doctor vaccinating children in rural africaIf you’re interested in taking your public health career to the next level, you may be considering a doctorate in public health. And if you’re considering a doctorate in public health, you’re probably wondering what’s right for you: a DrPH or a PhD in Public Health.

But what’s the difference between a DrPH and PhD in public health? And how do you know which will best meet your professional needs and career goals? We break it down for you below.

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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.

A doctor of public health degree can give you the skills and knowledge to work as a leader or administrator in a variety of practice-based settings within the public, private, or academic sectors. Careers 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 equip you with the skills you need to make research-based contributions to the field as a scholar-practitioner. 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 you pursue a PhD in public health 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 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.

Find information on costs, occupation types, completion rates, and median loan debt for these programs at

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

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