Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

As an experienced public health practitioner and student in SPH’s DrPH program, you’ll get the advanced training and credentials you need to move into a leadership position, whatever your specialty area within public health. In this practice-oriented, interdepartmental program, you’ll learn to develop, implement, and evaluate national and global public health programs and policies. With a DrPH, the highest professional degree in the field, you can take your career to the next level and beyond.

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree program is an interdepartmental offering intended for experienced public health professionals who seek advanced training for leadership positions in public health. The DrPH is the highest professional degree in public health. This practice-oriented degree program will train public health professionals to develop, implement, and evaluate public health programs and policies nationally and internationally. A fulltime DrPH student with a master’s degree prior to admission will be allowed a maximum of 5 years from matriculation to graduation to complete the degree program; all part-time students will be allowed a maximum of 7 years. For more information, please contact the Doctoral Education Program Manager, Sebastian T. Bach, at

Program Competencies


  • Implement strategic planning processes
  • Evaluate organizational performance in relation to strategic and defined goals
  • Organize the work environment with defined lines of responsibility, authority, communication and governance and develop financial and business plans for health programs and services


  • Create a shared vision and articulate this vision to diverse groups, stakeholders, and other professional collaborators to achieve high standards of performance and accountability
  • Develop skilled teams and capacity-building strategies at the individual, organizational, and community level
  • Guide organizational decision-making and planning based on internal and external environmental research


  • Analyze the impact of legislation, judicial opinions, regulations, and policies on population health
  • Develop evidence-based strategies for changing health law and policy
  • Utilize consensus-building, negotiation, and conflict avoidance and resolution techniques

Critical Analysis:

  • Interpret quantitative and qualitative data following current scientific standards and apply theoretical and evidence-based perspectives from multiple disciplines in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and systems
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources for research and practice and evaluate the performance and impact of health programs, policies, and systems
  • Identify and navigate the secondary data sources available for use at the regional and community levels internationally and in the U.S. and understand and apply meta-analysis to evaluate policies, especially in situations involving inconsistent or limited data

Professionalism and Ethics:

  • Apply relevant ethical, legal, and human rights principles to difficult and controversial public health policy decisions while demonstrating a commitment to personal and professional values
  • Articulate the major ethical, legal and human rights principles relevant to public health policy making, both in the US and internationally
  • Design strategies for resolving ethical concerns in research, law, and regulations


  • Develop informational and persuasive communications
  • Employ evidence-based communication program models for disseminating research and evaluation outcomes
  • Explain program proposals and evaluations to lay, professional, and policy audiences

Community/Cultural Orientation:

  • Apply research from anthropology, psychology, history, demography, sociology, and social epidemiology in national and international contexts
  • Develop collaborative partnerships with communities, policy makers, and other relevant groups
  • Assess cultural, environmental, and social justice influences on the health of communities

Program Requirements

The School’s DrPH program requires students to complete at least 48 credits (those having prerequisites to meet will be asked to complete additional coursework).  See the DrPH Student Guidebook for more information about course offerings and requirements.

Students also complete:

  • written and oral qualifying examinations
  • a public health practice dissertation
  • oral presentations of both the dissertation proposal and the final dissertation


Each candidate will prepare a dissertation demonstrating the ability to analyze and solve complex, practice-based problems in public health. The dissertation should reflect the variety of perspectives needed to meet major public health challenges and should include explicit, population-based policy and practice implications. The format will be determined largely by the nature of the public health problem addressed. Appropriate dissertation formats may include:

  • case studies and policy analyses
  • development of new practice interventions
  • design and implementation of public health programs
  • program or policy evaluations
  • historical program or policy analyses
  • substantial legislative proposals

Ready to apply? Learn more about the DrPH application process.