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Graduate Bulletin Homepage |School of Public Health | Public Health Doctor of Public Health Degree Program (Dr.P.H.)

Program Leading to the Doctor of Public Health Degree (Dr.P.H.)

The mission of the University at Albany’s DrPH degree program is to prepare students for leadership roles in public health practice in governmental agencies, community-based organizations and other settings.  Students acquire analytic, conceptual, and administrative skills while gaining a thorough understanding of the scientific, political, social, cultural, ethical and economic contexts within which public health problems occur and are addressed.  As the terminal professional degree for public health practice (comparable to the M.D. as the terminal professional degree for medical practice) it provides rigorous training.  The University at Albany’s School of Public Health, because of its strong partnership with the New York State Department of Health, is uniquely positioned to offer doctoral training in public health practice, combining a strong academic background in all the core disciplines of public health with a wealth of opportunities to gain program experience in one of the largest public health agencies in the world. 
Degree Requirements

The program leading to the DrPH degree requires the following:  a minimum of 48 credit hours of course work; a passing grade on the Comprehensive Examination; satisfaction of the Research Tool requirement, 12 hours of practicum; and completion of a 15-credit capstone project, which includes the DrPH dissertation.  In addition, completion of the Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute program is strongly recommended.

Students may apply for admission with advanced standing, based on previous graduate work, and be allowed a maximum of 30 credits for courses applicable to the DrPH.  Of the 75 total credits required for the degree, at least 39 credits must be completed at the University at Albany.  Courses presented for transfer must be appropriate to the student's graduate program, must be graduate-level courses and have been given by an accredited institution authorized to grant graduate degrees.  Courses presented must be completed with grades of B or better.  Courses presented for transfer credit will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Part-time study is permitted.  In accordance with University guidelines, all students enrolled in doctoral programs must maintain continuous registration for each fall and spring session (except for periods of official leave of absence prior to candidacy) until they have completed all program requirements. Minimum registration consists of 3 credits of approved course work or practicum, or 1 credit of registration for dissertation load after advancement to candidacy (899 courses only).

ACADEMIC PHASE  (48 credits)

MPH core courses (15 credits)

Introductory graduate-level courses in the 5 core areas of public health (epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and management, social and behavioral science, environmental health) or their equivalent:

EPI 501 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology (3 credits)
EPI/STA 552 Principles of Statistical Inference (3 credits)
HPM 500 Health Care Organization, Delivery and Financing (3 credits)
HPM 525 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health (3 credits)
EHS 590 Introduction to Environmental Health (3 credits)

Note:  Equivalent MPH core courses may have been completed as part of a previous graduate program, in which case the appropriate credits may be transferred in to the DrPH program.  Students with a master’s degree other than an MPH degree, who have not previously taken these MPH courses, will be required to take them. 

DrPH core courses (9 credits)

EPI/STA 553 Principles of Statistical Inference II (3)
HPM 641 Organization and Management in Health Institutions (3)
HPM 647 Program Evaluation (3)

Area of Concentration (18 credits)

Social Behavior and Community Health:
HPM 520 Fundamentals of Research Design (3)
HPM 521 Introduction to Family and Community Health (3)
  or HPM 530 Introduction to Maternal & Child Health
  or HPM 625 Introduction to Public Health in Aging  
HPM 627 Public Health Education: Targeting Social, Organizational and Behavioral Factors to Promote Health (3)
Advanced methods course in program design, implementation and/or evaluation as approved by advisor (3)
Choice of two 600 level or above electives in any department as approved by advisor (6)
Health Policy and Management:
HPM 501 Health Policy Analysis (3)
HPM 511 Economic Analysis for Health Policy and Management (3)
HPM 650 Strategy and Leadership Applications in Health Management (3)
Advanced methods course in policy analysis or management as approved by advisor (3)
Choice of two 600 level or above electives in any department as approved by advisor (6)

EPI 502 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology II (3)
EPI 601 General Topics in Epidemiological Methods (3)
Advanced level methods course in epidemiology, biostatistics or another department as approved by advisor (3)
Two 600 level or above Epidemiology courses as approved by advisor (6)
Choice of one 600 level or above elective in any department as approved by advisor (3) 
STA 554 Introduction to the Theory of Statistics I (3)
STA 555 Introduction to the Theory of Statistics II (3)
STA 558 Methods of Data Analysis I (3)
STA 559 Methods of Data Analysis II (3)
Choice of two 600 level or above electives in any department as approved by advisor (6)

Note:  Individuals who took equivalent courses during their master’s degree program may transfer those credits, up to a maximum of 30 credits, or substitute other advanced courses with approval of advisor.  All students must complete at least 39 graduate credits in residence at the University at Albany.  Students are encouraged to take 700-level courses, when possible.

Additional Course Requirements (6 credits)

 All DrPH students are required to enroll in SPH 701, Topics for Public Health Practice (3 credits).  Topics to include: ethics, research design, sampling, program evaluation, proposal development, etc.  (Note:  although students register for 3 credits during one semester, attendance is required for 1-1/2 hours per week during two semesters.)
 All DrPH students must enroll in SPH 780, Doctoral Seminar in Public Health (0 credit), one semester for every semester they register for a doctoral practicum and must attend at least half of the sessions during their first year.
 EPI 514 Computer Programming for Data Management and Analysis in Public Health (3 credits).  This course fulfills the research tool requirement.

NEPHLI Training

Preparing students to become leaders in public health is a key aspect to the DrPH program.  It is strongly recommended that all students enroll in the Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute (NEPHLI) as part of their DrPH curriculum.

NEPHLI is a year-long experiential program that builds and improves the leadership skills of current and future public health practitioners, providing participating Scholars with opportunities to gain practical experience from experts in a variety of fields. Topics include: influencing others, measuring and improving public health performance, developing collaborative relationships and partnerships, team building, group problem solving, responding to the needs for cultural diversity and competence, and addressing the training needs of the public health workforce. Scholars also learn to evaluate their own potential for leadership and their leadership styles. Curricula are tailored to meet the needs of Scholars and address issues important to their personal growth and to building healthier communities.  The program consists of three retreats and ongoing learning through distance learning and networking. The retreats are held for five days in July, three days in October, and three days in April (July and April retreats are held at the Rensselaerville Institute in Rensselaerville, New York located about 45 minutes from Albany, and the October retreat at the Whispering Pines Conference Center near Providence, Rhode Island. Both are spacious wooded retreat centers that offer perfect learning environments.

PRACTICUM PHASE (12 credits)

Twelve credits of DrPH practicum will be required.  Students should use the practicum experiences to acquire a broad exposure to public health by completing practicum rotations in more than one setting.  Practicum rotations should also demonstrate integration of multiple disciplines.

The intent of the practicum is to help the student develop and demonstrate leadership, independence and originality in a project with a significant public health impact.  Examples could include: design and carry out an epidemiological study; design and implement a surveillance system; or lead a workgroup developing a strategic plan.

The practicum rotations will be supervised by both the student’s faculty advisor and a mentor, who is a public health practitioner either with a doctoral degree or with substantial expertise and experience in the field.

Evaluation of practicum:

 Before the placement, the student, mentor and advisor will agree on, and sign, a written practicum registration plan.  This plan will specify which competencies will be developed during the rotation and how the practicum will goes beyond an MPH-level internship
 One month review (completed by student, mentor and advisor together) to confirm placement is working as planned or to make changes to meet student’s and agency’s needs
 Formal feedback will be provided by the mentor, with a copy to the advisor, on at least a monthly basis
 Final assessment will consist of a paper and presentation in SPH 780, Doctoral Seminar in Public Health.  The paper will describe the project’s background, methods, and outcome.  For the presentation, the faculty mentor and advisor must be in attendance.

Students must be registered for practicum credit (SPH 790) during the time of their rotation.


The research tool requirement for the doctoral degree is met by satisfactorily demonstrating computer literacy.  Satisfactory completion of EPI 514 (i.e. a grade of B or better) fulfills this requirement.


A comprehensive examination will be required after all DrPH coursework is completed and must be passed before the Capstone Project is begun.  The exam will consist of two halves: general and track-specific, which will be graded separately.  The DrPH Qualifying Exam Committee will administer and grade the exam. The exam will be graded honors/pass/fail. The student must pass both halves and, if necessary, can retake either or both halves once, within one year.  A second failure of either or both parts will result in the student being dismissed from the program.

The Capstone Project will be a methodologically sound, substantial practice-oriented project in which the student puts existing knowledge into practice and which becomes the basis for the student’s doctoral dissertation.  This can be an extension of the in-concentration practicum.  Student will be advised throughout the Capstone Project by a DrPH dissertation committee which will consist of three to five people, and must include the mentor; a faculty member from within the student’s area of concentration; and a faculty member from another discipline. To conform to University at Albany requirements, the chair of the dissertation committee must hold an unqualified appointment at the University. The chair and two other members must hold an earned doctorate or full professorship. Two members must be faculty of the School of Public Health and the third member should have an academic appointment external to the School of Public Health. If the dissertation project is conducted in a public health practice setting with a mentor that does not meet the degree or faculty requirements, it will be necessary for the committee to include a fourth member. The doctoral committee must be formally approved by the Director of Professional Programs.

The Capstone Project should be integrative, just as the coursework and qualifying exam are.  Students are to write a proposal describing: how the project meets the School of Public Health’s DrPH competencies; the public health significance of the project; detailed description of the project itself; and how the project is integrative and multidisciplinary.  The proposal should be a minimum of 10 pages, excluding the bibliography.  There will be an open meeting with faculty and the student’s dissertation committee at which the student must defend the proposal.

Students will register for SPH 898 before admission to candidacy.  After admission to candidacy they will register for SPH 899.
Assessment of Capstone Project and Dissertation:

 Per University guidelines, doctoral students must have a dissertation committee to guide their dissertation project and to approve each stage of the process.  Responsibility for the final evaluation and acceptance of a dissertation rests with the program faculty and the candidate’s dissertation or doctoral committee.  While students must be given an on-going evaluation of their dissertation by their dissertation committee as various sections are completed, final approval shall be given only to a completed work.  
 The DrPH Dissertation will be a comprehensive description of the student’s Capstone Project, suitable for publication, and must include an introduction, background, project description, discussion and results.  The DrPH dissertation may consist of two publishable peer-reviewed journal articles based on the capstone project, accompanied by an introduction that includes a literature review and a summary and discussion that ties the papers together into a unified work. 
 Each student will defend the dissertation in a final oral defense, which will be an approximately one hour long presentation followed by a question and answer period.  The presentation and question and answer period will be open to all members of the University community, and this will be followed by a closed discussion between the student and his/her dissertation committee.

Admission to Candidacy

A student will be admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Public Health upon completion of the following:

1. Satisfactory record in course and internship experiences (minimum grade of B in each course)
2. Satisfaction of the residence requirement
3. Satisfaction of the research tool requirement
4. Satisfactory performance on the comprehensive examination
5. Approval by the dissertation committee of the Capstone Project and Dissertation proposal

Evaluation of Students

Throughout their tenure in the DrPH program, students will be evaluated based on the following:

Course grades:  Students must maintain a minimum grade of B in each course.  If a student receives a grade lower than a B in a required course they must re-take the course. If the low grade is in an elective, the course will not count toward the degree.
Qualifying exam: (See section describing qualifying exam)

DrPH capstone project and dissertation:  Students will be evaluated based on the written proposal and its defense, the DrPH dissertation and its oral defense (See section describing capstone project and dissertation)

Last updated on 7/10/2008