DrPH Applications

Should I apply for a DrPH or a PhD?

The DrPH is designed for those who wish to pursue a career as a "leader" in public health/health services in a variety of different contexts and who wish to be highly research-literate, but who do not intend to be exclusively or mainly researchers. The MPhil/PhD is aimed principally at students who anticipate a career in which research plays a predominant role and who want to focus on a specific, independent piece of research.

Is there an intake quota for the DrPH programme?

There is no specific intake quota; however, the number of DrPH students admitted each year is limited by the availability of supervisors. Each year the typical cohort of DrPH students in around 8-12 and DrPH students constitute around 10% of all research degree students currently attending the School.

What are the entrance requirements for the DrPH programme?

All requirements that apply to PhD applications also apply to DrPH applications and these will be assessed by Registry before applications are forwarded to Faculties. In addition you should have at least two years of professional experience in a suitable health management, leadership or policy-related position.

Do I need to identify an academic supervisor before I apply to the DrPH programme?

It is not strictly necessary to identify a supervisor for your DrPH before you make your application to the School. However, it should be appreciated that supervisory capacity (for both PhD and DrPH students) is limited and that each year we get many more applications from potential doctoral students than we are able to match to appropriate faculty members. To maximise your chances of success it is recommended that you approach relevant staff members at the School to discuss your ideas before submitting an application (with the aim of getting them to agree in principle to supervise your DrPH). Bear in mind that a supervisor's decision whether or not to take you on will primarily be based on complimentarity of research interests and on the quality and clarity of your research proposal.

Staff profiles are available on the School’s website. Department Research Degree Coordinators are also a useful source of information on supervisor interests/capacity.

How flexible is the start date for the DrPH?

Incoming DrPH students are required to take the programme's core taught modules before proceeding to other elements of the degree. Because the timetable of compulsory modules is fixed, all DrPH students must commence the course at the start of an academic year, typically  in late September. Dates for the next academic session can be found here.

Is there an application deadline for the DrPH?

There is no set application deadline for DrPH applications; however, processing of applications can take up to three months and prospective students are therefore encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applicants who will require a visa to study in the UK are advised to have an offer from the School by mid-June, for a September start date.

The DrPH Programme

How long does it take to complete a DrPH? Are there specified minimum and maximum durations of study?

Completion times for the DrPH are generally similar to those for PhDs, with most full time students submitting their research thesis between three and four years after their initial registration. The minimum period of registration is three years for full time DrPH students and four years for part time students. The maximum period of registration is four years for full time students and six years for part time students. 

What is the required number of study hours for students who are registered part time?

Part-time students usually study for approximately 20 hours per week over four to six years, including face-to-face sessions and private study. Many DrPH students remain in their existing posts (whether in the UK or elsewhere) while carrying out their studies. In these cases a letter from their employer is required at the time of application to confirm that at least two days per week will be permitted for work on their degree.

What is the typical time-line for a DrPH degree?

As detailed in the main DrPH web page, a DrPH degree comprises three components. The timing of the first component - the core taught modules - is fixed, with sessions running from late September to mid-December with a one week break ("reading week") in early November. Details of term dates can be found here. Note that there is a compulsory orientation and induction week for new students at the beginning of Term 1.

Because the OPA and research thesis elements of the DrPH consist of independent research projects the timing and duration of these components varies considerably between individual students. Students registered full-time typically spend between six and nine months on their OPA projects (including 3-6 months based at the OPA host institution). The research thesis component typically takes between 18 months and two years in full time mode.

How long do I have to spend in London over the course of my DrPH degree?

All DrPH students are required to spend the first term (~3 months) in London in order to attend core taught modules.

There is an expectation that DrPH students (like PhD students) will spend on average at least three months per year in London, although (with the exception of term 1 in year 1) the timing of these spells is somewhat flexible. In practice most DrPH students who are not London-based spend rather more time at the School in their first year (attending the core modules and planning their OPA projects). In addition students are required to spend time in London preparing for and completing the DrPH Review process (see below), usually around the beginning of their second year. Students are usually expected to spend a shorter period of time in London in their final year, working with their supervisor to complete the writing up of their research thesis.

What academic support can I expect during my DrPH?

All DrPH students have a School-based academic supervisor who acts as a primary source of guidance and advice and who is responsible for tracking student progress. Additional support is provided by a research advisory committee consisting of two or more academic staff (who may be internal or external to the School). Any committee member who, in addition to the main supervisor, provides significant supervisory input may be co-opted as an "associate" supervisor. This could include academic staff who take on a primary role in supervising a student's OPA project.

In addition to the student's core supervisory team wider academic support is provided by departmental and faculty research degree coordinators, the DrPH course director and organisers of the core DrPH modules.

Is it possible to transfer between DrPH and PhD degree programmes?

In certain circumstances students may feel the need to transfer from the DrPH programme to the PhD programme.  This is permissible given the agreement of the student's supervisor and relevant Departmental Research Degrees Coordinator.

Elements of the DrPH

Core modules

Where and when are the DrPH core module classes taught?

Core modules run over ten weeks between late September and mid-late December each year.  All classes are conducted at the School with the exception of one residential retreat. Teaching sessions for the Evidence-Based Public Health Policy and Practice module (EBPHP) take place on Mondays and Tuesdays; sessions for Understanding Leadership, Management and Organisations module (ULMO) take place on Thursdays and Fridays. Typically face-to-face sessions take up half of each teaching day, with the remainder of the day available for private study.

How are the core modules assessed?

Written assessments for compulsory modules are due early in Term 2.

I am considering registering as a part-time student - what implications does this have for taking the core modules?

The ULMO and EBPHP modules only run once per year. 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 do their DrPH in a split study mode, under which they take both core modules together (effectively in full-time mode) and then revert to part time mode from the second term or later in year 1 as required .

Can I take other taught courses while studying for my DrPH?

From their second term onwards, DrPH students have the option of taking additional courses from across the School’s extensive portfolio of MSc-level modules, either as standard taught courses or by distance learning. Students should be able to demonstrate relevance of chosen modules to either their OPA or thesis projects and approval is subject to agreement of both the student's supervisor and the module organiser. Students are permitted to take up to four modules per academic year.

In addition to MSc modules, the School offers a range of research development training options through a variety of avenues including the Transferable Skills Programme.

Organisational and Policy Analysis Project

Do I have to select a host organisation for my OPA before I apply to the DrPH programme?

No. Many students do arrive at the School with a clear idea about where they intend to carry out their OPA project. Others may have a good sense of the probable topic of their OPA project and/or the type of organisation they wish to target, but will not yet have identified a specific host organisation. In these cases students will work with their supervisors during their first term to identify a suitable organisation.Students have primary responsibility for selecting and liaising with host organisations and for designing their OPA projects with support from their supervisors.

What type of organisation is suitable as a host organisation?

The OPA project can be conducted in any institution that is engaged in public health practice or has a public health mandate. The host organisation can be public, non-profit or private.

Can I do the OPA project in my own organisation?

In principle OPA projects can be undertaken inside or outside the student's normal place of work. But in practice it might be difficult to conduct the OPA effectively if your own organisation is not sufficiently large to facilitate a project which is unconnected to your own roles and responsibilities, or if your own position may lead to a conflict of interest.

Can I start my OPA fieldwork before completing the DrPH core modules?

It is anticipated that students will carry out many of the preparatory activities required for their OPA project (e.g. liaising with potential host organisations, preparing protocols and applications for ethical approval) in parallel with the core modules in Term 1.  However, both core modules need to be completed (and passed) before students can proceed to the main data collection phase of their OPA project. This is because the OPA project draws on material covered in both DrPH core modules.

The Research Thesis

Does the topic of my research thesis have to be linked to that of my OPA project?

No, the research thesis can be on any topic and does not have to be linked thematically to either the OPA or the taught course elements of the DrPH.

What is the DrPH "Review"?

The purpose of the DrPH Review is specifically to consider the student's research plans for the DrPH thesis. Within this process the student prepares a detailed literature review and primary research protocol which are presented as a report to a DrPH Review committee. The committee then decides whether the student should be allowed to proceed to conducting their research or whether further work is needed before that can be allowed. Students may not commence their fieldwork (other than feasibility or pilot studies) until after successfully completing their DrPH Review.

How is the DrPH thesis examined?

All students are required to attend the oral examination (viva) in London. DrPH theses are examined by two independent examiners.

More Information

Where can I get more information about the DrPH programme?

If you have any queries that are not covered by this FAQ or other information on our website please email the DrPH course administrator at You can also check the programme specification and other details on the DrPH course page. DrPH student reps can be contacted at the following email address:

In addition, the Admissions Team in the Registry can advise if you have further questions on the application process, entry requirements, fees, admissions and regulations issues, so please do not hesitate to contact them at

Comments regarding the information on the DrPH provided on this website is always welcome.