Desired leadership and educational model of the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program from the perspective of DrPH students and alumni: A qualitative study

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

American Public Health Association (APHA) 2022 Annual Meeting & Expo

Conference Location

Boston, MA


The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program in the United States is a practice-based terminal degree that educates future leaders and practitioners in the field of public health. However, over the past century, it has been challenging to establish a distinct educational model for the DrPH degree. Current and future DrPH leaders are expected to apply essential skill sets learned in the DrPH degree to leadership practices and research in multi-level entities.
To discuss the direction of the DrPH’s leadership and education model, we conducted a total of 15 online focus group discussions (FGDs) with DrPH students and alumni via Zoom (total participants: 50; average duration of FGD: 78 minutes). Themes were extracted from both inductive and deductive reasoning.
From FGDs, three themes were identified to improve the current education model for DrPHers. First, the identity and purpose of a DrPH degree should be further clarified to establish its recognition among the public. Second, the majority of participants suggested the standardization of the DrPH’s core curriculum across the country. Third, while research method courses are still needed, trans-disciplinarity practice-based training with external multi-level stakeholders should be provided.
Active discussions among DrPH institutions are expected to be initiated to further strengthen the DrPH structure and curriculum for providing a high quality of standardized public health practice training that can create a common identity and expectation of a DrPH degree.


Public Health and Recreation