The Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD) and the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) programs profiled here are terminal degrees. Readers will also find affordable programs closely related to public health listed. These programs are offered in a flexible format. Most of them are primarily online with some requiring brief intensive on-campus classes or other requirements. Continue reading to find the public health school and doctoral program that will help you meet your academic and career goals in a flexible and affordable manner.
1. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC
2. University of Montana, Missoula, MT
3. East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
4. University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
5. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC
6. University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
7. Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
8. Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
9. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Kirksville, MO
10. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Methodology for Ranking Public Health Doctorates
The College Navigator website and the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) website were used to develop the initial pool of accredited degree programs. Programs listed include the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Doctor of Education (EdD) in Health Professions and Doctorate of Health Science (DHSc) are listed. Programs are ranked based on in-state tuition rates and tuition rates for private schools. These tuition costs are for comparison purposes only. Prospective students should contact their public health school of interest directly for the most up to date tuition and program information.
10. Johns Hopkins University
Doctor of Public Health
This DrPH program offered by Johns Hopkins University is a flexible online degree program. It features one week onsite institutes required in June and January. Full time doctoral students can complete their PhD programs in up to 7 years, part time students up to 9 years, and most students complete this robust DrPH in 5-7 years. This doctoral degree is sought after by mid-career public health professionals seeking public health leadership roles in organizations at home or abroad. Built around foundational public health competencies, doctoral students can choose from four concentrations:
- Environmental Health
- Health Equity and Social Justice
- Health Policy and Management
- Implementation Science
9. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences
EdD Health Professions
DHSc Health Sciences
A top public health school, A.T. Still University offers an affordable online EdD in Health Professions and a DHSc in Health Sciences. These are flexible programs for doctoral students to advance careers in the health system. The EdD program focuses on developing health education professionals through practical, experience-based teaching. The EdD doctoral degree is designed for practicing clinicians, health educators, leaders and program directors. With the shift in healthcare toward preventative care and education, graduates of this program can help fill the gap. ATSU’s DHSc online degree program promises to prepare graduates to assess and manage solutions for the public health challenges facing the population. These community health challenges include access to healthcare, healthcare cost, and quality. Graduates with this doctoral degree will be prepared in project management, leadership roles, upholding evidence-based practice, and research application to professional practice.
8. Drexel University
DHSc Health Sciences
One of the best doctoral programs in the field, this online Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) from Drexel University prepares graduates to be leaders in healthcare. Students will graduate with the knowledge and skills to be effective educators, administrators, researchers, and advocates for best practices in healthcare. The doctoral program is open to health professionals looking to advance their careers in leadership in education and clinical practice. This DHSc will provide a solid foundation for doctoral students to conduct research with a focus in their specialized area of interest like community health services, mental health, or health informatics, for instance. This affordable online DHSc is designed for students wanting to expand their expertise to tackle public health challenges. Like other top PhD programs, it provides broad based knowledge and skills that translate research evidence into practice.
7. Loma Linda University
Loma Linda, CA
This affordable online Doctor of Public Health (DrPH degree) in Health Education degree is designed for students who desire a robust health education specialty. It helps individuals develop research, writing, management and leadership skills to further their public health career. With advanced skills and knowledge in health education, graduates from this public health school are prepared for advanced leadership several areas. Examples include:
- planning and evaluating health behavior
- health advocacy and communication
- university-level teaching
Applicants can have little or no experience to enter this doctoral degree program. This online formatted program is targeted towards working professionals. It includes synchronous learning and online and blended courses. Campus visits are required during the research and defense process. Doctoral students may take summer courses in person if they so desire. This program can be completed in 3-5 years. Graduates from doctoral programs like this one can anticipate employment in leadership roles in government, private or academic settings.
6. University of Illinois
Doctor of Public Health
This affordable online Doctor in Public Health (DrPH) degree is a comprehensive leadership training program. Enrolled doctoral students are exposed to the latest research, practice and theory in public health. This doctoral degree program is designed for mid-career public health professionals seeking to broaden their public health knowledge. Students enjoy the flexibility to learn online from any location with a vibrant learning community and conduct original research with renowned faculty. Graduates from this affordable doctoral degree program can expect to have the skills needed to lead in research and policy making for community health and health services. After completing their DrPH program, they are also prepared to assume public health leadership roles in health systems at the local, national and international level.
5. University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
Executive Doctor of Public Health
This competitive online doctoral degree program from UNC is designed for working professionals. Fifteen students are admitted to this online phd in public health program each year. Applicants to PhD programs are required to have at least five years in a leadership position in the community health, health services, or related health field. Classes are taught one evening per week via an internet video platform. On campus visits are required in August, January and May for 3-4 days each, with flexibility for overseas or other remote students. Doctoral students begin dissertation planning in year one. Most complete the PhD degree in three years, with some taking up to five years to complete their doctoral degrees.
4. University of South Florida
The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) offered by the University of South Florida is our most affordable online PhD in public health program. With an emphasis on advanced public health education, this training is designed for doctoral students seeking a role in practice-based settings. Examples include a health department, a non-profit, mental health services, international or community health organization. Students enrolled in public health doctoral programs develop expertise in the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based public health practice. They attend three on-campus DrPH Institutes, allowing for professionals in the workforce to network with others in their program. Although this is an online phd in public health, students may opt to take on-campus courses from the public health school, should their location allow. Available concentrations for the doctoral degree include:
- Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health
- Public Health
- Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice
This affordable PhD degree program from USF may be the one for you.
3. East Carolina University
DrPH Doctoral Degree
East Carolina University’s affordable online or on-campus doctoral degree in public health is offered with a concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) and Health Policy, Administration and Leadership (HPAL). This DrPH program is the terminal doctoral degree for those pursuing a career in public health research. This program’s goal is to advance public health leadership. Its focus is on rural, multi-cultural and underserved communities. Graduates of doctoral programs are skilled as leaders, teachers, innovators and researchers in public health. They implement and create evidence-based public health goals that are effective in the community.
2. University of Montana
PhD Degree in Public Health
This affordable PhD in Public Health is offered through the public health school of the University of Montana. Its mission is to educate the next generation of public health researchers. Graduates of this PhD program will be poised to produce new knowledge, contributing to solving complex health problems, including community health issues. Applicants are required to have a Master of Public Health (MPH or equivalent) to enter this research-oriented doctoral program. This on-campus PhD degree program requires students to be in Missoula to work with their Research Advisor throughout the program. UM’s PhD in Public Health is a 60 credit program. Up to 15 credits able to be transferred upon approval from another institution.
In-State Tuition $4,716
1. University of North Carolina
PhD Degree Public Health Sciences
This affordable PhD degree program in Public Health Sciences offered by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte is focused to train public health researchers and professionals with skills needed to approach current public health challenges and issues affecting individuals, communities, and populations. Although not online, this program is the most affordable PhD in public health of all the accredited doctoral degrees available in the United States. This doctoral degree program is offered with a concentration in Behavioral Sciences. It emphasizes public health research into health determinants and the relationship in prevention and management of disease in diverse and vulnerable populations. The primary emphasis of this program is understanding and developing community health education programs that address influencing factors of health behaviors and outcomes. This PhD in Public Health Sciences with a Behavioral Sciences concentration has an emphasis on qualitative and quantitative methods. It also focuses on the study of social and cultural factors influencing health behaviors. Check out UNC’s website for more information on doctoral programs, including this affordable PhD in Public Health Sciences.
Why does this list include doctoral degrees that are not specifically public health?
The interdisciplinary and collaborative field of public health overlaps with other fields. Thus, these programs were included. Public health professionals can be clinicians, program directors, researchers and educators, to name a few areas. The doctoral programs listed are geared toward public health, community health, health services, mental health, and related disciplines.
Many programs do require a master’s degree, such as a MPH degree, to apply. Some doctoral programs require work experience in addition to the master’s degree. Some may require remedial courses in public health to apply. Prepared candidates for the top programs often possess both experience and education. Contact the programs of interest to find out application requirements.
What is the difference between a PhD degree and a DrPH?
The PhD in Public Health is designed for scientists interested in public health research. The DrPH is designed for public health professionals. People wanting to work with programs and policies often seek the DrPH to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to work as an effective leader.
What do people do with a terminal degree in public health?
The field of public health is interdisciplinary. Doctoral students can pursue a variety of directions in their career. Some conduct public health research. Some work directly with individuals and the public to improve community health and wellness through disease prevention and other health initiatives. Some are advocates to increase access to healthcare or teach at the university level. Graduates will advance their career options and have new leadership opportunities in the field of healthcare and public health.
What are typical requirements for this PhD degree in public health?
Typical public health coursework includes:
- Research Methods
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Program Assessment and Evaluation
- Health Policy Analysis
- Behavioral Sciences
- Disease and Injury Prevention
Plus, doctoral students may do research, create their portfolio, go through a practicum experience, and complete and defend a dissertation.
How long can it take to complete my PhD degree?
A terminal degree in public health may take four years full time to complete, with part-time doctoral students taking up to 9 years. Typically, students complete about 60 credits of required coursework. This is in addition to a dissertation. Requirements vary from program to program, so be sure to check out the details for your program of interest.
What kind of PhD degree in public health should I get?
A terminal degree develops skills that can lead to a more advanced position in the field. Many programs offer customization of the study plan to fit your specific interests and career goals. Check out the flexibility to customize the program so that it fits your needs.
Why get my terminal degree through an online program?
Online programs offer a flexible and often cost-saving option. This is ideal for those who want to continue working while pursuing their degree or cannot move due to other responsibilities. Students may enjoy working from wherever they are. They can fit their online phd in public health into their schedules as they wish.
Does it really matter if my public health program is accredited?
Although you may see doctoral programs not listed here that look interesting, some lack accreditation. The list found in this article only lists accredited doctoral programs. Accreditation ensures a quality program, worthy of your time and money. If you’re going to make the effort to pursue your terminal degree, it is best that it is accredited.
How do I finance my online PhD degree in public health?
Students often research funding opportunities such as scholarships, grants, loans and work study. If you are still employed, your employer may have a tuition program for company employees wishing to go back to school. Speak with someone in financial aid at your program of interest to find out what is available through the school.
How much money do people make with this PhD degree?
As a result of variations in professional experience, geographical location, and type of workplace, salaries vary greatly. Here is a short list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Medical and health services managers: $99,730
- Biostatistician: $88,190
- College Professor: $78,740
- Epidemiologist: $69,660
What are some of the professional organizations in public health?
The professional organizations in public health help emerging professionals gain access to networking opportunities, attend conferences, get career guidance, and access continuing education. Organizations include:
- American Public Health Association
- United States Public Health Service
- Council on Education for Public Health
How is the job outlook in public health?
A PhD in public health opens the door to in-demand careers. Across the board, public health is a growing field. Above average growth is expected.
How do I choose an online program that’s right for me?
Contact your program of interest to find out details about the online phd in public health not revealed on the website. Make sure any on-campus requirements suit you, and check out scholarship information. Find the online phd in public health program that fits your educational interest, financial ability, and your life.
By Carol Dolan BS RN BSN CDCES
Carol graduated with her BS in Nutrition from Montclair State University and her BSN in Nursing from Rowan University. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) currently working with adults and children living with diabetes in both outpatient and inpatient settings.
- National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
- US News & World Report: Best Colleges
- DNP Online
- Cheapest Online Colleges
- Free Online Colleges
- Graduate Degrees Gerontology Online
- PhD Healthcare Administration
- Healthcare Administration Responsibilities
This concludes our coverage of the top affordable PhD in public health programs.