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DrPH Program Details

Student Advisement    
Preliminary Assessment    
Core DrPH Competency-Based Learning Objectives
Degree Requirements      
  Academic Phase      
  Leadership Training      
  Practicum Phase      
  Qualifying Examination      
  Doctoral Project      
Evaluation of students      

Student Advisement Top of page link

After admission to the program, all students are assigned a First Year Advisor within their area of concentration who will guide their initial course selections, discuss plans for practicum placements, and the doctoral project and dissertation. Every effort will be made to match students and advisors with similar interests. Students will meet with that advisor to assess their academic and practice background and goals in order to plan an individualized course of study tailored to the student’s interests and goals. All students should keep track of their progress through the Plan of Study form. Updated Plans of Study should be submitted to the DrPH Office every semester.

At the end of the first year, the student transitions to a DrPH Dissertation Advisor, who will guide the student throughout the formulation of the DrPH doctoral project and dissertation. The DrPH Dissertation Advisor does not have to be identified prior to admission. Because of the practice orientation of the degree, SPH faculty who are New York State Department of Health employees will play a key role in serving as both First Year and DrPH Dissertation advisors.


Preliminary Assessment Top of page link


Accepted students will undergo a preliminary assessment by their First Year Advisor, in consultation with the DrPH Program Director, during their first semester to determine how well the student meets the MPH competencies and to identify areas in which the student may require additional preparation. A review of master’s-level coursework and related work experience will be completed. Paperwork will be completed to transfer any appropriate courses from previous graduate study. After the assessment, the advisor may recommend readings or online modules to supplement knowledge. For example, if the student is found to be deficient in the MPH competencies in epidemiology, he/she will be assigned readings or other supplemental work. This may be desirable, for instance, if a master’s level course to be transferred was taken years earlier and is deemed lacking in recent developments in the field. The DrPH Oversight Committee will provide guidance to First Year Advisors and provide them with appropriate resources to assess and advise students. The assessment process will assist the student and advisor with determining the student’s preparedness to take the Comprehensive Qualifying Examination at the end of the first year.


Competency-Based Learning Objectives

After completing the DrPH program, the DrPH graduate will be able to:

Competency 1: (Critical, analytical and integrative thinking and reasoning):
Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the core areas of public health practice, research, and theory.

  • Analyze and critique public health as a system, including specific functions and roles of government and governmental public health agencies and other partners, assessing the system’s ability to respond to public health problems and its limitations, and identifying ways to improve it.
  • Integrate and apply multidisciplinary theories and research findings to solve a public health problem(s).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of systems thinking and the ecological model and how it guides the assessment of, and solutions to, public health issues.
Competency 2: (Research/Evaluation):
Analyze issues and problems in public health using critical evaluation, applied research methodology, and statistical methods to translate into evidence-based decision-making in public health practice.
  • Obtain, interpret and apply appropriate quantitative, qualitative and economic measures to address public health problems.
  • Demonstrate in-depth understanding through use of an applied research methodology of interest (quantitative, qualitative or economic research methods) of a public health problem or issue.
Competency 3: (Public Health Practice):
Access and synthesize information from a variety of sources to assess significance, identify relationships and develop strategies for addressing public health problems/issues in an area of interest or specialization in public health practice.
  • Identify and apply foundation theories in area of specialization to explain and predict public health problems and solutions.
  • Apply measures of population health and illness, including risk factors, in the development of community health improvement initiatives, taking into account appropriate cultural, social, behavioral, and biological factors.
  • Develop and apply a logic model, or other systems applications, demonstrating interrelationships among risk and protective factors, as well as between process and outcome objectives, and targets/standards for population health.
  • Apply research, evaluation and strategic planning designs to address a public health issue in an area of specialization.
Competency 4: (Management/policy):
Design, develop and implement interventions or policies aimed at a public health problem/issue.
  • Demonstrate an ability to strategically plan, implement and evaluate agency or organization improvements.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the political, cultural, social and economic factors influencing the development of, and changes in, public health programs, agencies, or interventions as well as strategies to positively affect those factors.
  • Apply principles and tools of financial resource management to public health programs.
  • Apply principles and tools of human resource management to public health programs.
  • Demonstrate capacity to lead and manage individuals, teams of individuals, and groups of lead agencies from diverse backgrounds in design, implementation and evaluation of public health programs.
  • Access and synthesize information from a variety of sources to make evidenced-based program decisions.
  • Apply negotiation, advocacy and other skills to public policy making, demonstrating an understanding of how to influence the process.
Competency 5: (Communication):
Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical elements of effective oral and written communication.
  • Organize and present qualitative, quantitative and economic data cogently and persuasively at scientific sessions, as well as to community-based audiences.
  • Design oral and written communications for varied audiences (community and business leaders, the public, policy makers, public health professionals, the media, and other stakeholders).
  • Demonstrate ability to develop a social marketing plan for a new or existing intervention, that has been empirically demonstrated to be effective.
Competency 6 (Leadership):
Demonstrate a vision and philosophy for professional leadership in public health.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the legal and ethical foundations of public health.
  • Apply principles of effective leadership in order to create a shared vision within a public health organization and/or foster partnerships in communities, to maximize achievement of public health goals.
  • Demonstrate facility working in teams, comprised of diverse stakeholders, to achieve a common shared goal of solving and correcting a particular public health problem.
Competency 7: (Education):
Teach academic and professional audiences, as well as conduct health promotion and education to health and human services providers and lay audiences in communities, with varying degrees of literacy.
  • Teach broad overview courses in public health, as well as specialized courses in areas of expertise, in an academic institution.
  • Teach continuing education and outreach classes in public health and areas of specialization.
  • Provide outreach, community health promotion and education to professionals and non-professionals regarding a relevant public health problem.

Degree Requirements Top of page link


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 Qualifying Examination; satisfaction of the Research Tool requirement, two 6 credit hour (12 total) practicum placements; and completion of a 15-credit doctoral project, which culminates with the DrPH dissertation.

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.

Full-time study is encouraged. Most grants and scholarships are available only to full-time students. Part-time study is permitted. However, 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 work 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 and Management (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,Doctoral Seminar: Topics for PublicHealth Practice(3 credits) (example schedule). Topics include: ethics, research design, sampling, program evaluation, proposal development, risk assessment, quality of care, leadership. (Note: although students register for 3 credits during the Fall or Spring semester, attendance is required for 1-1/2 hours per week during both semesters throughout the first academic year.)
  • All DrPH students must enroll in SPH 780, Doctoral Practicum Presentations (0 credit), each semester they register for a doctoral practicum placement and are expected to attend every session during their first year, usually held immediately following SPH701 to avoid scheduling conflicts.
  • EPI 514 Computer Programming for Data Management and Analysis in Public Health (3 credits). This course fulfills the Research Tool requirement.

Leadership Training

The Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute (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.

In addition students are urged to matriculate in elective courses on leadership and management, organizational theory, behavior and change, and group dynamics in organizations in the business school or Rockefeller College of Public affairs and Policy on the main campus.

PRACTICUM PHASE (12 credits)

Two 6-credit (12 total) DrPH practicum placements are required, one within and one outside the student’s area of concentration. Students use the practicum experiences to acquire broad exposure to public health issues in more than one setting.

The intent of the DrPH practicum placement is to demonstrate mastery of evidence-based public health decision-making and capacity to translate empirical knowledge into effective public health practice. The practicum experience should help the student develop and demonstrate leadership, independence and originality in a project with a significant public health impact. Examples include: design and implementation of an epidemiological study or surveillance system, leading a workgroup to develop a policy or strategic plan, and evaluate the effectiveness of a behavior change intervention.

The practicum placements are 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. Before the practicum placement can begin, the student, mentor and advisor will agree on, and sign, a written practicum registration plan. This plan will specify which doctoral level competencies will be mastered during the practicum.

Practicum placement logistics:

1. The DrPH student applying for practicum will submit a registration form and application form including a two-page abstract outlining the following to a committee of the advisor, mentor and Director, DrPH Program:

  • Definition of the public health issue and background of the problem justifying its significance.
  • Description of proposed project.
  • Expected outcomes or results.

The practicum applicant will also complete a matrix of proposed activities designed to accomplish specific DrPH competency-based learning objectives.

At the conclusion of the practicum experience the student will develop a written report (20 pages or less) summarizing results with suggested recomendations for action. He/She will also prepare and deliver a 30-45 minute presentation to an audience of colleagues.

2. There will be a one-month, mid-semester and final review (completed by student, mentor and advisor together) to confirm the practicum is working as planned, review progress or make changes to meet student’s and/or agency’s needs. A final evaluation will be completed by the mentor in consultation with the student. At the one-month review the student will present a literature review, logic model, action plan with measurable objectives and outcomes, and data/information analysis plan.

3. Final assessment will consist of a written document of publishable quality and presentation in SPH 780, Doctoral Practicum Presentations. The paper will describe the project’s background, methods, outcomes and implications. The presentation must be accompanied by a set of hand-outs or powerpoint slides. The faculty mentor and advisor must be in attendance for the presentation.

4. Students must be registered for practicum credit during the time of their placements (SPH 790 – in concentration, SPH 791 – outside of concentration).


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 qualifying examination will be required after all DrPH coursework is completed and must be passed before the Doctoral Project is begun. The exam will consist of two halves: general and concentration-specific, which will be graded separately. 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’s dismissal from the program.

Exam Application


DOCTORAL PROJECT AND DISSERTATION (15 credits)Top of page link


The Doctoral 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. Students will be advised 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.

Students write a proposal describing: how the project satisfies DrPH competencies; the public health significance of the project; detailed description of the project; and how the project demonstrates translation of empirical evidence into effective public health practice and evidence-based decision making.

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 work and practicum placements (minimum grade of B in each course within area of concentration)
2. Satisfaction of the residence requirement
3. Satisfaction of the research tool requirement
4. Satisfactory performance on the comprehensive qualifying examination
5. Approval by the dissertation committee of the Doctoral Project and Dissertation proposal (Dissertation Committee Form)


Evaluation of Students:Top of page link


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

Course grades: Students must maintain a minimum grade average of B across all courses. However, 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 but must be balanced with a higher grade to maintain the overall B average.

Comprehensive Qualifying Exam (See section describing qualifying exam)

DrPH Doctoral 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 doctoral project and dissertation)



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This page last updated: 11/27/07