Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

DrPH vs. PhD in Public Health—What’s Best for You?

If you’re interested in taking your public health career to the next level, you may be considering a doctorate in public health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States employs more than 120,000 health educators and community health workers—many in public health settings—with employment projected to grow 11% by 2028.1

With highly qualified health professionals in demand, you may be wondering which doctoral degree would be the best fit for your career goals: a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) or a PhD in Public Health? Before you make a choice, explore the differences—and similarities—between a DrPH and a PhD in Public Health. We break it down for you below.

DrPH vs. PhD in Public Health—What’s Best for You?

DrPH vs. PhD in Public Health—What’s the Difference?


A Doctor of Public Health, commonly referred to as a DrPH, is a professional degree designed for public health practitioners. Both on-campus and online DrPH programs focus on the practical application of public health principles across a variety of fields—including communications, marketing, public policy and advocacy, economics, and more—preparing DrPH students for leadership roles in practice-based settings. An emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary collaboration, as public health professionals must often work as leaders or members of interprofessional teams focused on healthcare.

A DrPH program can equip you the skills and knowledge to work as a leader or administrator in a variety of practice-based settings within the public, private, and academic sectors. Career options for professionals with a DrPH include but are not limited to:

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

PhD in Public Health

If you have a passion for public health research, a PhD in Public Health can prepare you with the skills you need to make scholarly, research-based contributions to the field. A public health PhD program will also provide you with the opportunity to contribute to the field through an original dissertation on a public health topic of your choosing.

Whether online or on campus, public health PhD programs can mold you into an advanced researcher—well-versed in public health theory, methodology, research design, statistical methods, and more—equipped to help solve the world’s most pressing public health issues.

Careers for professionals with a PhD in Public Health include those listed above as well as the following:

  • Biostatistician
  • Epidemiologist
  • Public health researcher
  • Faculty/professor 
  • Post-doctoral fellow
  • Global health professional/consultant
  • Public health consultant
  • Public health policy advisor 

Online or On Campus?

Once you decide which doctorate in public health you’d like to pursue, you’ll start the search for a program that meets your needs. Many students enrolled in a doctorate in public health program find that an accredited online university provides the freedom they need to juggle work and family commitments while pursuing rigorous academic coursework.

Whether you decide to enroll at an online university or a brick-and-mortar institution, you’ll graduate as a doctor of public health, equipped with the education you need to address a range of public health problems, at home and abroad.

Ready to tackle the world’s most pressing public health issues with a doctorate in public health? Discover how the online DrPH and online PhD in Public Health programs at Walden, an accredited university, can help change your world and the world of others.


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

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,