Return to: 8000 School of Public Health
Harry J. Heiman
Professor and DrPH Program Director
Approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in April 2018, the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree in the School of Public Health is a doctoral degree designed to prepare public health professionals for positions in leadership, applied research, and other practice-based roles.
DrPH Degree Requirements
The DrPH degree requires completion of a minimum of fifty-four (54) credit hours of coursework, including an applied practice experience and integrative learning experience or dissertation. The candidates must satisfy the course requirements and credit hours in the following areas:
Required Prerequisites - MPH Core Courses (3 - 13 Hours)
All DrPH graduates are grounded in the following foundational public health knowledge learning objectives (and the course where the learning objective is assessed is noted in parenthesis):
- Profession & Science of Public Health
- Explain public health history, philosophy and values. (PHPH 7010 )
- Identify the core functions of public health and the 10 Essential Services. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain the role of quantitative and qualitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population’s health. (PHPH 7010 )
- List major causes and trends of morbidity and mortality in the US or other community relevant to the school or program. (PHPH 7010 )
- Discuss the science of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in population health, including health promotion, screening, etc. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge. (PHPH 7010 )
- Factors Related to Human Health
- Explain effects of environmental factors on a population’s health. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain biological and genetic factors that affect a population’s health. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population’s health. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain the social, political and economic determinants of health and how they contribute to population health and health inequities. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease. (PHPH 7010 )
- Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health and ecosystem health (eg, One Health). (PHPH 7010 )
Prerequisite to the DrPH Program
For students admitted to the DrPH program who have not completed comparable courses as part of a CEPH-accredited MPH degree, the following courses will be required as prerequisite to the DrPH program:
Two Additional Courses
Two additional courses may be required upon review of the student’s completed graduate coursework and/or professional experience by the Admissions Committee, Program Director and/or Faculty Advisor.
Doctoral Students May Waive These MPH Core Courses if They
- enter the DrPH program with a CEPH accredited MPH degree that included “B” (3.0) grades or better in their MPH courses related to the MPH Foundational Public Health Knowledge learning objectives and MPH Foundational Competencies, as documented by an official university transcript. Syllabi for courses may also be requested.
- and/or have successfully completed a comparable course(s) with a grade of “B” or better, as documented by an official university transcript. Syllabi for courses may be requested. Note: PHPH 7010 - Foundations of Public Health cannot be waived by employment or other training(s). PHPH 7010 - Foundations of Public Health is only waived after the School verifies a students’ previous completion of a CEPH-accredited bachelor’s degree in public health or MPH degree.
DrPH students who have not completed a CEPH-accredited MPH program must provide a Petition for Waiver form for each of the courses being requested for waiver. The Petition for Waiver is a written statement, along with any evidentiary documentation, that assures the School that the doctoral student has mastered one (or more) of the areas of core knowledge in public health through another manner (e.g. MPH degree, career experience, advanced or seminar coursework that included mastery of core knowledge in public health, etc.). This Petition must be approved by the DrPH Program Director.
Upon approval by the DrPH Program Director, the Petition is then forwarded to the Office of Academic Assistance and Career Services (OAA) for review and approval. OAA may request the input of the Assistant Dean for Academic Programs, the Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Strategic Initiatives, and/or the Academic Affairs Committee. Upon approval by OAA, the student’s file and program of study is updated to note satisfaction of the required doctoral program prerequisite(s). Doctoral students are responsible for ensuring their program of study is updated to note satisfaction of the required doctoral program prerequisite courses.
All DrPH graduates demonstrate the following DrPH foundational and concentration competencies (and the course where the competency is assessed is noted in parenthesis):
Data & Analysis
- DrPH 1. Explain qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods and policy analysis research and evaluation methods to address health issues at multiple (individual, group, organization, community and population) levels. (PHPB 9140 )
- DrPH 2. Design a qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, policy analysis or evaluation project to address a public health issue. (PHPB 9140 )
- DrPH 3. Explain the use and limitations of surveillance systems and national surveys in assessing, monitoring and evaluating policies and programs and to address a population’s health. (PHPB 9140 )
Leadership, Management & Governance
- DrPH 4. Propose strategies for health improvement and elimination of health inequities by organizing stakeholders, including researchers, practitioners, community leaders and other partners. (PHPB 9300 )
- DrPH 5. Communicate public health science to diverse stakeholders, including individuals at all levels of health literacy, for purposes of influencing behavior and policies. (PHPB 9005 )
- DrPH 6. Integrate knowledge, approaches, methods, values and potential contributions from multiple professions and systems in addressing public health problems. (PHPB 9010 )
- DrPH 7. Create a strategic plan. (PHPB 9300 )
- DrPH 8. Facilitate shared decision making through negotiation and consensus-building methods. (PHPB 9300 )
- DrPH 9. Create organizational change strategies. (PHPB 9300 )
- DrPH 10. Propose strategies to promote inclusion and equity within public health programs, policies and systems. (PHPB 9010 )
- DrPH 11. Assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses in leadership capacities, including cultural proficiency. (PHPB 9300 )
- DrPH 12. Propose human, fiscal and other resources to achieve a strategic goal. (PHPB 9310 )
- DrPH 13. Cultivate new resources and revenue streams to achieve a strategic goal. (PHPB 9310 )
Policy & Programs
- DrPH 14. Design a system-level intervention to address a public health issue. (PHPB 9310 )
- DrPH 15. Integrate knowledge of cultural values and practices in the design of public health policies and programs. (PHPB 9310 )
- DrPH 16. Integrate scientific information, legal and regulatory approaches, ethical frameworks and varied stakeholder interests in policy development and analysis. (PHPB 9005 )
- DrPH 17. Propose interprofessional team approaches to improving public health. (PHPB 9310 )
Education & Workforce Development
- DrPH 18. Assess an audience’s knowledge and learning needs. (PHPB 9320 )
- DrPH 19. Deliver training or educational experiences that promote learning in academic, organizational or community settings. (PHPB 9320 )
- DrPH 20. Use best practice modalities in pedagogical practices. (PHPB 9320 )
Georgia State University-Authored DrPH Competencies
- DrPH 21. Critically review, synthesize, and evaluate the scientific literature and present appropriate implications for public health practice, public policy, and further research. (PHPH 8721 )
- DrPH 22. Establish culturally appropriate goals, policies, and communication strategies - recognizing that cultural differences affect all aspects of health and health systems - and infuse them throughout public health planning, operations, and interventions. (PHPB 9010 )
- DrPH 23. Develop expertise in research methods and the ethical conduct of research to address scientific questions regarding health promotion research and practice. (PHPB 9150 )
- DrPH 24. Demonstrate proficiency in epidemiological research by: (1) formulating a research question and/or corresponding hypotheses, (2) developing the study design, (3) participating in data collection, (4) conducting statistical analyses, and (5) interpreting scientific results. (PHPH 8721 )
- DrPH 25. Understand health effects of chemical, physical and biologic agents and the interrelationship of toxicity and dose in defining levels of risk. (PHPH 8310 )
Doctoral Degree Requirements (54 Hours)
Other appropriate DrPH elective courses may be approved by the Faculty Advisor or DrPH Program Director through the Petition for Waiver form found in the SPH Office of Academic Assistance and Career Services.
Required DrPH Foundational Core and Major Curriculum Courses (33 Hours)
The following courses constitute the Public Health DrPH Degree Core:
DrPH Applied Practice Experience (3 Hours)
DrPH Approved Electives (9 Hours)
Select at least 3 courses from pre-approved list below:
Required DrPH Comprehensive Examination
Upon completion of the core DrPH curriculum, students will be required to pass a doctoral comprehensive exam where they demonstrate mastery of the DrPH foundational competencies and the ability to perform high-level applied public health problem solving. Successful completion of the exam is required before moving forward with the integrated learning experience/dissertation. Additional information is provided in the DrPH Student Handbook. Please see the DrPH student handbook for more details about the doctoral comprehensive exam.
Required DrPH Culminating Experience (9 Hours)
As soon as possible after beginning the DrPH Program, students should schedule a meeting with the DrPH Program Director to receive guidance on selecting a Faculty Advisor from the SPH faculty as well as other potential mentors in and outside of GSU. The Faculty Advisor serves as the primary advisor, mentoring the student throughout the program and assisting the student in choosing courses, signing off on official documents, and with overall program and institutional navigation. In the majority of cases, the Faculty Advisor remains unchanged during the student’s entire doctoral program; however, changes in the Faculty Advisor are occasionally necessary and are accommodated on an individual basis by the DrPH Program Director. Usually the Faculty Advisor serves as the chair of the dissertation committee, but students may choose a different faculty member as dissertation chair, based on their subject matter expertise, when appropriate. More information may be found in the DrPH Student Handbook.
Annual Review of DrPH Students
DrPH students will meet with their Faculty Advisor for an annual evaluation, each year they are enrolled in the DrPH program. Faculty Advisors will use this evaluation to assess student progress in several areas: coursework progress and demonstrated mastery of doctoral competencies, professional scholarship, scientific writing, and overall professionalism. DrPH milestones and goals for the next academic year should also be discussed. More information about the annual evaluation process may be found in the DrPH Student Handbook.
Continuous Enrollment Policy and Degree Completion
Students in all graduate programs, including doctoral programs, must maintain enrollment totaling six hours (or more) over three consecutive semesters, including summers. In other words, the total enrollment of the current term plus the two terms preceding it must add up to six hours or more. The status of all students will be checked by the midpoint of each term for compliance with the continuous enrollment requirement. Any student whose enrollment is noncompliant will receive a hold on their registration, which would prevent registering for all current and future classes. Those students will be notified by an e-mail message sent to their official Georgia State University e-mail account. To resume their programs, students with continuous holds on their enrollment must file for re-entry by the published deadline and must enroll at a level sufficient to satisfy the continuous enrollment criterion. That is, their enrollment in the re-entry term plus the two terms preceding it must total six hours or more. The maximum required enrollment level for the re-entry term is six hours. For more information on the re-entry process, contact the Office of Academic Assistance and Career Services.
Grade Point Average and Course Grade Requirements for DrPH Students
DrPH students must maintain a 3.0 or better overall institutional grade point average (GPA) to progress from one semester to the next, and must receive a grade of “B” or better for each School of Public Health based course (courses with prefix “PH” in front of the course number). Any DrPH student earning a grade of B- or below must repeat the public health course or not count the course towards their doctoral program of study. Doctoral students whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of a semester will receive a scholastic warning from the School. If at the end of the following six semester hours of enrollment, the student has not achieved a 3.0 cumulative GPA, he or she will be scholastically excluded from the doctoral program. Any student who is scholastically excluded from the program may apply for readmission after a period of one year. Time Limitations for DrPH Students (see Residency Requirements and Time Limitations for DrPH Students) will still apply.
Residency Requirements and Time Limitations for DrPH Students
The purpose of requiring completion of all degree requirements within a fixed period is to ensure currency, continuity, and coherence in the academic experiences leading to the degree. Within nine (9) years of the student’s term of first matriculation, it is required that the student complete all degree requirements. Moreover, all requirements for doctoral candidacy (coursework, comprehensive examination, prospectus approval) must be completed within nine years (9) of the student’s first term of matriculation. No coursework completed more than seven years before admission to candidacy may be used to meet any doctoral degree requirement. Enrollment for a minimum of three semester hours of credit is required during at least two out of each three-term period following successful completion of the comprehensive examination until graduation. This enrollment must include a minimum of nine semester hours of dissertation (PHPB 9980 ) credit but may also include other coursework. The student must be enrolled in and successfully complete three semester hours of graduate credit (typically dissertation hours) during the final academic term in which all degree requirements are completed and the student graduates. Additional information about time limits and expected doctoral program completion milestones may be distributed by the DrPH Program Director, Department Chairs, or a designated faculty member to doctoral students in the School of Public Health DrPH Student Handbook. Doctoral students will be subject to all the doctoral program completion milestone requirements, details and policies distributed in the School of Public Health DrPH Student Handbooks. Failure to meet any of these doctoral program completion milestones may result in scholastic dismissal from the doctoral program.
Doctoral Program of Study Form for DrPH
The final DrPH Program of Study form is completed following the successful completion of the comprehensive exam, and must be approved by the Faculty Advisor , and the DrPH Program Director and OAA when the student applies for admission to candidacy. OAA uses the form for degree-audit and final approval. The DrPH Program of Study form must show all courses relevant to the doctoral program (including master-level prerequisite courses and any courses approved as transfer credit from other universities), in addition to Georgia State University courses satisfying the minimum DrPH degree requirements. OAA notes the completed courses in the student’s electronic academic evaluation (in PAWS). Students may log in to PAWS, view, and confirm OAA’s to-date notations on their electronic program of study at any time.
Transfer credits from another institution: A student may apply a maximum of nine (9) semester hours of approved course credit transferred from another sufficiently accredited institution toward fulfilling DrPH degree requirements. Transfer credits are processed by the School and must be approved by petition. Students requesting to petition for transfer of credits must work with the MPH Curriculum and Advisement Coordinator in the Office of Academic Assistance. Approval is at the discretion of the DrPH Program Director - approval is not guaranteed. The Doctoral Program Director may defer to the Department Chair in which the petitioned course is offered. All credits, including transfer credits, presented for the DrPH degree must have been earned within nine calendar years of the date of degree conferral from a program or school accredited by CEPH at the time of completion. No previously taken course with a grade of “B-” or below may be transferred into the doctoral program. Courses transferred-in for the doctoral degree may not be used in fulfilling the DrPH Public Health Core Courses requirements or the doctoral credit-hour residency requirement. OAA will update the student’s electronic PAWS program of study form at that time. With the exception of university-approved dual degree programs, if the course to be transferred in was used to satisfy another degree program either at GSU or elsewhere, the DrPH Program Director reserves the right to require the student to complete a different graduate-level course prescribed by the DrPH Program Director. That course will be substituted into the student’s DrPH program, so that the student completes the fifty-four (54) unique total credit hours for their DrPH degree.
Credits earned at Georgia State University in either transient, non-degree, or other-Georgia State University-degree status: A student may apply a maximum of nine (9) semester hours of applicable Georgia State University course credit earned prior to DrPH program admission (while taking public health courses as either transient, non-degree, or other-Georgia State University-degree or program status) toward fulfilling DrPH degree requirements. Credits are processed by the School - petition is not required, but students should confirm their previously completed Georgia State University courses are applicable. Students may work with the Doctoral Program Director and the MPH Curriculum and Advisement Coordinator in the Office of Academic Assistance to confirm applicability. Approval is at the discretion of the Doctoral Program Coordinator - approval is not guaranteed. The Doctoral Program Director may defer to the Department Chair in which the course is offered. All Georgia State University credits presented for the DrPH degree must have been earned within nine calendar years of the date of public health doctoral degree conferral. Courses taken at Georgia State University that were applied to another Georgia State University degree program may not be applied to the DrPH degree; instead, a student should seek a doctoral course waiver for these courses already applied to another Georgia State University degree program.
Doctoral Course Waivers: DrPH
students may receive a course waiver for any doctoral course already completed as part of another GSU degree program (including the MPH degree program), or if the course content was already learned at another institution or training area, but was not eligible for transfer credit. Students are still expected to take the minimum number of credit hours expected for the DrPH degree at GSU (fifty-four credit hours), but when granted a course waiver, the student may substitute a different graduate level course in order to complete the total fifty-four credit hour requirement of the DrPH program.
No previously taken course with a grade of “B-” or below may be used for course waiver. Courses waived for the doctoral degree may not be used in fulfilling the DrPH Public Health Core Course requirements or the doctoral credit-hour residency requirement.
Students hoping to waive a course and substitute it with another should provide a Petition for Waiver noting each doctoral course they hope to waive, and which course they would like to substitute in its place. The Petition for Waiver is a written statement, along with any evidentiary documentation, that assures the School that the doctoral student has mastered the course material in the course to be waived through another manner (i.e. MPH degree, another GSU degree, etc.). This Petition must be approved by the student’s Faculty Advisor and the DrPH Program Director.
Upon approval by the student’s Faculty Advisor and the DrPH Program Division Director, the Petition is then forwarded to the OAA for their approval. OAA may request the input of the Assistant Dean for Academic Programs, the Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Strategic Initiatives, and/or the Academic Affairs Committee, but that is not required. Once the Director of OAA notes OAA’s approval, the student’s file and program of study is updated to note a waiver of the required course(s) and the substitution of another course taking its place. (MPH-Level Core Course prerequisite requirements for the doctoral program are exempt from this rule, since these prerequisite courses do not count toward the fiftyfour (54) credit hour minimum requirement for the DrPH program).
Doctoral Comprehensive Examination for DrPH
All DrPH students must take a comprehensive exam following successful completion of all foundational core courses with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average. The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to demonstrate mastery of the DrPH foundational competencies delivered through the core curricular content and the ability to perform high-level applied public health problem solving. Successful completion of the exam is necessary before moving forward with the Integrated Learning Experience/Dissertation. More information about the DrPH comprehensive examination is in the DrPH Student Handbook, and will be provided by the DrPH Program Director. Students who do not pass the exam are subject to dismissal from the DrPH program.
Admission to Candidacy for DrPH
Admission to candidacy for a DrPH student is possible after the successful completion of the comprehensive exam. The following is a complete list of requirements for admission to candidacy:
- The Faculty Advisor, the DrPH Program Director, and OAA have approved the final program of study.
- A GPA of 3.0 has been maintained for all graduate courses taken and for all completed courses on the program of study (no course with a grade below B- may be placed on the final program of study).
- The DrPH comprehensive exam has been passed, and passing scores have been reported to OAA.
- The Doctoral Dissertation Committee, including any necessary changes in the membership, is confirmed and all its members have been notified of their appointment.
- The residency requirement has been met.
Application for Admission to DrPH Candidacy
This form must be submitted to OAA as soon as possible following the completion of the Admission to Candidacy requirements. Candidacy begins on the date the form is received by the OAA. After admission to candidacy, a student must register for at least nine (9) hours of dissertation credit during the completion of the degree program. Students planning to graduate the same semester they enter candidacy must be admitted by the published deadline for candidacy during that semester and register for nine (9) hours of dissertation credit. The student must also meet all other deadlines for graduation in that semester. A student must register for a minimum of three (3) dissertation credit hours in any semester when using University facilities, and/or faculty or staff time. The School shall not accept a dissertation if the student has not been admitted to candidacy for the degree.
Time Limit on DrPH Candidacy
All doctoral program degree requirements must be successfully completed within nine (9) years of a student’s first term of matriculation. The dissertation must be completed within four (4) years following admission to candidacy to qualify for graduation. If a doctoral student’s candidacy expires after the first week of classes in the final semester, the student is granted the remainder of the semester to complete degree requirements without special permission of the School. Additional information about time limits and expected dissertation completion milestones may be distributed by the DrPH Program Director, or a designated faculty member to candidacy eligible students immediately prior to their admission to candidacy. DrPH students will be subject to all the dissertation completion milestone requirements, details and policies distributed at that time. Failure to meet any of these dissertation completion milestones may result in scholastic dismissal from the doctoral program.
DrPH Integrated Learning Experience (ILE)/Dissertation
The dissertation process is intended to engage the DrPH student in a project that will significantly contribute to the existing public health practice knowledge base. The dissertation must present independent thinking, scholarly ability, and a systematic approach to addressing a contemporary public health issue. While the dissertation format will be determined in large part by the nature of the public health problem being addressed, it should reflect the variety of perspectives and approaches needed to analyze and ameliorate major public health problems and include assessment of both policy and practice implications. The DrPH dissertation must demonstrate meaningful synthesis and application of DrPH foundational competencies. For full details about the dissertation processes and procedures, please see the DrPH Student Handbook. Enrollment for dissertation credit (PHPB 9980 ) is permitted only after successful completion of the comprehensive examination.
Doctoral Advisory Committee (or Doctoral Dissertation Committee)
DrPH students must establish a Doctoral Advisory Committee, usually referred to as the Doctoral Dissertation Committee (DDC) in the DrPH program, following the completion of their comprehensive exam, but some establish the committee earlier in their program of study. The Doctoral Dissertation Committee primarily aids the student in the dissertation process. Additional criteria for the dissertation committee membership may be found in the DrPH Student Handbook
Students should see the DrPH Student Handbook for this information.
Dissertation Proposal/Prospectus and Meeting
Students should see the DrPH Student Handbook for this information.
Dissertation Approval and Defense
The final dissertation document must conform to all format and content requirements specified by the SPH. When the Dissertation Chair is satisfied with the completed dissertation, he or she will certify that it has his or her approval and is ready to be read by members of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee. The student will then distribute copies of the dissertation to the remaining members of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee and will schedule a final oral defense and notify the school. Scheduling of the oral presentation of the dissertation is by mutual agreement of the student and the Doctoral Dissertation Committee. Students should see the DrPH Student Handbook for more information.