If you’ve been following the news of the COVID-19 breakout—and who hasn’t?—you will know that there is a large, urgent debate about public health in the United States. If you are someone who is interested in being a leader in this field and being able to step up and make important decisions about public health, you might be interested in furthering your education with a doctorate in public health from one of these top programs.
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What is a Doctorate in Public Health?
A doctorate in public health is an advanced degree, usually the next step for someone who already has a master’s degree in public health or a similar field and wants to increase their expertise and opportunities.
While gaining your doctoral degree, you will expand on your previous knowledge about public health policy and science and make sure you have the foundation to become a top scholar in the field. This degree is relatively hands-on, with most requiring a practicum course. You will apply your coursework to the “real world” throughout the course of your degree.
Depending on the track you decide to take within the program, you can expect to take classes ranging from health economics, health leadership, biostatistics, and microbiology. In order to qualify for admission to these programs, you must have a master’s degree in a relevant field and meet other requirements designated by the institution.
See Also: Doctorate vs PhD What’s the Difference?
Careers for People With Doctorates in Public Health
If you get a doctorate in public health, you can expect to be able to work in a variety of careers. You might decide to focus on epidemiology and use your expertise to analyze and work to prevent diseases, or you could focus more generally on maintaining public health and work as an educator or a specialist. You could also use your education to help make important health policy decisions that will have a major impact on people’s lives.
DPH Salary Potential
Salary potentials for people with doctorates in public health vary, but the hiring opportunities are on the rise. Especially given the urgent COVID-19 public health crisis that is on everybody’s mind, this is a very relevant and in-demand field.
The 2018 median pay for an epidemiologist was $69,660, and $51,000 for a more general public health specialist. A professor can expect to earn a median of $66,930, but this is all variable depending on the specific subfield you decide to enter.
What are the Best Doctorates in Public Health Degrees?
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University of South Florida
Average Net Price
The University of South Florida is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the beautiful city of Tampa. USF offers a Doctor of Public Health degree that aims to prepare individuals for practice-based public health leadership roles in a variety of organizations, and it offers two separate tracks in either “advanced practice leadership in public health” or “public health and clinical laboratory science and practice”, depending on your area of interest and expertise.
This degree can be completed online, in-person, or both, but you must be prepared to attend at least three DrPH institutes on campus.
There are 43 credits needed to complete the DrPH at USF. Core classes for both concentrations include Evidence-Based Public Health and Writing for Health Sciences Publications. If you choose the public health leadership track, your courses will emphasize implementing leadership and expertise in public health practice, from development to evaluation. A few of the required courses for this concentration include a class on Health Disparities and Cultural Competency in Public Health and Innovative Public Health Education.
If you choose the laboratory science and practice track, your courses will revolve more around developing scientific expertise in the public health field, and classes for this concentration include public health microbiology, public health laboratory management, and bioinformatics.
In order to receive admission to UCF’s DrPH program, you must have a relevant Master’s degree from an accredited institution and a GPA of at least 3.0. You will likely be required to submit a GRE test score, and you must submit a resume or CV, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement about why you want to pursue a DrPH degree.
You should have at least two years of advanced work experience in public health and should be able to demonstrate leadership ability, if you will be a student in the laboratory track, you must be currently employed in a public health or clinical laboratory and have at least two years of laboratory leadership experience. The net price for a degree at USF is $10,460.
University of Illinois- Chicago
Average Net Price
The University of Illinois at Chicago is located right at the heart of the bustling Windy City and is represented by the fun mascot Sparky D. Dragon. UIC offers a Doctor of Public Health Leadership that emphasizes the importance of this higher-level degree and the elevated expertise it can provide. This degree focuses on public health leadership, exposing students to information in research, practice, and theory.
UIC’s program is an online degree that requires 96 semester hours. Twenty-eight of these hours will be in required courses, including Introductory Epidemiology Principles and Methods, Public Health Leadership Seminar, and Leadership in Developing Public Health Policy.
Electives take up a minimum of 8-course hours, and 28 hours will go toward a DrPH dissertation project intended to prepare students to be contributors to public health practice and can take a variety of forms. Students without prerequisite experience must also complete up to 5 hours of relevant fieldwork.
To gain acceptance to this DrPH program, students must hold a master’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited school. They must also have at least three years of full-time, paid, professional experience in public health in a position that shows leadership ability or potential. The net price for a degree at UIC is $12,248.
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Average Net Price
Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis offers the best of Indiana University and Purdue University on one campus located in the capital city of Indiana. Within IUPUI’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, there is a doctoral program in global health leadership, a uniquely globalized DrPH. While the degree can be completed mostly online, you will be required to meet with your cohort face-to-face several times in Indianapolis or elsewhere.
Because this degree is centered in Indianapolis, students will have the benefits of being based in an economic and governmental hub with many healthcare resources for them to take advantage of. The program is designed for mid-to senior-level professionals anywhere in the world who are working full-time in healthcare-related organizations, including non-profit and for-profit healthcare settings, pharma, government agencies, and more.
This program encourages global research and will, therefore, support research abroad, as well as provide unique opportunities for international students that differ from similar programs.
To complete this degree, students must fulfill 45 credits in courses that cover the broad topics of leadership, public health, and research. Some of the leadership classes include titles like Organizational Leadership Theory and Practice and Leadership in Global Health Law and Ethics, while public health-centered courses cover global health policy and population.
The research courses will help with writing and researching academic literature and completing all the research requirements of the degree program. You will also be able to pursue a 12-credit doctoral minor in a relevant subject like epidemiology, making you a stronger candidate for essential healthcare roles.
In order to qualify for admission to this DrPH program, you must have a prior master’s or doctoral-level degree, not necessarily in public health, with a strong academic record. You must also be working full-time in an organization relevant to public health with substantial management and leadership experience. The net price for this degree at IUPUI is $9,371.
University of Mississippi
Average Net Price
The University of Mississippi, lovingly known as Ole’ Miss by students, alumni, and sports fans alike, is home to an expansive medical center that houses a Doctor in Health Administration degree.
This degree is focused on helping create innovative leaders who aim to make impressive developments in the field of healthcare and achieve opportunities in executive-level healthcare industry positions. This program can be done primarily online and is designed to be completed in three years.
The courses for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s DHA degree include degree introduction classes like Leadership Strategies in Health Entities, Epidemiology, and Health Care Law, Regulations, and Ethics. Other course examples include Health Economics and Fundamentals of Applied Research, and students will undergo a doctoral project during their third year.
In order to qualify for admission at UMMC, you should have either a master’s degree or professional doctorate in a healthcare-related field with a GPA of at least 3.0 or a master’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 with five or more years of experience in a healthcare-relevant field. You must submit your GRE scores, a CV or resume, and an essay documenting previous healthcare experience and goals. The net price for a degree at the University of Mississippi is $14,459.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Average Net Price
UNC-Chapel Hill was the first public university founded in the United States, and it continues the tradition of innovative education to this day. UNC offers an executive doctoral program in health leadership designed for middle or senior-level professionals who want to gain further healthcare leadership skills.
This program is primarily online, with several on-campus visits required per year, and requires 45 credit hours to complete, taking about three years.
Throughout the first two years of the program, every student will take the same courses, which will help facilitate discussion and collaboration between students, even in a virtual setting. Some of these required courses include Population Perspectives for Health, Leadership in Public Law and Ethics, and Global Health. Throughout the degree program, students will get more specific with their studies, eventually focusing on a dissertation that takes up the entirety of the third year.
A practicum course is also required for the degree, entailing students to go out into the community and find a meaningful public health project to do with an organization. Along with this, UNC also encourages students to find leadership experiences abroad when possible and will work with students to apply such experiences to their on-campus requirements.
In order to gain admittance to this program, a prospective student must have a graduate degree and/or doctoral degree with a 3.0 GPA (not necessarily in public health). The student must have at least five years of experience in the health field and have had management or leadership responsibilities under their belt. They must be currently employed full-time in the healthcare field. The net price for a degree at UNC Chapel Hill is $11,649.
Texas Woman’s University
Average Net Price
Despite its name, Texas Woman’s University is a co-ed school located in Denton, Texas, near Dallas. The school is home to a well-regarded School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, offering a Ph.D. program in health studies.
This program is research-driven, and, while it can be done mainly online, you will be required to meet face-to-face with members of your cohort on several occasions during the “hybrid” courses, encouraging connection with peers. For these, you will travel to Denton, and when you aren’t in class, you can enjoy the good food and activities that the Dallas-Fort Worth area has to offer.
This program contains 96 credit hours and includes courses on health advocacy, program development, and health education. At the end of your Ph.D., TWU expects that you will have a very solid foundation on public health issues and strategies to solve them.
In order to qualify for TWU’s Ph.D. in health studies, you must have a baccalaureate and a master’s degree, either of which must be in a field relevant to public health. You should have a master’s GPA of 3.5 or higher and should be seeking out a potential graduate faculty advisor at TWU. The net price of this program is $9,324.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Average Net Price
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, located in beautiful northern Alabama, is home to a highly-regarded School of Health Professions, receiving high marks for its undergraduate and graduate programs in healthcare management and related fields.
They offer an executive Doctor of Science in healthcare leadership, providing students with a practice-based program designed to help experienced healthcare executives move into senior leadership positions.
UAB’s executive Doctor of Science in healthcare leadership program is three years, with two years of coursework and one year focused primarily on dissertation research. Students can complete their degrees online but must travel to Birmingham three times a year for eight-day visits, and in their third year, students will travel internationally to observe how healthcare systems work abroad.
Early in their programs, students will take classes like Research Methods, Comparative Health Systems, and Health Policy, Process and Issues. Later, students will delve into classes like Macro-Environmental Analysis and Health Economics and Insurance before working on their dissertation research.
In order to gain admission to this program, you must have at least five years of mid-to-senior level managerial experience in the healthcare field, as well as a master’s degree in a relevant field. The net price for a degree at UAB is $16,636.
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Average Net Price
Central Michigan University is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, part of which is located within the Isabella Indian Reservation. It has an enrollment of about 27,000 students, including a sizable population of students who complete their degrees through CMU online.
As a doctoral student in CMU’s Doctor of Health Administration program, you would join the global campus and participate in an online degree program designed for professionals in the field.
CMU’s program takes place in cohorts, in which you will take a set schedule of courses with the same students from start to finish. You and your cohort will be required to attend six regionally-located face-to-face seminars to help you acquaint yourself with your peers and gain further instruction.
Examples of CMU courses include Population Health, Health Systems Thinking and Practice, and Applied Leadership. After two periods of 24 credit hours, students will have one period of 12 credit hours dedicated to their dissertation research.
In order to qualify for admission at CMU, you must have at least three years of experience at the mid-to-senior level in health administration or a relevant field. You must also have a master’s degree in a relevant field or a professional degree (M.D., D.O., D.D.S.). The net price for a degree at CMU is $14,372.
Average Net Price
Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, is one of the largest private non-profit universities in the United States, with about 45,300 students enrolled.
When students aren’t busy with their coursework, they can keep an eye on Liberty’s excellent basketball team—the Liberty Flames men’s basketball team is the current champion of the ASUN Conference. Liberty offers a unique Doctor of Business in Healthcare Administration, a completely online program designed to focus on the business elements of healthcare from a Christian worldview.
This program consists of 60 credit hours, taking an average of 3 years to complete. It is designed to prepare students for excellence in leadership roles, providing advanced training in professional management, human resource development, and quality control. The program also incorporates the study of managing global healthcare in industrialized civilizations.
Potential courses for a DBA student at Liberty include classes on legal and ethical issues in healthcare, managing human capital in healthcare, and grant management.
In order to qualify for admission, you must have an accredited master’s degree in business or a business-related field with a 3.0 or above GPA. The net price for a degree at Liberty University is $27,432.
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Average Net Price
The Medical University of South Carolina, located in Charleston, has been the top-ranked hospital in the state for five years in a row by U.S. News & World Report. With this prestige, the university has a highly-regarded Doctor of Health Administration program designed to provide students with a unique and rich education to meet the standards of the ever-changing healthcare field.
This program is tailored for healthcare professionals who want to enter leadership positions in higher education, healthcare advocacy, or healthcare administration.
MUSC’s Doctor of Health Administration program consists of 54 credit hours and can be done mostly online, with an in-person meeting required once a semester. The program contains two tracks: health administrator, which focuses on the development of leaders in healthcare administration, health policy, strategic management, and applied research methods; and health professional, which focuses on the development of interprofessional leaders in clinical care, social work, health information systems, and healthcare quality.
People in both tracks will take courses such as Health Politics and Advocacy, Change Management and Negotiation, and National Health Policy. People on the health administration track must take an organizational behavior course, while students on the health professional track must take a healthcare leadership class.
In order to qualify for admission on the health administrator track, you must have experience in a healthcare management or policy position and a post-baccalaureate professional or master’s degree in health administration or a relevant area.
For the health professional track requirements, you must have experience in clinical care or another healthcare-related workforce and a post-baccalaureate or master’s degree in a clinical field or healthcare-related fields such as health information technology, quality, and social work.
Average Net Price
Franklin University, a majority online school based in Columbus, Ohio, has an online Doctor in Healthcare Administration that you can complete in three years at your convenience. This program is designed to encourage positive change in healthcare effectiveness and leadership and it takes a broad approach to the various issues surrounding the healthcare system.
Franklin University’s DHA requires 16 credit hours of a research core with classes like Doctoral Writing and Research, and Applied Statistics. You will spend 20 credit hours in courses like Organizations, Community and Global Health, and Healthcare Policy and Reform; 10 credit hours in dissertation-related courses; and 12 hours in a variety of electives.
In order to qualify for admission to Franklin University, you should have a master’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and at least 30 hours of graduate coursework in a healthcare-related field. The net price for this program is $18,684.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Average Net Price
Regent University is a private Christian university in Virginia Beach, on the coast of Virginia. RU offers a unique program in its Doctor of Strategic Leadership – Healthcare Leadership within its School of Business and Leadership.
This program is dedicated to helping students reach the top of their fields, acquiring knowledge of how to create necessary healthcare reform and maintain accountability within the healthcare industry. Regent University focuses on learning through a Christian viewpoint, placing the emphasis on leadership, communication, and cultural understanding through that perspective.
There are 60 credit hours required for the DSL degree in healthcare leadership, and the majority of it can be completed online. However, there are two four-day in-person course residencies.
As a student in RU’s DSL degree program in healthcare leadership, you will be required to take a variety of courses about business and strategy, as well as healthcare issues and forecasting. In order to qualify for admission to the university and the program, you must have shown academic excellence in both your bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and have experience in leadership positions to show off. The net price is $16,779.
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Clarkson College, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is a private healthcare science college, which means that it focuses all of its resources on healthcare research and achievement.
It offers a doctoral program in healthcare education & leadership designed to help experienced healthcare professionals earn an interdisciplinary education that helps them achieve success in teaching, practicing, and performing healthcare education research.
This program requires the completion of 44 semester hours, and it can be done full-time or part-time to accommodate busy professionals. Fourteen semester hours include core classes with titles like Outcomes of Health Care in a Global Society and Interprofessional Education. Thirty semester hours include major classes about applied research and healthcare education, as well as dissertation-related courses.
To qualify for admission to this program, you must have at least one year of work experience, preferably in the healthcare field, a master’s degree or higher, and a prerequisite graduate-level statistics course under your belt. The net price is $23,626.
Average Net Price
Creighton University, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is a private Jesuit institution that offers a unique doctoral program that might be right for someone looking to gain credibility as a leader in the healthcare field.
Creighton’s Interdisciplinary leadership doctoral program provides students the flexible option of pursuing their specific goals while learning general leadership skills that can apply to any field. With Creighton’s medical program and health resources, someone looking to advance their career in public health could find a great fit in this broader program.
This degree offered online, is designed to help leaders create community change in ethical ways, and the course schedule reflects its goals. There are 60 required credits in courses that cover topics like Organizational Theory and Behavior, Leadership in a Global Society, Women and Leadership, and even Jesuit Traditions. You don’t need to ascribe to the Jesuit faith to attend this institution, but the school’s programs will reflect its religious views, particularly in reference to ethics and health policy.
In order to gain admission to this program and start cultivating a unique education, you must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and provide a CV or resume, along with three letters of recommendation. While you will be able to complete this degree online, there is the option to do dissertation research on-campus in Omaha, which might be helpful to students looking for more resources. The net price is $31,317.
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California Intercontinental University
Average Net Price
California Intercontinental University is an online university based in Irvine, California, meant for working professionals learning to get a leg up in their careers.
Their Doctor of Business Administration – healthcare management and leadership program will provide students with the tools to be successful managers and leaders in the healthcare field, helping them acquire skills in healthcare marketing, acquisition techniques, and managing healthcare risks.
There are 60 required credits to complete this degree, and courses include subjects that help students to successfully write and study as doctoral students, learn about the general global economy and finance, and strategize for healthcare leadership. Specific course titles include Marketing Research in Consumer Behavior and Managing Risk in Healthcare: Perspective for Healthcare Leaders.
In order to qualify for admission, you must submit your CV or professional resume and you must have a master’s or bachelor’s degree. The net price is $11,062.
$780 per credit
Capella University, an online university headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, offers a flexible online DrPH program for students interested in advancing their professional careers in the healthcare field and learning how to be effective leaders.
As a fully online program, CU’s DHA is designed to help students gain and refine skills necessary for participating and leading in the modern, evolving healthcare landscape.
This DHA program consists of 60 total credits with 18 maximum transfer credits available. There are 12 core courses and two capstone courses.
Admission to this program will require a master’s degree in a relevant field with at least a 3.0 GPA and upholding the other Capella University admission standards.
Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Average Net Price
Colorado Technical University is a primarily online school based out of Aurora, Colorado, which offers a Doctor of Management in healthcare management and leadership. The goal of the program is to teach students to carefully examine healthcare policy and regulations and all the details of the quickly-moving healthcare field.
This program contains 80 credit hours and can be completed online in three years, with at least one required in-person symposium experience.
This program pays close attention to three focus areas: research and writing, leadership and change management, and the specific concentration discipline. Core classes for this degree include classes on management theory as well as on research methods. Concentration courses are more specific, looking at health policy and regulations, the structural and financial elements of healthcare organizations and healthcare informatics.
Admission requirements for this program are flexible and should be discussed with a representative from CTU. The net price for this degree program is $15,478.
Average Net Price
Trident University is a private online university based in California. The university’s student population is skewed older, with most students above the age of 30 and a third of the doctoral students over the age of 50. This makes their Doctor of Health Administration degree perfect for someone who is a professional in the field, seeking to advance their health administration careers.
This program is geared toward students who would like to be on top of the continual changes happening in the world of healthcare and develop helpful leadership skills that will make them an asset to any company.
TU’s DHA program consists of 36-52 semester hours, as the program will accept up to 16 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework. The core classes in the program cover topics like Healthcare Finance and Economics, Research Methods and Statistics, and Healthcare Delivery Systems.
In order to qualify for admission, you must have received a master’s degree with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, as well as meet the standards of TU’s general admissions process. The net price for this degree program is $13,400.
San Diego, California
Average Net Price
Northcentral University, a private online university based in San Diego, California, was established to help working professionals increase their education on their own schedule, and their doctoral program in health administration is no different.
Northcentral’s online Doctor of Health Administration program contains 60 credits (20 courses) and it takes about 36 months to complete. However, you have seven years to complete the program, giving you ample opportunity to fulfill the requirements on your own time.
As its title suggests, this program focuses more on the administrative side of public health and less on specific scientific elements of the field. Throughout the course of your doctoral degree, you will learn to strategize and assess community health needs, recommend ethical health policies from a variety of perspectives, and address other healthcare industry problems.
Required core classes pertain to information about the United States healthcare system, health law and ethics, healthcare administrative communications and marketing, and data-driven decision-making. Optional elective courses include classes on health and aging, among others. The net price for this program is not yet available for the current year.
In order to be admitted to Northcentral University’s Doctor of Health Administration program, you must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0 GPA.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out: 20 Best PhD’s in Healthcare Administration Online.