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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Dr.P.H.--Additional Specific Requirements

The Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) degree is a professional degree that provides advanced public health education and training to prepare its graduates for evidence-based practice and leadership in the application of translational science and implementation of research findings. It allows graduates to pursue career opportunities in the federal, state, and local government, as well as in the non-profit, academic, and private sectors.

Dr.P.H. students must complete a minimum of 60 credits of graduate-level course work beyond a master’s degree, the majority of which are 500-level and 800-level courses, specifically:

  • 24 credits in prescribed, core classroom-based courses
  • 21 credits in elective courses

--9 credits of track elective courses
--12 credits of general (cognate) elective courses

  • 15 additional credits

--6 credits of Advanced Field Experience
--9 credits of Integrative Doctoral Research


Dr.P.H. students must meet Penn State doctoral degree requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including candidacy examination, English competencies, and doctoral committee composition. Dr.P.H. students must also meet the following additional Dr.P.H.-specific requirements.

The Dr.P.H. degree is conferred in recognition of advanced preparation of a high order for work in the profession of education as evidenced by:

1. Satisfactory completion of a prescribed period of study;

2. Ability to apply translational science and implementation research findings in evidence-based public health practice;

3. Successful performance of candidacy and comprehensive examinations, covering public health core areas of study and a field of specialization; and

4. The preparation and acceptance of integrative doctoral research.

Residency requirements -- The Doctor of Public Health requires 24 core credits to be taken in residence as a registered student engaged in academic work at the Hershey and Harrisburg campuses.

Admissions -- Applicants must have a graduate (e.g., masters) or advanced professional (e.g., MD) degree. Applicants without a Master of Public Health or related degree may be required to take core courses to ensure a firm foundation in the five discipline-specific M.P.H. competency domains. Students will be advised of any additional required core courses upon receipt of the Dr.P.H. program acceptance letter.

Comprehensive Examination--Upon completing all core and most cognate coursework, Dr.P.H. students will take comprehensive exams to ensure they meet Dr.P.H. core and track program competencies. Comprehensive exams will be overseen and evaluated by students’ doctoral committee.

Integrative Doctoral Research--Dr.P.H. students will be required to complete two major components for their Dr.P.H. integrative experience: two publishable-quality manuscripts and a doctoral portfolio.

With guidance from their doctoral adviser and doctoral committee, students will develop two manuscripts that comprehensively address, generate, and/or interpret and evaluate knowledge applicable to public health practice. Manuscripts are encouraged to be of an applied nature and must demonstrate students’ abilities to conduct independent research on a contemporary public health issue. Students will demonstrate the application of advanced public health practice skills and knowledge in the design and execution of a scholarly project, the analysis and interpretation of the findings, and the application of the new knowledge to advance public health practice. This work should contribute to the evidence base of public health practice, be of publishable quality, and demonstrate critical thinking and rigorous analytic strategies.

Throughout their doctoral program, students will develop a doctoral portfolio that will document how Dr.P.H. courses, advanced field experience, other experiential learning, and self-knowledge has informed their leadership style and approach to integrating evidence-based research into public health practice. Components of the portfolio may include, but are not limited to, research (e.g., publications, conference presentations), teaching (academic and non-academic, community-based teaching), and field and other service learning experiences. Portfolios will require reflection on in-class and out-of-class experiences and demonstrate students’ broad public health knowledge, specialized knowledge, translation of this knowledge into evidence-based public health practice, and leadership style.

Integrative Doctoral Research will demonstrate the following competencies: data and analysis, communication, systems thinking, leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving. Written and oral presentation of this work will be required.


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