The doctoral degree in public health at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences

In 2017, a doctoral degree in public health (Dr. P.H.) programme was established at Fulda University of Applied Sciences. By granting the university the right to award this doctoral degree independently (a rarity among German universities of applied sciences), the German federal state of Hesse acknowledged the superiority of Fulda University of Applied Sciences’ public health research programme.

In the whole of Germany, doctoral degrees in public health are currently awarded at five universities (University of Bielefeld, TU Berlin, University of Bremen, Medical Research School Düsseldorf, Hannover Medical School) and now at Fulda University of Applied Sciences. Internationally, the doctoral degree in public health is highly respected and is awarded by prestigious institutions such as UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, Harvard University’s School of Public Health and the University of London’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The doctoral degree programme in public health is administered at the Fulda Public Health Centre.

What topics are suitable for a doctoral degree thesis in public health?

Public health is closely intertwined with the social, political and economic developments in societies. Public health initiatives aim to safeguard the health of the general population and specifically endangered sections of the population. To achieve this, healthcare must be provided in a manner that is appropriate to the public needs and is non-discriminatory as well as being accessible irrespective of the financial means of the individual. A specialised field within public health, public health nutrition additionally focuses on population-based preventive and health-promoting approaches as solutions to nutrition-related issues.

Doctoral degree theses/projects in public health at Fulda University of Applied Sciences must be relevant to one of the issues addressed by the discipline of public health:

  • the prevalence as well as the spatial and social distribution of diseases within the population
    (social inequality of health opportunities, including poor nutrition);
  • the investigation of factors affecting health and sickness, in particular social and environmental factors, as well as options for modifying these factors through political decisions (health in all policies approach);
  • the systematic planning, implementation and evaluation of political and setting-based interventions for the promotion of the health-related quality of life of the population;
  • the population-wide need for preventive, curative, rehabilitative, nursing, midwifery and palliative care;
  • the effectiveness and cost-benefit ratios of health promotion and disease prevention measures as well as of health and nursing care, as evidenced by patient-relevant outcomes;
  • the design, control and funding of health systems offering high-quality care that is need-appropriate, non-discriminatory and accessible irrespective of financial means;
  • the appropriate involvement of the population in health system design and in political decision-making that affects public health issues;
  • education and training in health professions, interprofessional collaborative structures and interfaces in health-related care; and
  • the creation of evidence-based expertise relevant to decision-making with regard to health-related measures.

What are the prerequisites for acceptance as a doctoral candidate in public health?

In order to be accepted as a doctoral candidate in public health at Fulda University of Applied Sciences, you will need to have obtained

  • a Master’s degree in a relevant (health science) field following a Master’s programme comprising a total of 300 ECTS credit points with a grade of at least 2.0 (German grading system) or an ECTS ranking of B;

or

  • a degree in an relevant (health science) field that is deemed to be equivalent to a degree awarded by a German university by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz);

or

  • you must have completed a degree programme outside Germany that is comparable to a programme described above (first bullet point), that would entitle you to begin a doctoral programme in the country where you completed your degree and that is deemed equivalent to a degree awarded in Germany.

If the doctoral committee of the doctoral degree programme in public health deems an alternative equivalent degree or a degree obtained from a non-German university insufficient for immediate acceptance, it may request additional evidence of achievements before accepting an applicant as a doctoral candidate.

You can find additional important information in the doctoral degree regulations for the public health programme (see Quick links section). The head of the doctoral degree programme in public health, Prof. Dr. Daphne Hahn daphne.hahn(at)pg.hs-fulda.de is available to consult with you regarding these acceptance criteria.

What are the first steps towards a doctoral degree in public health?

We recommend that your first step be to contact one of the research-oriented professors within the doctoral degree programme in public health (by e-mail), because only these professors are eligible as primary supervisors of doctoral candidates in public health. For this initial inquiry, you should prepare a description of your planned thesis of no longer than two pages.

The following is a list of research-oriented professors who are eligible as primary supervisors of doctoral candidates in public health. Their research interests are included in parentheses:

Prof. Dr. habil. Marc Birringer (applied biochemistry in nutrition and environmental research)
Prof. Dr. Beate Blättner (health promotion)
Prof. Dr. Helma Bleses (nursing science and clinical nursing)
Prof. Dr. habil. Adelheid Susanne Esslinger (health care management)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Greß (health care research and health economics)
Prof. Dr. Henny Annette Grewe (basic medical principles in nursing)
Prof. Dr. Daphne Hahn (health sciences and social research methods)
Prof. Dr. Matthias Hastall (health communication and patient information) (In March 2017, Prof. Hastall transferred to TU Dortmund University, where his research interest is in qualitative research methods and strategic health, inclusion, and participation communication)
Prof. Dr. habil. Christoph Klotter (health psychology, nutrition psychology, psychotherapy)
Prof. Dr. Simone Kreher (sociology of health)
Prof. Dr. habil. Anja Kroke (nutrition-based strategies of prevention, nutrition epidemiology)
Prof. Dr. Susanne Kümpers (qualitative health research, social inequality and public health strategies)
Prof. Dr. Jana Rückert-John (sociology of food)
Prof. Dr. habil. Thilo Schlott (human biology and statistics)

Then, in consultation with one of the professors listed above, you will compose a comprehensive exposé for your doctoral thesis, explaining your suggested thesis topic (minimum length: 15 to 25 full pages of text). This detailed exposé should contain: a description of the current state of research, the aims of your proposed studies, the expected contribution of your project to the field of public health, a statement on the degree of innovation, a description of your proposed methodology and the selected methods as well as an outline of the results you expect.

Once you have finalised your exposé, you will submit it (by post and by e-mail) together with a written supervision agreement (see Quick links section) and your application for acceptance as doctoral candidate to the head of the doctoral degree programme in public health: FAO Prof. Dr. Daphne Hahn daphne.hahn(at)pg.hs-fulda.de. Please respect the application deadlines.

The doctoral committee has to approve your exposé for your doctoral thesis in order for you to be accepted as a doctoral candidate.

Any questions?

Should you have questions regarding the formal procedure of obtaining a doctoral degree in public health, please do not hesitate to contact the Promotionskoordinationsstelle Abteilung Fulda Transfer of Fulda University of Applied Sciences, where your contact is Dr. Sebastian Mehl sebastian.mehl(at)verw.hs-fulda.de +49 (0)661 9640-1910.

Should you have questions regarding public health, please make an appointment (by e-mail) with the head of the doctoral degree programme in public health, Prof. Dr. Daphne Hahn daphne.hahn(at)pg.hs-fulda.de