Public health is the science of improving and protecting the health of people and communities. The work that goes into public health ranges from promoting a healthy lifestyle to preventing and handling infectious diseases.
Health is a major concern for many people and it’s a complex issue to tackle. Those who want to understand public health and research the subject can do so by taking part in online PhD programs in public health.
Find Your Bootcamp Match
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses
These programs are designed to give you the most advanced, in-depth look at public health. Most doctoral programs will bring you up to date with the latest developments in public health. Upon graduating from these programs, you have the option to work in a teaching or research capacity.
There are two types of doctoral degrees you can earn in public health. These are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health and doctor of public health (DrPH).
Public Health PhD or DrPH: Key Differences
While the programs are very similar, there are some key differences between a PhD and DrPH. PhD studies are focused on more scientific and academic roles related to public health.
Students who earn their PhD are more prepared for roles in academia or research. These programs are more research-based and they’re commonly full-time and take five to seven years to complete. They are primarily taken on by people early in their careers.
DrPH programs are meant to train people to work in a more hands-on capacity in the field. Earning your DrPH allows you to take on leadership roles in public health.
These programs are more evidence-based and are commonly part-time. However, they take less time to complete, usually four to five years. Unlike PhD programs, students primarily complete DrPH programs mid-career.
Benefits of Earning Your Online PhD in Public Health
A doctoral degree is the highest degree type you can obtain. It takes years of studying, but upon graduating you’re recognized for your knowledge in the field and you’re able to work in leadership roles that are typically unavailable to others.
When you earn this degree in public health, you learn all about the most minute and complex aspects of public health. No matter what degree type you choose, you have new career opportunities available to you. For many people, earning a doctorate allows them to do research and teach.
If you’re particularly interested in researching public health and further advancing the field, earning your PhD or DrPH is a necessary part of the process. Below are some benefits of earning your degree online.
More Schools to Choose From: If you’re earning your doctoral degree, you want it to be from a school that you know will give you a great education. By studying online, you can take part in any degree program without worrying about moving to a new state of being subject to whatever local university is available to you.
Avoiding Costs: Out-of-state tuition costs can be significantly higher. Many online programs mitigate this cost. Not only do your tuition costs stay lower for several online programs, but you also don’t concern yourself with traveling expenses, campus expenses, and more.
Flexible Schedule: For many people earning their doctoral degree, they’re already working full-time. Finding time to devote to your studies while studying can significantly lengthen the time it takes for you to earn your degree. Online programs allow you to have a flexible schedule. This means you can study on your own time while still meeting your other responsibilities.
College Resources: Some students worry that online programs lack the resources traditional college experiences come with. Even if you’re studying online, many colleges and universities still give you a number of resources to aid you in your studies. Some of these resources include academic resources, career counseling services, and the ability to contact your professors and fellow peers.
What is Taught in Online Public Health PhD Programs?
Online public health PhD programs vary based on your specialization. Below is a look at what a typical PhD program in public health may include.
Health Policy and Management: This course introduces students to the funding options needed to maintain an organization and services. Students learn the ins and outs of certain processes, such as grant writing and the financial resources of public health organizations.
Community Health Assessment: In this course, students learn about the key elements needed to develop a comprehensive assessment, which include evaluating assets of a community, prioritizing exiting problems, anticipating growth, and reviewing health services funding. Students create a research design and program planning model based on the results of their assessment.
Public Health Leadership and Systems Thinking: This course focuses on leadership theories and models in systems thinking. Throughout the program, you evaluate prescriptive and descriptive students. Students are also tasked with exploring public health and healthcare resources to address quantitative and qualitative analysis. In the course, students create leadership strategies that contribute to organizational and community success.
Global Health and Issues in Disease Prevention: Students in this course evaluate global health-based strategies that focus on disability and disease within diverse populations. In this class, students look at a wide array of influences on disease, which include globalization, economics, cultural ecology, health policy, and cultural competency.
What is Taught in Online Public Health DrPH Programs?
While there are differences between online public health DrPH programs, many of them share the same courses and core concepts. This is to ensure that students graduate with the skills needed to find success in whatever public health setting they choose. Below is a list of some of the courses you may take when earning your DrPH online.
Problem-solving Seminar: This course challenges students to work through and develop solutions to real-world issues for the greater good. One of the goals of being a Doctor of Public Health is to prepare students for problem-solving situations and this course is perfect for such training.
Organizational Leadership: This course is a study on how to lead effectively. It teaches students how to handle situations when they’re the leader of organizations of various sizes. This course is an important part of doctoral degree programs in public health.
Public Health Media: Communication courses are an integral part of a public health degree program. Working in public health means speaking to reporters, news organizations, government organizations, and journalists, which means you must have strong communication skills. Courses in communication train you to communicate effectively and feel at ease when discussing important topics.
Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Public health leaders must understand every facet of in-depth research. This means evaluating, conducting, and communicating research findings to others. Throughout research courses, students learn about various forms of data collection, which includes canvassing, surveying, and collecting data diverse populations.
Best Online PhD Programs in Public Health
It’s important to earn your PhD from a reputable college or university, one where you know your time and money is being spent to further your education. It’s one thing to earn your PhD, but it is another entirely when you earn it from a school that has truly pushed you and taught you everything in the field of public health so you can conduct your own research.
With this in mind, we have created a guide to the best online PhD programs in public health.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida offers an online doctor of public health program. It has a concentration in advanced practice leadership in public health. Throughout the program, students develop the skills to work in practical settings, such as international agencies or health departments. The coursework involves cultural competencies in public health, health disparities, and population assessment.
To graduate from the program, students have to complete a doctoral project, a written comprehensive exam and applied practice experience.
Admission into the program requires GRE scores, a 3.0 or higher GPA, and two years of work experience in advanced public health.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers an online PhD in Behavioral Health with a clinical concentration. The program trains students to utilize cost-effective interventions that are evidence-informed. The degree program includes coursework in clinical neuropathophysiology, models of integrated primary care, and population health management.
Students personalize their studies with electives, research, and a capstone project, which all need to be completed in order to graduate from the program. ASU offers a special accelerated program to online students where classes cover the span of seven and a half weeks. This allows students to earn their doctorate in less than three years.
To be accepted into the program, students must have a regionally accredited master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also show their license eligibility or state-sanctioned professional licensure. Students are allowed to transfer up to 30 credits towards their degree program.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina offers an online executive PhD in Health Leadership for professionals in the industry. This program consists of courses such as population perspectives, managing the healthcare workforce, and leading sustainable change. Students complete their training with a doctoral dissertation and comprehensive oral and written exams.
There are no internships or practicums that must be completed to graduate from the program. This is a hybrid program, which means that students learn through a combination of online classes and campus visits. These visits occur three times each year, and it allows students to connect with peers and network with experts in the industry.
The program is designed to be completed within three years. Applicants must submit their standardized test scores, three recommendation letters, and relevant work experience.
Indiana University – Bloomington
Also known as Indiana or IU Bloomington, this university offers a Doctor of Public Health in Global Health Leadership. This three-year program is hybrid. It is primarily online but consists of three meetings required during each of the first two years. While on campus, students must defend their dissertation before a faculty panel.
Students take courses that cover essential subjects in public and global health, such as global health policy analysis and advocacy and financing global health. There are also leadership and research-based courses to give students a well-rounded education in the field. The curriculum is international, which creates a unique and well-informed learning experience.
Capella University offers a doctor of public health degree for its students. This program teaches students how to successfully take on high-level leadership roles in the field of public health. Students learn how to conduct research, implement, and design public health programs, create immediate and long-term solutions to challenges, and recognize emerging health trends and issues.
Students complete their program with a capstone project, where they apply scholarly research to a professional context. Students must also complete 100 supervised hours of an in-person practicum where they receive hands-on experience. It must be in a location related to their capstone project.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University is a private research institution. It offers a doctor of public health program that is part-time. It is primarily online, but there are occasional campus meetings during the first and second years of the program. Students are typically not admitted into the program full-time due to its design being for students who are already working in their chosen career.
Due to being part-time, the program can take anywhere from four to six years to complete. Students are encouraged to start their dissertation proposal upon being accepted into the program, and there is a significant amount of importance placed on completing the dissertation, along with coursework.
Walden University offers a wide array of options for students seeking a public health doctorate. Students can choose the DrPH or PhD program. Total credit hours and degree requirements vary based on your chosen degree type. Students also choose between two tracks to complete their program.
The first track is for students that already hold their master’s degrees in public health. The second track is for students who have earned their master’s degree but in a non-related field.
Is an Online PhD Program in Public Health Right for You?
A PhD in public health allows you to work as a leader in your field or perform research that advances it further. Online PhD programs in public health allow you to earn your degree from the convenience of your own home. Get your degree from some of the most well-known colleges and universities in the country.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.