Frequently Asked Questions

What is population health science? How is it different from public health?

Population health science refers to the outcomes of health in a population. These outcomes are broadly defined as measurements of a population's dynamic state of physical, mental, and social well-being; a population can refer to patient populations, or it can be determined by other factors, such as age or geography. Public health refers to the approaches that society, as a whole, takes to improving health.

What makes the M.S. in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Duke different from other similar programs?

At Duke, our multidisciplinary M.S. in Population Health Sciences prepares students to make large-scale improvements to health care practices that impact the patient directly. We believe our program is more rigorous than other population health programs; our students graduate with a deep understanding of statistical modeling, programming, and research methods. Our students receive training that goes well beyond a standard mentored experience; they take on apprenticeships to make the transition to the professional world seamless.

Degrees from the Population Health Sciences department are granted by Duke's Graduate School and the department is also part of the Duke School of Medicine so our students can tap into a robust network of connections to Duke clinical faculty. Students can collaborate with experts at other renowned Duke institutions, such as the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Duke Cancer Institute and the Duke Global Health Institute.

I have specific admission questions. Where can I find further information and answers?

Check out the Duke Department of Population Health Sciences admissions page for more information and an application FAQ section.

How long will it take to complete the Master’s program?

The M.S. in PHS is a full-time, two-year degree program.

Is the degree offered online?

The DPHS Master's degree is currently only offered in person, on our physical campus, face-to-face (also known as a "brick-and-mortar" degree).

Is work experience a requirement for applicants?

While we anticipate a large number of our students will have work experience, it's not required for the degree.

What is the difference between an MPH and the M.S. in Population Health Sciences?

A Master of Public Health (MPH) typically focuses on the practice of public health. The M.S. in Population Health Sciences combines health knowledge with advanced research and evaluation techniques. We developed the data-driven MS curriculum in response to organizations describing their need for "subject matter experts with analytic skills."

What kind of careers will the M.S. in Population Health Sciences prepare you for?

The MS in Population Health Sciences prepares graduates for careers in community settings, health care systems, or industry. Sample jobs could be:

  • Program management in community nonprofits
  • Policy evaluation in government agencies
  • Quality improvement in health care systems
  • Project development in health industry
  • Graduates will also be prepared for careers in academic or contract research, with positions in research coordination or project management.

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