Population & Family Health

Please note: The Department of Population and Family Health is not accepting applications for entry into the DrPH in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Since 2012, the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health has offered a DrPH in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems. This innovative program combines on-site formal classes, remote learning, and field-based research to prepare graduates with the skills, knowledge, and drive they need to take on leadership roles in the fields of global health and humanitarian response. Students gain strong research and measurement capacities and the context they need to practically apply them to the on-the-ground realities of humanitarian aid.

Drawing extensively on the expertise and field engagement of professors from the program on Forced Migration and Health and other faculty working in the field of global health and humanitarian systems, the curriculum places a particular focus on themes of policy, protection, and evaluation.

Applicant Profile

The program is intended for leaders and future leaders in public health who want a flexible career combining high-level leadership, management, and research skills. It is aimed at public health professionals who are invested in applied science and seek to utilize a systems approach to research, program management, and policy development in practice-based settings in developing and crisis-affected contexts. Although open to applicants early in their careers—with relevant field experience—the program is best suited to mid-career global health and humanitarian professionals. Graduates are armed with the advanced skills in evaluation, organizational management, and technical expertise needed to advance professionally, while allowing them to maintain careers and leadership positions within their current organization and/or home country during the course of study.

Entrants to the DrPH program typically hold an MPH, MSW, MD, or similar advanced degree that has introduced them to basic concepts of statistics, healthcare management, social sciences, and population-based sciences, and have several years of professional experience working globally in health and protection in humanitarian and/or developing country settings. Most students in the DrPH program continue to work during their term of study, with the exception of their first two semesters, during which students will fulfill the DrPH residency requirement as full-time students residing in New York.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the following minimum admissions criteria:

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.5 in prior graduate study, or equivalent at institution of graduate study

  • Combined score of 1000 or score of 50th percentile or greater in the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). GRE scores must not be more than five years old. Applicants with professional doctoral degrees (MD, DDS, JD) from United States or Canadian schools are exempted from this requirement.

  • Several years of post-graduate experience in global health, development, humanitarian work, or a related area, in a substantial management or leadership role

  • A prior master's or doctoral degree (not necessarily in public health)

  • Demonstrated leadership potential

  • Motivation to obtain senior-level positions and to improve the public's health

  • Evidence of excellent writing skills

  • For international students: TOEFL or IELTS score

  • For international students: Financial Certificate (United States Immigration requirement for entry into the United States)

In addition to the requirements listed above, all students must submit an official transcript showing courses and grades from each prior institution through the SOPHAS application portal. In addition, applicants will need to submit a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample, and three letters of evaluation from academic and/or work sources. All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS scores.

Please submit a personal statement/statement of purpose of no more than 500 words. Professional degree essays require a clear understanding of the public health field and how you hope to work within the field. Be sure to proofread your personal statement carefully for spelling and grammar. In your statement, be sure to address the following: what interests you in the field of leadership and global health or humanitarian systems and what interests you in the specific DrPH program in the HDPFH at the Mailman School   Please also describe your previous global health or humanitarian experience and how you hope to use your DrPH training to help you build on this experience and achieve your career goals.

Normally, students are expected to have demonstrated competency in the core public health areas specified by Association of Schools of Public Health for MPH graduates prior to beginning their DrPH studies. If students did not undertake relevant courses during prior study, they are required pre-admission, or if taken during the DrPH program, such credits are not counted towards the doctorate. Students may fulfill similar coursework at outside institutions and submit proof for admission, or fulfill coursework at Columbia.

Candidates are also expected to demonstrate a track-record of employment that indicates their capacity to access relevant work contexts to fulfill the work-based and dissertation requirements of the program.

Applicants to the DrPH degree program should submit their completed online applications to the Mailman School of Public Health by December 1st to ensure full consideration for admission and funding.

Learn More

View competencies, course requirements, sample schedules, and more in our Academics section.