Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs of 2021

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by Staff Writers
Published on March 19, 2021

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A doctorate in public health can lead to some of the most advanced careers in the healthcare sector. These programs equip students with the skills needed to enter a variety of professions and industries, including medical services management, medical science, and government epidemiology.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Each of these careers boasts median annual salaries and projected growth rates that exceed the national averages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To help students find the best online doctorate in public health programs, this page explores some of the top schools in the nation.

Read on for a general program outline, considerations to keep in mind, and general career information.

#1 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
#2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
#3 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
#4 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC

2021 Accredited Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

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East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville, NC

Based in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU offers a mostly online doctorate in public health. Students can choose between two concentrations: environmental and occupational health (EOH) or health policy, administration, and leadership (HPAL). Students may need to complete some in-person requirements, such as taking a comprehensive exam on campus.

The program focuses on rural, multicultural, and underserved communities. Course topics for the EOH concentration include issues in case studies in occupational medicine and pests and vector-borne diseases. Covered course topics for the HPAL concentration include health information systems, public health and aging, and strategic planning theory and practice.

Applicants must hold a master of public health or an equivalent degree. Applicants must also possess at least two years of relevant public health work experience.

ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Public Health
School Status: Public
Tuition: $249 per credit (in-state); $894 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 50 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online, with some on-campus requirements

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Johns Hopkins University View School Profile Baltimore, MD

Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins offers a flexible, mostly online doctorate in public health aimed at midcareer public health professionals.

The program emphasizes leadership, communication, data analysis, management, ethics, and program and policy development. Concentration areas include environmental health, health equity and social justice, health policy and management, and implantation science. To graduate, participants must complete a dissertation and a practicum, the latter of which can be carried out at the student's place of work.

Applicants must possess a master of public health or another health-related master's degree, as well as three years of full-time professional experience. The program requires students to attend a limited number of intensive in-person sessions, which are about a week long and take place in January and June.

Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Public Health
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,233 per credit
Credit Requirements: 64 credits
Program Length: 5-7 years
Format: Online, with a limited number of in-person intensives required

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Illinois at Chicago View School Profile Chicago, IL

Based in Chicago, UIC offers an online doctorate in public health leadership that provides comprehensive leadership training for midcareer public health professionals. The program helps students develop their practice-based research skills, enabling graduates to guide changes in their communities.

Required courses include personal leadership development, leadership in public health policy, and an introduction to epidemiology. Students must also complete a dissertation at the end of the program.

To qualify for the program, candidates must possess a master's degree in public health or a related field, as well as at least three years of full-time professional experience in a leadership position. Applicants in high-level management positions who demonstrate leadership potential may also apply.

UIC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Public Health
School Status: Public
Tuition: $967 per credit
Credit Requirements: 96 credits (including up to 32 credits from an MPH program)
Program Length: 4-6 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: GRE optional

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill View School Profile Chapel Hill, NC

Based just outside of Durham, UNC-Chapel Hill offers a mostly online executive doctoral program in health leadership. The program requires campus visits once in the fall, spring, and summer for two years, with each visit lasting 3-4 days.

Course topics include population perspectives for health, essentials of practice-based research, and health policy analysis and advocacy for leaders. To complete the program, students must pass comprehensive written and oral exams and complete a dissertation.

Applicants must hold a graduate-level degree for admission. Students must also possess five or more years of full-time healthcare experience in a managerial or supervisory role. UNC-Chapel Hill is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership
School Status: Public
Tuition: $830 per credit (in-state); $1,662 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 45-51 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online, with six on-campus sessions required throughout the program

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: GRE optional

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Public Health Program?

Students who wish to pursue a career directly in the healthcare industry typically choose a DrPH, while aspiring researchers and academics often pursue a Ph.D.

Students interested in earning an online doctorate in public health can choose from two major pathways: a Ph.D. or a doctor of public health (DrPH).

While both degree types can lead to the same careers, they usually emphasize different areas. Students who wish to pursue a career directly in the healthcare industry typically choose a DrPH, while aspiring researchers and academics often pursue a Ph.D.

These degree types often differ in format as well, with the Ph.D. usually requiring 60-120 credits and taking 4-7 years to complete. Most DrPH programs require 45-60 credits and take 3-5 years to complete.

Curriculum specifics vary, but Ph.D. programs generally focus on research and dissertation work, while DrPH programs emphasize practice and leadership skills. Students may be able to create their own study specialization or choose from a list of concentrations, such as environmental health, public health policy, or epidemiology and infectious disease.

Both degree types typically accept applicants with a master's degree in a related discipline. DrPH programs often require applicants to possess relevant experience.

Admission Requirements for Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Applicants for an online doctorate in public health typically need a relevant master's degree, although some doctoral programs accept students with only a bachelor's degree, if they take additional credits. Some programs may require a minimum GPA, test scores, and/or relevant professional experience. Additional requirements may include a research proposal or statement of purpose, a writing sample, and/or an interview.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Public Health Program?

Like many doctoral programs, the curriculum for an online doctorate in public health can vary considerably by school and degree type. Students at this level often get the opportunity to customize their training to fit their educational and professional goals. While not exhaustive, the following list highlights some of the most common courses.

Health Management

This course focuses on the management of health organizations, covering topics in financial management and human resources development. Students learn to balance the needs of the organization with the needs of the general public. They also discuss how to evaluate, design, and implement policies and practices.

Data and Analysis

In this course, students learn how to analyze health data. They examine the various tools and techniques used in the field, along with the applications and limitations of the practice. Additional topics include common software and technologies used by public health analysts, as well as presentation methods for delivering results.

Issues in Global Public Health

This course explores major health concerns around the world. Covered topics include the opioid crisis, pandemics, epidemiology, health and nutrition, and environmental concerns. Students apply their training to analyze and confront these issues.

Vaccinology

This course covers various topics in vaccinology, including the history of vaccines, mass production, and campaign implementation and rollout. Students examine the development process, including testing, safety and efficacy trials, and approval processes.

Public Health Ethics

In this course, learners study various ethical frameworks in the field. They examine some of the major areas in which ethical dilemmas appear, such as disease prevention, patient autonomy, and resource allocation.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Public Health?

Doctoral graduates enjoy a choice of careers, many of which boast large workforces and strong projected growth. The BLS and Projections Central project many careers in public health to grow at rapid rates between 2019 and 2029.

While positions at this level are competitive, the workforces are large enough to support the demand for jobs. As the global interest in public health and the healthcare needs of the aging population continue to rise, the world needs more public health professionals.

Learn more about public health jobs on our career page.

true Medical Services Manager

Medical services managers oversee healthcare departments and facilities, managing staff, handling finances, and implementing policies. These professionals need an understanding of healthcare regulations and practices. According to the BLS, 33% of medical services managers work in hospitals and 12% work in physicians' offices.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists research and investigate common diseases in the public sphere. They strive to improve responses to these health issues through policy change, publications, and education. According to the BLS, 54% of epidemiologists work in state and local governments.

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists research various healthcare issues, including drugs and diseases. They may conduct experiments on specific drugs or develop ways to improve public health outcomes. According to the BLS, 35% of these professionals work in research and development, 23% work in higher education, and 17% work in hospitals.

Professor

Professors educate students in colleges and universities about public health and related programs. Professors also conduct their own research and add to the discourse in the field.

Biostatistician

Biostatisticians conduct research and studies on various drugs, diseases, and public health conditions. They look for a better understanding of symptoms, causes, side effects, and methods for improved health outcomes. According to the BLS, most of these statisticians work in pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and public health organizations.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Is a doctoral degree in public health worth it?

A doctorate in public health can lead to some of the most lucrative and in-demand positions for healthcare professionals and researchers. For example, the BLS projects 32% job growth for medical services managers between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $100,980.

What can I do with a doctorate in public health?

Graduates with a professional doctorate in public health typically pursue management positions or roles within the government, often serving as epidemiologists in public health departments. Those with a Ph.D. in public health may also pursue medical science careers or postsecondary teaching positions within universities and colleges.

How many public health majors get jobs?

Available jobs for public health majors depend on the individual, their discipline, and their location. For example, metropolitan regions and the East and West Coast states employ the most graduates, according to the BLS. According to the National Science Foundation, only 2% of health science doctoral graduates were unemployed in 2013.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in public health?

According to the BLS, medical services managers make a median annual salary of $100,980. Epidemiologists make $70,990 annually, while medical scientists earn $88,790 per year.

What are the highest paying jobs with a doctorate in public health?

According to the BLS, medical services manager is the most lucrative job for doctoral graduates. The top 10% of medical services managers earn a median annual salary of $189,000.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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