The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Updated November 17, 2022

Find the best, fully accredited online doctorate in public health online programs and see how you can build a successful career through advanced knowledge.

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Online Ph.D. Public Health

Through innovative research, education, and policy leadership, public health specialists prevent disease and ensure that people possess the information and tools needed to lead healthy lives. A Ph.D. in public health online program prepares you for careers in education, research, and management. These professionals can also work with small towns and communities, international nonprofits, and government agencies to advance health initiatives.

Featured Online Doctorate in Public Health

The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

#1 The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

East Carolina University

  • Greenville, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

East Carolina University offers a doctoral program in health policy administration and leadership with an online learning format. The public university delivers flexible enrollment options for degree-seekers. Doctoral students receive access to library resources, research support, and career services.

In the online public health program, graduate learners complete advanced classes. Doctoral candidates advance in the program by passing comprehensive exams and writing an original dissertation. With a doctorate in public health, professionals often work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students can qualify for several forms of financial aid at the accredited institution. Contact the public health program to learn more about the enrollment process and start dates.

East Carolina University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 13,890

Online Master's Programs: 41

Online Doctoral Programs: 4

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,749

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,452
Out-of-state
$20,729
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
28,651
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Doctoral students seeking an online public health program benefit from the doctor of public health program at Johns Hopkins University. Degree-seekers access flexible course options through the private institution. Doctoral students engage in advanced research and benefit from support services.

In the online public health program, graduate learners take advanced classes. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates complete a dissertation that contributes original research to the field. With a doctorate in public health, professionals may work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students qualify for several forms of financial aid at the accredited institution. Reach out to the program to learn more about transfer credit policies, research support, and admission requirements.

Johns Hopkins University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 12,506

Online Master's Programs: 30

Online Doctoral Programs: 12

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 6-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $55,350

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,350
Out-of-state
$55,350
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
27,079
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Loma Linda University

  • Loma Linda, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Loma Linda University offers a top-ranked online public health program. At the private university, degree-seekers engage in online classes to earn a DrPH in health education. Doctoral students participate in career advising and gain research skills.

In the online public health program, graduate learners take advanced courses. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates begin working on an original dissertation project. As the terminal degree in public health, the program prepares graduates for academic, research, and industry positions.

Online doctoral students can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid. Reach out to the program to learn more about the application process and start dates.

Loma Linda University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,227

Online Master's Programs: 8

Online Doctoral Programs: 3

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 3-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $26,880

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,680
Out-of-state
$31,680
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,462
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The MSN/MHP-to-DNP in public health policy program at Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health appeals to learners seeking an online doctorate. The private university provides flexible enrollment options to meet the needs of diverse degree-seekers. Doctoral students participate in career advising and gain research skills.

During the online public health program, learners complete advanced coursework. Doctoral candidates move through the program by passing exams and researching a dissertation project. With a doctorate in public health, professionals can work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements for financial aid support. Contact the program to learn more about the enrollment process and start dates.

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 696

Online Master's Programs: 6

Online Doctoral Programs: 5

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,955

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,422
Out-of-state
$15,422
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
1,128
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 The Best Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a top-ranked online DrPH program. Degree-seekers benefit from the public university's flexible format. Doctoral students receive research support throughout the program.

During the online public health program, learners take doctoral courses to earn their degree. After meeting coursework requirements, doctoral candidates conduct research and defend an original dissertation that contributes to the field. Professionals with a public health doctorate can work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students who attend the accredited institution in an online format can qualify for several types of financial aid. Contact the program for more information about research support and financial aid.

University of Illinois at Chicago at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 7,719

Online Master's Programs: 8

Online Doctoral Programs: 1

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $13,276

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,924
Out-of-state
$26,224
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
32,324
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
Best Online Doctorate

Online Doctorate in Public Health Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Ph.D. in Public Health Program?

Students enrolled in doctor of public health programs online may go by several nomenclatures, such as DPH or Ph.D., depending on the focus of individual colleges and universities. To maintain accreditation, schools standardize certain aspects of their curricula, like core classes and practicum requirements. However, outside of these similarities, doctoral degree programs are incredibly diverse due to the specificity that comes with this advanced level of study and work.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Public Health

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate in Public Health?

Students enrolled in a Ph.D in public health program online will have different program durations, depending on their school's curriculum. However, most programs usually feature 40-80 credits of coursework, not including hours dedicated to independent study, practicums, and dissertation work. Most doctoral candidates earn their degree in 6-8 years, but, again, this may differ as certain career-oriented programs provided accelerated tracks that only require four years of work. Other students, meanwhile, may take up to 10 years or longer due to the nature of their dissertation. Generally speaking, DPH programs cater to professionals who want to advance to practical and field-work related careers, while Ph.D. in public health online programs emphasize research and theory and are generally more suitable for consultants and analysts.

As with other distance education options, you can expect most courses to be asynchronous. However, it's rare for doctor of public health online programs to be fully remote due to research and experiential learning components. These usually necessitate residencies and close work with faculty. Additionally, some schools require you to take classes in a cohort style where you progress through the program at the same rate as your peers. If the length of a program is a concern, enroll in a school that enables you to schedule classes independently and transfer credits flexibly. Also seek out programs that let you fulfill practicum requirements where you live, preferably with your current employer.

Accreditation for Online Public Health Doctorate Degrees

To confer valid online Ph.D. in public health and similar doctorate degrees, colleges and universities must earn accreditation at the regional or national levels, with the top schools also holding an industry-specific recognition. Regional accreditation is granted from one of six regional organizations; accreditation indicates that a school meets state academic and institutional standards.

On a practical level, you should prioritize programs that hold regional accreditation, as it is more prestigious than national accreditation. Doctor of public health programs online may also receive specialized accreditation from professional organizations, including the Public Health Accreditation Board and the Council on Education for Public Health. Attending schools that hold both of these accreditations means you can be confident that you'll receive a rigorous, industry-certified degree.

The ED and CHEA bestow national accreditation (and support regional accreditation) through their partner organizations. The ED is a government agency responsible for strengthening federal education regulations and rewarding complying schools with funding. With over 3,000 member institutions, CHEA is the most powerful private educational organization in the country. In addition to enforcing standards among its partner agencies, the council also advocates for members' rights through research and policy advancement.

Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Public Health Graduates

Doctorate in Public Health Careers

An online Ph.D. in public health prepares you for advanced leadership-oriented careers in research, management, and academia. Health professionals channel their innate curiosity and attention to detail into analytical and administrative skills that propel their programs and organizations to success. With the proper experience and certification, you may work in one of many diverse settings, from government agencies and community programs to education institutions and private healthcare organizations. Whatever your career path, the public health field contains some of the fastest growing positions in the United States. Below, we've reviewed five popular career opportunities in the field.

Epidemiologist

Median Salary: $69,660 Projected Job Growth: 9%

Epidemiologist These public health experts investigate patterns of disease and their causes within a community or population. Using this information, epidemiologists reduce the risk of outbreaks and other negative health scenarios through research, education, and health policy. They may also oversee public health programs. Epidemiologists usually hold a master's degree and professional certification from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC).

Medical Scientist

Median Salary: $82,090 Projected Job Growth: 13%

Medical Scientist These public health professionals conduct clinical trials and other laboratory investigations to improve human health, from creating procedures that ensure food safety to standardizing drug doses and potency. Medical scientists work independently or in small teams for health departments and research organizations. A doctorate degree is a standard requirement for this line of work, though some junior or assistant positions may be available for those with a master's.

Postsecondary Teacher

Median Salary: $76,000 Projected Job Growth: 15%

Postsecondary Teacher Teaching in colleges and universities, these instructors ensure their students understand complex theoretical and historical concepts and apply what they know through practicums. Outside the classroom, college professors pursue their own research projects and engage with organizations in their field. Though adjunct teaching positions are available for those who hold a master's, most full-time and tenured postings are reserved for public health specialists with a doctorate degree.

Health Service Manager

Median Salary: $98,350 Projected Job Growth: 20%

Health Service Manager Health service managers are responsible for the coordination and implementation of daily tasks and special projects within a medical department or entire healthcare facility. They train and supervise staff, oversee financial operations, and ensure that organizations meet business goals and comply with laws and regulations. Taking on this advanced leadership position requires at least a master's, though most managers have a doctoral degree, professional licensure, and ample work experience.

Biostatician

Median Salary: $84,760 Projected Job Growth: 33%

Biostatician As the title suggests, biostaticians compile and analyze medical statistics to solve practical challenges and help health organizations of all sizes make effective and ethical decisions. They also develop and conduct tests, often partnering with epidemiologists or other public health specialists to locate the source of a disease outbreak or assess the effectiveness of a drug. Biostaticians generally need at least a master's degree. Advanced research positions often necessitate an online Ph.D. in public health or similar accreditation.

Doctorate in Public Health Salary

With statistics aggregated from PayScale, the table below details five of the highest paying careers for professionals who have earned a Ph.D. in public health online or a similar degree. As in most jobs, your salary increases alongside your experience because employers recognize the value of hands-on skill development and networking efforts. How much you get paid is also contingent on your subfield. Professionals who specialize in data-assisted research and analysis enjoy access to the most lucrative positions. Certain fields reward — and, in some cases, only allow entry to — those who hold professional certification, such as CBIC credentials for epidemiologists.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Public Health Analyst $60,592 $55,808 $72,188 $83,000
Epidemiologist $62,232 $58,493 $72,847 $98,633
Biostatician $75,119 $71,224 $85,471 $105,097
Healthcare Consultant $75,928 $68,190 $82,324 $99,751
Environmental Health and Safety Manager $80,189 $64,443 $77,449 $93,655
Source: PayScale

Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Public Health

As you search for the doctor of public health online program that best aligns with your academic interests and career goals, cost should factor heavily into your decision of what college or university to attend. Pursue all avenues of financial assistance, beginning with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This enables you to sign up for several scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans simultaneously, and the FAFSA calculates the funding you receive based on need — or cost of attendance minus expected family contribution. Familiarize yourself with FAFSA, as it is an integral part of the admission process to almost all colleges and universities in the country.

You should also look for funding opportunities through private organizations such as the AfyaBora Fellowship in Global Health Leadership program for professionals who want to work in Africa, as well as opportunities through the Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools and Department of Veteran Affairs. Loans represent another option, but should be used sparingly due to the hefty burden that comes with escalating interest rates. If you do tap into loans to pay for your Ph.D. in public health online program, prioritize federal and state offerings over private options; the former usually come with more flexible stipulations.

Federal and state loans may also be reduced or negated entirely through governmental forgiveness programs. Opportunities include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for professionals working in government agencies, and the repayment programs offered by the National Institutes of Health for those who commit at least two years of research at a participating nonprofit organization.

Header Image Credit: Hiraman | Getty Images

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