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1. What differentiates the DrPH from the PhD?

The UIC-SPH DrPH Leadership degree focuses on high level practice leadership. As with the PhD, our DrPH students are expected to master a variety of research related skills. DrPH candidates tend to use these in a broader, more integrated way for problem solving or applied research rather than theoretical or technical analysis in a narrow public health discipline. While some DrPH degree holders choose academia, most graduates pursue careers in public health agencies and programs, applying leadership and analytic skills to evaluate public health issues and programs, to communicate with policy makers and the general public, and to drive change and foster innovation in the public health system.

While some DrPH graduates choose academia, most pursue careers in public health agencies and programs.  Our alums evaluate public health issues and programs, communicate with policy makers and the general public, and foster innovation in the public health system.

2. What are the admission requirements?

To qualify for the DrPH program, the following are required: (1) a master’s degree from an accredited school of public health or related program; and (2) three or more years of full-time, paid, professional experience in a public health leadership position, or in mid- to senior-level management positions that demonstrate leadership potential.

3. When are the admission deadlines?

The deadline for all applicants for fall semester admission is January 15.

4. Can I apply if my post-baccalaureate training is not in public health?

Applicants with an earned master’s or higher degree outside the public health field will be required to acquire additional content beyond the DrPH hours, equivalent to the MPH core courses which include: epidemiology and biostatistics, public health concepts and practices, principles of environmental health sciences, behavioral sciences in public health, and principles of management.

5. Can courses taken at another academic institution be counted toward the DrPH Leadership degree at UIC?

Up to 32 semester hours of course work earned for the MPH degree or equivalent can be applied toward the DrPH. Also, up to 16 hours of relevant course work not counted toward another degree can be transferred toward the DrPH degree. Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis after admission.

6. Is the GRE or other academic aptitude test required for admission?

The GRE is not required of applicants, but is encouraged, especially the analytic portion, for those whose academic records may not reflect their current academic potential and accomplishments.

7. How important is the applicant’s management experience in the admission decision?

As a leadership development program, mid-level and above management experience is an important criterion for admission. Students who meet the minimum leadership exposure may be required to take up to 5 hours of practicum to gain a foothold at the leadership level.  Applicants should ensure that the résumé and personal statement document their management experience.

8. Can I earn credits via distance learning (e.g. on-line courses)?

DrPH Program courses are offered usually during the day and early evening in a distance learning format using primarily synchronous internet technology (Blackboard Collaborate) to create a virtual classroom experience.

9. How long does it take to complete the program?

As professionals in practice, the majority of our DrPH students attend on a part-time basis, registering for six to eight hours per term and completing the program in four to six years.

10. What is the tuition rate?

Total degree cost, including tuition, the annual required Summer Institute, course materials, and computer related equipment is around $65,000 and subject to change.

Current tuition rates can be found here: DrPH 2020-21 Tuition Rates

11. Is financial aid available?

DrPH students finance their studies through a combination of personal funds, employee education benefits, and federal student loans. See UIC Financial Aid for more information about the financial aid application process.

12. What professional backgrounds do DrPH Leadership students have?

DrPH students come from varied professional backgrounds including: state/local health departments, federal health agencies, non-profits, professional associations, health care providers, academic institutions and the military.

13. Why choose the UIC School of Public Health DrPH Program in Leadership?

The UIC DrPH Program combines the intellectual rigor of one of the nation’s premier schools of public health with the vitality of the Chicago metropolitan area’s diverse public health practice environment to provide a stimulating educational experience for the preparation of public health leaders of the future.

14. When are students admitted to the DrPH program?

Students are admitted for the fall term only.

15. How are applications evaluated?

Applications are evaluated systematically by members of the DrPH Oversight Committee, a cross-disciplinary group of faculty. Five broad criteria are applied in the application review process:

1. Management experience of increasing responsibility which demonstrates leadership, or the strong potential for leadership in public health practice.

2. A broad understanding of public health gained through acquiring the MPH degree (or equivalent) and exposure to public health practice and issues through continuing
education, professional experience, or volunteer work.

3. Ability to successfully perform academic work at a doctoral level as indicated by a graduate academic record of high grades and challenging courses (e.g. analysis
and methods courses), along with GRE or equivalent test scores for applicants who are returning to school after a long hiatus or whose prior academic records do not
accurately reflect their current abilities.

4. Communication skills, especially writing skills as demonstrated by a clear, focused and well organized personal statement; along with TOEFL scores for applicants
whose first language is not English.

5. Motivation to complete the program in a timely manner and continue on to professional work as a public health leader as demonstrated by an academic and personal
development history showing commitment to public health, persistence, and initiative.  That personal statement and letters of recommendation are most important

The application has five elements:  resume/vita, academic transcript, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and test scores (optional). While each element is not of equal relevance for each criterion, all elements are important and the elements of a strong application mutually reinforce each other.  Students are urged to critically apply the criteria prior to submitting an application.

Not all applicants will meet the criteria to the same extent. So, individual professional development and career trajectory are considered.  Applicants are reviewed on both an absolute and relative basis.  While all criteria must be met at a minimum level, because a limited number of applicants are admitted each year, each application is also evaluated relative to others who have applied.  It is possible that an applicant will meet minimum standards but will not be admitted due to a comparatively lower ranking.  While it has proven unlikely, it is also possible that an applicant rejected one year will be accepted in a later year on the basis of an improved application or higher relative standing.

16. What is expected in the personal statement?

Applicants should make a clear and compelling but succinct case as to their motivations for pursuing the DrPH degree and their readiness to begin and complete the program. Points covered should include reasons for applying, how the DrPH degree would be used, how it fits in the trajectory of professional and leadership development, along with life adjustments and financial preparations the applicant will make to successfully complete the program.

17. Can I attend part-time?

DrPH students are working professionals who attend school part-time and are expected to maintain a professional work connection so that leadership concepts and skills covered in the program can be directly applied in their professional lives.

18. Is there a residence component to the program?

Yes. Attendance at the yearly DrPH Summer Institute, a three-day program in August, is essential and required for all students through their third year.

19. Where can I find more information?

Please feel free to e-mail your questions to