Top Online PhD Programs in Public Health

Public health is a far-reaching discipline concerned with health promotion and protection among individuals, local communities, and vast populations. Careers in the field continue to grow as international concern mounts over mental health, sexual health, drug addiction, and healthcare accessibility. Public health professionals work as educators, providing people with information on such issues as vaccination and healthy eating habits. They also occupy positions as community advocates, legislative specialists, clinicians, epidemiologists, and occupational health professionals. Accredited online Ph.D. programs in public health provide the specialized coursework and practical training you need to occupy leadership positions in your industry. Doctoral education also enables you to pursue careers as college instructors and dedicated research scientists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects remarkable growth for public health occupations through 2026. This includes 15% and 20% increases for postsecondary teachers and health service managers, respectively. Whether you are an experienced public health practitioner or a professional seeking career change, the right distance education program exists for your interests and goals.

In constructing the list, a number of sites were used for research including U.S. News and World Report, The National Center for Education Statistics, and The Guide to Online Schools.

1. University of North Carolina – Chapel HillUniversity_of_North_Carolina_at_Chapel_Hill_logo

UNC provides an online executive doctoral program in health leadership for mid-level professionals. The 45-credit degree plan consists of classes like leading sustainable change, population perspectives, and managing the healthcare workforce. Students round out their training with a doctoral dissertation and comprehensive written and oral exams. There are no practicum or internship requirements. The UNC program operates hybrid learning that combines Blackboard-powered asynchronous online classes with campus visits. These visits occur three times per year, allowing students to collaborate with peers and network with industry experts. Students enroll in the fall semester, completing the Ph.D. in public health online program in three years. Admission requirements include standardized test scores, relevant work experience, and three recommendation letters.

2. University of Illinois at ChicagoUIC_logo

The UIC online doctor of public health in leadership emphasizes research-based training that prepares students for careers as city health commissioners, policy analysts, and chief medical officers. Totaling 64 semester hours, the curriculum contains such core topics as advanced biostatistics, epidemiology principles, and public health leadership tools. Students also take eight hours in a focus area, attend a summer institute, and complete a thesis project. Degree candidates with regionally accredited master's degrees may transfer up to 32 hours toward program completion. Distance learners take synchronous classes facilitated by Blackboard Collaborate. UIC sets the application deadline for February 1. To apply, candidates need at least three years of paid work experience.

3. Arizona State UniversityArizona

The ASU online doctor of behavioral health with a clinical concentration trains students to implement cost-effective and evidence-informed interventions. The degree plan comprises 84 credit hours of coursework in population health management, clinical neuropathophysiology, and models of integrated primary care. Students personalize their training with electives, self-motivated research, and an applied capstone project. Through Blackboard, ASU offers accelerated online classes that span 7.5 weeks, enabling students to earn the doctorate in under three years. Applicants need to hold a regionally accredited master's program earned at a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also furnish state-sanctioned professional licensure or license eligibility. ASU allows doctoral students to transfer up to 30 credits toward degree completion.

4. University of South FloridaUSF

USF operates an online doctor of public health with a concentration in advanced practice leadership in public health. Through a 43-credit degree plan, students develop the evidence-supported knowledge and skills to work in practical settings like health departments and international agencies. Coursework includes population assessment, health disparities, and cultural competencies in public health. To earn their degree, candidates also need to complete an applied practice experience, doctoral project, and written comprehensive exam. Admission criteria include minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and at least two years of advanced public health work experience. USF online Ph.D. public health programs hold specialized accreditation from the Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH).

5. A.T. Still UniversityAT Still

Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), ATSU offers an online doctor of education in health professions. Unlike other programs of its kind, the 55-credit ATSU option specializes in experienced-based teaching rather than theoretical analysis and research. Students take context-specific online classes through Blackboard, in areas like proposal preparation, learner assessment, and educational program evaluation. With faculty guidance, students complete a research project based on a topic of their choosing. ATSU graduates go on to high-ranking careers as community health services directors and clinical health educators. The university offers four start dates every year. To apply, candidates need a minimum 2.5 GPA. All distance learners benefit from the same affordable tuition rate and generous financial assistance.