What Can You Do with A PhD in Public Health? | DiscoverPhDs (2023)


Studying public health is a wonderful choice for those who wish to dedicate their career to advancing healthcare delivery & practices and improving the health and wellbeing of the public. This can take many forms – from studying diseases in a laboratory to using statistical analysis to develop a better distribution of medication.

A PhD programme in Public Health equips students with knowledge in environmental health, research methods, statistical analysis, data collection, ethics, research, report writing, and environmental law amongst others. This makes Public Health doctorates suitable for a wide range of careers in the field, both academic and non-academic.

A PhD degree also offers the student the opportunity to specialise their study in a particular area of interest. Generally, the principal research areas that contribute to the subject include:


The World Health Organization defines epidemiology as “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems.”

Public Health doctorates can use their knowledge of diseases and health events to transition into a career in epidemiology. Typical employers include public health departments (for example the NHS), health institutions (for example WHO) and private companies (for example companies developing medication).

The world is in the middle of a global pandemic, as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the globe. It is epidemiologists who are leading the efforts to monitor the transmission of the virus and study the disease (COVID-19) it causes. Using this as an example, typical responsibilities of an epidemiologist include studying infectious diseases, educating governments, and advising policymakers.

What Can You Do with A PhD in Public Health? | DiscoverPhDs (1)

Behavioural Science

Behavioural science is the scientific study of human and animal behaviour. In public health, this relates to the study of the human behaviours and social constructs, identify links with public health issues.

For example, obesity is often caused by a poor diet and lifestyle choices more than it is by medicinal/genetic factors. There are often social and behavioural factors which influence diet and lifestyle choices. A career in behaviour science would look to establish relationships between the two, and whether we as a society can take preventative action.

(Video) Public Health PhD Career Options Outside of Academia

According to a Press release by Public Health England, a quarter of cardiovascular disease deaths are in people under the age of 75, with 80% of these preventable if people made lifestyle and behaviour changes to improve their heart health. This highlights the influence behavioural scientists can make in society, by educating the public and advising the government and policymakers to enforce new policies which aim to address social issues and change behaviour to improve public health.

Biostatistics & Health Informatics

Biostatisticians and health informatics specialists use their research skills to analyse health data, applying statistical models to interpret the data and drawing conclusions to address public health and medicinal issues. If you are a doctoral student who particularly enjoys the statistical side of your research project, this could be the ideal career path for you.

The nature of this role lends itself to many departments within public health. For example, typical employers range from Food and Drug Administration clinics, research centres looking at genomes, local governments, and other public health organisations.

Environmental Health Sciences

Another common job in public health is the ‘environmental health scientist’. Environmental health science is the study of all aspects of the natural and built environment which influences human health. For example air pollution, soil contamination, climate change, food hygiene, drinking water contamination. Environmental health scientists aim to reduce the environmental factors which adversely affect human health. Much like other public health professionals, they do this by carrying out research, helping governments develop and enforce policies & laws, and educating the public.

Examples of typical roles that public health PhD holders transition into include: air pollution analysts, health inspectors, toxicologists, and health, safety and environment advisors.

What Can You Do with A PhD in Public Health? | DiscoverPhDs (2)

Health Policy and Management

Health policy and management professionals use their knowledge to improve the effectiveness of healthcare delivery in terms of finances, management, logistics, and quality.

A public health professional in such a career would have management duties such as managing teams, delegating tasks, monitoring project progress, managing budgets, reviewing public health policy and identifying opportunities to improve performance.

Typical employers include research and development companies, government institutions and NGOs.

Occupational Health Nurse

The National Health Service defines occupational health nurses as “leaders of public health and care in the workplace”. This is an ideal career for those looking use their public health knowledge in a leadership role to assess health care in a professional environment.


Typical duties include being the first ‘point of contact’ for employees in the workplace to discuss health care related issues, assessing mental health wellbeing, as well as promoting safe working practices, and workplace monitoring.

Occupational health nurses in the NHS must be registered on part 1 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. Further information about the training required for the role can be found on the NHS’s health careers site. No minimum period of post-registration work experience is required, and although completing a doctoral degree programme is not a mandatory entry requirement for the role, it will demonstrate your understanding of the public health field.

(Video) PhD programmes in Epidemiology and Public Health

Find Your PhD, Fast

Search Now

(Video) Liyuwork - Public Health PHD student


Typically, people think education relates to teaching at a school or university. However, with a PhD in public health, you can work with public health organisations, governments and NGOs, to educate about health and safety issues. With this career, you could run education programmes or produce informative brochures and posters to promote community health awareness, encourage a healthier lifestyle (e.g. eating a balanced diet), stress the importance of health and safety practices (e.g. look both ways before crossing at a road) and more.

Higher Education Teaching

One of the biggest advantages of holding a PhD degree is the opportunity it provides for teaching at Universities. A PhD is typically forms part of the entry requirements for a teaching role at universities. University lecturers have much more freedom in the contents of their course and setting coursework than lower education teachers, which allows you to focus on your chosen speciality. Universities often offer their doctorates part time teaching positions as a way of assisting in the transition from student to teacher.

It is important to note that an educational role in higher education is not just limited to lecturing at a university. You can also use your doctorate to engage in the formal supervision of research projects, tutoring and leading training programmes.

What Can You Do with A PhD in Public Health? | DiscoverPhDs (3)

Other Roles

A doctorate degree in public health can lead to a career in nutrition and diet, which can vary from research into the nutritional content of foods, to being a dietician who creates meal plans for clients. Other public health jobs include involvement in social work, global health, genetics and maternal & child health. Due to the wide range of roles available, health professionals can work in several environments such as hospitals, private clinics, research laboratories, government departments and more.

Skills for Your CV

It is important to remember that whilst most Public Health doctorates pursue a career in the field, holding a PhD in the subject gives you several skills and attributes which make you desirable to a wide range of employers. Whichever career path you pursue, you must be able to recognise these skills when preparing your CV and job applications.

Examples of skills you will learn as a PhD student with a Public Health background include:

(Video) Recent Phd Research Topic Ideas for Public Health 2020 - Pubrica

  • An understanding of the public health issues faced across the world
  • And understanding of the social and environmental factors which can influence health
  • An understanding and application of statistical methods and analytical techniques
  • Use the above knowledge to become more influential in society and relate your knowledge to public policy

In addition to the above, having a postgraduate research degree also equips you with a number of transferable skills. These are skills are vital in the professional working environment and can be used in any sector. Examples of skills doctoral students gain from their postgraduate research include communication, team working, work ethic, time management, problem-solving and the ability to carry out independent research.


What is the highest paid job in public health? ›

Highest Paid Public Health Jobs
  • Biostatistician. $92,270.
  • Computer and Information System Managers In Healthcare. $151,150.
  • Doctorate Degree Holders. $80,560.
  • Emergency Management Director. $76,250.
  • Environmental Scientists. $73,230.
  • Epidemiologist. $74,560.
  • Health and Safety Engineer. $94,240.
  • Medical and Health Services Managers.

How long is a PhD program in public health? ›

The DrPH Program is a three-year program (with an option to extend to a fourth year) and during this time, students will learn how to address complex problems of public health policy and use advanced analytical and managerial tools to lead organizational and societal change.

Is mph same as PhD? ›

Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs typically provide students with a broad overview of public health and prepare them for leadership positions within the field, while Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in epidemiology programs are more research-based and focus on areas and methods of epidemiology.

What job can I do with my PhD? ›

The most common roles for PhD graduates are:
  • higher education teaching professionals.
  • other researchers, unspecified discipline.
  • biochemists and biomedical scientists.
  • specialist medical practitioners.
  • clinical psychologists.

Which specialization is best in public health? ›

The Most Common Concentrations in Public Health
  • Biostatistics. Biostatistics is a combination of Bio + statistics. ...
  • Child & Maternal Health. ...
  • Community Health. ...
  • Environmental Health. ...
  • Epidemiology/Infectious Disease. ...
  • Global Health. ...
  • Health and Human Services. ...
  • Nutrition.

How can I make a lot of money with MPH? ›

Learn more about your career options with an MPH degree.
Explore Some of the Highest Paying Public Health Jobs
  1. Natural Sciences Manager. ...
  2. Medical and Health Services Manager. ...
  3. Health Services Administrator. ...
  4. Epidemiologist. ...
  5. Biomedical Engineer. ...
  6. Biostatistician. ...
  7. Infectious Disease Specialist. ...
  8. Health Care Consultant.

Is a PhD in public health worth it? ›

A Doctoral Degree in Public Health can unlock a world of opportunities in education, government, research, science, the medical field and much, much more. The public health field is rapidly expanding due to several factors.

Is it worth it to get a doctorate in public health? ›

It's possible to advance pretty far with just a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020 the median pay for an epidemiologist with a master's was $75,000 per year. And according to Fortune, someone with a master's in biostatistics can make $105,900 annually.

Which is better DrPH or PhD in public health? ›

If you are set on pursuing an academic research career, the PhD degree is more appropriate. If you would like to work in implementation research or public health practice at a leadership level typically in departments of health, NGOs), then the DrPH is more appropriate to pursue.

Should I get an MPH before PhD? ›

While their advice is not the end-all be-all, it was certainly useful for me: Public health PhD programs strongly prefer applicants who have a masters (MPH/MSPH/MS) in a public health discipline.

Do you call a DrPH a Doctor? ›

It's still a doctoral level degree, so they would technically be referred to as "doctor".

How do you write Doctor of Public Health? ›

A Doctor of Public Health (abbr. DrPH, Dr.PH. or D.P.H.; Latin doctor publica sanitas) is a doctoral degree awarded in the field of Public Health.

Which PhD is most in demand? ›

Top PhD programs include physical therapy, education, administration, chemistry, and more. Political science, for example, allows you to work in one of the highest paying PhD jobs, which makes this one of the best options. PhDs involving technology are also popular.

What percentage of PhDs get jobs? ›

Between 10% and 30% of PhD alumni get a permanent position at academia. Often around 70% of PhD alumni want to work in academia.

What's higher than PhD? ›

The Doctor of Divinity (DDiv) and the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) are considered by Oxford to outrank all other degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The DDiv is usually awarded for academic accomplishments beyond the PhD level.

What are the five core disciplines of public health? ›

The core public health disciplines include biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy and management, social and behavioral sciences, and environmental health sciences.

What do public health experts do? ›

Public health professionals analyze and develop programs that protect the health of individuals, families and communities in the United States and abroad. Because of their “big picture” perspective, public health experts play a key role in emergency preparedness and response.

What are examples of public health? ›

Examples of public health efforts include educating the public about healthier choices, promoting physical activity and fitness, preventing disease outbreaks and the spread of infectious diseases, ensuring safe food and water in communities, preparing for emergency, preventing injury, treating water with fluoride for ...

Can I make money with a public health degree? ›

As a new graduate, you'll likely to earn $30,000 to $50,000 on the front lines at a non-profit organization. You can work your way up the career ladder, especially if you pursue a dual MPH/MBA or MPH/MPA degree, but your biggest reward will be knowing you've made a difference in the health of your community.

Are epidemiologists rich? ›

If you decide to get the training and education that is needed to become an epidemiologist, you will be able to enjoy a rich career with a solid salary. The median income for epidemiologists is $65,270, with the top 10% earning more than $108,000.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
General internal medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Family medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Emergency medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows
8 Sept 2022

Why do you want to do PhD in public health? ›

With a PhD in public health, individuals can serve NGOs, Governments, and public health organizations by educating them on health and safety issues. By pursuing this career, you would be able to run programs or create brochures. You can build community health awareness with a healthy lifestyle through posters.

How much do epidemiologists make with a PhD? ›

A PhD level epidemiologist may make around $104,000 per year, particularly if they decide to work in the pharmaceutical or healthcare industries, however salary will vary depending on the working location and level of experience. The demand for trained epidemiologists is expected to rise around 10% by the year 2022.

Whats the difference between PhD and DrPH? ›

The Core Difference

In the simplest terms, a DrPH is designed for public health professionals while a PhD in Public Health is designed for scientists. If you want to work in the field, enacting programs and policies, the DrPH can help you acquire the top-level knowledge you'll need to be an effective leader.

Can you be a professor with a DrPH? ›

Our DrPH graduates have gone on to hold positions at international NGOs, research centers, and institutions of higher education. Graduates land leadership roles as research directors, professors, deans, and senior fellows.

Can I teach with a DrPH? ›

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree is an advanced and terminal professional degree that prepares the future workforce to engage in public health research, teaching, practice, and leadership.

Who is a public health physician? ›

Public health physicians are qualified medical doctors who choose to specialise in the health of groups or whole communities rather than working in individual healthcare.

What does PhD C mean? ›

The designation is meant to indicate that the person has completed all of his or her requirements for a PhD except for the dissertation—akin to "ABD" (all but dissertation) that many also use.

What Is mph stand for? ›

Sep 26, 2022. Get an MPH Degree. Public health encompasses quite literally all facets of our lives. A Master of Public Health (MPH) opens the door to myriad career paths that offer you the opportunity to significantly impact individuals and entire communities—even on a global level and on future generations.

What does DrPH stand for? ›

A Doctor of Public Health, commonly referred to as a DrPH, is a professional degree designed for public health practitioners.

Is public health marketable in Zambia? ›

Career Growth and Salary of Public Health Workers in Zambia

Public health jobs in Zambia are highly rewarding and profitable.

How much do public health earn in Zambia? ›

Ministry of Health of Zambia Salaries
Job TitleSalary
Public Health Officer salaries - 1 salaries reportedZMK 84,000/yr
TB/HIV LIAISON OFFICER salaries - 1 salaries reported$36,000/yr
Theatre Nurse salaries - 1 salaries reportedZMK 60,000/yr
Senior Dental Therapist salaries - 1 salaries reportedZMK 360,000/yr
16 more rows

Is a career in public health lucrative? ›

The median annual salary for epidemiologists in 2020 was $74,560 open_in_new, according to the BLS. This position is one of the top-paying public health jobs. The BLS reported median annual earnings in 2020 for epidemiologists who worked in these areas: Scientific research, development: $99,020.

Is public health lucrative in UK? ›

Along with this, public health stands as one of the high-paying professions in the UK. This makes studying for a master of public health degree in the UK a lucrative option.

Is public health better than nursing? ›

The answer to this question is entirely up to you. If you want a career where you can work directly with individual patients, a career in medicine or nursing might be best for you. If you want to research public health problems and prevent disease, a career in public health may be ideal.

Where can a public health work? ›

Employers: hospitals, clinics, healthcare facilities, wellness centres. Public Health careers offer quite a few different possibilities, each one requiring different skills and abilities. As a healthcare administrator, you will oversee all the activities required to run a healthcare institution.

What courses are under public health? ›

Courses available in public health usually include audiology, athletic training, physiology, chiropracty, emergency response, dental assisting and many more. Depending on the level of program they are in, students may be required to participate in lab exercises, method practice, and scientific writing.

Is public health nursing? ›

Public health nursing is a systematic process by which: The health and health care needs of a population are assessed in order to identify subpopulations, families and individuals who would benefit from health promotion or who are at risk of illness, injury, disability or premature death.

Which course has highest demand? ›

Most In-Demand Degrees
  1. Pharmacology. For a lucrative career helping people, pharmacology is at the top of the list for in-demand degrees. ...
  2. Computer Science. ...
  3. Health Science. ...
  4. Information Technology. ...
  5. Engineering. ...
  6. Business Administration. ...
  7. Finance. ...
  8. Human Resources.

What is the work of a public health worker? ›

Identify and investigate health issues and health hazards in the people. Provide communities required personal health services and ensure the provision of health care. Develop plans and policies that help individual and community health initiatives. Search for new ideas and innovative solutions to health issues.

Is a PHD in public health worth it? ›

A Doctoral Degree in Public Health can unlock a world of opportunities in education, government, research, science, the medical field and much, much more. The public health field is rapidly expanding due to several factors.

Is public health hard to study? ›

It takes hard work and dedication and is a pretty big accomplishment to complete a master's in public health program. Remember, not everyone can successfully navigate their way through a graduate program, so you should be proud of yourself.

Which is better MPH or MHA? ›

For instance, students who are interested in a degree that emphasizes more on a diversified range of health care leadership and higher level of opportunities may choose the MHA program. On the other hand, students who are searching for a program with a deeper science curriculum may go for the MPH program.

Are public health professionals in demand in the UK? ›

Public Health Salary in UK provides employers with more than just Salary; it awards them with work satisfaction. The Average Salary in UK after Masters in Public Health is £38,000. with the increase in demand for specialists in Public Health, the Public Health Graduate Salary UK is also expected to increase.

What are the benefits of studying public health? ›

MPH prepares students to work in leadership roles in public health. TAUs MPH degree program trains you to promote healthy lifestyles, create awareness, assist in disease prevention and control and advise people on various medical options.

Is a masters in public health worth it? ›

Specifically, is a Master's in Public Health (MPH) worth it? Yes! Those who pursue an MPH degree are likely to see incredible salary potential and job opportunities after graduation. Most of all, they develop a greater voice in the field and in turn, tend to have a greater impact on the world.


1. Q&A and Day in the Life with PhD Student Alicia | Michigan Public Health
(University of Michigan School of Public Health)
2. Sarah Lowe, PhD, on a Public Health Approach to Mental Health
(Yale School of Public Health)
3. Adriana Garriga-Lopez, PhD: How Does One Decolonize Public Health?
4. Amanda Raffoul, PhD, Public Health and Health Systems
5. PhD in Dental Public Health
6. Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health
(University of Michigan School of Public Health)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated: 03/28/2023

Views: 6143

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.