, a PhD is primarily a research-based degree focusing on mastering one specific topic within a certain public health field. Nevertheless, some PhD holders would become scholar-practitioners in their later careers.

Difference in admission requirements

Traditionally, admission into a DrPH program requires a master of public health degree as a prerequisite; however, this is changing and more schools now are accepting students without any masters or other degrees (i.e., MD, DO). Generally, DrPH programs require several years of public health leadership and practice experience (usually 5 years or more) for an admission. In contrast, one may enter a Ph.D. or ScD program after completing a bachelor (undergrad) degree with no experience or advanced academic training.

The number of DrPH awarded annually is quite low compared with the number of PhD awarded. For example, in 2010, there were only 126 DrPH awarded, in contrast to the 776 PhD awarded from 26 of the 46 accredited schools of public health in the United States. [9]

Career outcomes training difference

DrPH: Leadership and public health practice, applied research, implementation research, public health policy, politics, and academia to a lesser extent.

Ph.D: Research and academia.

Typical program structure

Advanced integrative coursework

A typical accredited DrPH program requires roughly a two-year long intensive multidisciplinary coursework in advanced research methodology - similar to a Ph.D. Additionally, as a distinction and addition to a Ph.D., DrPH students also take advanced courses to gain analytical skills in leadership, management, systems thinking, enabling change, communications, and health policy.

Public health leadership practice experience

DrPH students are also required to complete a public health practice experience as a critical part of their DrPH program. Students apply the skills learned in public health practice to gain leadership experience and hone their skills through hands-on and a field-based culminating public health experience.

Most universities require a rigorous comprehensive exam at the end of first two-years of coursework and a public health practical experience before a candidate may be advanced to the dissertation phase. For example, the DrPH programs at Tufts and Harvard require a Qualifying Exam taken at the end of the first year.


DrPH students are required to complete and defend an applied public health practice-related dissertation during their candidacy phase, usually after the comprehensive and qualifying exams.

DrPH Completion Time

The typical time to complete a DrPH is 4–7 years, depending on the curriculum, previous experience and education.

Universities offering DrPH degrees

United States

Some of the universities offering DrPH in the USA are listed below.

United Kingdom





Notable Holders of the DrPH Degree

See also

Related Research Articles

Doctorate academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree, is an academic degree awarded by universities, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi. In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a number of doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians and surgeons. Such medical degrees include the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Doctor of Medicine (MD), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Many medical schools offer additional degrees, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), Master's degree (M.Sc), a physician assistant program, or other post-secondary education.

A Doctor of Pharmacy is a professional doctorate in pharmacy. In some countries, it is a first professional degree, and a prerequisite for licensing to practice the profession of pharmacy or to become a Clinical pharmacist. In many countries they are allowed to practice independently and can prescribe the brand of drugs directly to the patients. Pharm.D program has significant experiential or clinical education components in introductory and advanced levels for the safe and effective use of drugs. Experiential education prepares graduates to be practice-ready as they already spent a significant amount of time training in areas of direct patient care and research. A Pharm D graduate can also use the prefix 'Dr' along with their name.

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Health science university of the United States federal government

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is a health science university of the U.S. federal government. The primary mission of the school is to prepare graduates for service to the U.S. at home and abroad in the medical corps as medical professionals, nurses, and physicians.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center Hospital in New York City, United States

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University (Downstate) is a public medical school and hospital in New York City. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system and the only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care serving Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents. As of Fall 2018, it had a total student body of 1,846 and approximately 8,000 faculty and staff.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a degree in nursing. In the United States, the DNP is one of two doctorate degrees in nursing, the other being the PhD. The curriculum for the DNP degree builds on traditional master's programs by providing education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) include the nurse practitioner (NP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), Certified Nurse‐Midwife (CNM), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), and the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and are prepared in master's-degree programs. Although approximately 52% of nurse anesthetist programs will award the DNP, the remaining 48% may use the title Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).

The Master of Health Administration, or Master of Healthcare Administration, is a master's-level professional degree granted to students who complete a course of study in the knowledge and competencies needed for careers in health administration, involving the management of hospitals and other health services organizations, as well as public health infrastructure and consulting. Programs can differ according to setting; although practitioner-teacher model programs are typically found in colleges of medicine, health professions, or allied health, classroom-based programs can be found in colleges of business or public health.

The School of Optometry and Vision Science is one of the professional schools at the University of Waterloo. It is a school within the university's Faculty of Science and is the larger of the two optometry schools in Canada. The School is the only English speaking Optometry School in the country; the Francophone Université de Montréal program operates in Quebec.

The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) and the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) are interdisciplinary professional degrees awarded for studies in areas related to public health. The MPH degree focuses on public health practice, as opposed to research or teaching. Master of Public Health programs are available throughout the world in Schools of Public Health, Programs in Public Health, Medical Schools, and Schools of Public Affairs.

Founded in 1998, Texas A&M School of Public Health has rapidly developed into a nationally ranked, fully accredited public health research, service and training program. The school is also annually ranked among the top five schools of public health in student diversity.

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Boston University School of Public Health

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) is one of the graduate schools of Boston University. Founded in 1976, the School offers master's- and doctoral-level programs in public health. It is located in the heart of Boston University's Medical Campus in the South End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The school has more than 8,900 alumni, 267 faculty, and 227 staff; its students hail from more than 43 countries, and its total research portfolio is worth more than $180 million. BUSPH is fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and ranked 8th among Public Health Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report.

The University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center (AHC) is a collection of health colleges and institutions of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. It trains health care professionals and provides research and patient care. AHC has strong ties to UC Health, which includes the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and West Chester Hospital.

The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine is one of ten major academic divisions of Purdue University. Accredited by the AVMA, this veterinary school offers the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, associate's and bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, master's and Ph.D. degrees, and residency programs leading to specialty board certification. Within the state of Indiana, the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary school, while the Indiana University School of Medicine is one of only two medical schools. The two schools frequently collaborate on medical research projects.

The basic requirement for pharmacists to be considered for registration is an undergraduate or postgraduate pharmacy degree from a recognized university. In many countries, this involves a four- or five-year course to attain a master of pharmacy degree (MPharm). In the United States of America, students graduating after January 1, 2003, must complete a doctor of pharmacy degree to become a licensed pharmacist. This same requirement has been coming into place in other countries such as Canada and France.

Marshall B. Ketchum University is a private university focused on graduate programs in healthcare and located in Fullerton, California. MBKU expanded from the Southern California College of Optometry which was founded in 1904. The university was officially established as a multidisciplinary university with the addition of School of PA Studies in 2011 and College of Pharmacy in 2013.

The University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine is the dental school of the University of Puerto Rico. It is located on the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the only dental school in Puerto Rico. It is accredited by the American Dental Association.

Physical therapy education

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