Best Online PhDs in Public Health Degrees

The use of modern-day toilets and plumbing, vaccines, and standard hygienic practices are all examples of improvements in public health.

BOPhD PublicHealth CollegeChoice

Public Health is a vast field that deals with the health concerns and outcomes of populations as a whole. Public Health officials will routinely work with government branches, local non-profits, and education systems. This field encompasses areas such as epidemiology and disease prevention. As the number of people who are living longer is increasing, the need for Public Health professionals is on the rise.

If promoting healthy lifestyles, researching diseases, and policy implementation is your passion, a career in Public Health may be right for you. Those at the Doctorate level of this field are the experts who inform health decisions directly in our community. College Choice has ranked the top 10 online PhD programs in this field in the nation. Read on to discover which program may be the best fit.

What type of PhD degree can you get in Public Health?

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctorate degree in Public Health are the highest degrees for this field. Although both programs are very similar, generally the PhD degree is more research-intensive and the Doctorate is geared more toward future practitioners. However, both degrees will prepare adults for future careers in academia if they wish to do so.  

An online degree may be favorable for those who are already engaged in other time-consuming activities, like a full-time job. Like other online degree programs, an online PhD will consist of either regular class meetings via video or online coursework that can be completed on one’s own time. Students will be required to come to campus a few times a year for sessions, and will need to come when they present their dissertation. Other programs may even require in-person practicum hours at a local institution.

Check out the best Master’s in Public Health degrees here.

How much money do people with an online PhD in Public Health make?

According to PayScale, those with a PhD in Public Health will earn an average salary of $89,000. It is important to note that this is an average number that may be skewed due to outliers. There is no statistical distinction between those who took their degree online or on-campus. This average does not also take into account years of experience, location, and industry.

Some of the highest paying jobs within the Public Health field include health engineer, environmental scientist, healthcare administrator, epidemiologist, or biostatistician. For example, the median salary of a biostatistician as of 2018 is $81,950. The median for an epidemiologist is $70,820. At the peak of one’s career, a six figure salary is quite common.

What can you do with an online PhD in Public Health?

This advanced degree prepares people for jobs in academia (i.e. researcher or professor) or for senior-level positions within the field of Public Health. Within the realm of academia, doctors will be required to continuously research and publish new findings. Their research will inform new policies and practices. As a practitioner, work may be more “hands-on” as they will be involved with things like health advocacy, outreach, and marketing.

Below are some common skills and everyday tasks that a person in this field at this level may use:

  • Communication among diverse populations
  • Evidence-based research
  • Policy advocacy and implementation

What are the requirements for an online PhD in Public Health?

Ideally, candidates will possess a Master’s in Public Health with a competitive GPA. Applicants should also have several years of work experience within the field, with a minimum of two. Those who do not meet those requirements may need to take extra courses. In addition, most applications require letters of recommendation and GRE scores from the last five years.

Throughout the program, students will take most coursework online. Coursework will consist of foundational classes, electives, and additional classes if pursuing a concentration. There may even be a required practicum. The last portion of the credits is dedicated to completing the dissertation. All students will need to come to campus at some point, either to complete group sessions or to present their final thesis.

What are the Best PhDs in Public Health?

We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer not only fair prices, but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in-depth description of our data.

Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These not only represent the best degrees you can get, but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!


University of North Carolina

College Choice Score: 100

Average Grad Tuition: $18,549

School Website


As the first public university in the state, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continues to impact the economy and culture of the community it lives in. UNC-Chapel Hill was founded over 200 years ago, with its School of Public Health beginning in 1936. This school is ranked the #1 public school of public health in the nation, with notable faculty and excellency in research.

Program Features

Earn your degree from virtually anywhere in the world through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership degree. Learn how to effectively influence public health policy through strong leadership skills at a variety of institutions. Although the length of the program varies, generally coursework will take two years to complete, followed by a dissertation that can take up to three years.

  • Three on-site annual visits
  • Average 40-hours of work per credit
  • Multiple practicum experiences


This is a highly competitive program, where only 15 students are accepted annually. Generally the program receives about 100 applications every year.


University of Illinois at Chicago

College Choice Score: 94.18

Average Grad Tuition: $18,622

School Website


The University of Illinois at Chicago is the state’s premier research institution. Today it boasts 15 colleges with programs from the undergraduate to the doctorate level. UIC began during the 19th century offering programs primarily related to health. After World War II, a variety of other programs were introduced and the college expanded. Currently UIC has over 31,000 enrolled students, with a little over 3,000 being professional students.

Program Features

Combine research, theory, and practice through the Doctor in Public Health program. As an online program, students can learn from home while still being connected with peers and well-known faculty. Each step of the way students will be guided as they write their thesis. Other features of this program include:

  • Minimum of 96 semester hours
  • Annual in-person summer session
  • 5 semester hour practicum experience for those without experience


This program is ideal for those who already hold at least three years of experience in a public health related career in mid-management.


University of South Florida

College Choice Score: 93.96

Average Grad Tuition: $13,699

School Website


The University of South Florida is a preeminent state research university located within the Tampa Bay region. It was founded in 1956 and has 14 colleges. The College of Public Health offers its premier PhD program. There are currently just under 300 doctoral students within the college, and more than 6,200 alumni of the college around the world.

Program Features

USF’s online Doctor of Public Health degree is a hybrid program consisting of online learning and three on-campus sessions. Students have two concentration options:

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


The doctoral project can be completed in as little as two semesters; however time can vary. Students will work closely with their mentor to determine the time needed to complete it.


Johns Hopkins University

College Choice Score: 90.31

Average Grad Tuition: $52,170

School Website


Johns Hopkins University is not just known as America’s first research university, but also for its innovation, community involvement, and economic impact. Founded over 140 years ago, the school began with the hope that research and teaching could co-exist throughout the school. JHU is named after the famous 19th century philanthropist Johns Hopkins who donated millions of dollars to the health and wellness of the community.

Program Features

Those who already possess a Master’s of Public Health degree are eligible to apply for JHU’s Doctor of Public Health program. This degree is offered through the Bloomberg School of Public Health, a college notable for its outstanding programs. As a competency-based program, students will be expected to succeed in applying the skills they’ve learned in a real setting.

  • 64 credit-hours (56 credits of coursework, 8 credits of dissertation)
  • Duration: 4 ~ 9 years
  • Concentrations: Environmental Health, Health Equity and Social Justice, Health Policy and Management, Implementation Science


Upon discretion of the admissions team, students may submit a request to study a customized track in their application.


Northeastern University

College Choice Score: 85.77

Average Grad Tuition: $23,408

School Website


Northeastern University is a global research institution with its main campuses located in Boston. The university also offers several programs completely online. According to the U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern is among the 50 top universities within the nation. This is due to its research and rich student experience throughout its programs. Its online PhD program in Public Health is offered through the Bouve College of Health Sciences, with programs known for their hands-on learning experiences.

Program Features

Northeastern’s PhD program in Population Health is an interdisciplinary degree for future researchers. Topics that will be covered include but are not limited to education, environmental risks, and economic stability. Other key features of this program are:

  • Mentorship program
  • Specialized training
  • Full or part-time enrollment


Students can choose from two concentrations: Social/Environmental or Health Services/Policy. Both choices are research intensive.


Indiana University-Bloomington

College Choice Score: 85.43

Average Grad Tuition: $19,541

School Website


Indiana University was founded as the first public university located west of the Allegheny Mountains. It has transformed modern education and contributed many “firsts” to higher academia. It offered the first school of philanthropy and school of informatics. IU is constantly improving and looking for new ways to grow. Bloomington is the flagship campus of IU, with over 200 years of history.

Program Features

IU’s Doctor of Public Health, Global Health Leadership degree is a fully online program with a global network. Students can expect to spend three years within the program. Courses are designed for mid- or senior-level professionals who work in a variety of public health settings. Upon graduation, students will be ready for top positions within governmental branches, health ministries, and other organizations.

  • 45 credit-hours
  • Sample Courses: Global Health Policy Analysis and Advocacy, Financing Global Health
  • Cohort-based education


As a primarily distance learning program, courses are held over video conference. However, students will be required to meet face-to-face three times a year and during their dissertation.


Loma Linda University

College Choice Score: 85.18

Average Grad Tuition: $25,440

School Website


Loma Linda University is a private school located in Southern California that is associated with the Seventh-day Adventists. The school was founded in 1905 by Ellen G. White, who wished to create an institution that was health-focused, while still spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ. Today Loma Linda offers eight schools and six different hospitals. The School of Public Health officially came into being in 1978. It continues to reform the teachings of the field by offering new programs.

Program Features

Loma Linda offers several PhD programs in Public Health: Health Education, Preventive Care, and Health Policy and Leadership. All can be completed online through their distance learning program. Below are some key features of their PhD programs:

  • Duration: 3-5 years
  • Ability to enter senior level positions upon graduation
  • Full or part-time enrollment


Those with GRE scores in the upper 40th percentile have a higher chance of being accepted, in addition to having relevant experience within the field.


Kent State University

College Choice Score: 80.86

Average Grad Tuition: $15,853

School Website


Kent State University is a public institution known for its excellence in teaching. U.S. News & World Report ranks them among the Best National Universities. Kent State currently has eight campuses located within the state of Ohio, six out-of-state, and four international campuses. There are more than 245,000 alumni worldwide. Kent State also produces prominent research, with more than 16 Pulitzer prize winners from the school itself.

Program Features

Pursue a PhD in Public Health with a specialization in Health Policy and Management through Kent State’s online degree. This minimum 91-credit-hour program is made of up multidisciplinary coursework. Graduate assistantships are available for those who qualify. An example of coursework topics are:

  • Health literacy
  • Reproductive health
  • Community based interventions


The goal of Kent State’s College of Public Health is to create public safety and health-related careers and to address the issue of a lack of public health workers by 2020.


East Carolina University

College Choice Score: 80.48

Average Grad Tuition: $11,324

School Website


With over 100 years of history, East Carolina University has kept to its original mission statement of being “built by the people, for the people…” As of fall 2018, over 28,000 students are currently enrolled. ECU offers 13 research and 5 professional doctoral programs. Programs are offered through distance learning. In 2018, the Princeton Review ranked ECU’s medical school one of the best in the nation.

Program Features

ECU offers a Doctor of Public Health degree in two concentrations: Environmental and Occupational Health, and Health Policy, Administration, and Leadership. Both programs are offered through the Brody School of Medicine. This degree can be completed online or on-campus. Special program features include:

  • For experienced working professionals
  • Fall and spring sessions
  • Sample Courses: Organizational Theory and Leadership, Toxicology, Environmental Risk Communication


The Environmental and Occupational Health concentration focuses on exposure assessment, occupational medicine, and vector borne diseases. The Health Policy, Administration, and Leadership concentration focuses on health information systems and overall policies to improve health outcomes.


Nebraska Methodist College

College Choice Score: 78.97

Average Grad Tuition: $13,086

School Website


Nebraska Methodist College is a private school located in Omaha, Nebraska, with programs mainly focusing on health professions. NMC was established in 1891 and is associated with the Nebraska Methodist Health System. They offer fully-accredited on-campus and online programs. NMC’s nursing school is ranked among the #5 best within the state for its pass rate. Its online programs have also been recognized.

Program Features

Advance your career as a health advocate through the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Public Health Policy program. This is an advanced nursing degree that combines real-world experience with assessment and healthcare delivery theory.

  • 960 clinical practice hours
  • Duration: 24 months (full-time) or up to 3 or 4 years (part-time)
  • 2 on-campus sessions


Applicants who hold at least a bachelor’s in nursing can apply. Students must have taken several prerequisite classes beforehand. The GRE is not required for this program.