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Doctor of Public Health degrees (DrPH) are the Rodney Dangerfields of doctoral programs. They don’t get enough respect! Many people have never heard of them and if they have, they don’t understand the difference between a DrPH and a PhD.

While you need to carefully check any program in which you have an interest, DrPH programs tend to have a more applied focus than PhD programs. Both degrees train students in the highest level of analytical and research skills. DrPH programs may requirer fewer methods or theory courses and in turn, more courses or requirements related to practical experience. DrPH programs often appeal to public health professionals who want to focus on leadership and analysis or planning or management, rather than have more of a focus on methods or developing knowledge or teaching. Of course, many public health experts with DrPHs focus on research methods and vice versa, many PhDs focus on leadership and practice. Did I mention that you have to look at the focus of a particular program to understand whether it is the best fit for you?

Here is how the University of Pittsburgh describes its Doctor of Public Health Program in Environmental and Occupational Health, in their Graduate School of Public Health.

Copied from their website, this page also compares their DrPH and PhD programs.

The DrPH degree program in EOH, designed to prepare individuals for leadership and/or consulting positions in the management and planning aspects of environmental health, provides a professional degree that emphasizes a practice-oriented, interdisciplinary approach to research that encompasses in its coursework the competencies of the five core areas of Public Health: environmental health, biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy & management, and behavioral & community health. It further encourages the development of proficiencies in other high-level career directions….[continued]

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