Online PhD in Public Health

The online PhD program in public health is designed for individuals who are looking to acquire advanced skills in public health research that will prepare them for a career as a leader in higher learning institutions. Graduates are fully equipped to face the next step in their research careers, incorporating superior analytic and communication skills to focus on the area of prevention of premature mortality, morbidity, and disability. The coursework you will be tackling covers five core disciplines, offering you multiple courses for each. These areas include biostatistics, global health, health behavior, epidemiology, and environmental health. While your first year will feature more of a common core curriculum – i.e. training in research methods and biostatistics – you will have the opportunity to choose one of these areas to concentrate or specialize in. The majority of the top online PhD programs in public health stretch between two and three years. Following your completion of the course credits, each student is required to write a dissertation. No matter which program you inevitably choose to enroll in, you can be certain that when you graduate, you will be a part of an exclusive group of individuals who have a positive influence on health behavior – both on a local and national level.

About Online PhD Programs in Public Health

With an online PhD public health program, you will tackle assignments that will better help you identify and address public health disparities. This degree program consists of a good mix of subjects and special areas, offering students a well-rounded curriculum that they can use in any field they wish to dive into. From analyzing economic and social causes and consequences of current patterns in food production to determining ways in which health providers view health problems, students tackle assignments that are both insightful and hold meaning. Looking at the classes you might take, NYU Steinhardt offers courses such as those listed below

Year One:

  • Assessing Community Health Needs. Through field observations, students determine the ways in which health providers, and members of the community view health problems, and compare these views with more objective data in an effort to develop health intervention strategies.
  • Health Economics. Covers topics including the role of the market versus the government in the provision of health care and the productivity of health care spending.
  • An Overview of Mental Health Systems. This course examines, from a historical perspective, attitudes toward the mentally ill and the development of services from the poor house to the asylum to community care systems.

Year Two:

  • Public Economics and Finance. This course is about the economic activities of government, largely revenue raising and spending.
  • Nutrition in Public Health. This course offers an introduction to the concepts, principles, and scope of practice of public health nutrition.
  • Food Policy. An analysis of the economic & social causes & consequences of current trends in food production, marketing & product development.

Year Three:

  • Global Health Governance and Management. This course takes up the definitions of health in international agreements and the general influences of globalization on health.
  • Economics of Global Health. This course will beg questions such as – what is the specific contribution of health spending to growth and consequently the optimal level of effort relative to other social expenditures and to adequate macroeconomic policies and better governance?
  • Advanced Topics in Biostatistics. This course serves as an introduction to statistical methods used in medicine and biology.

For your dissertation, you will be expected to pick a relevant topic and perform original research on the innovative issue. The process of choosing your dissertation topic can troublesome for many. One way of making this process more bearable is by focusing on a subject that you are interested in and would enjoy studying. In an online PhD program in public health, a suitable topic could be – Social and Biological Influences on Cognitive Performance in Childhood or Disparities in Community Influences on Child Obesity.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Public Health

For those who choose to pursue an online PhD in public health, they have the opportunity to become leaders in the industry by piloting research and creating new research areas. Additionally, graduates can become teachers, shaping the minds of present and future healthcare providers and administrators. With some of the colleges and universities that offer this PhD program, students have the chance to upgrade their skills while they continue working. This great opportunity demands that you are able to provide the time and energy to the program. For some, this can be a great chance to move forward without taking a step backwards. The true value of this degree program is that it can allow you to transition from a researcher to playing the role of preacher – demonstrating the results of your findings. As far as the disadvantages of an online public health PhD, students will have to make certain that they are able to afford the expensive tuition and have the free space in their daily schedule needed to take the time to earn their degree. Unless you are planning on teaching the subject to college students or during assemblies, it may not be worth all of the sacrifice.

Application & Admission Requirements

While each college and university does possess their own admissions requirements, the majority of online public health PhD programs hold very similar prerequisites. These include demanding every student have a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited school, that they are able to present a resume that includes all previous academic training and working experience, and multiple letters of recommendation from relevant peers. Further requirements can ask that you present a statement of purpose explaining to your school why you are applying to the PhD program – i.e. what you career goals may be, and how you feel this education will help serve you in your career. Additionally, you will be expected to present your score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and hold a minimum grade point average of 3.0. With schools being limited in the number of students they are able to bring in to an online PhD public health program, those selected will need to exceed all minimal prerequisites.

Career Options & Job Market

Students who earn an online doctorate degree in public health have the chance to pursue an array of careers. Some of the professions graduates can choose from include being an educator, having a career in administration and management, focusing more on medical research, and community practice. The annual salary range for these fields can vary heavily, but they all can offer any public health graduate a lucrative income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of health services managers is projected to grow “faster than the average”. The average annual salary for medical and health services managers was $80,240 in 2008. Furthermore, job opportunities are expected be good – especially for applicants who have work experience in healthcare to go along with strong business management skills. The flexibility that comes from a public health PhD gives graduates unmatched employment opportunity, allowing you to choose from a group of growing professions.

Where to Find Information

  • The Journal of Public Health Here readers are able to enjoy papers on the theory and practice of the whole spectrum of public health across the domains of health improvement, health protection and service improvement, with a particular focus on the translation of science into action..
  • NYU Steinhardt This link will offer you an in-depth look at a strong public health PhD program, which you can use to compare to any program you are considering enrolling in.
  • APHA: American Public Health Association The American Public Health Association (APHA) is not only the oldest, but also the largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world.
  • Yale School of Public Health Yale's website offers information about a top tier program as well as an array of research for students to explore.

How to Get Funding

For those who depend upon financial aid to afford their education, or for any individual who is looking to acquire some form of assistance, there are multiple options to review. From loans and scholarships to PhD fellowship programs, students are encouraged to apply for any form of federal aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. The next step will be for you to complete the GSM Application for Federal Financial Aid. With the application process for any PhD program being time-consuming, be sure to see if you qualify for financial aid before taking any action. This information can be found on their official websites. Online PhD programs in public health can become much more of an option when you have the financial assistance to afford your education. If you have any further questions regarding funding, be sure to speak with your school's financial aid office.

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loan. With the Federal Direct Stafford Loan, students can earn low-interest loans while pursuing their PhD. The maximum loan available is $20,500 per academic year, along with a fixed interest rate of 6.80%.
  • Federal Perkins Loan. If you are a full-time student and are in significant need of financial aid, you may be eligible for the Federal Perkins low-interest loan – which offers an average of $3,500 per academic year – with a fixed interest rate at 5.0%.
  • Campus-Based Aid. Most campus-based programs are handled by the financial aid office of a college or university. The majority of institutions in the United States actively participate in the programs made available by the federal government.

Essential Advice

  • No hurry – Coming out of any undergraduate program can offer some students this feeling of accomplishment that they immediately would like to recreate. However, using a PhD program to grasp this emotion may not be the wisest move – in the short term. Look at the big picture before rushing into the commitment attached to any online public health PhD program, and strive to gain some working experience you could look to build on down the road.
  • Affordable – Online doctoral programs in public health are not something everyone can take on with their present budget. If earning a PhD is important to you and your career, it is essential that you are able to acquire the funding you will need through which ever financial aid program you qualify for. Knowing how you will pay for your degree can allow you to focus all your attention on your work as oppose to your bills.
  • Wise move – While a PhD can be a valuable tool for any individual, depending on the career you are looking to have, it may not be necessary. One way to find out if this degree program would be right for you is by speaking with individuals who are currently enrolled in online doctoral programs in public health and find out some more information.