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What Is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Degree?

If you are passionate about being an effective change agent in any of the public health fields, this doctoral degree can position you for success in your profession.

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree is a top credential for practitioners and administrators within the public health arena. Specifically, it’s a degree for professionals interested in advancing their careers and positively influencing public health issues within a community, regardless of its size. Candidates for this online public health degree typically have a few years of professional experience in addition to having already earned their master’s degree.

Oftentimes, the DrPH degree is confused with a PhD in Public Health, though there are distinct differences between the two. For example, Walden University’s online PhD in Public Health helps prepare students for professions involving teaching and research, while a Doctor of Public Health teaches practical executive-level skills, innovative approaches, and updated knowledge about current public health issues. Additionally, DrPH students learn applied research skills, which make the important connection between research and implementing the findings in the workplace.

What Is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Degree?

Walden University’s Doctor of Public Health program offers two doctoral tracks. Track I is a shorter program for students who have a master’s in public health. Track II is for students who have a master’s degree in an academic discipline other than public health and need to have a grounding in the fundamentals of public health.

As a healthcare executive or administrator with a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), you’ll have the opportunity to plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services that create healthier communities at the local, state, or national level. In this role, you might manage a health facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Your responsibilities could include implementing and directing changes that conform to new healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. If you enjoy the challenges and satisfaction of being an influential decision-maker in public health issues, a Doctor of Public Heath will help prepare you with the executive-level skill set and confidence to guide positive changes in public health.

Public Health Career Opportunities on the Rise

“Opportunities have never been better for public health professionals,” said Michelle M. Burcin, PhD, MPH, MCHES (Master Certified Health Educator), program director in Walden University’s School of Health Sciences. “The average age of public health workers was 46.8 years old in 2011–2012, so we’re going to see an abundance of openings specifically due to retirement of the large population of baby boomers. In federal and state public health offices alone, 50% of employees are due to retire soon.”

Another factor creating new career opportunities in public health, Dr. Burcin explained, is the Affordable Care Act, with its landmark emphasis on preventative care. Health insurance companies must provide preventative care coverage for their policyholders, resulting in a greater demand for public health professionals.

Possible career options include:

  • Health department director
  • Public health information officer
  • Health policy advisor
  • Public health consultant 
  • Health officer
  • Public health program director
  • Community health manager/director
  • Public health professor 

Salaries and Job Outlook

The job market for healthcare executives and administrators (also known as medical and health services managers) is projected to grow at a much faster-than-average rate of 32% between 2019 and 2029. The median annual wage in 2019 was $100,980, while the lowest 10% earned less than $58,820, and the highest 10% earned more than $189,000.1

With an online Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program, you can gain the doctoral training and credentials to be a positive change agent in key positions of influence throughout the dynamic healthcare system. Even if your professional background is in science or business instead of health services, a doctorate in public health can help prepare you to work as a leader or administrator in challenging practice-based settings across the public, private, and academic spectrum.

Walden’s Doctor of Public Health (DrPh) is accredited by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). CEPH accreditation is important to DrPH programs because it ensures that they meet specified criteria and standards for quality. CEPH accreditation is considered the benchmark of quality in the evaluation of public health programs, as accreditation ensures the degrees offered provide the highest caliber of education possible, preparing competent public health professionals for the field.

Explore how you could advance your career with an online Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree from Walden University, offered in a convenient online format that suits your busy life.


Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.