The Doctor of Public Health (abbr. DrPH or DPH; Latin Publica Sanitas Doctor) is a doctoral degree awarded in the field of Public Health. DrPH is the highest, and terminal, professional degree in the field of public health. It prepares its recipients for a leadership career in advanced public health practice and administration. Some of the DrPH holders also pursue academia including teaching and research. DrPH holders often occupy executive leadership roles in private and public sectors along with, non-profit and international health entities such as the WHO.
A DrPH is a leadership-centered, interdisciplinary, degree that equips its holders with the skill set necessary for public health practice as opposed to a Ph.D. which is purely a research-based degree only focusing on one topic within a certain field. The DrPH degree is categorized as a terminal professional degree on a par with doctor of medicine, doctor of education, doctor of social work, doctor of business administration, and doctor of psychology degrees.
Admission into a DrPH program requires a master of public health degree as a prerequisite. Furthermore, a DrPH requires several years of public health leadership and practice experience (generally, 5 years or more) for an admission. One may enter a Ph.D. or ScD program after completing a bachelor (undergrad) degree with no experience or advanced academic training.
DrPH: Leadership and public health practice, applied research, and academia to a lesser extent. Ph.D.: Research and academia.
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, communications, and health policy.
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 experience.
Most universities require a rigorous comprehensive exam at the end of first two-years of coursework and public health residency before a candidate may be advanced to the dissertation phase. Some DrPH programs, such as the Tufts University, require a Qualifying Exam - taken at the end of the first year -, along with the comprehensive exam, taken at the end of the second year.
DrPH students are required to complete and defend an applied public health practice-related dissertation during their candidacy phase, usually after the comprehensive exams, in order to complete the program.
The average time to complete a DrPH is roughly 4-7 years.
Some of the universities offering DrPH in the USA are listed below.
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Sara Josephine Baker - American physician notable for making contributions to public health, especially in the immigrant communities of New York City.
Mary Pittman - President and chief executive officer of the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California.
Barbara Rimer - Dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.