Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH)

Overview - Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

The DrPH programme leads to a doctoral-level qualification and is intended for leaders and future leaders in public health.

The programme aims to equip its graduates with the experience to deal with the particular challenges of understanding and adapting scientific knowledge in order to achieve public health gains, as well as the analytical and practical skills required by managers and leaders in public health. The DrPH therefore has a dual focus on developing both expertise to conduct and evaluate research and skills crucial for leadership roles in public health policy and practice.

Entry criteria for the DrPH are the same as for the PhD except that evidence of relevant experience in areas of public health policy as well as in management or leadership is required. The rigour and volume of the work are doctoral level, and are appropriate to the personal development of senior public health professionals. Opportunities for undertaking the DrPH programme are available in all LSHTM's Faculties.

Key components

  • A taught component comprising two compulsory modules
  • Research Study I: an Organisational and/or Policy Analysis (OPA) project
  • Research Study II: a research project leading to the production of a thesis

DrPH programme FAQs
DrPH programme specification

Ana Amaya, El Salvador
Ana Amaya, El Salvador

"Interacting with the teachers, most of whom are leaders in the field, has been extremely inspiring and useful in terms of my own research."

Structure - Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Taught component

The taught component consists of two compulsory modules. In “Understanding Leadership, Management and Organisations” students explore a range of issues and theories relating to management, leadership and organisations and consider the application of these theories both to public health organisations and their own management practice. “Evidence Based Public Health Policy” focuses on key skills required for improving and shaping policy and practice, involving accessing, understanding, developing, disseminating and facilitating the use of the evidence base for better public health outcomes. The modules are delivered between late September and December and we are currently trialling online delivery. We use a variety of teaching methods including lectures, seminars and small group work. Students are expected to learn through both directed and self-directed study. Modules are assessed through individual written assignments.

Students are not formally assessed on any other modules but should take modules from the Doctoral Transferable Skills Programme and may choose to study some MSc modules to cover particular skills relevant to their research. This enables students to tailor the programme to their individual backgrounds and needs.

Research Study I: Organisational or Policy Analysis (OPA) project

The OPA project involves research that provides DrPH students with the opportunity to observe and analyse the workings of a public health organisation in its policy environment and to gain a better understanding of how to develop effective public health organisations, influence public policy and deliver public health goals. The project usually involves 3-6 months fieldwork within a host organisation of the student’s choice, during which time the student may be formally employed by the organisation or may be present as an independent researcher.

The objectives of the project that contribute to the overreaching purpose will vary depending on the topic and chosen methodology. It is expected, however, that all OPA reports will cover the following generic objectives:

  • To outline the context and key influences on policy (if applicable) in relation to the specific public health issue and organisation chosen for the project;
  • To assess the extent to which organisational factors or external relationships constrain or enhance the organisation’s ability to deliver its mandate;
  • To develop clear, actionable policy or practical recommendations to increase the effectiveness of the organisation in influencing or delivering its public health goals;
  • To gain experience in applying policy science or organisational management theories to the critical analysis of a real world organisational case study.

The host organisation can be any public, non-profit or private institution that is engaged in public health practice or has a public health mandate. OPA projects can be undertaken inside or outside (recommended) the student’s normal place of work.

Students are expected to use an appropriate methodological approach. Data collection methods may include: observations, interviews, focus groups, surveys and documentary analysis. Appropriate approach to data analysis should be used, drawing upon recognised theoretical and analytical frameworks from the relevant fields, for example: management, organisational theory, policy analysis, political science or sociology.

The OPA project is assessed on the basis of a written report not exceeding 15,000 words examined internally by two independent assessors. The report is intended to provide practical advice to the host organisation or policy community in the form of a constructive critique, identifying areas for development or improvement and containing actionable recommendations. At the same time, the report must be soundly informed by literature, theory and robust data collection and analysis.

Progression to the OPA project component is subject to successful completion of the two compulsory core modules. The OPA project report is normally submitted for assessment before commencing the thesis element of the programme.

Research Study II: Thesis project

As for a PhD, the purpose of the DrPH thesis project is to enable students to develop as competent independent researchers and conduct original research. By the end of their studies students should be able to plan effectively and undertake independent research and will have developed key transferable skills. As with a PhD, the thesis topic can be from any public health-related discipline or subject area agreed with the student’s supervisor and the research must be original and make a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the chosen subject.

Research plans are assessed at a formal DrPH Review (equivalent to the “upgrading” for MPhil/PhD students). Whilst the DrPH research thesis must meet doctoral level standards, due to the time allocated for this component (typically about 18 months), the DrPH thesis is necessarily shorter in length and more limited in scope than a PhD thesis.

The DrPH thesis has a 60,000 word limit, excluding references and appendices. 

Programme duration

The period of study for full-time DrPH students is a minimum of three years and a maximum of four years (or four and eight years respectively under part-time study mode). Students are normally required to spend time at LSHTM during the preparation for their OPA project,  preparing and presenting their research project plans to a DrPH Review Committee, or at other key points during the course of the Programme, as agreed with their Supervisors or the Programme Directors. Over the course of their degree DrPH students are normally expected to spend at least 9 months full-time in London.

As the timetable of compulsory modules is fixed, all DrPH students need to commence the programme at the start of the UK academic year in September. The programme aims to be flexible to meet students’ needs while at the same time adhering to excellence in learning and research.

Part-time study

LSHTM requires students who apply for part-time study to be available to study for at least two days per week (not including weekends). Where applicable, a letter from your employer is required to confirm that at least two days per week will be permitted for work on your degree. Please note that in Term 1 part-time DrPH students should allow a minimum of 2.5 days a week for each module they are studying.

Note that the two compulsory modules are taught in the first term. Part-time students have the option of taking one module in their first year and the other module at the beginning of their second year. However, because students are not permitted to start the main phase of their OPA research until both modules have been completed, this can introduce a delay into the overall progression of the degree (students are able to carry out preparatory activities for their OPA and/or research thesis elements between modules but are not able to begin data collection). Consequently many part-time students elect to take both core modules together, effectively increasing their workload temporarily to a full-time mode, followed by a period of a few months without any formal tuition, allowing them to re-balance their other commitments.

Fees & funding
Fees and Funding - Research Degrees (MPhil-PhD) General 2024/25
Fees 2024/25HomeEU/Overseas
MPhil / PhD£6,740£3,370£21,140£10,570
MPhil/PhD - lab-based£6,740£3,370£25,710£12,855
Writing Up Fee£1,300£650£1,300£650

*Mobile users, scroll right to view fees

Entry requirements
Entry Requirements - Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Academic requirements

A student must normally satisfy the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine general entrance requirements as follows:

The normal minimum entrance qualification for registration at the School on a Doctoral programme is evidence of an aptitude for research and at least one of the following:

  • a master’s degree in a subject appropriate to the course of study to be followed (recommended)
  • a qualification appropriate to the course of study to be followed, in medicine, dentistry or veterinary studies
  • an upper second-class honours degree from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject.

Applicants for the DrPH study are also required to have a minimum of two years' appropriate experience.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to meet these requirements: Band B

Please see our English Language Requirements FAQs for information

How to apply
How to apply - Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

We have a limited number of places on the DrPH programme (20/year). To ensure equity, all applications will be reviewed by a cross-Faculty panel of senior academics. They will consider your work experience, your academic potential, and your research proposal, OPA proposal and personal statement.

DrPH candidates, like students on other doctoral programmes, work closely with academic members of staff who act as their supervisors. It is not essential to have identified a supervisor before applying, but applicants can only be accepted once a suitable supervisory team has been identified and approved. If you apply for a place without already having identified named supervisors then LSHTM will try to match you up with suitable members of academic staff. If we are unable to identify potential supervisors, we will not be able to offer you a place.

See Identifying a supervisor for details of how to find and approach potential supervisors

The research proposal

All applicants should include with their application a short proposal for their thesis research, Research Study II, (maximum 1,500 words including footnotes and references). This is an important way of indicating the extent to which you already understand the background to your proposed research, and the range of methods that may be employed.

This should include:

  • Research / topic area
  • Specific research question(s)
  • Study design
  • Data collection methods and analysis
  • Approximate research costs and planned funding source

Please be aware that the research proposal submitted with your application does not have to be the final research project: you will have the opportunity to refine your project through discussions with your supervisor after you start. The main purpose of the proposal is to demonstrate that you have the necessary critical thinking skills, an understanding of the relevant research area and an appreciation of the demands of a research degree.

The organisational and/or policy analysis outline (OPA, Research Study I)

Applicants also need to submit a short outline plan (approx. 500 words) for their OPA project (topic for the OPA, methodological approach and type of organisation to target). While many students have a clear idea about where they intend to carry out their OPA project, it is not mandatory to identify a specific host organisation before starting the degree programme at LSHTM. It is appreciated that this information will be preliminary and that proposals may change once applicants have started their studies and have had the opportunity to discuss their OPA plans with their supervisor and DrPH teaching staff. 

Think about how your Research Degree will be funded

You will need to consider how the Research Degree will be funded – tuition fees, living expenses and project costs. The School website contains some further information on potential sources of funding. Some candidates apply for a place via studentships advertised by the School. Others manage to secure funding from elsewhere prior to applying, and some submit funding applications at the same time as applying for the research degree.

Application for study

Please apply using our online application form.

Please also read LSHTM's Admissions policies prior to submitting your application.

Paper application forms are available upon request and will normally incur an administration fee of £50. You must send a copy of the personal details and photograph page of your passport with all paper applications. Your application will not be considered until you have provided the above documents. 

Application deadline

For September 2024 entry, the final closing date deadline for DrPH application submission is:

  • 31 January 2024 at 23:59 UK time for ALL students, including those who require a student visa and those who do not. 

Deadline for responding to your offer

Applicants are required to respond to their Offer of Admission within 28 days of receipt, or their place will be released and the offer automatically declined.