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DrPH Degree Requirements

The Tufts DrPH program is based on a framework that reflects the competencies required by a leader in public health. The curriculum, which is flexible to the interests and background of the student, is designed to give the student the advanced skills necessary to synthesize and apply scientific, biomedical, and public health knowledge and research to improve the health of populations. The curriculum is comprised of three phases: An academic phase of required and elective courses; a practicum phase consisting of a public health apprenticeship; and a dissertation phase.

Academic Phase

 (42 course credits)

To fulfill the requirements for the DrPH degree the student will complete 42 course-credits. A wide variety of elective courses are available within the Public Health Program and through other graduate and professional schools at Tufts University. To meet the need for public health professionals with interdisciplinary training, students are encouraged to diversify their curriculum by taking elective courses offered at other schools within Tufts University including the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Fletcher Graduate School of International Affairs, and the Tufts School of Engineering.  Students may also take courses through the Tufts consortium agreement with Boston College, Boston University, and Brandeis University. 

Practicum Phase

(0 credits)

One of the distinctions between a traditional PhD and the DrPH program is the focus on public health practice. To that end, DrPH students will be required to complete at least one public health apprenticeship with a qualified public health practitioner/mentor. This practicum will provide the student with a structured opportunity to master competencies needed to support their future careers as public health leaders. The number of specific apprenticeships undertaken will be determined by the student and his/her advisor. Students may achieve all of the required competencies over a single apprenticeship.  Alternatively, mastery of these competencies may be achieved through several apprenticeships. The practicum phase will generally begin during the first year of studies and must be completed before admission to DrPH candidacy.

DrPH Comprehensive and Qualifying Examination

Continuation in the program is conditional upon satisfactory performance on the DrPH comprehensive examination and doctoral qualifying examination. The DrPH comprehensive examination will typically be taken at the end of the first two-semesters of course work. The objective of the DrPH comprehensive examination is to determine if the student has mastered the knowledge and skill set required of a professional with doctoral level training.  Upon completion of the Academic and Practicum phases, students will write a DrPH qualifying examination. The objective of the qualifying examination is to determine if the student possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully conduct the research required for the dissertation phase of the program. 

Admission to DrPH Candidacy

A student will be admitted to candidacy for the DrPH degree upon successful completion of the required coursework, practicum, comprehensive and qualifying examinations. 

Dissertation Phase

 (0 credits)

A dissertation is required for the DrPH degree. This phase of training will commence once the student has gained admission to candidacy.

Each doctoral student will be assigned an academic advisor upon enrollment into the program.  Academic advisors will assist the student in the selection of courses, the practicum placement, and the early planning of the dissertation research.  At the time the student advances to candidacy, the dissertation advisor, who may or may not be the same faculty member as the academic advisor, will take on the key advising and mentoring role.

Within 3 months of successful admission into DrPH candidacy, the student will develop a concept paper, called a letter of intent (LOI). The LOI will be submitted to the Doctoral Program Steering Committee for review and approval. The LOI will include the membership of the student’s proposed dissertation committee. Once the LOI has been approved by the Doctoral Program Steering Committee, the student’s dissertation committee will oversee further development and implementation of the dissertation.

Within six months of admission to candidacy, and with the guidance of the dissertation committee, the student will develop a dissertation proposal. This dissertation proposal will be defended before the dissertation committee, the faculty and student community. 

The written dissertation document will take one of two forms depending on the nature of the scholarly work, but should be of publishable quality and must demonstrate rigorous analytic strategies. It will the form of either: (1) a unified traditional dissertation, or (2) three publishable papers plus, at a minimum, introduction, literature review and conclusion chapters.  Upon completion of the written doctoral dissertation, the student will defend the dissertation before their dissertation committee, the faculty and student community. Upon successful defense of the dissertation, the student will have completed the requirements for the DrPH degree.



DrPH Program Director & Staff

Janet Forrester, PhD
Associate Director

Janet Walton, MA
Assistant Dean, Public Health & Professional Degree Programs