2023–2024 DrPH Student Handbook
The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree at Berkeley School of Public Health is conferred in recognition of a candidate’s command of a comprehensive body of knowledge in the field of public health and related disciplines, and of the candidate’s proven ability to initiate, organize and pursue the investigation of significant problems or interventions in public health.
The mission of the DrPH program is to prepare students to develop transdisciplinary knowledge about the determinants of health as well as scientific and professional leadership skills necessary to translate this knowledge into strategic, successful, and effective health interventions. Students who earn this degree are expected to occupy leadership positions in diverse settings at the international, national, state, and local levels and in public, private, and academic sectors.
Upon satisfactory completion of the DrPH curriculum, graduates will able to demonstrate the following competencies:
- Ethics & principles: Identify and apply ethical principles of social justice and human rights in public health research and practice.
- Social justice orientation: Demonstrate an understanding of the multiple mechanisms by which social, political, economic and historical factors contribute to health inequities.
- Community focus: Integrate community centered focus in the assessment, development, and dissemination of public health research, policy and practice.
- Transdisciplinary training: Formulate, analyze, and advocate for multi-sector solutions to improve population health across interdisciplinary settings.
- Applied practice-based research: Translate rigorous research and evidence-based best practices to transform public health systems to meet the needs of local or global communities.
- Practice-based leadership: Identify personal leadership strengths and opportunities for growth in practice-based settings, through awareness of self, ability to work with and through others, and ability to identify and work through organizational dynamics.
These competencies are met through several programmatic requirements:
- Participate in all required and elective courses necessary for completion of degree requirements as defined by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the UC Berkeley Graduate Division. This coursework may include prerequisite coursework based on the student’s previous academic activities. Prerequisite course units will not count toward the 48 units required for doctoral course work.
- Participate in a professional residency in a public health setting to advance knowledge and gain leadership skills, conduct analyses, and participate in decision-making.
- Prepare for and complete the qualifying examination to demonstrate the student’s substantive knowledge and application of theory and methods in research.
- Submit a Human Subjects protocol which must be approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects at UC Berkeley prior to initiating dissertation research.
- Complete a dissertation that focuses on the analysis and/or solution of a problem or opportunity in public health practice.
Students must complete a minimum of 4 full-time semesters of coursework (48 units not counting prerequisites for non-MPH students, see information below) and a minimum of 12 units of dissertation research credits. In addition to the required courses listed below, DrPH students are required to attend DrPH doctoral seminars offered in their first three years of study. Due to the diverse experience each student brings to the program, it is expected that students will select courses and independent study that advance their knowledge and ultimately their proficiency in all of the core and breadth knowledge areas listed below. A wide array of courses are offered in these areas at the School of Public Health and in other departments on the UC Berkeley campus. Please refer to your Academic Progress Report (APR) in CalCentral >> My Academics for a complete course list or visit the Berkeley Academic Guide to find links to the course descriptions for more information.
- PB HLTH 290 Foundations in Public Health Leadership and Practice (3 units)
- PB HLTH 205 Program Planning and Needs Assessment (4 units)
- PB HLTH 375A School-wide Pedagogy course (2 units)
- PB HLTH 290 (A-F) DrPH Doctoral Seminar each semester; please check with the Program Manager for the specific course number (3 units)
- Residency (3 units)
- Public Health Ethics (3 units)
- Research Design and Methods (a minimum of 2 courses)
These are suggested academic paths of student areas of interests:
- Health Politics and Policy Analysis
- Public Health Interventions
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Global Health Sciences
Prerequisite Courses (if applicable)
The minimum requirements for admission to the DrPH Program includes an MPH or Master’s degree from an accredited school of public health, or equivalent, and two years or more of post-master’s degree professional experience in public health that demonstrate progressive responsibility and evidence of leadership potential. If a student does not have an MPH, the following prerequisites are required and must be completed prior to the qualifying examination. Students may request to be exempted from a course if they present evidence of an equivalent course in their previous degree. These courses must be taken for a letter grade during and do not count towards the 48 unit requirement for doctoral coursework.
- PB HLTH 200J: Introduction to Health Policy & Management
- PB HLTH 200K: Introduction to Environment Health Sciences
- PB HLTH 200L: Introduction to Health & Social Behavior
- PB HLTH 142: Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health
- PB HLTH 250A: Epidemiologic Methods
NOTE: Students must receive a B- or better in the above core courses.
Requirements for All Students
Student Academic Review
The Student Academic Review is designed to assist doctoral students with advising and other supportive activities to facilitate the completion of doctoral work in a timely manner. Students are asked to describe informally, where they are in their educational process and if there are potential barriers to advancement. The DrPH Academic Reviews are held in October and February each year.
Third Year Seminar Requirement
Students are required to attend the DrPH 3rd year seminar. Students continuing through a 4th year may apply for an enrollment waiver if they are enrolled in another doctoral seminar in the School of Public Health. All requests for a waiver must be approved in writing by the Program Directors.
Specialty Areas are interdisciplinary, drawing faculty and students across many areas of study. They provide a focus for substantive topics, reflecting the changing public health problems that must be addressed by public health practitioners and researchers. Students in the DrPH program may elect to complete an additional specialty area as a minor in their curricula.
The specialty areas have specific requirements. Please contact the DrPH program manager for further information regarding eligibility. For more information, please visit the Speciality Areas and Graduate Certificate website.
The Global Health Specialty Area prepares students from different disciplines to work in global health programs. Its objective is to produce graduates with a marketable set of skills for entry level professional jobs abroad, or with domestic agencies that conduct public health research, evaluation, and program development in other countries.
Graduate Certificate in Health Management
The Graduate Certificate in Health Management from the Health Policy and Management Division at the School of Public Health supports graduate students at UC Berkeley in developing these critical competencies through a comprehensive trio of toolkit courses that focus on skill-building, frameworks, and applied learning. These courses complement a wide range of existing degree programs and will appear on official graduate transcripts. Find more information, including course requirements, go to the Graduate Certificate in Health Management page.
The Certificate in Food Systems responds to an escalating need to empower new leaders with the capacity to create innovative solutions to pressing food and agriculture challenges. Building on UC Berkeley’s strength as a multi-disciplinary pioneer in food systems studies, the Certificate in Food Systems will prepare Masters and Doctoral students to think critically about the multi-level, multi-system factors that affect food production, distribution, and consumption locally, nationally, and globally.
As the U.S. population becomes increasingly multicultural, the Specialty Area in Multicultural Health prepares students to take a leadership role in addressing the challenges and opportunities afforded by these changing demographics.
Designated Emphasis & Certificate Programs
A “Designated Emphasis” is defined as an area of study constituting a new method of inquiry or an important field of application relevant to two or more existing doctoral degree programs. It is not a free-standing degree program, but must be added as an additional major along with an existing doctoral degree program. Students electing to add a Designated Emphasis are required to complete the academic work in the Designated Emphasis in addition to all the requirements of the doctoral program. There are no adjustments made to the normative time of the student’s major when a student undertakes a Designated Emphasis.
To qualify for the Designated Emphasis, students must have a representative of the DE on the Qualifying Examination Committee and must be examined in that area of study. Students are consequently required to be admitted to the DE before taking the Qualifying Examination.
A graduate certificate is also a concurrent program but does not require you to adjust your qualifying exam and dissertation committees and does not extend your time to degree. A full list of the possible designated emphases and certificate programs are below. Full list of DE’s and Certificate programs
Timetable to Degree Completion
The DrPH program is a full-time program of study designed to be completed in three to four years. While some students work part-time during the program, it is strongly encouraged that any employment simultaneously further the student’s Dissertation progress. Given the short timeline of the program, students are not permitted to work full-time during enrollment in the program. Any students with deficiencies in coursework that covered the equivalent of the content offered by the MPH at UC Berkeley must take prerequisite courses in the first year of the program for a letter grade. See the student checklist below for a detailed description of DrPH milestones.
The DrPH academic requirements can be located in your Academic Progress Report (APR) in CalCentral. The Academic Progress Report (APR) provides guidance about what courses have already been approved by the faculty that satisfy the core and breadth requirements. Students are encouraged to pursue course offerings across the university and partner institutions (e.g. Stanford and UCSF) to find courses that further their academic interests. The DrPH Course Approval Form allows students to petition to have a course not listed on the Academic Progress Report be considered for credit. Please submit the form along with a syllabus for the course as early as possible to the Program Manager and Director for review and approval.
Student Checklist for Completion of DrPH Milestones
- With a faculty mentor, create a plan for completing pre-Dissertation requirements in two years and begin coursework.
- Complete the initial description of proposed research in the prospectus template and prepare a presentation on this material (Year 1 seminar).
- Identify and confirm residency placement.
- Complete second semester review with faculty mentor.
Summer between Years 1 and 2
- Complete residency requirement.
- Complete draft prospectus.
- Identify Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Committee Chairs and members.
- Present prospectus (Year 2 seminar).
- Participate in Mock-Oral presentations (Year 2 seminar).
- Complete all required coursework.
- Complete Qualifying Exam (goal: end of Year 2).
- After successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, submit the Advancement to Candidacy through Calcentral via the Higher Degree Committee eForm. The form is routed to the DrPH program manager and Graduate Division for review and approval.
- Submit a certification of completion of CITI training if your research involves human subjects.
- A $90 Advancement to Candidacy Fee is required; revenue from this fee is used to support graduate student professional development.
Years 3 and 4
- Present dissertation progress and work products to students and faculty (Year 3 seminar).
- Complete Dissertation according to proposed prospectus and timeline.
- Secure approval on the final Dissertation from Dissertation Committee Chair and members.
- Submit Dissertation to Graduate Division.
The professional development of a DrPH student is central to the academic experience. The required structured involvement of DrPH students in the community facilitates relevant, actionable translational research and is one differentiating feature of the DrPH from PhD programs. The residency provides an opportunity for students to take on a significant professional challenge, broaden their leadership perspective, and explore research and career interests.
In preparation for the Dissertation and research phases of the DrPH Program, each student is required to complete a Residency. The Residency is a structured field experience with specific learning objectives and outcomes that is to be completed in the summer between the 1st and 2nd academic years. Exceptions may be granted based on the timing most appropriate to the student’s professional and research activities.
Students are required to complete a Residency of 320 hours (equivalent to eight weeks at 40 hours per week). Exceptions may be granted based on concurrent experience related to the student’s research and professional goals. Students requesting a placement of less than 320 hours must demonstrate in a written letter that the hours under 320 are requesting to be waived will be dedicated to meaningful progress on their career goals, skill development, or Dissertation development in order to warrant approval. A formal Residency agreement must be finalized in the first two weeks of the residency.
Exceptions to the timing and duration of the Residency must first be discussed with the student’s advisor and the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor. A formal written request for exception must be submitted to the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor by April 1 of the year in which the Residency is to be undertaken. Exception requests will be reviewed by the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor, in consultation with the Program Directors and the student’s advisor. All comments and recommendations will be considered by the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor, who will provide the final decision.
Residency activities are under the joint supervision of a designated Preceptor from the organization sponsoring the Residency and the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor. The Preceptor is an experienced professional with expertise in the assigned project areas, experience and status within the organization, and an interest and competence in supervising and mentoring. The Preceptor shares personal and organizational values, experiences, and contacts with the student to facilitate a successful DrPH Residency.
Students are required to register for the PB HLTH 297 course with the Field Residency Supervisor for 3 units of credit in the Fall Semester following completion of the Residency to receive the required academic credit. The course is taken on a S/U basis.
DrPH Residency Process
The DrPH Residency process extends from the Fall Semester of the student’s first year through the Fall Semester following completion of the Residency.
Students will meet at least twice with the Field Residency Supervisor during the first year fall semester to discuss career goals, research interests, and preliminary learning objectives for the Residency and to begin identification of potential Residency sites.
Students will meet at least twice with the Field Residency Supervisor during the first year spring semester to identify and finalize Residency site and Residency Preceptor and to review proposed learning objectives. The Residency site must be determined no later than April 1 of that year.
For International Students
The DrPH residency constitutes off-campus employment. Therefore, students studying on an international student visa will need to apply for work authorization before participating in their residency. Please refer to the Berkeley International Office for information on Employment Authorization. For any visa-related questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more specific information on the DrPH residency requirements for international students, please contact email@example.com.
In consultation with their Preceptor and the Field Residency Supervisor, students develop a draft Residency agreement for their placement by April 1 prior to their residency.
Students finalize a Residency agreement during the first two weeks of the Residency in conjunction with the Preceptor, with approval from the Field Residency Supervisor. The Residency agreement incorporates organizational and student requirements (including learning objectives, planned activities, expected outcomes, and a timeline for achievement). Students produce tangible products to demonstrate competencies developed during the placement (i.e., grant application, research analysis, policy analyses, program plans, evaluation designs, and/or article for publication). These are retained by the Field Residency Supervisor as part of the student’s record. Students then complete an evaluation of the Residency process (similar to a course evaluation) and provide feedback on the Residency site and Preceptor.
The Preceptor provides formal feedback on the student’s performance at the midpoint and the completion of the Residency. The Field Residency Supervisor visits the Residency site mid-way through the Residency to meet with the Preceptor and student to monitor progress on the learning objectives and other elements of the Residency agreement. For placements outside the Bay Area, these visits occur remotely.
Students register for Summer Residency units (PB HLTH 297 – Instructor is the Field Residency Supervisor) in the Fall Semester following the residency. Students meet with the Field Residency Supervisor during the first month of the Fall semester following the residency to review residency products and debrief on the experience.
To be eligible to take the Qualifying Examination, a student must:
- Be registered for the semester in which the exam is taken or, during the winter or summer break, be registered in either the preceding or the following semester;
- Have completed at least one semester of academic residence;
- Have at least a B average in all work undertaken in graduate standing;
- Have no outstanding grades of “Incomplete” in required coursework;
- Have satisfactorily completed all DrPH course requirements OR be completing these requirements by the end of the same semester when the qualifying exam is taken.
The DrPH qualifying examination has two components: (1) preparation of a detailed written dissertation prospectus and (2) a qualifying examination of the student’s depth and breadth of knowledge in their defined areas of expertise. The dissertation prospectus must be approved by the Dissertation Committee Chair prior to taking the qualifying examination. The prospectus must also be reviewed by each qualifying exam committee member at least once prior to the qualifying examination. Once the prospectus has been approved, it is submitted to the DrPH Program Manager to be added to the program’s prospectus library.
For the qualifying exam, students will define, in consultation with committee members, three field areas of expertise for examination that constitute areas of knowledge needed for successful completion of their dissertation project. These areas must be approved by the Qualifying Committee Chair. The student should then ensure that there is at least one exam committee member who is qualified to test the student in each of these areas of expertise.
Constituting the Qualifying Exam Committee
The student should consult with their Faculty Advisor concerning appropriate members of the faculty to serve on the Qualifying Examination Committee and take into account Graduate Division regulations on committee appointments (summarized below). Committee members should be selected to represent three areas of expertise relevant to the student’s proposed research as well as the broad scope of public health. The student is expected to speak directly with prospective Examination Committee members about their willingness to serve and to define their three field areas.
The student will apply for the qualifying examination through Calcentral in My Dashboard > Student Resources > Higher Degree Committee eForm. The form will be routed to the DrPH program manager and Graduate Division for review and approval. The Graduate Division will notify the student and the members of the committee of their official approval of the committee to conduct the Qualifying Examination.
Graduate Division Requirements for Faculty Membership on Qualifying Examination Committees
The Qualifying Examination Committee is composed of four faculty members: a chair, an Academic Senate representative and at least two additional members.
- The Qualifying Examination Chair must be a member of the Berkeley Academic Senate from the School of Public Health.
- Senate members include individuals with the following titles: Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Professor Emeritus, Professor in Residence, University Professor, Senior Lecturer with security of employment, and Lecturer with security of employment.
- The Qualifying Examination Chair cannot serve as the Dissertation Chair for the same student.
- There cannot be two Co-Chairs for the Qualifying Examination.
- The committee must include two additional Academic Senate members (in addition to the Qualifying Exam Chair). These may be from outside the School of Public Health, however they must be within UC Berkeley.
- Additional Qualifying Exam Committee member may be:
- UC Berkeley Academic Senate faculty member
- Approved non-Academic Senate faculty member from inside or outside the School
- Non-Academic Senate members include individuals with the following titles: Acting Assistant Professor, Adjunct Professor, Senior Lecturer/Lecturer without security of employment, Clinical Professor, Staff Scientist, Visiting Professor, Morrey Professor, and Professor from outside UC Berkeley
- Or, one-time non-Academic Senate appointee approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division (see section below on “exceptional appointments”).
- Academic Senate faculty from other UC campuses or from Stanford may serve as committee members without special approval.
- There may be no more than one person in this category on a committee.
- The student should check with the DrPH Program Manager to
determine whether a non-Senate faculty member has received approval from the Graduate Division and to confirm that no additional documentation is required.
- The student should check with the DrPH Program Manager to
Exceptional appointments are required for non-members of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate who have not previously received approval to serve on Qualifying Examination Committees. Requests for exceptional appointment to serve as a member for a single committee entail submitting this information when you apply for the qualifying examination and Advancement to Candidacy through the Higher Degree Committee eForm. The form will be routed to the DrPH program manager and Graduate Division for review and approval. The request for a non-academic senate member will be accompanied by the individual’s curriculum vitae and bibliography. If a non-Academic Senate member has been approved previously for a single committee service and has no blanket approval, it is imperative that the GCMT position (i.e., “GCMT Professor” “GCMT Assoc Professor”) must reflect the professors senate role at their host institution through the Higher Degree Committee eform in the committee section. If the prospective appointee is a lecturer or is not regularly affiliated with this campus, the request is to be accompanied by a statement that the service will be performed without stipend.
In preparation for the exam, the student should meet at least once with each committee member to clarify expectations for what they are expected to prepare for the exam. Students should prepare a preliminary reading list in each area of expertise as a starting point for this discussion with each of their Qualifying Exam committee members. Committee members may request additional readings in preparation for the exam.
The dissertation prospectus is developed by the student in consultation with their
Dissertation chair, Qualifying Exam chair, and other committee members. It provides a description of the proposed research question(s), a concise background and literature review that clearly describes how the student’s proposed project builds on previous work and justifies the need for the study, and a description of the proposed methodological approach that will be used to answer the research question(s). The dissertation prospectus should be given to the Qualifying Exam committee chair and the exam committee members well in advance of the Qualifying Exam date (no less than six weeks prior is recommended) so that exam committee members have ample time to provide feedback and the student has time to incorporate that feedback into a revised prospectus prior to the examination. Once the prospectus has been approved, it should be submitted to the DrPH Program Manager to be added to the program’s prospectus library.
The qualifying examination includes questions to focus the discussion on core and chosen subject areas in addition to the content of the dissertation prospectus. The qualifying exam is designed in part to test the student’s knowledge of and familiarity with conceptual, methodological, substantive, and related areas necessary for successful completion of the dissertation project and research questions as outlined in the prospectus. The student should prepare a short presentation of their prospectus for the beginning of the exam (typically 20 minutes or less). The majority of discussion during the qualifying exam will focus on the student’s chosen subject areas. Because the student will have completed course work in at least four DrPH core areas (management, research design and methods, public health ethics, and leadership) as well as two of the four breadth areas (health politics and policy analysis, public health interventions, global health sciences, and environmental health sciences), they should expect to be tested in these areas as well. The exam generally concludes with questions about the conceptual and methodological approaches in the proposed dissertation research.
The Qualifying Examination (prospectus and qualifying exam) should be completed by the end of spring semester of the second year or at the beginning of the fall semester of the third year at the latest. In cases where this is not possible, the student and the Chair of the Qualifying Exam Committee are required to submit a letter to the DrPH Program Directors justifying the need for an extension to complete the Qualifying Exam. In the event of this approval, students are required to advance to candidacy before the end of the first semester of their third academic year. See section below on Advancement to Candidacy.
Applying for the Qualifying Exam
Students must apply to take the qualifying examination no later than three weeks before the exam date is scheduled as the Graduate Division requires time to review the application. Students must list on their applications at least three subject areas to be covered during the examination. The Graduate Division is unable to approve applications that do not contain this information.
The application is available in the Higher Degree Committee eForm. Students may not take the exam before being notified that admission to the exam has been approved. The application and any necessary requests for DrPH Qualifying Examination exception must be submitted in Calcentral within the Higher Degree Committee eForm.
Students should contact the DrPH Program Manager one month before submitting their Higher Degrees Committee eForm to ensure that the Graduate Division requirements are met. Following approval, a student’s eligibility to take the Qualifying Exam is valid for 18 months. Eligibility continues even if the student fails an exam, but is recommended for reexamination. However, if the student does not take the examination during the 18 month approval period, they must file a new application to schedule an exam.
Scheduling the Qualifying Exam
To schedule the examination, students should confer with their Qualifying Exam Committee Chair to determine their dates of availability and then confer with their remaining committee members to determine a date that works for all. Students should also set exam dates that allow for adequate preparation time for studying their subject areas, meetings with committee members, and dissertation prospectus revisions based on feedback from Qualifying Exam committee members. Once an exam date has been set, students should complete the Qualifying Exam Room Reservation Form found on the DrPH website to reserve a room for both a practice session with peers and for the actual exam.
One week before the exam date, the DrPH Program Manager will give the Qualifying Exam Chair the student’s transcript and information regarding the time, date, and location of the examination. On the morning of the examination, the committee will receive the Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination document to sign when the student passes the exam. Following the qualifying examination, the DrPH Program Manager will collect signatures from committee members via Docusign and transmit the signed Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination to Berkeley Graduate Division.
COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students on scheduling qualifying examinations in the midst of COVID-19. Please check back frequently as updates will be made on an ongoing basis. For the latest campus news regarding COVID-19, please visit the, COVID-19 Resources page.
Format of the Qualifying Exam
Although the Qualifying Exam Chair is at liberty to establish the format of the exam session, they typically discuss this with the student. Please see the standard format below:
- The exam takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, sometimes with a break in the middle.
- At the beginning of the exam, the Chair asks the student to leave the room for a few minutes, during which time the Chair invites committee members to offer their assessment and to review the student’s file if needed. The Chair facilitates discussion during this and each subsequent part of the examination.
- The student is then invited back into the room and asked to talk briefly (3-5 minutes) about their background and interests and then provide a short formal presentation (15 minutes) on their dissertation prospectus.
- The chair then invites examiners, typically in the order that the student has requested, to take about 25 minutes each to ask their questions. This period is dedicated to a demonstration of expertise in the relevant field areas defined by the student with consultation from committee members, the prospectus, and DrPH core competencies.
- At the conclusion of the questioning, the student is again asked to leave the room while the examiners discuss their reactions to the student’s demonstrated knowledge and command of the material and decide whether they should receive a pass, partial failure, or failure.
- The student is then invited back into the room, the chair reports the committee’s decision, and they facilitate discussion of additional feedback on the dissertation prospectus. (Note: “ A “partial failure” should include clear delineation by committee members of what the student will need to do to receive a pass. A “failure” includes either a recommendation for reexamination, or a recommendation for no further examination). Please see Graduate Division guidelines on qualifying exam grading policy.
- Following the qualifying examination, the committee will submit their signatures on the Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination.The DrPH Program Manager will submit the final report to Graduate Division.
The exam must be held with the entire committee present for the length of the exam. If a committee member cannot attend, the exam should be rescheduled, or the committee should be reconstituted. Students may not be examined privately by committee members.
If for any reason a committee member or student needs to reschedule, please reach out to the DrPH Program Manager for assistance in rescheduling. If an emergency, such as an illness or an accident, occurs just before the exam, the committee chair should call the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division to explain the problem and request permission to conduct the exam under special circumstances. (Graduate Dean’s Office, (510) 642- 5472; Hours 9 AM – Noon and 1 PM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday).
A committee member who is absent for more than half the exam must write a memo to the Graduate Division’s Associate Dean explaining the reason for the absence and presenting an opinion of the student’s performance on topics covered during the time the committee member attended the exam.
If a student fails to appear for the Qualifying Examination, both the committee chair and the student should submit reports to the Graduate Division’s Associate Dean as soon as possible. The Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council may rule failure to appear at the scheduled time as a failed examination.
Writing and filing your doctoral dissertation is one of the final steps leading to the award of your graduate degree. Your manuscript is a scholarly presentation of the results of the research you conducted at the School of Public Health. UC Berkeley upholds the tradition that you have an obligation to make your research available to other scholars. This is done when you submit your dissertation for publishing through the ProQuest online administration system and the Graduate Division forwards your manuscript to the University Library. Your dissertation is subsequently published online in the UC-system’s scholarship repository (eScholarship) and made available within ProQuest/UMI after your doctoral degree is officially conferred by the Academic Senate. Your dissertation committee supervises the intellectual content of your manuscript, and your committee chair will guide you on the arrangement within the text and reference sections of your manuscript. For this reason, students should be selective in constituting the dissertation committee and dissertation committee chair.
Constituting the Dissertation Committee
The dissertation committee requires a minimum of three faculty members: a chair, an academic senate representative, and an additional member. The committee can be larger if the student and Faculty Advisor agree that inviting more members would contribute to the quality of the dissertation. Students should also consult with their Faculty Advisor concerning appropriate members of the faculty to serve on the dissertation committee. Students are expected to speak directly with prospective dissertation committee members about their willingness to serve.
The Dissertation Committee is composed of three faculty members: a chair, an Academic Senate representative and one additional member.
- The Dissertation Chair must be a member of the Berkeley Academic Senate from the School of Public Health.
- Senate members include individuals with the following titles: Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Professor Emeritus, Professor in Residence, University Professor, Senior Lecturer with security of employment, and Lecturer with security of employment.
- The Dissertation Chair cannot serve as the Qualifying Exam Chair for the same student.
- Two Co-Chairs may replace one chair.
- The committee must include at least one Academic Senate member (in addition to the Dissertation Chair) This may be from outside the School of Public Health, however they must be within UC Berkeley.
- Additional Dissertation Committee member may be:
- UC Berkeley Academic Senate faculty members
- Approved non-Academic Senate faculty members from inside or outside the School
- Or, one-time non-Academic Senate appointees approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division (see section below on “exceptional appointments”).
- Academic Senate faculty from other UC campuses or from Stanford may serve as committee members without special approval.
To learn more about the configuration of the Dissertation Committee, please see the Graduate Division policy guidelines. The proposed Dissertation Committee is reviewed by the DrPH Program Manager prior to submission to the Dean of the Graduate Division for approval. The Graduate Division will notify the student and the committee members of the official Dissertation Committee.
Approved non-Academic Senate faculty are faculty who have received approval for service on Dissertation Committees by the Dean of the Graduate Division. The student should check with the DrPH Program Manager to determine whether a non-Senate faculty member has received approval from the Graduate Division and to confirm that no additional documentation is required.
Exceptional appointments are required for non-members of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate who have not previously received approval to serve on Dissertation Committees. Requests for exceptional appointment to serve as a member for a single committee entail submitting this information when you apply for the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy through the Higher Degree Committee eForm. The form will be routed to the DrPH program manager and Graduate Division for review and approval. The request for a non-academic senate member will be accompanied by the individual’s curriculum vitae and bibliography. If a non-Academic Senate member has been approved previously for a single committee service and has no blanket approval, it is imperative that the GCMT position (i.e., “GCMT Professor” “GCMT Assoc Professor”) must reflect the professors senate role at their host institution through the Higher Degree Committee eform in the committee section. If the prospective appointee is a lecturer or is not regularly affiliated with this campus, the request is to be accompanied by a statement that the service will be performed without stipend.
Advancement to Candidacy
To advance to candidacy, a student must apply through CalCentral via the Higher Degree Committee eForm. This form should not be submitted until the final dissertation prospectus and the timeline for completion of the dissertation have been approved by the Dissertation Committee Chair and the Dissertation Committee members. A $90 Advancement to Candidacy Fee is required; revenue from this fee is used to support graduate student professional development. The advancement form should be filed no later than the end of the semester following the one in which the student passed the Qualifying Examination. Examinations more than five years old are not accepted as representing current knowledge.
When doctoral students have advanced to candidacy, the Graduate Division emails students a letter that includes information on writing a dissertation, finding financial support for research and writing, and using campus resources during this new phase of doctoral study (Graduate Degrees Office, 642-7330). Additional information regarding academic skill building workshops are available on the Graduate Division website.
Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy for the doctorate receive a 100 percent reduction in the annual nonresident tuition for a maximum of three calendar years (calculated from the semester after which they advanced), whether registered or not. Any nonresident student who enrolls after the three-year calendar period will be charged the full nonresident tuition rate at that time.
To qualify for this reduction, the application for doctoral advancement must be received in the Graduate Services Degrees Unit by the first day of instruction of the semester for which the reduced tuition is assessed. Students who plan to file the application on the deadline day should be prepared to pay at least 20 percent of their assessed fees by the first fee payment deadline. For the reduced fee to be reflected in CalCentral, however, students should apply for advancement at least 6-8 weeks before the beginning of the semester to allow sufficient processing time.
Each semester after advancement to candidacy, students should register for 12 units of independent research with their Dissertation Committee Chair. The course number for independent research is Public Health 299. Your Dissertation Committee Chair must send an email to the program manager at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to request a Course Enrollment Number.
In most instances, the dissertation is completed prior to the end of the fourth year. As part of their DrPH Dissertation, the student is expected to examine, analyze, and suggest solutions to a problem in public health practice. The Dissertation format typically takes one of two forms: (1) a unified thesis or (2) three publishable papers based on research bracketed by introductory, transitional, and concluding sections with the papers.
Doctoral Candidacy Review
The Graduate Council of the Academic Senate requires a Doctoral Candidacy Review to be completed each year for all doctoral students after they advance to candidacy until they complete their program. Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy will be able to complete their Doctoral Candidacy Review online through Calcentral.
The Doctoral Candidacy Review is designed to assist doctoral students and their dissertation chair to stay on track with advising and other supportive activities to help facilitate the completion of doctoral work in a timely manner.
For additional information, please visit the Doctoral Candidacy Review website.
Acceptable dissertation projects are broadly defined to reflect the historic and current interests of UC Berkeley DrPH students. The Dissertation is problem or opportunity focused. The goal is to identify an important public health problem or opportunity and develop an appropriate solution or strategy.
As such, the results might be targeted at public health practitioners at the local, county, state, and international level in governmental and non-governmental roles; healthcare decision-makers; policy makers across sectors and industries whose work has health impacts, etc. with specific information to inform, improve, and revise existing programs or initiate new, needed, or especially effective programs.
Examples of dissertation research approaches include but are not limited to: examination of the health status of a group, evaluation or other critical assessment of an intervention or policy being promoted or implemented, analysis of management issues, analysis of health policy or practice issues, assessment of community assets, transdisciplinary research, framing of public health problems, community based participatory research, epidemiologic studies, and methodological contributions.
Should the student and/or the student’s Dissertation Committee have any question as to whether the student’s research approach is appropriate for a problem or opportunity focused Dissertation, the question should be forwarded to the DrPH Program Directors for their opinions. If the approach is found to be an exception, a formal request for exception must be approved by the student’s Dissertation Committee and the DrPH Program Directors. The average dissertation length is between 50 and 250 pages long, with the median being about 150 pages. Shorter or longer dissertations may need to be justified to the Graduate Division.
Format of the Dissertation
The format of the Dissertation will be one of three options: a standard Dissertation, the three-paper option, or an alternate single Dissertation format acceptable to the student’s Dissertation Committee.
A standard Dissertation incorporates the following specified content:
- Statement of the public health problem or opportunity and the resulting research question
- Critical review of the scientific literature relevant to that problem or opportunity
- Conceptual framework that includes the relevant social, scientific, economic, political, environmental, human rights, administrative, and/or cultural context
- Description of the study design or data sources and analytic methods used to answer the research question
- Analytic results and their implications for the problem or opportunity under study
- Recommendations based on the results of the study » Strategy for implementing and evaluating the recommendations, taking into consideration the contextual factors identified in the conceptual framework
The three-paper option format will include three articles of publishable quality along with (1) a separate introduction and (2) an integrative conclusion section. The three papers will be written in the format required by peer-reviewed journals identified by the student and approved by their Dissertation Committee. Dissertation Committees may require additional documentation to assess the student’s work (e.g., extended methods section). This additional work should be part of the integrating documents and not the individual articles which should be of publishable length and content. Exceptions may be sought to substitute an alternate product for one of the papers. The exception process will include approvals by the student’s Dissertation committee and the DrPH Program Directors.
Alternate single dissertation formats (e.g., a book) are acceptable if approved by the student’s Dissertation Committee. There will be no final dissertation defense. Students may be asked to present their dissertation findings in a forum sponsored by the DrPH Program either in the semester they graduate or within a year after graduating. The presentation is not a requirement for graduation.
For more information on writing and filing your dissertation, please visit the Graduate Division website.
International Travel and Field Research
During the course of their dissertation research, some students may consider traveling internationally to collect data. For all international travel, students must register their travel with UC Away. Travel registration is required so that in the event of an emergency, the university will know where you are. To learn more about travel requirements, please see the Global Engagement Office’s International Travel page.
For students planning to conduct field research, they should refer to the Office of Environment, Health, & Safety’s Field Research page. This page contains helpful resources for students intending to work and conduct research outdoors, off-campus, and abroad.
Filing the Dissertation
To file a dissertation, students must be registered or on approved filing fee status for the semester in which they file for fall or spring.
Registration Requirement for Filing Fee
Students must be registered or on approved Filing Fee status to be eligible to file for a degree in either the spring or fall term. Students will need approval from their Chair and the Program Directors to go on filing fee. The Filing Fee can be found in Special Enrollment eForm in CalCentral. Students registered in spring, who have not previously used their filing fee, may file during summer sessions for a summer degree. Academic Senate regulations state that in order to receive a degree in any given term, all work for the degree must be completed by the last day of the term.
Eligibility Requirements for the Filing Fee
To use the Filing Fee in a fall semester, the student must have been registered in the previous spring or summer. To use the Filing Fee in spring, the student must have been registered in the previous fall.
If a student has fees that have not been paid by the end of a semester, the student may be removed from the degree list for that semester. If this happens, the student will need to be reinstated as a registered student prior to the degree being awarded.
Eligibility for Summer Filing
Filing during the summer has different eligibility requirements. If you were fully registered during the immediately preceding Spring semester, and have not used Filing Fee already, you may file your dissertation during the summer with no additional cost or application required. Summer is defined as the period from the day after the Spring semester ends (mid-May) until the last day of the Summer Sessions (mid-August).
If you have already used Filing Fee previously, or were not registered the preceding Spring semester, you will need to register in at least 1.0 unit in Summer Sessions in order to file.
Dissertations filed during the summer will result in a summer degree conferral.
You must be advanced to candidacy, and in good standing (not lapsed), in order to file.
For International Students
International students completing a degree in the Summer should consult the Berkeley International Office before finalizing plans, as in some cases lack of Summer enrollment could impact visa status or post-completion employment.
Eligibility Requirements for Walking in Graduation
Students must confer with their Dissertation Chair and then submit a request to walk to the Program Directors for approval.
Student Handbook Archive
- 2022–2023 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2021–2022 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2019–2020 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2018–2019 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2017–2018 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)