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 Berkeley DrPH program is rigorous; applicants must hold an MPH from a CEPH-accredited school and have a minimum of two years or more of professional public health experience post-master’s degree showing progressive responsibility and evidence of leadership potential.
The DrPH program is a full-time campus-based program of study designed to be completed in three or four years for those applicants with an MPH from a CEPH-accredited institution and at least two years of postgraduate professional public health leadership experience. Any students with deficiencies in coursework equivalent in content to the MPH at UC Berkeley must take prerequisite courses either before starting the program or during the first year of the program.
Students will participate in an integrative doctoral training program that incorporates knowledge and skills from all divisions of the School of Public Health as well as the Schools of Education, Public Policy, Social Welfare and the Haas School of Business. The required course work consists of 4 full-time semesters (48 units) and a minimum of 12 units of dissertation research credits. This course work encompasses a thorough grounding in leadership, research methods and the application of these methods to the analysis of public health and policy issues. Students must fulfil all the course requirements from the Council on Education for Public Health CEPH specific competencies listed in the Student Handbook. Due to the diverse experience each student brings to the program, it is expected that students will also select courses and independent studies that advance their knowledge and ultimately their proficiency in all of the core and breadth knowledge areas listed below.
- Public Health Ethics
- Health Politics and Policy Analysis
- Public Health Interventions
- Global Health Sciences
- Research Design and Methods
Each student is also required to complete a research and/or professional residency in a public health setting that will provide the opportunity to advance knowledge and skills, identify data for dissertation research, conduct analyses and participate in decision making. Examples include: positions with local, state, or national legislatures, international agencies, city, county and state departments of public health or health services, policy think-tanks, multi-hospital systems and large health maintenance organizations.
As part of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, DrPH students are eligible to take elective classes at other schools within the University including the Haas School of Business, Goldman School of Public Policy, City Planning, Journalism and others.
The DrPH program is a full-time professional degree program with a residency requirement. For this reason, the program is not recommended for persons who want to continue to work full-time. Overall, the program averages 3-4 years in length. There are no online or night courses available. The first two years of the program are primarily devoted to required coursework.
UC Berkeley DrPH graduates are employed in leading universities, policy research centers and “think tanks” across the country and internationally.
The DrPH is a professional degree program designed primarily for students interested in occupying leadership positions in the field. However, the program includes coursework in research methods, academic mentorship and completion of a dissertation involving the conducting of original research on a problem of public health importance. A number of graduates of the DrPH have gone on to accept university teaching positions or positions as full time researchers in academic or other scholarly settings. Although there is no specific “academic track” within the DrPH, students interested in teaching and research should choose as electives additional coursework in theory and research methods and undertake a dissertation consistent with such a career choice.
Applicants must hold a master’s OR doctoral degree in the health sciences or in another related field or non-US equivalent degree and have a minimum of two years or more of professional public health experience post-master’s degree, showing progressive responsibility and evidence of leadership potential. Questions about the applicability of a prior master’s or doctoral degree towards this requirement should be directed to the program office.
A Statement of Purpose is required, that explains how the DrPH program would help build on prior experiences and contribute to his or her career goals. Identify possible topics and research areas you may want to focus on for the dissertation project.
DrPH applicants are also required to provide a writing sample. Writing samples should be no more than 7,000 words in length and examples can include: publications in peer-reviewed journals on which you were the sole or first author, papers written for a graduate course, media pieces, or reports written for public agencies.
We look at an application in its entirety to determine a person’s strengths and relative fit to our program; available advisors, areas of research interest and academic history are important considerations as is research work experience. Letters of recommendation are also carefully reviewed.
DrPH Dates, Deadlines and Timeline
Go to the Berkeley Public Health Graduate Admissions Dates and Deadlines page for general application information and instructions.
Some dates and deadlines are specific to the application process for the DrPH program:
The supporting document deadline is December 15th.
The admission committee’s review of applications is conducted December—February. Members of the committee may contact applicants during this review period to arrange for phone interviews.
Interviews for admission are conducted on an ad hoc basis – not receiving a request for an interview is not indicative of an admissions decision and vice versa.
Communication of offers are typically sent in early March. Final decisions may be made as late as the end of April.
The Admissions Committee will begin reviewing applications in mid-January; decisions are generally made by the beginning of March. Final decisions may be made as late as the end of April.
The academic year begins in the fall; spring admission is not permitted.
For applicants who have been offered admission
The DrPH Program typically hosts a Spring Visit Day in mid-March for those candidates who have been offered admission. There are also department and campus events held to inform prospective students of what they can expect as a graduate student at UC Berkeley.
The UC Berkeley Graduate Division and the DrPH Program do not allow for deferred admission. We recommend that you update your CV, obtain at least one new letter of recommendation and reapply.
Non-admitted and Waitlisted Candidates
Some applicants who are not admitted are encouraged to reapply the ensuing year to allow for additional coursework and/or relevant research experiences.
Waitlisted candidates will receive information about their final status on or before June 1. Some of our best students were originally on the waitlist for admission before receiving their offer of admission. We regret the inconvenience and ask for your patience during this process.
The faculty listed here teach the DrPH seminars and provide mentoring and advising to all DrPH students. In addition, faculty throughout the School work with DrPH students as advisers, mentors and Qualifying Exam and dissertation committee members.
Sometimes faculty are unable to respond to prospective students’ queries about mentorship prior to admissions decisions because the admissions committee is responsible for making recommendations for admitted students’ assigned advisors. Applicants with an interest in working with a particular faculty member should indicate this in their applications.
Denise Herd PhD
Professor, Behavioral Sciences
Jennifer Lachance DrPH
Lecturer, Doctor of Public Health Program
Rachel Morello-Frosch PhD, MPH
Professor, Environmental Health Sciences; Community Health Sciences
Linda Neuhauser DrPH, MPH
Clinical Professor, Community Health Sciences
Amani M. Allen PhD, MPH
Executive Associate Dean, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Stefano M. Bertozzi MD, PhD
Professor, Health Policy and Management