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Top 5 DrPH Online & PhD Public Health Programs

Online PhD Public Health (DrPH Online) graduate

Caring for the health of your community or the larger community is a wonderful career, and if you want to have an influence on the direction of health care, becoming a leader in public health can put you in a position to have a positive impact. Getting an online PhD public health (DrPH online) is the best way to boost your career options to the top of the public health field, whether you are interested in working in government, hospitals, research, or advocacy.

What is a DrPH?

A Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) is a terminal degree for those who work as practitioners or management in public health contexts. These programs are designed for those with a Master of Public Health (MPH) or similar master’s degree and who want to increase their credentials to contribute effective leadership and strategy at the highest levels of public health.

Another option for those who want to have the highest possible credential in this field is the online PhD public health, which is targeted towards research and policy positions. The reason to choose the DrPH vs PhD public health would be in deciding how you want to influence the health care system, whether you prefer the research side or putting the research into practice.

Popular Online DrPH Degrees

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Who Earns an Online PhD Public Health Degree?

People who earn a doctor of public health online degree are usually working within health care or a related field and want to advance their skills to attain higher levels of impact on the health of communities. Degree seekers include health care administrators, nurse managers, health care managers, health officers, health educators, researchers, lab managers, pharmacists, social workers, and many people from related careers who either already work in management within health care or aspire to take on more responsibility in their public health careers. Those who seek the doctor of public health vs PhD in public health are more likely to be practicing managers or directors within health, but may also be employed in nonprofit or social service agencies. Those who seek the PhD in public health may be coming from scientific and research backgrounds that relate to medicine but who want to more closely focus on public health applications for research. Many people who already hold an MPH seek these degrees, but many online PhD public health programs or DrPH online programs have options for those who have a different master’s degree or even a doctorate in an adjacent field who seek to gain the doctor of public health degree.

Is a DrPH Worth It?

Getting a doctorate of public health is a great choice for those who want to take on or advance in leadership positions in the profession. The DrPh or PhD in public health salary may be another reason, with doctoral graduates reporting significantly higher average salaries than those with a master’s degree in this field. Yet for most degree seekers, the ability to contribute to health care for society is a more meaningful reason to get a degree. The careers you can pursue with the online PhD public health or DrPH online allow you to have influence over health policy, impact the health of communities, and study intriguing problems that need to be solved. The added skills from a doctoral degree online add to one’s competence in any related field and this, in itself, can be a reason to get a degree to be the best you can in your career. Is a DrPH worth it? Not just for a good salary, but for the contribution you can make to society and the job satisfaction that can give you a fulfilling career.

DrPH vs PhD: What’s the Difference?

For those enrolling in distance DrPH programs, choosing a doctor of public health vs PhD is not the issue. A PhD is one type of doctorate in public health, and the DrPH is another. Both degrees will require coursework, research, and a dissertation or capstone project. Both of them will take two or more years of study.

There are reasons to choose a DrPH vs PhD program, and those boil down to your experience, both educationally and professionally, as well as your goals. The online DrPH is best for people who have worked in a health care field and have a master’s degree, whether it is in public health or another topic. Even with a master’s and some work experience, some programs will require extra courses and practicum experience for some candidates. Since DrPH programs online are geared towards applying research in real-world situations, they are generally the best degree for those who want to work directly in public health, whether in administration in health systems or in policy positions in government or in any one of a broad range of job types.

An online PhD in public health is a better choice for those who want to work in research and also for those who want to go straight into a doctoral program from their undergraduate or master’s degree program. The coursework in a PhD public health online program will focus slightly more on research skills, and the final project is usually a dissertation, though this may be drawn from research conducted using real-world data. What can you do with a PhD in public health? There are numerous types of jobs for PhDs, including scientific research, epidemiology, policy research, behavioral research, and government and nonprofit organizations who need specialists to study how policy and interventions affect population health.

Top 5 Online DrPH & Public Health PhD Programs

  1. Indiana University Online

    Degree: Doctor of Public Health / Global Health Leadership
    Total Cost (In-State):
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $68,850

    The online DrPH from Indiana University Online operates in a 3-year cohort format, with all students progressing through the program together with a class of their peers. There are two different cohort levels: one cohort of 12-15 students is for mid- to senior-level practitioners with several years of experience and substantial management responsibility post-master’s, and a 25-student cohort for emerging leaders with just a few years of experience post-masters. Classes meet synchronously via live video streaming, and students come to campus three times per year in the first two years of the program for face-to-face interaction. The third year of the program is devoted to a dissertation or field-based final project. The program’s 45 credits are broken down into 15 in leadership, 7 in public health, 14 in research courses, and 9 for the final project or dissertation. Class titles include A Population Perspective for Global Health, Essentials of Practice-Based Research, Financing Global Health, and Strategic Theory and Practice in Global Health Leadership. Faculty are both US-based and internationally based practitioners. Admission requires a 3.0 graduate GPA, a master’s degree that doesn’t need to be in public health, and finalists will be interviewed by video. The IU degree is one of the best DrPh programs for those interested in global health as it has highly qualified faculty and peers, and it offers affordable tuition rates, especially for in-state students.

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    Doctor of Public Health / Global Health Leadership


  2. Walden University

    Degree: Doctor of Public Health
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    There are two tracks for the DrPh online program at Walden University: one for those whose master’s degree is an MPH, and one for those with a master’s in a different subject, making this a great program for anyone in the field who wants to get the highest credential. For those with an MPH, the program can be completed in as little as two and a half years, while the non-MPH track can be completed in a minimum of three and a quarter years. Both tracks require two residencies for a total of eight days on campus plus the completion of a capstone project. Courses in the program include Foundation of Doctoral Success in Public Health; Fundamentals of Leadership, System Evaluation, and Interventions in Public Health; Advanced Public Health Policy and Advocacy; and Public Health Surveillance and Advanced Data Analysis.

    Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on post-baccalaureate work. Three years of professional experience in public health is preferred but not required. Those with credits to transfer to their doctor of public health can apply for a transfer credit evaluation, which could help them reduce costs and time to complete the degree. Students need to complete their DrPH program within eight years from their start date. Walden University has a social change orientation, which is attractive to students who want to help the world through public health administration. There are tuition discounts for military and law enforcement professionals, plus grants and financial aid to make the program easier to pay for. In addition, Walden offer multiple payment options, including credit card, monthly billing, or third-party payments. With multiple start dates per year, some courses allowing for self-paced timing, and maximum flexibility for working adult students, Walden University’s program makes for a very attractive distance DrPH program.

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    Doctor of Public Health


  3. Walden University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    Walden also offers the online PhD in Public Health, which has tracks for those with an MPH or those with a bachelor’s degree or higher but no MPH. Completion times are a minimum of 2.75 years for the MPH track, and 3.75 years without. Four on-campus PhD visits are required, and the public health PhD program has three concentration options: community health, environmental and occupational health, or epidemiology. Classes include Public Health Ethics, Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis, Lifestyle and Chronic Diseases, Policy and Law for Environmental and Occupational Health, Communicable Disease Epidemiology, and Dissertation Prospectus.

    Just like for the Walden DrPH, those applying for the PhD in public health program need a 3.0 GPA. Those with credits to transfer to their doctor of public health can apply for a transfer credit evaluation, which could help them reduce costs and time to complete the degree. In the MPH track, students can transfer up to 40 credits of the 82 quarter credits required for the degree, and in the non-MPH track, students can transfer up to 54 of 109 required credits. Students need to complete their online PhD public health program within eight years. Multiple start dates per year, tuition discounts and payment options, and flexibility are all selling points for the Walden public health PhD program. But add in the generous transfer credit options and the three interesting and relevant specialization tracks for the PhD, and this is a good choice for those going into public health research or policy careers.

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    Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health


  4. University of Illinois at Chicago

    Degree: Doctor of Public Health / Leadership
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    The DrPh online from University of Illinois at Chicago has a focus on equity, adaptive leadership, evidence-based practice, and system change. It is designed for mid-career public health professionals, and classes are completely online except for 3-day summer institutes during the first three years of the program. The program includes classes such as Introduction to Epidemiology Principles and Methods, Public Health Leadership Seminar 1, DrPh Integrative Methods Seminar 2, and Personal Leadership Development. Students have a number of elective options to help them cater their courses to match their personal goals and interests. Classes are mostly held in synchronous online format during the day or evening hours. As most students take the program part time while they continue to work professionally, the average completion time for the degree is four to six years. There are also non-credit trainings required in HIPAA research, human subjects research, investigator training, and Title IX Sexual Harassment. The program admits students in the fall term with an application deadline of January 15. Applicants need to have a master’s degree in a related field or an MPH, and should have at least three years of paid professional experience in a leadership position in public health or in a position that demonstrates leadership potential. Those who hold an MPH may be able to waive up to 32 credits of the 96 semester hour credits in the program. Applicants without relevant public health experience may be required to do practicum work while in the program. GRE scores are not required, but may be helpful for some applicants. With renowned faculty, a group of committed peers, affordable tuition, and a rigorous leadership program, the UIC doctor of public health online is a great choice.

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    Doctor of Public Health / Leadership


  5. Capella University

    Degree: DrPH – Public Health
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    Capella University’s DrPH online program is conducted in a unique format where you have weekly discussions, assignment deadlines, faculty guidance, and yet the program gives you maximal flexibility as a working professional to guide your own learning. The support from faculty members and academic coaches, along with the structured environment helps students to stay on track to finish the degree. There are 60 coursework credits in the program with a maximum oof 18 transfer credits allowed. Additionally, students must complete 100 hours of supervised practicum and register for the capstone course four times. Courses include Leadership and Emerging Trends in Public Health, Applied Methods in Epidemiology, 21st Century Healthcare Improvement, and Foundations of Evidence-Based Practice in Health Care. The course structure is interprofessional, so you will be sharing insights with peers in the DrPH program and also with students in nursing and other related programs. Applicants need to have an MPH or related master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Admitted students will be required to submit a background check. The Capella program offers tuition discounts and payment options, as well as allowing students to work at their own pace through the program. For students who appreciate a strong but flexible structure to their education, and who would like to complete their degree in an interprofessional environment, the DrPH from CU makes a solid choice.

    Find Out More:
    DrPH - Public Health


What Can You Do with a PhD in Public Health?

Online DrPh programs offer graduates many career options. You can become the CEO or president of a health system or organization, an agency commissioner, a health department director, or a community health manager. For those who want to work more on policy or consulting, you can look into jobs as a public health consultant, a health policy advisor, or a health information officer. The PhD in public health can prepare you for careers in consulting and also as an epidemiologist, a biostatistician, a research analyst, a data analyst, or a health policy analyst. Either degree can allow you to teach in colleges and universities as well.

With a PhD public health online or a DrPH, there are many settings you may find work: federal government agencies, local or state department of health, nonprofits, hospitals or clinics, social welfare organizations, community health agencies, health insurance companies, research institutes, health advocacy groups, colleges or universities, and more. As we have seen in the recent public health crisis, there are many organizations that need competent public health professionals to keep people safe and handle any new crisis.

Doctorate of Public Health Career Outlook

When you consider getting your degree, you may wonder “what is a DrPH salary?” The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median salary for medical and health services managers at $104,280, but that doesn’t take into account the higher degree level of a doctorate, so your salary could be higher. A Phd in public health salary, if you consider the median salary for medical scientists, would be a bit lower, at $91,510. Depending on your exact job, which can be a in broad range of specialties or settings, you can expect to make higher or lower figures. But the doctoral degree will almost certainly help you achieve a higher salary than just with your master’s degree.

The outlook for jobs in medical and health services managers is expected to rise by 32% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than average. For medical scientists, the job growth is predicted at 6% for the same period, which is faster than average. These projections were made before the Covid pandemic, so they are likely to be low. The value of public health experts and epidemiologists has become much more obvious to societies around the globe, and it is likely that more jobs with healthy salaries will be available for graduates of doctoral programs in public health in the coming years.

Start a DrPH Online Today!

Our list has some of the best DrPH programs for aspiring health leaders who value high-quality education for an affordable price. Plus, enrolling in online PhD public health programs gives you the flexibility to get this credential while you continue to do the important work at your current job and take care of your family. DrPH programs online can still give you the professional networking, high level peer and faculty interaction, and educational quality as an on-campus program, but you can apply what you learn to your current job while you train to take on more leadership responsibilities and get a pay raise as a qualified public health leader. We need more leaders in public health, so now is the time to step up to the plate!

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