A PhD in public health could lead to careers researching public health issues, including epidemics and sanitation planning. Specializations in public health can include anything from mental health to environmental impacts on community health. Luckily for prospective students, the best schools for a PhD in public health are located in all regions of the country, giving students plenty of options.

Northeastern Programs

According to the "U.S. News and World Report," Johns Hopkins University, Harvard and Columbia lead the pack in terms of northeastern PhD programs. Johns Hopkins offers two separate doctoral programs with different purposes. The PhD in public health is designed for students who want to pursue careers in research or academic work, while the DrPH is for students who want to hold positions in public health leadership. The DrPH generally only admits students with a previous Master of Public Health, while the PhD is open to students with other undergraduate degrees and students who do not hold a master's. The amount of time a student takes to complete either the DrPH and the PhD depends heavily on a student's previous experience with the subject matter.

Public Health in the Midwest

According to "U.S. News and World Report," the Midwest has some top public health programs. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is a leading recipient of research funding that has supported research institutes relevant to public health PhD programs. Students at the University of Michigan's Center for Value-Based Insurance Design study how to alter the health insurance market to support better health outcomes.

Southern PhD's

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Emory University come out on top for public health, according to "U.S. News and World Report." UNC's doctoral programs include specializations in biostatistics, epidemiology, health behavior, and maternal and child health. Emory's PhD program in the public health of epidemiology is also a leading program, and all PhD students participate in a weekly journal club where they review and critique the very latest literature in the field. At Emory, the public health doctoral program in nutrition and health sciences typically receives between 35 and 45 applications each year, but only admits about six. Typically, students take 5.8 years on average to complete their PhD in this department.

Options in the West

The University of Washington in Seattle and the University of California at Berkeley are the region's two top public health schools. At Washington, the highly distinguished faculty are a big contributor to PhD successes. This is acknowledged through a distinguished faculty lecturer each semester. The UC Berkeley program draws strengths from other schools on campus, with PhD students taking classes across campus, including at the Haas School of Business and the public policy school. Admission to the program is fiercely competitive, with nine out of 55 applicants being admitted in recent years. Students have typically had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.63. All applicants must hold an MPH before applying. Despite these tough admissions criteria, employment outcomes are strong, with students being employed in leading universities, policy research centers and think tanks across the country and world.