2022–2023 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 focus of this degree is the development of transdisciplinary knowledge about the determinants of health and the scientific and professional leadership skills to translate this knowledge into effective health interventions.
Those who earn this degree are expected to occupy leadership positions that have major influence on public health research, policies, programs, systems and institutions. Such leadership may be in diverse traditional and nontraditional settings at the international, national, state, or local levels and in the public, private and academic sectors.
The DrPH Program offers a unique opportunity to gain a breadth and depth of skills and expertise in research, policy, practice, leadership, theory, and new and emerging areas of public health. The mission of the DrPH degree 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. It is our hope that students who earn this degree will advance to leadership positions in diverse settings at the international, national, state, and local levels and in the public, private, and academic sectors.
Through these leadership positions, our graduates will have meaningful and significant influence on present and future public health practice, research, policies, programs, systems, and institutions.
Upon satisfactory completion of the DrPH curriculum, graduates will able to demonstrate the following competencies:
- The ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively with scholars and practitioners from both academic disciplines and non-academic fields to develop and use innovative conceptual and methodological approaches that synthesize and broaden discipline- specific perspectives; integrate knowledge across disciplines, sectors and populations; work with community members to translate research findings into practice; and work with researchers and other academics to bring the voices of community members to the design, development, and implementation of research agendas (Transdisciplinary and Translational Research and Practice).
- The ability to apply multiple theoretical and methodological approaches to explore, describe, and analyze public health problems at an advanced level; synthesize and apply evidence-based research and theory from a broad range of disciplines and health-related data sources; initiate, organize, and pursue the investigation of significant problems in public health practice, policy, and theory; and critically review relevant literature (Research Design and Methods).
- The ability to analyze issues and problems in public health; use critical evaluation, applied research methodology, and statistical methods effectively; clarify, address, and analyze important gaps in scientific knowledge; propose alternative explanations for research phenomena; and demonstrate critical thinking and mastery of concepts and theories in at least one area of concentration (Critical Analysis).
- The ability to identify, analyze, and discuss ethical principles; offer a clear understanding of how one balances the claims of personal liberty with the responsibility to protect and improve the health of the population; develop and articulate an ethical framework; and apply the ethical concepts of social justice and human rights in public health research and practice (Professionalism and Ethics).
- The ability to articulate a philosophy for professional leadership in public health; demonstrate leadership skills in public health practice; formulate and communicate a shared vision; advocate for important changes; inspire trust; and motivate others to achieve a shared vision (Leadership).
- The ability to compare and critique organizational and management theories, perspectives, and debates; apply organizational and management theories to develop and test strategies to improve organizational performance in health care delivery, public health, and other health-related settings; evaluate and analyze the organizational and system factors that facilitate or impede the adoption of evidence-based interventions; and pose relevant research questions informed by theoretical and conceptual models in organizational and management science (Program/Policy Management).
- The ability to identify, describe, and translate community and cultural issues that affect people’s lives and health; apply that understanding to design contextually-specific research, programs, and interventions; and utilize skills to conduct participatory processes that engage diverse groups in communities in culturally relevant and sensitive ways in both research and practice (Community and Cultural Comprehension).
- The ability to articulate the breadth and depth of social, economic, and health inequities domestically and globally that contribute to and influence health and health outcomes and to design, develop, evaluate, and implement multi-sector approaches that promote programs and policies related to the health of populations in diverse communities and country settings (Addressing Social and Health Inequities Domestically/Globally).
These competencies are met through several programmatic requirements:
- Participation in all required and elective courses necessary for completion of DrPH degree requirements as defined by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health faculty 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.
- Participation in a research residency or professional residency in a public health setting in which the student has the opportunity to advance knowledge and leadership skills, identify data for dissertation research, conduct analyses, and participate in decision-making.
- Preparation for and completion of the Qualifying Examination to demonstrate the student’s knowledge, integration, and application of theory, methods, and substantive knowledge in preparation for the Dissertation.
- Submitting a Human Subjects protocol which must be filed and approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects on the Berkeley Campus prior to initiating any Dissertation-related research.
- Completion of a Dissertation that is designed to focus on the analysis and/or solution of a problem or opportunity in public health practice.
Graduates of the DrPH Program will be able to achieve and demonstrate expertise in the following major academic outcomes:
- Develop domain expertise and professional leadership skills in public health practice.
- Understand critical theoretical frameworks that shape social, economic, and health inequities domestically and globally.
- Demonstrate substantive knowledge of relevant public health problems and interventions sufficient to design and teach graduate level courses.
- Demonstrate ability to conduct rigorous quantitative research.
- Plan and conduct independent research using advanced research methods.
- Master academic and grant writing, conference presentation, IRB procedures, and ethics in research.
- Foster cohesion and intellectual exchange among students and faculty across the university to enhance interdisciplinary research and training.
The minimum requirements for admission into the DrPH Program normally include an MPH or Master’s degree from an accredited school of public health, or equivalent, and two years or more of professional experience in public health (post-master’s degree) that demonstrate progressive responsibility and evidence of leadership potential. Some exceptions to the two-year post-master’s work requirement may be made under special circumstances. Students with a master’s or a higher degree outside the field of public health who have not taken the following required courses or equivalent during their MPH (or other relevant graduate program) will be required to take them during the DrPH program, in addition to the minimum 48 units required for the DrPH.
- 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 may request to be exempted from a course if they can present evidence of an equivalent course in their previous degree. If these courses are required, they must be taken for a letter grade during the first academic year and will not count towards the 48 unit requirement for doctoral coursework.
Students must receive a B- or better in the above core courses.
Required Courses for Students Admitted Fall 2018 or Before
Students must complete a minimum of 4 full-time semesters of coursework (48 units not counting prerequisites for non-MPH students) and a minimum of 12 units of Dissertation research credits. In addition to the required core and breadth courses listed below, DrPH students are required to attend the appropriate DrPH doctoral seminars offered each semester during their time in the program. 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.
A minimum of one course is required in each of these areas:
- Leadership (Note: PB HLTH 293 does not count towards this requirement)*
- Public Health Ethics
These courses are all electives. They are suggested academic paths of student areas of interests:
- Health Politics and Policy Analysis
- Public Health Interventions
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Global Health Sciences
A minimum of two courses is required in this area:
- Research Design and Methods
Required Courses for Students Admitted Fall 2019 or After
(Note that this set of requirements applies ONLY to students admitted for Fall 2019 and after.)
Students must complete a minimum of 4 full-time semesters of coursework (48 units not counting prerequisites for non-MPH students) 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.
- PH W200 Foundations of Public Health Practice* (1st Semester) (1 unit)
- PB HLTH 290 Foundations in Public Health Leadership and Practice (3 units)
- PB HLTH 205 Program Planning and Need Assessment (4 units)
- PB HLTH 375A School-wide Pedagogy course (1st or 2nd Year) (2 units)
- Residency (3 units)
- DrPH Doctoral Seminar each semester; please check with the Program Manager for the specific course number (3 units)
- Foundations (1 unit)
- Public Health Ethics (3 units)
- Research Design and Methods (2 courses)
These courses are all electives. They are suggested academic paths of student areas of interests:
- Health Politics and Policy Analysis
- Public Health Interventions
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Global Health Sciences
- Research Design and Methods
* Students must complete PB HLTH W200 in their first semester, if they do not currently have an MPH.
Requirements for All Students
Student Academic Review
The Student Academic Review is designed to assist doctoral students to stay on track with advising and other supportive activities to help facilitate the completion of doctoral work in a timely manner. Students will be asked to describe informally, where they are in the educational process and if there are any issues that could present a potential barrier to advancement. The purpose of the review is to help us provide you with resources and assistance you may require. The DrPH Academic Reviews are held in late October and late February each year.
Third Year Seminar Requirement
All students in residence in their third year (or beyond) are required to attend the DrPH 3+ seminar. Students on Filing Fee, conducting research out of the area for a sufficient amount of time, or so close to filing that attendance would hinder their continued progress may be exempted from this requirement with the written approval of the Program Directors.
Students may also opt out of the 3+ seminar by enrolling in another doctoral seminar or by written approval of the advisor and the Program Directors. All requests for an exception for the enrollment requirement 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 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.
One of the nation’s major public health objectives is to enhance and maintain the health, vitality, and independence of its aging population. The Specialty Area in Aging gives students the opportunity to learn about these challenges. [Currently not active, but will keep you posted if any further changes arise.]
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.
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.
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health – Paused until 2023
The field of maternal, child, and adolescent health aims to promote and protect the health status and well-being of women, infants, children, adolescents, and their families. The Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Specialty Area furthers this goal through excellence in training, research, continuing education, service, and advocacy. This speciality is not accepting applicants for the 2022-23 Academic Year.
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.
Public Health Nutrition
Nutrition-related problems in the United States and globally need the expertise and leadership of well-trained public health professionals. The Public Health Nutrition Specialty Area has been developed to train a workforce with strong leadership skills and the competencies to address complex issues and problems relating to public health nutrition.
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 the your Academic Progress Report (APR) in CalCentral >> My Academics for a complete course.
provides guidance about what courses have already been approved by the faculty to count for satisfying 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 will allow students to petition to have a course not listed on the Academic Progress Report be considered for credit. Please submit it 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 (for the 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 to Year 2 DrPH seminar
- Participate in Mock-Oral presentations in Year 2 DrPH seminar.
- Complete all required coursework
- Complete Qualifying Exam (goal: end of Year 2)
- Following the Qualifying Exam, submit the Advancement to Candidacy 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. It should be signed by your advisor and the Head Graduate Advisor of your Designated Emphasis (if you have one). You should also submit a certification of completion of CITI training if your research involves human subjects and $90 payment in Calcentral. 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 as part of the Year 3 seminar
- Complete Dissertation according to proposed prospectus and timeline
- Secure approval/sign off 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 the DrPH students in the community facilitates relevant, actionable translational research and is one differentiating feature of the DrPH from the PhD programs. The Residency provides an opportunity for students to take on a significant professional challenge, to broaden their leadership perspective, and to 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.
The duration of the Residency must be adequate to meet the learning needs of the student. 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. Even with an exception, in order to satisfy the basic requirement for graduation, students must work at least 20 hours per week for 9 weeks at an approved Residency site. Students requesting a placement of less than 320 hours, but more than 180 hours, must also demonstrate in a written letter that the hours under 320 that they 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.
The Residency activities are under the joint supervision of a designated Preceptor from the organization sponsoring the Residency and the DrPH Field Residency Supervisor. The Residency Preceptor will be an experienced professional working with health issues with expertise in the assigned project areas, experience and status within the organization, and an interest and competence in supervising and mentoring. The Preceptor will also share 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 for the Residency. The course will be taken on a S/U basis. The DrPH Residency process extends from the Fall Semester of the student’s first year through the Fall Semester following completion of the Residency.
DrPH Residency Process
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.
Requests for exception from the Residency requirements must be discussed with the student’s advisor and DrPH Residency Supervisor and must be submitted in writing to the DrPH Program Directors by April 1 of the year the Residency is scheduled to be completed.
Students will develop a draft Residency agreement for their placement by April 1 of the first spring semester. Students will develop this in consultation with their Preceptor and the Field Residency Supervisor.
Students will finalize a Residency agreement during the first two weeks of the Residency in conjunction with the Residency Preceptor, with approval from the Residency Preceptor and 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 will 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 will be retained by the Field Residency Supervisor as part of the student’s record. Students will complete an evaluation of the Residency process (similar to a course evaluation) and provide feedback on the Residency site and Preceptor.
The Preceptor will be asked to provide formal feedback on the student’s performance at the midpoint and the completion of the Residency. When feasible, the Field Residency Supervisor will make a visit to 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. This travel will be dependent on the availability of travel funding. If travel funding is limited, a formal evaluation will occur as necessary through a conference call.
Students will register for Summer Residency units (PB HLTH 297 – Instructor is the Field Residency Supervisor) in the Fall Semester following the Residency. Students will meet with the Field Residency Supervisor during the first month of the Fall Semester following the Residency to review the work/research products of the Residency and debrief on the Residency 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”;
- Have satisfactorily completed all DrPH breadth and core requirements (if admitted before Fall 2019), have satisfactorily completed all DrPH course requirements (if admitted after Fall 2019), 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) an qualifying examination of the student’s depth and breadth of knowledge in his or her 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 member of the Qualifying Exam committee at least once prior to the qualifying 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.
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 his or her 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
Academic Senate Representative
At least two Additional Members
- The Qualifying Examination Committee is composed of four faculty members: a chair, an Academic Senate representative and at least two additional members.
- The Chair of the Committee 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 faculty member who will chair the Dissertation Committee cannot serve as chair of the Qualifying Exam.
- The Qualifying Examination Chair cannot serve as the Dissertation Chair for the same student. The Chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program as defined above
- There cannot be two Co-Chairs for the Qualifying Examination.
- Approved non-Academic Senate faculty are faculty who have received blanket
approval for service on examination 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 blanket approval
from the Graduate Division and to confirm that no additional documentation is
Exceptional appointments are required for non-members of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate who have not previously received blanket 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 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 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 and the field areas, the student should meet at least once with each committee member to clarify expectations for what she or he is expected to prepare for the exam It can be useful for the student to 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 can also request additional readings that the student should cover to prepare their field areas.
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. 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 four 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 will include questions to focus the discussion on core and chosen specialty 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 15 minutes or less). The majority of discussion during the qualifying exam will focus on the student’s areas of expertise and the prospectus. 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), she or he should expect to be tested in these areas as well.
The Qualifying Examination (prospectus and qualifying exam) should be completed by the end of the 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 needs this time to review the application. Students must list on their applications at least three subject areas to be covered during the examination. The Graduate Degrees Office is unable to approve applications that do not contain this information.
The application is available in CalCentral>>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 under My Dashboard > Student Resources > Higher Degree Committee eForm.
Students must contact the DrPH Program Manager in the Office of Student Services & Admissions well before submission of the Application for Admission to the Qualifying Exam to ensure that eform is processed and that 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, he or she 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 his or her 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 field 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.
Two days before the exam date, the administrative staff will give the Qualifying Exam Chair the student’s transcript and the Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination document for the committee to sign when the student passes the exam. Following the Qualifying Examination, the chair will collect signatures from committee members and transmit the signed Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination to the DrPH Program Manager in the Student Services Office.
COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students
Resources for graduate students, on scheduling their qualifying examination in the midst of COVID-19. Please check back frequently, as updates will be made on an ongoing basis. Refer to the central campus resource hub, news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus, for general campus updates and information.
Format of the Qualifying Exam
Although the Qualifying Exam Chair is at liberty to establish the format of the exam session, he or she typically discusses this with the student. The following format is typical:
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 his or her 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 20-25 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 she or he should receive a pass with distinction, pass, conditional pass, partial failure, or no pass.
- The student is then invited back into the room, the chair reports the committee’s decision, and he or she facilitates discussion of additional feedback on the dissertation prospectus. (Note: “Pass with distinction” is normally reserved for the most exceptional combination of written and qualifying examination components. A “conditional pass” should include clear delineation by committee members of what the student will need to do to receive a pass. This conditional pass should be followed up by a written communication by the committee chair to the student and include a proposed timeline and process for completion. Once conditions for a pass are met, the qualifying exam chair will ensure that the forms are signed and submitted to the Program Directors and the Graduate Division.)
- Following the Qualifying Examination, the chair will collect signatures from committee members and transmit the signed Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination to the DrPH Program Manager in the Student Services Office or via email at email@example.com.
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 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.
If the Qualifying Examination is graded as a failure or partial failure, the student has the opportunity to take a second examination if so recommended by the examining committee. If a student is reexamined, the committee for the second examination must be the same as for the first exam.
The second examination must be taken more than three months after the first failed exam. If the student fails the second examination, the student will be dismissed from the DrPH program.
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
Students should consult with their Faculty Advisor concerning appropriate members of the faculty to serve on 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 are expected to speak directly with prospective dissertation committee members about their willingness to serve.
Chair or Co-Chairs
Academic Senate Representative
- The Dissertation Committee Chair of must be a member of the Berkeley Academic Senate from the School of Public Health. If the research is being conducted with a non-Academic Senate faculty member, the two may be listed as co-chairs. The Dissertation Committee Chair cannot be the same person that served as the student’s Qualifying Examination Chair. However, the Qualifying Examination Chair may serve as a student’s Dissertation Co-Chair.
- Two Co-Chairs may replace one chair.
- The Dissertation Chair cannot be the same person who served as the student’s Qualifying Examination Chair. The Qualifying Examination Chair may serve as a student’s Dissertation Co-Chair.
- The Dissertation Chair or Co-Chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program as defined above.
- Additional Dissertation Committee members 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.
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 blanket 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 blanket 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 blanket 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 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 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 in My Dashboard > Student Resources > Higher Degree Committee Form. This form should not be submitted until the final dissertation prospectus and the timeline for completion of the Dissertation have been approved/signed off 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
Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy will be able to complete their Doctoral Candidacy Review online through Calcentral, the graduate student portal.
The Doctoral Candidacy Review, to be completed on an annual basis, 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.
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.
For additional information, please visit the Doctoral Candidacy Review website.
Acceptable Dissertation projects will be broadly defined to reflect the historic and current interests of UC Berkeley DrPH students. The Dissertation will be 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.
Option 1. A standard Dissertation will usually incorporate 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. 20
- 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
Option 2. The three-paper option format will include three articles of publishable quality along with (1) a separate introduction and (2) an integrative conclusions 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. Exception 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.
Option 3. 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 website.
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 Calcentral > My Dashboard > Special Enrollment eform. 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 “dropped from the rolls” and 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 a slightly different set of 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).
International students completing a degree in the Summer should consult Berkeley International Office before finalizing plans, as in some cases lack of Summer enrollment could impact visa status or post-completion employment.
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.
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
- 2021–2022 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2019–2020 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2018–2019 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)
- 2017–2018 DrPH Student Handbook (.pdf)