Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Discover the benefits of an online doctorate in public health degree and how to choose the best program for your career goals.
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Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
Updated on April 30, 2024
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When it comes to making a significant impact on the public health field, a doctorate in public health (DrPH) can be a game-changer. With opportunities to specialize in various areas, learning flexibility, and potential for higher earnings, an online doctorate in public health can be a worthwhile investment.

Let's delve into the specifics of this degree, the benefits it offers, and how you can choose the best online program to suit your career goals.

Featured Online Public Health Programs

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

Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

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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#1 Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $967

Out of State | $967

Credits to Graduate

96

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council on Education for Public Health

UIC designed its online doctorate in public health degree for mid-career professionals. The program provides graduates with the skills needed to pursue jobs as public health practitioners and leaders. Most courses run synchronously. Students complete classes such as personal leadership development and public health leadership tools. 

Applicants need a master's degree from an accredited school of public health. They also need at least three years of professional experience in a public health leadership position or in mid- to senior-level management positions. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,924
Out-of-state
$26,224
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,276
Out-of-state
$23,850
Retention Rate
79%
Acceptance Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
32,324
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,233

Out of State | $1,233

Credits to Graduate

64

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council on Education for Public Health

Johns Hopkins offers a doctorate in public health that runs mostly online. The program features concentrations in areas including environmental health, global health, and implementation science. Full-time learners can complete the degree in 5-7 years. Part-time students can take up to nine years. 

Students must complete weeklong, intensive onsite institutes in January and June. Online learners must also complete a practicum and a dissertation project. Applicants need a master of public health or related master's degree. They also need three years of full-time professional experience.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$55,350
Out-of-state
$55,350
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$55,350
Out-of-state
$55,350
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
27,079
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

East Carolina University

  • Greenville, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $264

Out of State | $994

Credits to Graduate

50-74

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council on Education for Public Health

ECU offers an online doctorate in public health that features two concentrations. Learners choose from environmental and occupational health or health policy administration and leadership. Both concentrations emphasize health needs of the rural, poor, underserved, and multicultural populations. This practice-focused program requires a dissertation and a practicum/field placement. 

Applicants need experience in public health practice. They also need a master of public health or a related degree from an accredited program. Prospective students must submit official transcripts, GRE or MCAT scores, and a resume. Additional application materials include a statement of interest and three recommendation letters.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,452
Out-of-state
$20,729
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$4,749
Out-of-state
$17,898
Retention Rate
82%
Acceptance Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
28,651
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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Why Should You Get a Doctorate in Public Health Online?

Online learning has revolutionized higher education, opening doors for those who wish to continue their studies without disrupting their careers or personal lives. Pursuing an online doctorate in public health is no exception.

There are myriad reasons, both personal and professional, that make earning a DrPH online an attractive option.

Reasons to Get Your DrPH Degree Online

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    Maintain your career

    Online doctoral programs enable you to continue working while studying for your degree.
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    Earn your degree from anywhere

    With an online program, you can study from any location.
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    Enjoy flexibility

    An online education allows you to manage your study schedule around personal obligations.
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    Reduced costs

    Online programs often come with lower tuition fees and eliminate commuting and housing expenses.

Benefits of Earning a DrPH Degree

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    Enhanced career opportunities

    A DrPH prepares you for leadership roles in various health sectors.
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    Practical application

    A DrPH focuses on the practical application of public health principles, equipping you with the skills to address real-world health challenges.
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    Diverse specializations

    With numerous specializations available, you can tailor your studies to align with your career aspirations.

What to Expect in an Online DrPH Program

An online doctorate in public health program is designed to provide you with comprehensive knowledge and skills to become a leader in the field of public health. But what exactly can you expect when you enroll in a DrPH program?

In a DrPH program, you'll delve into a curriculum that prepares you for leadership roles in public health, policy, and practice. The program is designed for early- to late-career professionals and comprises courses focusing on foundational competencies such as leadership, analytical skills, policy, management, and program design and evaluation.

The duration of a DrPH usually ranges from 3-7 years. This is often dependent on the program's structure and whether you enroll part-time or full-time. DrPH programs typically require a minimum of 45 credits of coursework, plus an additional 3-15 credit hours of doctoral research and advanced fieldwork.

Doctorate in Public Health Specialization Options

DrPH programs offer a wide variety of specializations, like epidemiology and health policy. You may also find programs that offer more niche specializations like maternal and child health or women's and reproductive health.

Each specialization provides unique insights into the complexities of public health, equipping you with the expertise needed to address specific public health challenges. Let's look at five of the more common specializations in more detail.

Public Health Specializations

Epidemiology

This specialization focuses on the study of diseases within populations. It's ideal if you're interested in researching and preventing disease outbreaks.

Environmental Health

This field deals with the effects of environmental factors on health. It's a great fit if you're passionate about tackling environmental health issues.

Biostatistics

Biostatistics involves data analysis for health outcomes. If you have a knack for numbers and data, this could be the right choice for you.

Global Health

Global Health addresses health issues across different cultures and nations. If you're interested in working on health problems on a global scale, consider this specialization.

Health Policy and Management

This specialization is for those interested in leadership and the management of health services. You'll learn to make policy decisions and manage health services.

How Much Does an Online DrPH Cost?

The cost of an online doctorate degree in public health can vary depending on the number of credits and time taken to complete the degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition for online health-related programs at the doctoral level was $19,365 in 2020.

However, these costs can change and do not include books, materials, or potential tuition increases over time.

Average Annual Tuition Cost for Online Doctorate in Health-Related Programs

Public Institution
$17,082

Private Institution (Nonprofit)
$28,906

Source: NCES Data Lab

How to Choose an Online Doctorate in Public Health Program

Choosing the right online doctorate in public health program involves careful consideration of several factors. These include researching the program's accreditation, evaluating the cost, understanding any in-person requirements, and considering the program format.

All these factors can significantly influence your learning experience and career trajectory.

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    Accreditation

    Ensure the program is accredited by a legitimate organization, like the Council on Education for Public Health. Accreditation reflects the quality and recognition of the degree, enhancing opportunities for you upon graduation.
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    Cost

    Consider the total program cost and available financial aid options to ensure it fits your budget. Remember, online programs can be more affordable than traditional on-campus programs, as you're not paying for transportation costs. Some schools also offer lower tuition rates and fees for online programs. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of these programs make them an appealing option for working professionals.
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    Location

    Even though your program is online, consider where the institution is located. Many DrPH programs have in-person requirements for applied clinical internships and capstone projects. It may be wise to look for an online DrPH program that's relatively close to you. Being closer to the campus could also lead to more networking opportunities.
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    Program Format

    Online doctorate in public health programs come in various formats. Some are fully online, while others follow a hybrid model, combining online coursework with occasional on-site meetings. Evaluate the delivery method to ensure it aligns with your learning style and time commitment. Also, consider if the program is synchronous (requiring you to be online at specific times) or asynchronous (allowing you to complete coursework at your convenience).

Featured Online Public Health Programs

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

What can you do with a doctorate in public health?

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A DrPH opens the door to a wide variety of career opportunities. You might choose to teach public health courses at a college or university, become a public health researcher, or work as an epidemiologist. You could also consider a career as a biostatistician, public health consultant, or global health professional.

Alternatively, you could take on leadership or administrative roles in various sectors, such as a public health director, health officer, or public health consultant.

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

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Earning a doctorate in public health can significantly enhance your earning potential. According to Payscale, professionals with a doctorate in public health earn an average annual salary of about $98,000 as of April 2024, which is about $25,000 more than those with an MPH.

However, salaries can vary widely based on the location and industry, as well as your experience. For example, public health directors working in Boston, Massachusetts, earned an annual salary of approximately $125,000 in 2023, while those working in Washington, D.C., earned approximately $99,000, as reported by Payscale.

Is a doctorate in public health degree worth it?

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A doctorate in public health is a significant investment in your public health career. For this reason, whether a doctorate in public health is worth it depends largely on your professional goals.

If you're driven to tackle big issues on a national (or global) scale, like disease prevention, environmental health, or health policy, a doctorate could be highly beneficial.

There's a high demand for public health professionals, and a doctorate can open doors to advanced career opportunities and increase your earning potential.

What's the difference between a Ph.D. in public health and a DrPH?

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A Ph.D. in public health prepares you for advanced research careers and academia, while a DrPH program typically focuses on policy and leadership, equipping you with skills to develop solutions to public health concerns and evaluate program effectiveness. When deciding between the two degree types, consider your career and personal goals.

What are the admission requirements for an online doctorate in public health program?

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Admission requirements for an online doctorate in public health program typically include a master's degree and some form of professional public health experience.

Other requirements may include submitting an application fee, a personal statement, official graduate transcripts, a résumé or CV, and letters of recommendation. An interview conducted by the Admission Review Committee may also be required.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 25, 2024.

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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