Online doctorate programs in public health are a rewarding start to a high-level career. Choosing between the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health can be confusing. While most of the differences are in semantics, the bottom line is that a PhD is designed more for research and teaching while a DrPH is designed more for practical application. Keep reading to learn about online DrPH programs and their requirements to make the best decision about your education.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs in Public Health
Courses that are covered in doctorate programs online for public health students include things like management and leadership, ethics, biostatistics, change management, and epidemiology. Students will use these courses to learn how to become leaders in public health and advance their own professional career in academia, public health, or research. They might also consider the PhD program, or a degree in public policy, healthcare administration, or another related field.
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Program Information and Requirements
Online DrPH programs often allow students to complete the majority of their coursework online, which is perfect for these mid-career professionals. The programs will focus on giving students only the education they need, including the obvious lack of pre-requisites at this level. Students will instead focus on relevant courses and completion of a dissertation or similar project that they may have to present in person, depending on the program. Some schools will require group projects or work-related studies, as well.
List of Common Online Public Health Classes
General education is done at this point. When you take a doctorate program for a public health degree, all you will take is specialized courses that meet your degree needs. You will learn about public policy, administration, politics, sociology, leadership, and more while conducting research and studying public health.
- Epidemiology: As one of the most common courses in a DrPH program, epidemiology is a basic foundation for a career in public health. This area of study focuses on diseases and populations, including prevention, analysis, assessment, treatment, education, awareness, and more. Some courses will teach on specific populations or diseases.
- Leadership and Management: At this level, the careers that you take will be managerial of some kind, which is why having leadership and management skills is so important. By taking courses in management and learning business elements, you will be a much better public health professional, no matter what you choose.
- Law and Ethics: The ethics and legalities behind public health are important to understand. You will learn how the legal system works and how it applies to the public health sector. You will also learn about patient care and management, as well as private organization ethics and laws.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates who have a doctorate degree in public health can find careers as managers, CEO, administrators, researchers, and educators. There are a variety of career positions at the highest level of public health to choose from. The BLS predicts that this entire industry will be seeing significant growth through the next 10 years, including the areas of education and management with 18 and 16 percent growth, respectively. Salaries for this career are quite significant, as well. Health services managers earn an average of $93,000 while educators can earn as much as $104,000 for working in specialized postsecondary positions. Additionally, those who hold a PhD or doctorate degree will earn an average of $20,000 more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree.
Those who have a DrPH and choose to go into education or management do have options for certification and continuing education. Educators can be certified as a CHES, or Certified Health Education Specialist. Managers can apply for Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification, if they desire. These certifications are the most common for this field. Public health continuing education, examinations, and certifications may be available in other positions, but it depends on the position and the field in which you work.