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Is a Ph.D. in Public Health Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)


Written By: Raymond Aguirre, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN

If you’re reading this, you may be asking the question, “is a Ph.D. in Public Health worth it?” Working in public health can be very gratifying, and this article will list 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it. But before you decide, please also check out the section about 7 reasons why a Ph.D. in public health may not be worth it for you. The goal of this article is not to persuade, but rather to give you the information you need to decide for yourself whether a Ph.D. in public is worth it for you.


RECOMMENDED ONLINE DOCTORATE IN PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMS

WHAT IS A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?


A Ph.D. in Public Health is a research doctorate that prepares students for careers in academia, government, or the private sector. The degree emphasizes interdisciplinary research and training in the biomedical, environmental, and social sciences. Students learn to use epidemiological methods to investigate the determinants of health and disease, design and implement interventions to improve population health and evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions. The Ph.D. in Public Health also prepares students to teach at the college level and conduct research that advances the knowledge base of public health.


HOW LONG DOES A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE TAKE?


A Ph.D. in public health can take several years to complete, which can range from 2.5 years to 8 years. The length of time to complete this degree depends on the school and your own pace. Harvard University’s Ph.D. in Public Health, for instance, is designed to be a 3-year program. Meanwhile, UCLA’s Ph.D. in Public Health takes about six years.


HOW MUCH DOES A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE COST?


The cost of a Ph.D. in public health can vary significantly based on the college or university you select.
Some programs are relatively cheap, such as state universities like the University of Montana, Missoula which charges students $182/unit plus a $48/unit technology fee. Since their Ph.D. in public health program consists of 60 units, the total cost of the program is $13,800 for in-state students. On the other hand, the Ph.D. in public health program at Rutgers University costs $926/unit for in-state students and $1387/unit. Because their program consists of 72 credits, the total cost of a Ph.D. in public health at Rutgers University is $66,672 for in-state students and $99,864 for out-of-state students.


WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?


Some of the requirements generally required for admission to a Ph.D. in public health program include the following:

-An application to the Ph.D. in Public Health Program
-An undergraduate or master’s degree, which may or may not be in public health
-Transcripts
-An essay that explains why you want to enter a Ph.D. in Public Health program
-A CV/resume
-Letters of Recommendation
-GRE Scores




IS A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH WORTH IT? – THE PROS

(The following are the 25 reasons that will convince you why a Ph.D. in Public Health is worth it in 2022.)

REASON #1: A Ph.D. in Public Health can lead to a career in a think tank.


Public health think tanks are organizations that provide research and recommendations to address public health issues. Some of these organizations are prestigious and highly respected. A Ph.D. in public health is worth it if your career goal is to work with these types of organizations.


REASON #2: A Ph.D. in public health can provide you with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in people's lives on a large scale.


The work you will do with a Ph.D. in public health can change the way people live within society. Because of your training, you may be responsible for designing and implementing programs that can affect the lives of not just a small group of people, but the entire society.


REASON #3: A Ph.D. in public health can allow you to work on complex problems, such as managing epidemics or environmental disasters.


If the idea of handling major public health problems excites you, then a Ph.D. in public health may be right for you. You will be well-positioned to take a job at organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that deal directly with managing public health emergencies.


REASON #4: A Ph.D. in Public Health can provide you with the skills to develop and implement public health policy.


One of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it is that you have the opportunity to become a policymaker. This degree leads to careers that let you implement public health statutes, whether it is at the local or national level.


REASON #5: A Ph.D. in Public Health can allow you to work with diverse communities.


A Ph.D. in public health is very much focused on population health. This means that you will work with various groups of people within society. An opportunity like this is a privilege, especially in a very diverse country like the United States, because you get to address the unique needs of different types of people.


REASON #6: A Ph.D. in Public Health can provide you with the skills to conduct groundbreaking research.


Research is a major part of what you will do in a Ph.D. in public health program. If that sounds interesting to you, then that may be one of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it. You may be invited to fellowships that are designed to study and address public health issues.


REASON #7: A Ph.D. in Public Health can give you the chance to teach future generations of public health students and professionals.


A Ph.D. in public health is worth it if you have a strong desire to become a university professor. One thing you should understand is that a Ph.D. in public health is a terminal degree, which means it is the highest degree in the field of public health. Therefore, you will be qualified to teach at the university level.


REASON #8: A Ph.D. in Public Health can provide you with the opportunity to work internationally, helping to improve global health outcomes.


Having a Ph.D. degree in public health allows you to work far beyond your own country. Public health issues exist everywhere, which means that your expertise will be needed in just about every corner of the globe.


REASON #9: A Ph.D. in Public Health can make you eligible for senior positions within public health organizations, such as director or chief executive.


Having a Ph.D. degree in public health provides you with the qualifications to take on high-level leadership positions. Your knowledge and skills immediately give you the credibility to handle the complex tasks of handling public health agencies.


REASON #10: A Ph.D. in public health can make you a credible candidate for an elected public position.


Society needs great leaders, leaders who not only have a passion for public service but also have a strong academic and professional background. If you have an interest in running for public office, it could be one of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it for you.


REASON #11: A Ph.D. in public health can lead to a career as an epidemiologist.


Epidemiologists study how diseases occur. Their work is valuable because they provide the basis for policies designed to prevent and treat various public health problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that jobs for epidemiologists are expected to increase, despite being a relatively small profession.


REASON #12: A Ph.D. in Public Health can give you the chance to collaborate with recognized experts in public health.


With a Ph.D. in public health, you will inevitably have the opportunity to work with people who are considered thought leaders in your field. Not only will you have the opportunity to work with them, but you will also have the opportunity to share your ideas with these reputable and recognized individuals.


REASON #13: A Ph.D. in public health can lead to careers with a great set of benefits.


One of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it is because many of the jobs you will qualify for are in the government. Government employees tend to have a robust set of benefits, from health insurance to pension plans. With a Ph.D. in public health, you will have the chance to not only help society but also create a good life for yourself.


REASON #14: A Ph.D. in public health can lead to job security.


A Ph.D. in public health can lead to jobs that can weather recessions and other economic turmoil. Healthcare is a critical field, regardless of a country’s situation. Therefore, someone with a Ph.D. in public health can expect to have a career that can remain stable regardless of the current economic situation.


REASON #15: A Ph.D. in Public Health can help you to become a public health program manager.


Public health program managers coordinate public health projects. Their role is crucial because they oversee initiatives that are critical in ensuring the welfare of the public. You will be well-suited for this type of role with a Ph.D. in public health because you will have the knowledge and skills to lead others.


REASON #16: A Ph.D. in public health can allow you to work as a public health advocate, raising awareness of important issues and campaigning for change.


Public health advocates are vital members of social discourse. A Ph.D. in public health degree is worth it if you feel passionate about safeguarding the health and welfare of society through activism. Activism may not necessarily make you rich, but you will benefit by helping create a better society.


REASON #17: A Ph.D. in Public Health can help you become a published author.


Having a Ph.D. in public health gives you the credibility to write books and journal articles in the field of public health. The type of credentials you will have with a Ph.D. in public health makes you an expert that can attract the attention of established publishers.


REASON #18: A Ph.D. in Public Health can lead to a career in entrepreneurship.


When you think about reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it, you may not think about entrepreneurship. But having a doctorate in public health can give you the ability to think of socially-conscious businesses that both generate profit and benefit the public.


REASON #19: A Ph.D. in Public Health can give you the ability to protect workers.


Occupational safety is important and having a Ph.D. in public health provides you with the skills to advocate for the rights of workers. You will learn to develop rules and regulations that ensure that workers do not injure themselves or be put in danger through harmful chemicals while at work. If you are passionate about occupational safety, you may consider specializing in this field. There are Ph.D. in public health programs where you can specialize in occupational safety.


REASON #20: A Ph.D. in Public Health can be a career for introverts.


Do you consider yourself an introvert? If so, then it is one of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it. This type of degree leads to careers that require a lot of analytical work that requires focus and concentration. Although there are times when you need to interact with others on the job, there are also many times when you will need to work alone to do your work.


REASON #21: A Ph.D. in Public Health can give you the chance to work as a public health data analyst.


Having a Ph.D. in public health can lead to a career as a public health data analyst. This is the perfect career for those who get excited about looking at trends and patterns in determining public health outcomes. It is a vital role that can help identify and address potential public health issues before they become major issues.


REASON #22: A Ph.D. in Public Health can allow you to work as a public health communications specialist, developing and implementing strategies to raise awareness of important public health issues.


A Ph.D. in public health degree is worth it if you like the idea of being the spokesperson for a public health agency. This is what public health communications specialists do. They are the ones who craft the message of public health agencies so that they can speak effectively to the public.


REASON #23: A Ph.D. in Public Health offers unlimited potential for further learning.


There are plenty of fellowships and post-doctoral opportunities in the field of public health. A Ph.D. in public health allows you to tap into these opportunities, which can further enhance your learning, even after you have already graduated.


REASON #24: You may be able to get a Ph.D. in public health for free.


Education can be costly. However, you may be able to get a Ph.D. in public health at no cost to you. There are fully-funded Ph.D. programs that pay for students’ tuition and may even provide a stipend and other essential benefits such as health insurance.


REASON #25: A Ph.D. in Public Health qualifies you for jobs in multiple industries.


One of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it is its versatility. You can work in many settings, which means that you will have plenty of options. A Ph.D. in public health can help you grow your career despite the competitiveness of today’s job market.



WHY A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH MAY NOT BE WORTH IT FOR YOU? – THE CONS

(Now that you have gone through the 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in Public Health is worth it, here are 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.)

REASON #1: You are not willing to spend many years in school.


If the idea of spending many years in school does not appeal to you, then that is one reason why a Ph.D. in public health is not worth it. Acquiring a Ph.D. in public health is no easy feat. Before you can even qualify for a Ph.D. in public health program, you will need to have either an undergraduate or master’s degree. After that, the length of a doctoral program in public health may take up to 8 years to complete.


REASON #2: Research is not something that interests you.


Much of what you will do in a Ph.D. in a public health program is research. For some, this may be a great thing. However, for others, research may not be so appealing. If you are one of those people who do not like the idea of engaging in research, you may want to reconsider getting a Ph.D. in public health.


REASON #3: A Ph.D. in public health can be costly.


Unless you receive your Ph.D. in public health from a fully-funded program, you may have to pay for your tuition. Not only that but there is also an opportunity cost for attending a Ph.D. program in public health. You may miss out on other career opportunities while you are pursuing your doctoral degree in public health.


REASON #4: You do not like to teach.


A Ph.D. in public health degree is not worth it if you do not like the idea of being a professor. With a doctorate in public health, you will essentially be trained to educate others. Many jobs that you will qualify for with a Ph.D. in public health will involve some type of teaching.


REASON #5: You may be able to get some high-paying public health jobs without a Ph.D. in public health.


Advanced degrees like a Ph.D. in public health can put you ahead of your competition. However, it is important to understand that you do not always need to have a Ph.D. in public health to qualify for good positions in public health. Some jobs, such as being a public health consultant, can pay an average of $84130. You can qualify for this type of job with a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree in public health.


REASON #6: You have plenty of financial obligations.


If you have a mortgage or have other types of loans or bills to pay, it may be harder to pay for them while pursuing a Ph.D. in public health. A doctoral public health program may require full-time study, which means that you may have to give up having a full-time job that pays for your living expenses.


REASON #7: You don't think you'll use the skills you learn.


A Ph.D. in public health can give you a lot of valuable skills, both hard and soft skills. However, if you don't think you'll use the skills you learn, or if you don't think they'll be valuable to you, then that is one reason why Ph.D. in public health is not worth it for you.



WHAT ARE THE 3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?


Here are three of the most common reasons behind the demand for people with a Ph.D. in public health:

1. To Conduct Important Research:

One of the main reasons why there is such a demand for Ph.D. in public health degree holders is because these professionals are needed to conduct important research. This research is essential for developing new treatments and interventions for improving public health.

2. To Teach Future Public Health Professionals:

The demand for people with a Ph.D. in public health is also driven by the need to teach future public health professionals. As the field of public health continues to grow, there will be an increasing need for qualified instructors who can teach students about the latest research and developments in the field.

3. To Provide Leadership in Public Health:

Another reason why there is a demand for people with a Ph.D. degree in public health is that these professionals are needed to provide leadership in public health. With their advanced knowledge and experience, Ph.D. holders are well-positioned to take on leadership roles in public health organizations and help shape the future of the field.


WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY FOR Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?


The starting salary for someone with a Ph.D. in Public Health is $17.56/hour. This equates to $702/week, $3040/month, or $36520 annually.

Hourly$17.56
Weekly$702
Monthly$3,040
Annual$36,520


WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?


The average salary for Ph.D. in public health degree holders is $72000 per year. This is equivalent to $34.62/hour, $1385 weekly, or $6000 per month.

Hourly$34.62
Weekly$1,385
Monthly$6,000
Annual$72,000
(Source: Payscale.com)


WHAT ARE THE 3 BEST JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?


There are plenty of career paths you can take with a Ph.D. in public health, but here are three of the best ones.

1. Epidemiologist:

A job as an epidemiologist could be perfect for you if you like studying diseases and how they spread. As an epidemiologist, you will design and carry out studies to investigate the patterns and causes of disease outbreaks. You will also develop ways to prevent these diseases from spreading.

2. Health Policy Expert:

If you want to make a difference in the way that health policy is made, then a job as a health policy expert could be the perfect fit for you. As a health policy expert, you will advise government officials and other decision-makers on the best ways to improve the health of the population. You will also develop and evaluate health policies to ensure that they are effective.

3. Professor:

Becoming a professor can be a very fulfilling career. Not only will you be able to inspire others by sharing to them your knowledge, but you can also potentially enjoy great personal benefits. Some professors are tenured, which means that they enjoy great job security.


BONUS! 3 TIPS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WITH A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?


1. Use your degree to pursue a career in the private sector.

While many people with a Ph.D. in Public Health choose to work in the public sector, there are also many opportunities for those with this advanced degree in the private sector. Many companies are now starting to see the value of hiring individuals with this type of education and experience.

2. Take extra teaching jobs as a public health adjunct faculty member.

Public health adjunct faculty members are part-time instructors at a college or university. Whether you already have a tenured job as a professor at another university or you are working in some other area of public health, you can still teach at other colleges. This will give you some extra income in addition to your full-time income.

3. Conduct research

As a Ph.D. in Public Health holder, you will also be in a unique position to conduct research. This research can be used to help improve public health policy or to develop new methods of treatment. Either way, this is an excellent way to use your degree to make more money because you may work with organizations that provide generous funding.


IS A Ph.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH WORTH IT FOR YOU – MY FINAL THOUGHTS


A Ph.D. in public health is a big investment of time and money. So, is a Ph.D. in public worth it? There may be certain careers, such as academia or research, where a Ph.D. in public health is either preferred or required. However, not all public health career paths require a doctorate in public health. In other words, the worth of a Ph.D. in public health depends on your career goals. This article listed 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in public health is worth it, but at the end of the day, only you can make the best decision whether a Ph.D. in public health is the best option for you.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED


1. What Is The Best Age To Do A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree?

Age is not a factor when deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in public health. As long as you have the basic requirements that doctoral public health programs ask for (i.e. college transcripts, GRE scores) you can start anytime you like.


2. How Hard Is It To Get Into A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program?

It depends on the type of Ph.D. in public health program you are considering. Fully-funded programs tend to be the most competitive because many people apply for those programs.


3. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program?

Having some background in public health helps. However, it is not always a requirement to get into a Ph.D. program in public health.


4. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program?

The minimum GPA for a Ph.D. in public health program varies from one school to another. University of California, Los Angeles, for example, lists a minimum GPA of 3.5 as part of their admission requirements to their doctorate-level public health program. The University of Florida, on the other hand, requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. Generally, it is a good idea to aim for a high GPA (3.5 or above) to be competitive in most programs.


5. Can I Get Into A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program With A Low GPA?

It may be difficult to get into a Ph.D. in public health program if you have a low GPA. If your GPA is below 3.0, you may want to take some graduate-level courses, preferably related to public health, to boost your GPA.


6. Are Online Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Programs Worth It?

An online Ph.D. in public health can be worth it. People who are unable to attend an in-person doctorate program in public health but are passionate about enhancing their credentials as public health professionals can benefit from an online Ph.D. in public health program.


7. Are Scholarships And Grants Available For Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Programs?

There are scholarships and grants for Ph.D. in public health degree programs. One organization that offers to fund doctoral students of public health includes the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.


8. Can Ph.D. In Public Health Students Have A Life?

Pursuing a Ph.D. in public health requires a solid commitment to your studies. However, this does not mean you should forego having a life. Balancing your life with school is key to your success.


9. Can I Work Part-Time And Successfully Complete The Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program?

It may be possible to work part-time while pursuing a Ph.D. in public health. This is especially true if you are in an online public health doctoral program. Online Ph.D. programs in public health tend to offer students the most flexibility.


10. Can I Work Full-Time And Successfully Complete The Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Program?

It is possible to work full-time and complete a Ph.D. in public health if you have the willpower and discipline to do so. However, you must consider that doing this can be very stressful and can burn you out. If you must work full-time while pursuing a Ph.D. in public health, consider enrolling in an online Ph.D. public health program.


11. Do Students Fail In Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Programs?

Students in Ph.D. public health programs can fail if they are not able to meet the requirements of their school.


12. Will I Ever Regret Getting A Ph.D. In Public Health Degree?

It all depends on your perspective. A Ph.D. in public health offers many benefits. But it is not the perfect degree. If you learn to leverage its benefits, you will likely not regret pursuing your Ph.D. in public health.


13. How Much Does A Ph.D. In Public Health Graduate Make Per Hour?

A Ph.D. in public health graduate makes an average hourly wage of $34.62/hour.

$34.62


14. How Much Does A Ph.D. In Public Health Graduate Make Per Year?

The annual salary of someone with a Ph.D. in public health is about $72000 per year.

$72,000


15. Will Ph.D. In Public Health Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?

Since many people who have a Ph.D.in public health work either work in the government or academia, their salary depends on government and education funding. This means that salaries can fluctuate. However, public health is a crucial field of study. Therefore, the chances that Ph.D. in public health graduates will be paid less is less likely.


16. Are All Ph.D. In Public Health Graduates Successful In Their Careers?

A Ph.D. in public health is a good way to invest in your career. However, every person defines success differently. Not every Ph.D. in public health graduate will experience the same outcomes in their career. And not all of them will see the direction of their careers in the same way.


17. Are Ph.D. In Public Health Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?

A Ph.D. in public health can lead to relatively satisfying jobs. However, happiness is subjective and it is not possible to tell how each graduate of a Ph.D. in public health program feels about their jobs.


18. Can Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Holders Become Rich?

Someone with a Ph.D. in public health degree can become rich. Having a Ph.D. in public health does not limit you to jobs in public health. The skills you learn with this degree can also lead to careers in other fields, such as business where you can make a lot of money.


19. What Are Some Ph.D. In Public Health Degree Alternatives?

Some alternatives to a Ph.D. in public health include nursing, medicine, and social work.


20. What Is The Difference Between a DrPH And A Ph.D. in Public Health?

It is important to understand the distinctions between a DrPH and a Ph.D. in public health. A DrPH is primarily a degree for those who want to focus on fieldwork, while a Ph.D. in public health is a better fit for those who want to focus on research.


21. Should I get A DrPH Or A Ph.D. in Public Health?

It depends on your career goals. If you prefer more hands-on experience as a public health professional, then a DrPH may be a better option for you. If you like teaching and conducting studies, a Ph.D. may be better. Regardless of what you choose, however, just know that the career paths of those with a DrPH and those with a Ph.D. in public health are very similar.


22. Can Ph.D. In Public Health Graduates Use The Title Dr?

Yes, you can. With a Ph.D. in public health, you will become a doctor of philosophy and therefore be entitled to call yourself a doctor.


23. Are There Any Fully Funded Ph.D. In Public Health Programs?

There are several fully-funded Ph.D. public health programs. They may be competitive, but they are worth applying for.


Raymond Aguirre RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN
Raymond M.E. Aguirre is a registered nurse with years of experience in the medical field. He currently works as a public health nurse and has years of experience in home health, hospice, and skilled nursing facility settings.