Doctor of Public Health

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree programme is the highest professional degree for individuals focusing on Public Health practice. It is intended for leaders and future leaders in public health who want a flexible career which combines high-level leadership, management and research. Their career pursuits may include applied research, teaching and/or practice in the field of health services and public health administration.

Public health practice is the strategic, organised and interdisciplinary application of knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to perform essential public health services and other activities to improve the population’s health (Association of Schools of Public Health, US).

The goal of the DrPH programmes is to provide a broad knowledge of public health combined with specific knowledge in the student’s area of interest. It is oriented toward applied research in the organisation, direction and evaluation of public health programme rather than towards academic research and teaching (the province of PhD).

The DrPH program prepares students to become leaders in public health and health services policy and practice based on their ability to synthesise and translate the science base to public health practice.

This enables students to develop the knowledge, skills and practical experience necessary to advance research and shape public health policy as leaders in academic institutions, government organisations, non-governmental organisations or private industry. Students develop the values and attitudes that reflect a commitment to community advocacy, leadership, services and scholarship.

The DrPH is a highly structured program with an emphasis on coursework in all five core public health areas and assurance of the candidate’s mastery of knowledge and skills, and completion of a research thesis.


The following are the stated objectives of the 3-Year Doctor of Public Health Program which seeks to produce a Public Health Specialist who will be:-

  1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of public health.
  2. Incorporate cultural, social, behavioural and biological differences in the planning and development of public health programmes to investigate and mitigate risks to population health.
  3. Critically evaluate and synthesize public health approaches in monitoring and addressing population health.
  4. Advocate for timely effective action in response to important public health issues.
  5. Set health priorities and develop solutions to address health issues using scientific skills.
  6. Demonstrate leadership, autonomy, and responsibility in the practice of public health.
  7. Integrate knowledge for lifelong learning with the development of new ideas and solutions to improve population health.
  8. Identify emerging ethical and professional issues in the practice of public health.

Programme of study

The programme of study shall be named the Degree of Doctor of Public Health which is a programme of study comprising two parts (Part 1 and Part 2). Part 1 consists of courses including an internship course and Part 2 consists of research that leads to a thesis. Except where prior written approval has been obtained from the Dean of the Faculty, a candidate must successfully complete Part 1 before embarking on Part 2.

Students must complete a minimum of 3 years to complete the programme. The component of the program are as follows:

Part 1

Part 1 is for advanced studies in the speciality chosen. It includes coursework, tutorials, assignments, field visits, practical training in the chosen speciality (internship/attachment) and the preparation of a research proposal for a research project in an approved subject of the chosen speciality. Satisfactory performance in the coursework, attachment, and submission of the research proposal; as well as pass in both the written and oral Part I examination leads to 2 years of research work and thesis preparation.

Coursework - 21 credit hours
The candidates may come from different backgrounds with varied experience and knowledge in the health services. The coursework is to enable them to consolidate their knowledge and skills in the areas relevant to their research and public health practice.

There are seven (7) core courses of three (3) credits, totalling twenty-one (21) credits.

Professional attachment (Professional Internship: MWA8041) - 3 credit hours
  • Planning and design of health programmes,
  • Policy development and implementation,
  • Relationship with other organisations,
  • Advocacy, and
  • Impact and effectiveness.

The place of the attachment is selected jointly by the candidate and his/her supervisors.

It is the duty of the candidate to provide the professional internship coordinator with details of the selected organisation for attachment, via (all) their academic supervisors.

The place of attachment should be relevant to the candidate’s area of research. Given that the candidates will only have four weeks, they are strongly advised to limit their posting to one organisation of interest.

It could be at public institutions at district, state or federal levels; hospitals, health institutions, organisations, industries, non-governmental organisations, business, or labour unions.

The academic supervisors must ensure the quality and adequacy of the attachment programme and the on-site supervision by the field supervisor.

The candidate needs to provide a programme of activities for the duration of the internship. This should include visits to the workplace by the supervisor or periodic reports/consultations with the intern whichever applicable, or both.

The internship should result in a presentation and a written report. These will contribute to 50% of the overall marks for the professional internship.

The internship report should comprise between 8,000-12,000 words. It must be submitted one week (1) after the completion of the internship. As such, it is strongly encouraged that candidates commence report writing during their internship period.

The presentations will be scheduled two (2) weeks after the completion of the internship. A panel of assessors will be assigned to evaluate candidate’s written report as well as the presentations.

The following weightage will apply to the marking of the written report and oral presentation:

30% on:

  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Role

70% on:

How candidate’s research will impact/ aid the organisation in terms of:

  • Planning and design of health programmes,
  • Policy development and implementation,
  • Relationship with other organisations,
  • Advocacy, and
  • Impact and effectiveness.

Another 50% of the overall marks will be based on the evaluation of the field supervisor.

The field supervisors will be provided with a marking scheme.

Part 2

The candidate will undertake the research project on-site or based in the department. The conduct and progress of the research will be monitored by both the field and academic supervisors. This is done by on-site visits or presentations at the department. Upon satisfactory completion of the research project and thesis, the candidate will sit for the Part II examination. This will include the defence of the thesis. Upon satisfactory performance in the examination, the candidate will be awarded the Doctor of Public Health degree.

Public Health Attachment (PHA: MWA8040) - 10 credit hours

This is undertaken in Semester 5 and Semester 6.

The Public Health Attachment (PHA) is a continuation of the learning from the Professional Internship. In the Public Health Attachment candidates will be attached to a public health organisation and will function as ex-official of the organisation. The candidate will conduct activities of this organisation and will plan for the activities that are in line with the candidates learning objective. The candidate will experience the delivery of public health and working in the community.

Research thesis (Thesis: MWA8002) - 80 credit hours

This is undertaken in Year 2 and 3 of the programme.

The candidate will undertake the research project on-site or based in the department. The conduct and progress of the research will be monitored by both the field and academic supervisors. This is by on-site visits or presentation at the department. Upon satisfactory completion of the research project and thesis, the candidate will sit for the Part II examination. This will include defence of the thesis. Upon satisfactory performance in the examination, the candidate will be awarded the Doctor of Public Health degree.

The purpose is to expose the student to the methodology and in public health practice. This includes:-

  • Identification of research needs
  • Organising research
  • Developing research questions from public health problem
  • Planning research projects
  • Selection of appropriate methods for research
  • Collection and data analysis
  • Presentation of research results
  • Report writing
  • Dissemination of findings
  • Application of findings to improve health of communities

The student must show competence and quality of the above requirements.

The project should be in an applied area of public health, focus on problem-solving in a specific area of public health activity or programme.

The project should have sufficient scope to demonstrate the student’s ability to address a research question employing a scientific methodology to generate new ideas and knowledge to improve the health of the public through policy or organisational change.

The project should demonstrate:

  • Intention – produce new information and its application to improve the health of the
  • Information – an ability to address the resources needed, e. money, manpower and materials, needed to bring about change. The focus involved – decision makers. Communities and stakeholders, legal and ethical considerations, policy issues and organisational and statutory boundaries or limitations that may enable or impede change.
  • Integration – ability to integrate research analysis with information generated into a logical, comprehensive document for organisational or policy change. It should also include the pros and cons of such change; its effects on the population and methods of evaluation in the future.

Overview of the Courses

This course aims to further develop students understanding on the principles, concepts and methods of public health and health service research. The content of this course covers the theoretical considerations and practical steps of planning, implementation of research as well as the ethical principles and challenges of conducting research. In this course, higher level methods of appraisal and review of literature will be discussed. More complex form of study design will be examined in-depth with consideration of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Students will be guided to develop the skills required to disseminate research plans and findings in a range of contexts. Individual discussions with supervisor are mandatory in order to complete this course.
This Health Policy and Leadership module is intended to provide students with an understanding of the dynamics of health policy processes at both national and international levels. The course covers the political systems within which policies are formulated and the role of the state, the process of policy making within the government, how issues get onto the policy agenda, the role of interest groups in the policy process, policy implementation, contribution of research and evaluation and global initiatives in health policy.
This course will provide an orientation to epidemiology as a basic science for public health as it holds a central role because “of its population focus and quantitative methods”. The course intends to provide an insight into the core functions of epidemiology namely public health surveillance, field investigation, analytic studies, evaluation, and linkages.
This course will provide the candidate the knowledge on the safety, occupational health management system and Human resource in healthcare organisations. The course will include the planning and implementation of the system in an organisation.
MWA8037: ADVANCED DATA ANALYSIS (ADA) - 3 credit hours
This module provides a comprehensive analysis of health data particularly in the area of public health. Variety of analyses according to public health issues are introduced and discussed. This module also covers how to handle important variables such as confounding, interaction and mediation in the analysis. Methods of modelling longitudinal data and missing data are introduced. Analysis of validity and reliability if questionnaire will be emphasized.
MWA8038: EPIDEMIOLOGY OF DISEASES (ED) - 3 credit hours
The course is designed to provide an in-depth understanding on the epidemiology of several important non-communicable diseases and conditions. The focus of this course is providing an overview of the importance and trends in non-communicable diseases globally, identify the major determinants of non-communicable diseases, identify methodological and conceptual issues and challenges to the study of non-communicable diseases including limits of observational evidence, construction of conceptual frameworks in life-course epidemiology as well as challenges in the control of these diseases.

This course also provides a broad introduction to the epidemiology, prevention, and control of the major communicable (including emerging and re-emerging) diseases. The One Health approach in the management of disease outbreak and the application of disease modelling in infectious diseases will be introduced.

This course covers essential content in addressing social and behavioural science concepts for application in public health practices. Material will address philosophies, theories and models underpinning social and behavioural sciences. The course will focus on four health domains, incorporating current social and behavioural sciences approaches: nutrition, HIV/ AIDS, illicit drug use and adolescent risk behaviour. Community engagement activities provide the opportunity to apply learning to real life situations, and written assignments provide an opportunity to synthesize lectures, readings, and activities into intellectual and creative documents.

Marking Scheme


The assessment for the examination for the coursework component shall be based on the following marking scheme:

90.00-100.00 A+ 4.00 High Distinction
80.00-89.99 A 4.00 Distinction
75.00-79.99 A- 3.70 Distinction
70.00-74.99 B+ 3.30 Pass
65.00-69.99 B 3.00 Pass
60.00-64.99 B- 2.70 Fail
55.00-59.99 C+ 2.3 Fail
50.00-54.99 C 2.00 Fail
45.00-49.99 C- 1.70 Fail
40.00-49.99 D+ 1.50 Fail
35.00-39.99 D 1.00 Fail
0.00-34.99 F 0.00 Fail

*For more details, please refer to the University of Malaya (doctoral degree) Rules 2019 and University of Malaya (doctoral degree) Regulations 2019 (Senate approval July 2021).

Duration of Study

Minimum duration: 6 semesters

Maximum duration: 12 semesters

Entry Requirement (2022)

Admission requirements to pursue a Doctor of Public Health programme by Mixed Mode – [Rule 3 (1)] are as follows:

a) Master’s in public health with a CGPA of not less than 3.00 or its equivalent; and

b) Possess a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery or other equivalent medical doctorates from a recognized university; and

c) Has relevant work experience of at least one year or for a period as stipulated by the Department from time to time.

English Language requirement is as follows:

  1. A non-citizen applicant who wishes to follow a degree programme of study shall fulfil the English Language competency requirement determined by the University if he obtained his degree from a university or institution of higher learning which does not use English as the medium of instruction for the relevant degree.
  2. English Language competency requirements for non-citizen applicants are as follows:
    • to obtain a minimum score of 600 on the paper-based total (PBT), a score of 250 for the computer-based total (CBT) or a score of 100 for the internet-based total (IBT) for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); or
    • to obtain a minimum score of Band 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (Academic). 
    • score according to the programme standard if it is higher than (a) and (b);
    • If the programme standard states that the TOEFL or IELTS (Academic) score is lower than the minimum score of the University, these programmes should follow the minimum score set by the University as stated in (a) and (b);
    • Pearson Test of Academic English (PTE Academic) with a minimum score of 42;
    • A Levels English Language subject with Grade C and above;
    • Cambridge English: First (FCE) with Grade C and above;
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) with Grade C and above;
    • Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) with Grade C and above; or
    • MUET with minimum Band 5.

Course Intake

International candidates have the option of undertaking research in their countries. They will have to comply with regulations specific to this purpose.

Award of Degree

No candidate shall be recommended for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Public Health unless the candidate has completed all parts of the course and has passed the prescribed Examinations in Part I and satisfactorily completed and defended the thesis in Part II of the DrPH.

Part I

Candidates must obtain at least a ‘B’, i.e., a score of more or equal to 65 (Grade Point Average 3.0) in the course to be considered to have completed the course. Candidate must have successfully completed 21 credits of core courses, and 3 credits of the professional internship to be considered to have passed Part I and can proceed to Part II of the DrPH programme.

Part II

Candidates must obtain at least a ‘B’, i.e., a score of more or equal to 65 (Grade Point Average 3.0) in the Public Health Attachment to be considered to have completed the course. Candidates will need to undergo an examination through Candidature Defence (CD) no later than the 5th Semester. Only after the successful completion of the CD, the candidates will be allowed to submit the completed thesis for the final examination. The thesis will be assessed by two independent examiners, i.e., an external examiner (a qualified academic or professional from an international university or public health institution) and an internal examiner from the University of Malaya. After both the examiners have completed the assessment, the candidate is required to attend a Viva Voce to defend the thesis. Upon satisfactory performance in the examination and the Viva Voce, the candidate will be awarded the Doctor of Public Health degree.

How to apply?

Those who are interested to apply for the course can browse for information on the application for postgraduate studies.

What are the Fees?

Fee Structure for Citizen
Fee Structure for Non-Citizen