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Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Program

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How Do I Apply to the DrPH Program?

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Penn State College of Medicine’s DrPH Program has a two-part application process:

DrPH How to Apply Basic Article

What are the Application Requirements?

Before beginning your application, please review the Graduate School’s admissions requirements. If offered admission into the DrPH program, you must submit a supplemental Penn State Graduate School application in order to become a Penn State student. The application fee for this process is waived, and separate instructions will be provided with the letter offering admission to the program. In addition to the Doctor of Public Health Admissions Committee Review, the Penn State Graduate School will conduct a final verification of all domestic and international degrees received. Please call the Penn State Graduate School at 814-865-1795 if you are uncertain whether your degree meets Penn State requirements.

SOPHAS applications must include the following items to be eligible for consideration. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

  • Completed online SOPHAS application
  • Statement of purpose - See details below
  • Resume or CV - Prior public health experience (work, volunteer, internship, service learning) recommended but not required
  • Copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended - See SOPHAS transcript details here; if offered admission, official transcripts will also be requested by The Graduate School at Penn State
  • Three letters of recommendation - One letter must be from academic advisor or instructor; letters from family members or friends will not be accepted
  • GRE scores (optional) - GRE must have been taken within past five years; select institution code 7516, for “Pennsylvania State U Public Health Program SOPHAS"; recommended minimum GRE score is 300 combined (quantitative plus verbal)
    • Note: GRE scores for the DrPH application are encouraged, but not required for the 2022-2023 academic cycle.
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores - International applicants only (see below for details).

Note: During the application review, candidates may be invited to participate in an interview process via Zoom/Skype.

Exemptions from English Proficiency Testing

International applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate degree in certain countries are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement. View more information on exemptions.

Key Dates

  • Applications in SOPHAS open in mid- to late August for the following fall semester.
  • SOPHAS application deadline is Jan. 15 for domestic and international applicants.
  • Notifications for fall admission will be sent by email before April 15.

Admission is granted for the fall semester only.

Required MPH Prerequisite Courses

Students not having an MPH from a Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)-accredited school are required to take prescribed MPH core courses before and/or concurrently with the DrPH program requirements or pass a written exam demonstrating foundational public health knowledge as defined by CEPH criteria (D1). Students wishing to take the written exam should contact Dr. Jessica Yingst at jmy5048@psu.edu.

  • PHS 501 Principles of Public Health (3 credits)
  • PHS 504 Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies (3 credits)
  • PHS 520 Principles of Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 550 Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • PHS 571 Introduction to Health Services Organization & Delivery (3 credits)

Total core credits: 15

No degree requirement credits may be waived based upon credits earned via a previous master's degree per University policy.

Students currently enrolled in a master’s program are eligible to apply. Enrollment into the DrPH is contingent upon master’s degree completion.

Statement of Purpose

One of the requirements of the SOPHAS application is a Statement of Purpose.

Your Statement of Purpose should indicate your reason(s) for pursuing a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree and should include the following:

  • Motivation for pursuing a DrPH degree. Why are you interested in pursuing a DrPH? How do you see yourself using your DrPH education and training in the workplace? What are your long-term career goals? How do you think a DrPH will help you achieve your career goals? Describe a public health issue (or issues) that you are most passionate to address.
  • Research. Please describe your research experience and interest(s) and how your research can contribute to public health and the department research portfolio.
  • Networking. Your investigation of potential faculty members and associated research is critical to the application process. Although it is not required for you to identify an official mentor before beginning the program, we do recommend applicants to contact one or more Public Health Sciences (PHS) faculty members to explore research interest linkages. Please provide the name of the PHS faculty member(s) contacted and describe linkages between specific faculty, their current/future research and your research interest(s). You can find a list of Penn State faculty members here. Please note: If this information is not included in this Statement of Purpose, your application will not be considered.
  • Leadership. Describe your leadership experience to date and what type of leader you would like to become. What additional experiences will you seek during the DrPH program? How do you want to enhance your leadership skills? Please include a specific example(s) where you displayed leadership and the associated outcome(s). Being a leader also requires being part of a team; please choose a team experience and describe how you functioned when someone else on your team was a leader.
  • Character. Please include personal qualities, characteristics, skills and experiences you believe will enable you to be successful in the DrPH program. Please include specific examples.
  • Accomplishments. Please provide a summary of your qualifications including three major achievements.

Please note: If indicated in your application, the Statement of Purpose will be used in the competitive review process for Graduate Assistantship nominations.


For international applicants only, send TOEFL scores by selecting code 5688 for "SOPHAS in Massachusetts."

IELTS - Add IELTS information in the Standardized Tests section of your SOPHAS application and include a TRF number. Please have IELTS scores sent to SOPHAS. Official scores will need to be provided within the Penn State Graduate School application if offered admission.

Minimum Penn State acceptable test scores and exemptions for TOEFL and IELTS are available through The Graduate School.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the DrPH Program, please contact Program Manager Justine Shultz at jes5437@psu.edu.