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The DrPH in Public Health Practice is a 54 credit hour online, asynchronous professional doctoral degree program designed for those with three or more years of public health experience. The degree prepares students to work as a leader or administrator in a variety of practice-based settings within the public, private, or academic sectors. DrPH students will attain training and skills in the areas of leadership, management and governance; data and analysis, policy and programs; and education and workforce development. The DrPH in Public Health Practice offers focus areas in epidemiology and emergency preparedness. The program is flexible, so students can design an individualized educational experience to meet their career goals and complete the program while working full-time. Students are also able to complete their practicum and practice-based dissertation in their own work setting.

DrPH Foundational Competencies

Data & Analysis
DrPHF1 Explain qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods and policy analysis research and evaluation methods to address health issues at multiple (individual, group, organization, community and population) levels 
DrPHF2 Design a qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, policy analysis or evaluation project to address a public health issue
DrPHF3 Explain the use and limitations of surveillance systems and national surveys in assessing, monitoring and evaluating policies and programs and to address a population’s health
Leadership, Management & Governance
DrPHF4 Propose strategies for health improvement and elimination of health inequities by organizing stakeholders, including researchers, practitioners, community leaders and other partners
DrPHF5 Communicate public health science to diverse stakeholders, including individuals at all levels of health literacy, for purposes of influencing behavior and policies
DrPHF6 Integrate knowledge, approaches, methods, values and potential contributions from multiple professions and systems in addressing public health problems
DrPHF7 Create a strategic plan
DrPHF8 Facilitate shared decision making through negotiation and consensus-building methods
DrPHF9 Create organizational change strategies
DrPHF10 Propose strategies to promote inclusion and equity within public health programs, policies and systems
DrPHF11 Assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses in leadership capacities, including cultural proficiency
DrPHF12 Propose human, fiscal and other resources to achieve a strategic goal
DrPHF13 Cultivate new resources and revenue streams to achieve a strategic goal
Policy & Programs
DrPHF14 Design a system-level intervention to address a public health issue
DrPHF15 Integrate knowledge of cultural values and practices in the design of public health policies and programs
DrPHF16 Integrate scientific information, legal and regulatory approaches, ethical frameworks and varied stakeholder interests in policy development and analysis
DrPHF17 Propose interprofessional team approaches to improving public health
Education & Workforce Development
DrPHF18 Assess an audience’s knowledge and learning needs
DrPHF19 Deliver training or educational experiences that promote learning in academic, organizational or community settings
DrPHF20 Use best practice modalities in pedagogical practices 

DrPH Practicum

The purpose of the DrPH Practicum (CPH 798) is to provide all DrPH students with an applied, scholarly, and mutually beneficial advanced-level practice experience in a public health setting. This experience augments the academic course work, meets community needs, and advances public health practice. It also provides students with an opportunity to integrate and apply at least six foundational public health competencies, including at least three leadership-related competencies. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of public health principles, values and practice, as well as develop leadership competencies. Students will complete six credit hours and a total of 300 hours of experience for their practicum. The project can be at a student’s place of employment (in a public health setting) but must be outside normal job responsibilities.  

Through participation in CPH 798 Practicum, students will: 

  1. Engage in a practicum with a partner organization that:
    1. Clearly demonstrates integrated and applied knowledge, principles and skills acquired through classroom instruction
    2. Meets the partner organization’s identified needs
    3. Advances public health practice
  2. Perform activities that demonstrate the development, enhancement, and application of DrPH foundational public health competencies (including at least three leadership competencies) and describe activities performed to achieve/address these competencies.
  3. Develop at least one beneficial product for the partner organization that demonstrates the leadership competency.
  4. Develop a final presentation that reflects the integration of public health knowledge, principles and skills and demonstrates mastery of public health principles, values and practice. 


DrPH registration prerequisites:

  1. Participation in DrPH Practicum Orientation (held every year)
  2. Good academic standing
  3. Completion of at least 6 credit hours in the DrPH program
  4. Completion of Affiliation Agreement
  5. Approval of the Practicum Learning Contract by the Director of Professional Programs. 


Students should begin planning for Practicum at least one semester in advance. They should talk with their faculty mentor about practicum options and how to ensure it meets their career goals early in the DrPH program. 

Example Timeline: 

Student intends to register in the summer semester. 

  • As scheduled: Student attends Practicum Orientation session  
  • November/December: Student begins thinking about Practicum and brainstorm possible partner organizations of interest. 
  • January-February: Student begins contacting organizations to explore the organization’s needs and the student’s personal interests and contacts Public Health Practice Project Coordinator with name of selected organization  
  • February-March: Student verifies the status of the Affiliation Agreement with the Public Health Practice Project Coordinator 
  • April: Student drafts the Practicum Learning Contract and receive approval 
  • April: Student meets all Practicum registration prerequisites and contact the Director of Professional Programs to register 
  • May: Student begins DrPH Practicum 

DrPH Dissertation/Integrative Learning Experience 

Through independent work under the guidance of their Doctoral Dissertation Committee (described in the DrPH dissertation guidance in Canvas), DrPH students will prepare a dissertation demonstrating their ability to analyze and solve a complex, practice-based problem in public health. This dissertation is completed as a student’s culminating integrated learning experience. Students register for six (6) dissertation credit hours total, which can be split up over two or more semesters in any increment. The dissertation project can be completed at a student’s worksite as a part of a student’s normal job responsibilities.  

Given the DrPH program is a practice degree, the focus of the dissertation is to understand a current public health organizational, leadership, policy, or programmatic problem AND identify a substantive solution that includes strategies to address that problem which are detailed in a “plan for change.” This dissertation must be written through the lens of the student’s DrPH concentration. The dissertation is expected to make a substantial contribution to the existing public health practice knowledge base and should inform best practice regardless of specific location or organization. The dissertation must address four foundational DrPH competencies and three concentration competencies.  

The dissertation should be composed of publishable work. Students are expected to submit a publication to scholarly or applied literature in public health or healthcare. 

Students should refer to the DrPH Dissertation document located in the DrPH Community site in Canvas for comprehensive guidance.  

DrPH Professional Digital Portfolio


After completion of six credit hours in the DrPH program, students will be required to begin development of a digital professional portfolio. This portfolio is a compilation of files or work samples documenting students’ experiences and accomplishments. Students are expected to add to their portfolio throughout their time in the DrPH program. The portfolio replaces traditional comprehensive exams.  

The purpose of the DrPH Portfolio is to: 

  • provide a platform in which students may showcase their work using images and interactive content in unique ways which standard CVs/resumes do not allow; 
  • give students tools to promote their professional careers both inside and outside of the UNMC COPH; 
  • promote scholarship that advances public health practice;
  • provide evidence that DrPH competency goals are met.

Review Criteria and Due Date 

The DrPH Portfolio will be reviewed by the faculty advisor and the Director of Professional Programs annually, and feedback will be provided. Students should communicate directly with their advisor to determine a deadline for submission. This is flexible, as long as it is reviewed on an annual basis.  

Students must submit their digital portfolio to their dissertation committee for approval before starting on their dissertation. If not complete, students will have one additional semester to complete it. 


After completion of six credit hours, students should identify a website and begin working on building their digital portfolio. Students should plan to work on their portfolio a couple hours every month throughout the duration of the program. Some of the components of the portfolio will be developed as part of coursework, so those components can be added as students take those courses.  

The full details of the professional digital portfolio, including project components and suggested tools should be found in the COPH Student Success Center in Canvas.