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Health Policy - DrPH


New Information about the DrPH for students matriculating in fall 2021 and thereafter:

The GWSPH is in the midst of a comprehensive process to update the DrPH curriculum to establish a school-based, rather than department-based, DrPH program.  This new DrPH curriculum will be effective beginning with the cohort matriculating in fall 2021.  The information provided on this program page is generally related to the current DrPH curriculum/program and will be updated to reflect changes as program details are approved.  Effective immediately, the GWSPH DrPH program will now admit students annually.  Here is an overview of the new school-wide DrPH: 

The DrPH trains public health thought leaders and practitioners ready to shape public health policy and practice discourse and lead organizational and societal change in the U.S. and worldwide. This is an interdisciplinary, public health leadership training program that delivers practice-based curriculum and applied research to equip public health leaders with skills for the development, implementation, and evaluation of efficient public health programs and policies and resolve complex systematic problems. The DrPH program training utilizes health policy and global health opportunities exclusive to Washington, D.C. to prepare our students for senior-level public health leadership roles in the U.S. and globally. Focusing on leadership and practice, we are providing curriculum flexibility to meet the diverse needs of our students through rigorous course work in global health; environmental & occupational health; health policy & management; prevention & community health; exercise & nutrition; biostatistics, and epidemiology.

Current DrPH

The mission of the GW Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) in Health Policy program is to train health professionals and public health practitioners who are uniquely equipped to provide real world leadership at the national, state, and local levels in all phases of public health, healthcare, and health policy development and implementation.  DrPH graduates are expected to contribute to the improved effectiveness of public health, healthcare, and health policy in the U.S. and around the world, focused particularly on medically underserved and vulnerable populations.

At the George Washington University, we are proud to provide a top notch doctoral education that prepares students to apply sophisticated research and analytic skills to a range of implementation, evaluation, and advocacy needs of various cultural and socioeconomic groups and communities. We emphasize these qualities in the DrPH in Health Policy program because they are essential for future health professionals and public health practitioners. In addition, we are certain that graduates of our program will be prepared to assume an advanced level of leadership in health policy.

The objectives of this specialty field are to:

  • Provide advanced training on cutting edge issues in health policy.

  • Equip candidates with the research and analytic methods they need to conduct the types of advanced analysis that can make a real difference in healthcare and public health.


New for 2021 cohort:  The GWSPH DrPH Program will admit students annually. Submission of GRE scores is optional.

Applications are now being accepted for admissions for next fall to the school-wide program.  Applications will be accepted beginning mid-August and are due no later than December 1st.  Applications will be reviewed following the December 1st deadline and those applicants selected for an interview can expect to be contacted by mid-February.   

A Master 's degree is required. Applicants who have completed a MPH degree from a Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredited program are strongly preferred for admission to the DrPH Program. Applicants with a master’s degree in another field should explain their relevant training, research experience, work experience and educational background comparable to the MPH. DrPH applicants admitted without a MPH may be required to take additional coursework at the graduate level that does not apply toward the minimum 48 credits required for the DrPH program.

If submitting GRE scores, they must have been taken within five years of the date of application. Because admission to this program is highly selective, successful applicants have competitive academic credentials and substantial (4 years or more) prior public health professional work experience. 


This curriculum information is for student's matriculating in fall 2020

DrPH Core Requirements

PUBH 8401 | Foundations in Public Health Leadership and Practice (3 credits)
PUBH 8402 | Leadership and Decision Making: A Skills Based Approach (2 credits)
PUBH 8416 | Study Design and Evaluation Methods (3 credits)
PUBH 8417 | Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis (3 credits)
PUBH 8418 | Applied Statistical Analysis (3 credits)
PUBH 8419 | Measurement in Public Health and Health Services Research (3 credits)
PUBH 8420 | Advanced Analysis and Dissemination (2 credits)
PUBH 8403 | Leadership in Public Health Practice and Policy (3 credits)
PUBH 6080* | Pathways to Public Health (0 credits)

*PUBH 6080 - Find FAQs on the Advising page here.


Course Descriptions

Health Policy Requirements

PUBH 8404 | Advanced Topics - Health Systems & Health Policy Research (3 credits)
PUBH 8405 | Advanced Topics - Health Economics Research (3 credits)


Health Policy Course Descriptions

Health Policy Electives

(7-10 credits in Elective Specialty Field Courses)

For the most up to date list of electives, please reference the program guide and SPH course descriptions.

Professional Leadership, Comprehensive Exams and Dissertation


Credit varies. Most students will take 2 credits Instructional Leadership.

PUBH 8413 | Research Leadership
PUBH 8415 | Instructional Leadership



All DrPH students are required to pass a Comprehensive Examination, which typically occurs following the Spring semester of Year 2.  Comprehensive exams must be successfully completed within three years of matriculation to the DrPH program.



PUBH 8422 | Advanced Health Care & Public Health Research Design (2 credits)
Prerequisites: Pass Comprehensive Exam, Approval of Program Director, & one page abstract 

PUBH 8423 | Dissertation Research (6-9 credits)


Non-Academic Requirements

Graduate Teaching Assistant Program (GTAP)

All DrPH students must enroll in UNIV 0250- Graduate Teaching Assistant Certification, administered by the University. Successful completion of this Certification is a pre-requisite/co-requisite to taking on a role as a Teaching Assistant. The University does not allow students to be Teaching Assistants unless this certification is completed. The 1-credit, online certification is paid for by GW, however the 1-credit does not count toward the 48-credit minimum required for the DrPH degree.

Professional Enhancement

Students in the DrPH program must participate in eight hours of Professional Enhancement. These activities may be Public Health-related lectures, seminars, and symposia related to your field of study.

Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.

Students submit a completed Professional Enhancement Form to the Office of Student Records which is required documentation to be cleared for graduation.


Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training

All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research.  This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.


Academic Integrity Quiz

All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity.  This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.

Program Guides

Past Program Guides

Students in the DrPH in Health Policy program should refer to the guide from the year in which they matriculated into the program. For the current program guide, click the red "PROGRAM GUIDE" button on the right-hand side of the page.


**For graduation requirements, please download the program guide.**

See the program guide, the DrPH Student Handbook, and the SPH Graduate Student Handbook for additional information.


Profiles of Current Students:


Derrick Beasley

Growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Derrick was immersed in a community that for many were challenged by lack of access to affordable and accessible health care, perpetual generational poverty, and normalization of environments that appeared to often further stimulate health inequities. He always asked, “what more can we be doing as a community to help change the trajectories of people?”

It is well known that health policy plays a critical role in shaping the experience that individuals have in accessing comprehensive, quality health care services. Although it is well known that numerous social determinants of health (e.g., socioeconomic conditions, access to health care services) can impact the care that individuals receive (either directly or indirectly), these factors are often considered outside the purview of traditional health provider systems. As a result, marginalized and disadvantaged communities are further challenged. A holistic mindfulness of a patient’s day-to-day experience living with a condition is critical in order to effectively empower patients to improve their health. At Milken Institute SPH, Derrick is particularly interested in drawing on his foundational knowledge in health behavior, health education, and social determinants to build a strong understanding of health policy and how it can be used to strengthen health care delivery for patients. Additionally, he would like to develop the skills needed to identify informed strategies and measurable goals and objectives in order to promote health equity and social justice.

Derrick is currently a social science researcher at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Up until now, a bulk of his work has aimed to understand the patient’s experience living with opioid use disorder, and those living with diabetes. Derrick is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s in Public Health Studies and a minor in Cultural Anthropology. Derrick went on to earn a master of public health degree with emphasis in health promotion from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also holds a master of science degree in social and behavioral sciences from the Rollins School of Public Health, in Atlanta, Georgia.


DBishop Profile

Darla Bishop
MPH, University of Michigan

Darla Bishop currently manages planning and strategy for Priority Advantage, a white-label, end-to-end Medicare Advantage service provider. Bishop is pursuing a DrPh degree at GW while continuing to work for Priority Advantage and says it is the “perfect opportunity” to combine theory and research with her management experience.

In addition to her health policy expertise, Bishop is also a trained birth and postpartum doula, and has volunteered providing free doula services to Spanish-speaking families who typically are navigating the US health and insurance system for the first time.


DChen Profile

Daniel Chen
MPH, Drexel University

Daniel currently works with Wendy Ellis, also from the 2014 DrPH cohort, on the Building Community Resilience project. Daniel leads several aspects of the project, including metric development for cross-sector collaborations, digital media and communications, and technical assistance related to research and evaluation. His dissertation research aims to develop a function-based lens for health care workforce planning and development, specifically for those who work to address patient and family social needs.



Joya Chowdhury
BA, University of Maryland – Baltimore County
MPH, The George Washington University

Joya currently is the Senior Coordinator for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, where she provides administrative, scientific and logistical support for the USPSTF.

Her interest is in working with vulnerable populations in primary care settings to improve access to care, increase quality of care, improve health outcomes, and decrease health disparities through prevention and use of evidence-based strategies.

Joya was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and is excited about the quality of life improvements that are made possible through simple interventions, not only at the individual level but also at the population level.



Kim DiGioia
Department: Health Policy


Kim DiGioia, MS, is a Senior Program Associate at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a research funding organization based in Washington, DC. In this role, she has evaluated proposals and monitored awards in the Clinical Effectiveness and Decision Science research portfolio, helped to design and implement new initiatives, including two targeted funding announcements on palliative care and symptom management, and led the development of a novel PCORI scholarship program for graduate trainees.

Before joining PCORI, Ms. DiGioia was a Health Care Delivery System Fellow at the Lown Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit that seeks to catalyze a grassroots movement for transforming health care systems and improving the health of communities. Her work at the Lown Institute and in other previous positions at Kaiser Permanente and Brigham and Women’s Hospital has focused on investigating social and cultural drivers of poor health and system dysfunction, and uncovering innovative solutions to join up health and social care to achieve the Quadruple Aim. She earned a BA in health psychology from Smith College and an MS in social and behavioral sciences from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Ms. DiGioia’s current interests sit at the intersection of public health and health care reform; she hopes to conduct health policy research that identifies and evaluates optimal models of care organization, financing, and delivery and ultimately drives the US health care system “upstream” -- toward prevention and a more holistic view of health. In her free time, she participates in social activism, and gets outside as much as possible!


Wendy Ellis

Wendy Ellis
MPH, University of Washington

Wendy Ellis is the Project Director of the Building Community Resilience collaborative at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Building Community Resilience (BCR) collaborative is testing and implementing a model based on Ms. Ellis’ doctoral research in designing a strategic process for public health and other systems to align resources, programs and initiatives with community based partners to address adverse childhood experiences and adverse community environments-- or as Ellis has coined it "The Pair of ACEs". The BCR model is being tested in five major metropolitan areas including Cincinnati, OH; Dallas, TX; Portland, OR; Washington, DC St. Louis and Kansas City, MO. Ms. Ellis co-authored an article detailing the BCR process, "A New Framework for Addressing Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences: The Building Community Resilience Model" which can be found in the September 2017 Journal of Academic Pediatrics.

In 2018 Ms. Ellis was selected as an a 2018 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow []. According to the Aspen Institute, "Ascend Fellows are visionary, entrepreneurial leaders with bold ideas that can move the needle on health and well-being and offer concrete economic and social mobility pathways for children and their families. The Fellowship provides leaders the space and support to bring their ideas to life and scale."

In 2017, Ms. Ellis was selected to receive a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being—seeking innovations to prevent child abuse and neglect. The fellowships are designed to develop a new generation of leaders capable of creating practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the nation's ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment. She is also one of the first Milken Scholars at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Ellis has consulted on the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative in Dallas, Texas and Washington, DC, organized and moderated Congressional briefings, and has been widely quoted on topics related to childhood trauma and community resilience.


Okey Eniya jpg

Okey K. Enyia
Department: Health Policy


Okey K. Enyia currently serves in the Division of Policy and Strategic Planning at the Department of Health and Human Services – reporting to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. He is also Founder & CEO of Enyia Strategies, LLC - a health policy consulting firm that provides advising, research support, policy analysis, project management, and legislative strategy for individuals and entities seeking measurable ways to influence policy on issues related to health equity, health disparities, social determinants of health and health in all policies.

As a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Health Policy Fellow (2014-2016), he worked in a bicameral fashion to help draft the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 - a significant piece of bipartisan legislation that accelerates the discovery, development, and delivery of new cures and treatments for patients across the country.

With a passion for social justice and advocacy, his research interests will further explore the intersections of race, gender, equity, health, and policy with respect to the lived experiences of African American men and boys over the life course. “I found that the collegial atmosphere here at GW fostered an authentic sense of community that would create a safe space for me to thrive as an emerging scholar in the field.”

A native of Chicago and the oldest of six children to Nigerian immigrants, he holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Chicago State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Biochemistry from Lewis University. He gives back to his community as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.



Alexandra Greig
BHB, MBChB, University of Auckland (New Zealand)
MPH, Harvard University

Alexandra is a physician who has worked in a variety of medical roles in rural and metropolitan centers in New Zealand and Australia. She completed her Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, and upon her return to Australasia, completed her medical specialty training. She currently works as a Public Health Physician for the District Health Boards of Auckland and Waitemata in New Zealand.

Originally from Aotearoa, New Zealand, Alexandra is excited about the opportunity and possibility to make a real difference in the lives of others. She loves the diversity of work in public health and the constant challenge and intellectually stimulation from her work.


MKeeys Profile

Mia Keeys

Mia R. Keeys serves as the Health Policy Advisor to Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Policy Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. Mia is originally from Philadelphia, PA, but also calls Jakarta, Indonesia and Johannesburg, South Africa “home.” Through her efforts promoting health equity nationwide and internationally, Mia works with her colleagues developing health, economic, and education policies and programs that illuminate and address critical issues of historically underserved populations. Mia bases her health equity philosophy on understanding “upstream” issues–access, affordability, and socially determining factors–which affect communities’ abilities to make healthy choices across their lives. Mia especially frames her research and work around youth of color and their ability to manifest their life vision, a philosophy which she illustrates in her 2015 TEDx talk, “A Racial Imagination Quotient.”

The National Minority Quality Forum recognizes Mia as a 40 Under 40 Leader in Minority Health. The National Academy of Medicine features Mia's work in their national project and exhibit, "Visualizing Health Equity." Previously, Mia has been a Kaiser Family Foundation Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar; a Fellow for the City of Philadelphia in the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Health and Opportunity; an HIV/AIDS researcher in South Africa; and a U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia, where she lived and worked in various health administrative and research capacities for three years, while simultaneously learning the national language, Bahasa Indonesian. She has also held summer associate appointments with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health.

Mia holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Psychology from Cheyney University, and a Master of Arts degree in Medical Sociology from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow through Meharry Medical College. Mia is also a creative non-fiction writer, with training from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.



Hannah Martin
Department: Health Policy


I received my BSPH with honors and MPH (both in nutrition) from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. I have wanted to work in policy in DC since early on in graduate school and used my electives and designed my dietetic internship to prepare me for a career in federal nutrition and health policy. I am a registered dietitian and senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center—a DC-based think tank—and I plan to continue working full-time while pursuing my DrPH in health policy part-time.

My many issue areas at BPC include SNAP and federal feeding programs, obesity education for health professionals, obesity reimbursement policies, public health financing, and integrating clinic and community health.

I first experienced the very siloed nature of the US health care system as a dietetic intern working in a large hospital and seeing patients who kept ending up in the hospital due to a confluence of factors that hospital staff had utterly no ability to address. At BPC, I have had the opportunity to work with the BPC Prevention Task Force and the IOM Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, which collectively put into words many of the barriers to adequately valuing upstream prevention and the opportunities for better integrating clinical and community systems.

I have served on the board of directors of the DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2014 and recently ended my term as president. I am a cyclist and bike advocate. My husband and I have 3 cats and are on a never-ending journey to renovate our fixer-upper rowhouse.



Brent Sandmeyer
BA, New York University
MPH, Portland State University

For the past five years, Brent has been working in health services research and policy at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), where he oversees a large research grant portfolio, supporting hundreds of health services researchers at dozens of institutions across the country.   He will continue to work there while pursuing his DrPH.

Before starting his career in public health, Brent was a political organizer, helping elect progressive candidates at the local, state and national level who enacted important health care reforms such as the Affordable Care Act and the Oregon Health Authority.

Brent is originally from Evanston, Illinois and is interested in improving the quality, accessibility, equity, and affordability of health care, particularly for people with low income.


Julia Strasser
MPH, Johns Hopkins University

“Years and years of data tell us that if patients have access to health services, particularly preventive services such as cancer screening, then they are less likely to have health problems later on and less likely to need emergency care,” says Julia Strasser.  Attracted to GW by the school’s “excellent reputation for health policy research, both in DC and nationally,” Strasser plans to focus on healthcare financing and coverage for services while working on her degree.

Previously, Strasser had worked in a private family practice clinic and in a Planned Parenthood clinic and during that time had noticed the differences in access to care and coverage options for patients at different income levels. “I observed the cascading effects that state-level health policies can have on individual health outcomes,” Strasser says, describing how state policies regarding Medicare and Medicaid sometimes made the difference in whether a patient at the clinic was financially able to afford recommended preventive services, such as cancer screenings.

These experiences and further post-MPH work as a policy analyst at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association led to Strasser’s interest in health policy by exposing her to different aspects of the policy and research spheres.

Strasser says she is “particularly excited to learn from faculty members who are not only respected experts in the field but also who are doing research on emerging and engaging issues in health policy.”

Strasser is also and will continue to serve as a board member for NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. She says she has been “passionate about reproductive rights for many years,” an interest which was further fueled by her work for Planned Parenthood and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.


Veronica Vela
MS, University of California-Berkeley

During graduate school at UC Berkeley, Veronica Vela worked on a project to develop a medical device and says she fell in love with the design process. “I see innovation as looking at problems with fresh eyes and uncovering needs that have not been addressed,“ Vela says. This led to an interest in improving health systems and creating innovative health technologies. 

As a formally trained systems engineer, Vela particularly enjoys collaborating with others to diagnose how and why breakdowns in health systems occur. Working most recently for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, Vela co-led a team to improve diabetes care for 150,000 patients. Using a process that looked at all aspects of diabetes care, they were able to improve outcomes for over 14,000 patients in the first year alone. She says this experience shows “what is possible when policies, processes and innovative solutions are aligned.”


There are numerous opportunities for Health Policy Doctor of Public Health degree program graduates as new health policy initiatives are regularly developed and tested. DrPH Health Policy graduates are in high demand at state and local governmental organizations, private health agencies and foundations, non-profit research centers, and educational institutions. Graduates with a DrPH in Health Policy also find careers in teaching, research, and consulting.

What our Alumni Have to Say:

I work for the Brazilian government in a federal agency that regulates private health insurance. The training I received from the doctoral program equipped me with tools to deal with the challenges of my work. Moreover, as a student at the Milken Institute of Public Health, important doors opened to me at Pan American Health Organisation and the World Bank which not only eventually engaged me in the research path I followed in my dissertation, but also provided a strong network in my career... Heitor Werneck, DrPH 2016


I am currently the Manager of Policy, Research, and Health Promotion at the National Center for Health in Public Housing and the National Center for Health and the Aging at North American Management. The DrPH program was incredibly important in helping me with my career. It gave me the knowledge and experience I needed in policy analysis and various research methods, as well as provided me with a connection to the larger public health community. I learned a tremendous amount while at GW. I would encourage prospective students to take advantage of the professors and experts working in the departments or lecturing in the classroom. There is a wealth of experience to tap into... Saqi Maleque Cho, DrPH 2016

The DrPH program at GW offers some of the most rigorous preparation for leadership in professional and academic careers. I was well positioned to be successful in my position as a tenure-track faculty member largely due to the opportunities the DrPH afforded me to build both my research and teaching portfolios. A DrPH degree made me stand out as a candidate for this position because I was able to demonstrate skills and expertise in applied research, community engagement, and teaching/curricular innovations. My two pieces of advice to prospective DrPH students is (1) to maximize your required leadership credits; explore different opportunities that give you a full range of practical and meaningful experiences to add to your CV: from research, to administration, to teaching.  (2) Find a mentor with whom you can really connect and who can empower your trajectory for personal and professional development. I feel lucky to call many DrPH faculty both my mentors and my friends. I am currently an Assistant Professor, Public Health in the Department of Health Sciences at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA.. Tishra Beeson, DrPH 2014


Sample Dissertation Titles

  • Hospice Quality Measurement:  A Mixed-Methods Approach to Assessing U.S. Hospice's Preparation for and Attitudes Towards Implementation of Mandated Public Reporting...Randall Gale 2015
  • Comparison of Resource Use and Quality for Adults with Diabetes Enrolled in a Commercial Health Maintenance Organization...Sally Turbyville, DrPH 2013
  • Impact of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG) Report Cards on CABG Mortality and Provider Market Share and Value... Mahesh Shukla, DrPH 2013
  • Routine Chlamydia Screening in Community Health Centers: Mixed Methods Approach... Shavon Artis, DrPH 2013
  • Measuring the Facilitators and Barriers in the Implementation of Performance Measures in Emergency Medical Services for Children....Tasmeen Weik, DrPH 2009

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