Employment Trends Among Public Health Doctoral Recipients, 2003-2015

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To examine postgraduation employment trends among graduates of doctoral programs in public health from 2003 to 2015.


We analyzed pooled cross-sectional data from a census of graduates receiving a research doctorate from US accredited institutions. The outcome of interest was employment status. Covariates included public health discipline, sociodemographic characteristics, and institutional attributes.


Of 11 771 graduates, nearly two thirds secured employment in either academic (34.8%) or nonacademic (31.4%) settings at the time of graduation. The proportion of those still seeking employment increased over time. Individuals who were White, younger, trained in either biostatistics or epidemiology, or from an institution with the highest level of research intensity were significantly more likely to secure employment. Academic employment was the most common setting for all 5 public health disciplines, but we observed differences in employment patterns (e.g., government, nonprofit, for-profit) across disciplines.


Certain characteristics among public health doctoral recipients are correlated with postgraduation employment. More research is needed, but the observed increase in individuals still seeking employment may be attributable to increases in general public health graduates from for-profit institutions.

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