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Prospective Students

Program Goal and Background

The goal of the program is to produce graduates with the motivation, knowledge, and skills – and the ability to use those skills effectively – to become top leaders committed to improving the public’s health.

This goal responds to the urgent need to develop better leaders to improve the health of the public both domestically and internationally. The Institute of Medicine’s landmark 1988 report, The Future of Public Health, brought this need into sharp focus. The report concluded, “… public health will serve society effectively only if a more efficient, scientifically sound system of practitioner and leadership development is established.” Since 1988, the Bureau of Health Professions, the Joint Council of Governmental Public Health Agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, among others, have called for improved training of top health leaders.

In 2003, the Institute of Medicine in two major reports renewed and strengthened its call for improved training of future health leaders. One of these reports, The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century, recommended “leadership training, support, and development should be a high priority.” The other report, Who Will Keep the Public Healthy, focused on “Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century”, as its subtitle states. The report notes that much has changed since the original 1988 IOM report was issued, and these changes require modification and improvement of the education of top health leaders and other professionals. The Doctoral Program in Global Health Leadership pedagogy and curriculum respond to this need.

The curriculum is inspired by and builds on lessons learned and insights gained from the Doctoral Program in Health Leadership (DrPH), launched in 2005 in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Ned Brooks and Suzanne Babich (formerly Hobbs). The first distance doctoral program of its kind, it pioneered the use of Internet video for doctoral-level coursework and a highly interactive, experiential and multidisciplinary pedagogical approach to educating working health practitioners. Originally designed as a domestic-only program, the UNC program was expanded in 2007 to include international students.

The FSPH program builds on the success of the UNC model by increasing curricular content in practice-oriented research methodology, particularly in the areas of qualitative methods and implementation science, and configuring program operations to accommodate substantial collaboration with international institutional partners. Establishment of a global partner network enhances the diversity of opportunities for students, faculty and staff to learn from each other, leading to improved teaching and learning outcomes, broadening participants’ personal and professional networks, and increasing institutional capacities to provide high-quality, urgently needed doctoral-level education in global health leadership. Close collaboration with global partners, including diverse, globally based faculty, helps to ensure a global perspective is brought to bear on the curriculum, better preparing graduates to practice effectively across varied global settings.


The program is aimed at professionals working full-time in Indiana, across the U.S. and around the world with the potential and ambition to become senior health leaders. Examples include health directors, ministers of health, mid- to senior-level managers and leaders in government agencies, foundations, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, program officers, as well as others working within the health field, which may include entrepreneurs and individuals working in nontraditional settings affecting the health of the public.

The focus of the Doctoral Program in Global Health Leadership (DrPH) is on developing leaders who will improve the public’s health in the United States and globally. Therefore, the curriculum is relevant and can be applied in both domestic and global work settings and students come from the United States as well as from around the world. Because the mission of the program is to produces graduates who will lead applied efforts to improve the public’s health around the world, cohorts do not include individuals who intend to focus predominantly on research or academic teaching positions. While we acknowledge that graduates may at times in their careers choose to engage in research and/or academic endeavors, this particular DrPH program is designed to meet the needs of individuals working in field settings who intend to remain working in field settings, domestically or internationally.


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