Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Public Health, Dr.P.H.


  • Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health
  • Public Health and Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice


The Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) is a professional, practice-oriented research degree that is granted in recognition of the attainment of a broad set of practice, analytic, and evaluative skills, including demonstrated public health leadership skills. The Dr.P.H. prepares individuals for leadership roles in practice-based settings such as health departments, non-profit organizations, health services, international agencies, and community-based organizations. Accordingly, the emphasis of the Dr.P.H. is placed on fostering advanced expertise in developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based public health practice.

The Dr.P.H. degree offers two concentrations: Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health, and Public Health and Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice. Each of these has an applied curriculum that develops the student’s skillset in community engagement, leadership and management, communication and education, and evidence-based public health. Students complete doctoral projects implemented in organizations during the program of study.  

Mode of Delivery:
The USF College of Public Health Dr.P.H. degree is completed through a combination of distance-learning and blended courses that include on-campus learning via three one-week Dr.P.H. Institutes. Students are expected to attend an Institute in the first semester of their admission, and then in the subsequent two summer semesters. This combination of delivery formats allows working professionals to broaden their grasp of public health leadership, practice, and research without interrupting their careers.

Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH).

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements, as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.  

  • Official Transcripts (Sent ONLY to SOPHAS)
  • A thorough statement of purpose and objectives indicating the applicant’s interest on obtaining a degree in public health, and how they hope to contribute to the field.
  • Both SOPHAS and USF applications and fees are required for USF’s College of Public Health Graduate Programs.
  1. Complete a SOPHAS application at www.sophas.org and submit all required application materials to SOPHAS.  All application materials must be submitted only to SOPHAS.
  2. Complete and submit the USF graduate application and fee at https://secure.vzcollegeapp.com/usf/.  Do not upload or submit any application materials directly to USF.
  3. Allow two to four weeks for SOPHAS to verify the application.  Make sure to follow up with SOPHAS regularly to meet all of their requirements to verify your application.
  4. Monitor the email that you provided in SOPHAS for application decisions and other communications.
  • M.P.H., M.H.A., M.S.P.H., or other relevant Master’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Minimum of three Letters of Recommendation public health leadership
  • Five years advanced work experience in public health
  • Statement of Public Health Experience
  • Detailed personal statement of less than five pages that describes why you wish to obtain a Dr.P.H. degree in Public Health. This document should explain the applicant’s public health background, current public health practice interests, demonstration of public health leadership, and how the Dr.P.H. is expected to affect the applicant’s current practice.
  • Students seeking acceptance into the Public Health Laboratory Science and Practice concentration must work at a health laboratory. The final decision on admission is made by the faculty of the College.
  • Applicants must also be fully prepared to attend three Dr.P.H. Institutes on-campus.


Students are expected to come into the Dr.P.H. degree program with foundational public health knowledge. Students who have an M.P.H. or M.H.A. degree from a CEPH-accredited institution meet this requirement. Students with other degrees meet this requirement if they have taken the equivalent of the M.P.H. core coursework at a CEPH-accredited institution, or if they take the courses at USF listed below.

Pre-Requisite Public Health Core Courses - 9 credit hours
PHC 6588 History and Systems of Public Health
PHC 6756 Population Assessment I
PHC 6757 Population Assessment II

Financial Aid
Students seeking financial aid should contact the USF financial aid office for federal guidelines. Dr.P.H. students are not eligible for a doctoral fellowship in the College of Public Health, as it requires admission to a fully on-campus degree program. Dr.P.H. students are eligible for current student scholarships and awards that are announced each year. Please see the College of Public Health Scholarship and Award webpage.

Curriculum Requirements

Total minimum hours - 46 credits post-master’s

  • Core Requirements - 9 Credit hours
  • Additional Required Courses - 4 Credit Hours
  • Concentration - 18 Credit hours
  • Electives - 9 Credit hours
  • Culminating Requirements/Doctoral Project - 6 Credit Hours

At least 13 hours have to be completed at the 7000 level. A maximum of 12 hours can be transferred into the major, if the coursework was completed post-masters.

Additional Required Courses (4 Credit Hours)

Concentration Requirements (18 Credit Hours)

Students select one of the following concentrations:

Electives (9 Credit Hours Minimum)

Consult with department for available options.

Culminating Requirements (6 Credit Hours Minimum)

These lead to a field-based doctoral project that influences public health majors, policies, or systems:

  • Applied Practice Experiences
  • Qualifying Exam

Applied Practice Experiences

All Dr.P.H. students will engage in applied practice experiences to advance their leadership and professional skills in public health. Within their courses, students will select at least five Dr.P.H. foundational and concentration competencies and propose projects in a public health or related organization that will develop these competencies, with advice from a practice-based mentor in the proposed setting. These studies will be jointly planned by the student, the mentor, and the Faculty Mentor, and may consist of one project, or several projects, depending on the scope and competency goals. The final practice experience deliverables must be approved by the Faculty Mentor, verifying that the student has demonstrated achievement of the proposed competencies.

Doctoral Project Committee

The student will be assigned one or more Faculty Mentor(s) at the time of admission. The Faculty Mentor(s) will guide the student through the program of study in the initial stages. Within the second year of the major, the student should establish a doctoral project committee. The doctoral project committee will consist of a minimum of one Faculty Chair and one Faculty Member (or two Faculty co-Chairs) from the faculty of the College of Public Health, as well as an external public health professional or practitioner who is a mentor to the student.

Qualifying Exam

When the majority of the student’s coursework is satisfactorily completed, the student must pass a qualifying examination. The student is required to submit a Doctoral Project Plan describing the proposed doctoral project, followed by an oral examination that relates the content, approach, and deliverables of the project to the Dr.P.H. curriculum domains in the student’s concentration. The examination will be administered and evaluated by the student’s doctoral project committee. The student must enroll in at least two credits in the semester the exam is completed.

Doctoral Project

PHC 7919 Public Health Doctoral Project   (6 Credit Hours)

After successfully completing the qualifying examination, the student must complete a field-based doctoral project that is designed to influence programs, policies, or systems applicable to public health practice. The doctoral project must include a minimum of three high-quality, evidence-based deliverables. The doctoral project must also demonstrate synthesis of foundational and concentration competencies across all Dr.P.H. curriculum domains in the student’s concentration.

To complete the doctoral project, the student will be required to enroll in a minimum of six credits of PHC 7919: Public Health Doctoral Project. The final doctoral project deliverables must be approved by the doctoral project committee prior to graduation, and the student must be enrolled in a minimum of two credits in the semester the doctoral project is completed and approved.

Time to Degree

Students may be able to complete the Dr.P.H. degree program in a minimum of three years, with two years for the coursework and one year for the culminating experiences. Refer to USF Degree Requirements for time to degree limits.