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What Is the Curriculum of a Public Health Doctoral Program?

Find information on the kinds of courses you might take in a public health doctoral program. Get details on key skills you'll cultivate in your training and learn career information for life after graduation.

Overview of Public Health Doctoral Program

The curriculum of a public health doctoral program typically includes courses in economics, management, politics and various sciences. Most candidates for this degree also must complete a dissertation.

Important Facts for Public Health Doctoral Degree Students

Possible Careers Health Educator, Nutritionist, Epidemiologist, Professor
Median Pay (2018) $54,220 (health educator), $60,370 (nutritionist), $69,660 (epidemiologist), $97,370 (postsecondary health specialties teacher)
Work Environment Depending on your position, your work environment will vary. Examples of possible employers include hospitals, state and local public health departments, colleges or universities, and non-profit organizations.
Key Skills Communication, writing, research, project management, and organization

Public Health Doctoral Curriculum

A public health doctoral program typically includes core courses in biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, environmental health sciences and health services administration. These have been identified by the Council on Education for Public Health as the five general knowledge areas in public health. As a doctoral candidate, you also might complete courses in the following subject areas:

  • Health care management and economics: Students learn to formulate and implement business strategies within the framework of a health care organization. They also explore the application of fundamental supply and demand principles to health care markets.
  • Public health theory: Students examine the philosophical foundations of U.S. public health policy.
  • Public health field research: Students become familiar with the steps used to develop research proposals, from formulating questions to analyzing data. This includes learning how data is measured and collected.
  • American politics: Students learn to evaluate health care policy and explore how its development is influenced by politics.


Before receiving your degree in public health, it's likely that you'll be required to complete a research paper, known as a dissertation or thesis, on a public health-related topic of your choice. You'll also be required to defend this dissertation before a research committee and the public.