An online master of public health (MPH) offers a flexible route to advanced careers in the public health field. Many public health professionals enjoy strong job growth projections. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for health educators and public health managers to grow much faster than average between 2019 and 2029.
Public health professionals often enjoy comfortable salaries, as well. For example, public health administrators and epidemiologists earn median salaries of over $70,000 per year. A master’s degree in public health generally takes full-time enrollees two years to complete.
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Have Questions About Public Health Degrees? We Have Answers.
What do you do with a degree in public health?
Professionals with a public health degree can work in areas like epidemiology, health education, environmental health, and public health administration. Many of these fields report high demand.
What are examples of public health?
Public health involves conducting research and educating the public to promote healthy communities. Public health professionals may provide information about infectious diseases, help prevent outbreaks, and conduct research to promote community health.
How do I start a career in public health?
A master’s degree in public health prepares graduates for leadership positions in the field, such as epidemiologist and public health administrator.
Is public health a good career?
Many public health careers report strong demand and above-average salaries. Public health professionals also benefit from a rewarding career that contributes to healthy communities.
Most master’s in public health programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Public health programs may also require prerequisite courses in mathematics and science. Applicants must typically submit a resume, transcripts, recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Depending on the program, applicants may also need to submit GRE or other standardized test scores.
After gaining admission, MPH students typically complete core courses and electives, an internship if required, and a capstone project or master’s thesis. Some programs also include concentration options.
Public Health Courses
Public health learners study topics like epidemiology, environmental health, and public health administration. In some programs, students can focus their training through a concentration in areas like health education, epidemiology, and health services administration.
During a public health master’s program, enrollees also typically gain hands-on training through an internship or practicum. While courses vary by program, many master’s in public health programs include the courses below.
Public Health Principles
Many public health programs include an introductory course that covers core public health principles and methods. Students learn about the public health system in the U.S., including the field’s role in disease prevention, outbreak detection, and community health improvement. Other common topics include public health infrastructure, the role of chronic and infectious diseases in public health, and public health policy.
In epidemiology courses, students learn about the methods of epidemiology, including data analysis, epidemiological investigations, and study design. They explore disease screening methods, analyze epidemiological research, and learn to apply epidemiology in a public health context. The course builds strong data analysis and critical thinking skills, which benefit public health graduate students in their program and career.
Public Health Administration
This course introduces students to the responsibilities of public health administrators and the best practices for running public health organizations. Students also learn about roles for public health administrators and performance management. Training in public health administration prepares graduates for leadership positions in a variety of public health organizations.
Courses in environmental health explore the role of the ecosystem in health, including environmental risks to health. Students learn about the process of evaluating hazards and the regulatory system governing environmental health issues. The course may cover hazards such as radiation, infectious diseases, and toxic chemicals. Learners use case studies to understand environmental health processes. The class prepares graduates for careers in public health and environmental health.
Health informatics classes train public health students to analyze data and draw conclusions from their analysis. Learners study the data collection process, methods of analyzing data, and how to assess the reliability of information. Students also learn how to use informatics to shape public health initiatives and improve community health. Informatics courses prepare students to work in areas like epidemiology and public health administration.
Career Path for Public Health Degrees
During a master’s program in public health, learners study topics like infectious disease prevention, environmental health hazards, and administrative responsibilities in public health organizations. Graduates can pursue a variety of roles, such as health educator or epidemiologist.
Health educators create programs to promote healthy communities. The BLS projects much faster-than-average job growth for health educators between 2019 and 2020. Epidemiologists investigate diseases to stop outbreaks and improve health outcomes. The median annual salary for epidemiologists is around $71,000. With a master’s in public health, graduates can also work as public health administrators or in other health services management roles.
Certifications and Licensure for Public Health Majors
Certifications in areas like health education, public health, and public health administration can help candidates stand out in the job market. Most certifications require a public health degree from an accredited program, professional experience, and passing scores on an examination.
Certified Health Education Specialist
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers this certification. Applicants need a degree from an accredited master’s program with a focus on health education. Candidates must also pass a qualifying exam to earn the credential.
Certified in Public Health
The CPH credential, offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, demonstrates expertise in the public health sciences. Candidates must be current students or graduates from an accredited public health program. The credential also requires three years of public health experience and passing scores on the CPH exam.
Certified Public Health Administrator
Granted by the Public Health Practitioner Certification Board, the CPHA credential recognizes experienced professionals working in public health administration. A master’s degree in public health meets the credential’s educational requirement. Candidates also need at least three years of administrative and supervisory experience in the health sector.
Professional Organizations for Public Health Majors
Many professional organizations offer resources for students, including career support, fellowships, and internship opportunities. They may also offer networking opportunities, certifications, and professional development resources.
American Public Health Association
APHA publishes a scholarly journal and newspaper related to public health. APHA also hosts an annual meeting, offers continuing education and fellowship opportunities, and runs a Policy Action Institute that promotes community health policies. In addition, students can visit the Public Health CareerMart for professional development and career support.
Society for Public Health Education
A nonprofit professional association, SOPHE represents health education professionals. The society offers online resources, continuing education opportunities, and teacher preparation standards. SOPHE also hosts an annual conference with networking opportunities and offers a career hub that lists open public health positions.
National Environmental Health Association
NEHA represents environmental health specialists. The association sets professional standards in the field, offers the registered environmental health specialist credential, and provides training and continuing education opportunities. NEHA also posts job announcements, offers career support and professional resources, and publishes professional development resources.
National Network of Public Health Institutes
NNPHI represents public health institutes in nearly every state, connecting public health experts across the country. The network offers best practice resources, runs public health initiatives, and connects professionals to complete interdisciplinary projects. NNPHI also hosts conferences, remote training, and work groups dedicated to public health.
Scholarships for Public Health Students
Public health graduate students can pursue many scholarships from professional organizations, private foundations, and government agencies. In addition to the following opportunities, students can research scholarships in their state and at their school.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports learners studying health policy, health management, and public health. Applicants must be first-year graduate students and must provide a resume, personal statement, transcripts, and two nomination letters. Amount: $10,000
Who Can Apply: Granted by the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives, this scholarship supports students pursuing a graduate degree in a healthcare management field, including an MPH degree. Applicants must be studying full time and provide evidence of financial need. They must also submit a resume, official transcripts, three recommendation letters, and an application essay. Amount: $5,000
Who Can Apply: The Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives offers this scholarship for minority students pursuing a healthcare management graduate degree. Applicants must provide a resume, official transcripts, three recommendation letters, and an essay. Students with financial need and ACHE members receive preference. Amount: $5,000
Who Can Apply: IHS offers scholarships for qualified American Indian and Alaska Native graduate students enrolled in a health profession program. Applicants must provide proof of U.S. citizenship and tribal membership. The scholarship also requires a minimum 2.0 GPA. Recipients must agree to complete a service commitment after earning their degree. Amount: Varies
Who Can Apply: Offered by the Society for Public Health Education, this scholarship supports three public health students each year. Applicants must be SOPHE members who demonstrate a strong academic record and financial need. They must also be currently pursuing a health education degree, including a master’s degree in public health. Amount: $2,500
Most Affordable Online Master of Public Health Programs 2021
A leader in distance education, the University of Florida offers more than 200 programs online. The online master of public health curriculum meets the educational standards established by the Council on Education for Public Health. The 48-credit program includes a core that examines the American healthcare system, statistical methods for health science, and epidemiology in public health. The program offers two concentrations: public health practice and social and behavioral sciences.
All students complete an internship at a public health or related agency. Enrollees culminate the public health program with a capstone project that defines a public health issue. All online students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Mississippi University for Women was founded as the nation's first public women's college.
MUW's 42-credit online master of public health prepares women and men to sit for the certified health education specialist exam administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Students complete a core on the theories of health behavior, community health education methods, and health program planning and implementation.
Learners also study topics like biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental and occupational health. With elective credit, participants can develop complementary proficiencies in areas such as stress management and the use of nutrition for health. Students complete either an internship or research thesis to culminate the public health program. MUW offers small class sizes to maximize personalized learning and offers one of the nation's most affordable tuition rates. All online students pay in-state tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires college transcripts and a resume.
The nation's first public college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has trained public health professionals for decades. The online master of public health (MPH) program prepares students to address urgent public health challenges and systemic disparities. The 42-credit program offers a flexible curriculum that learners can complete in 20-24 months. Part-time students typically earn the degree in 28-36 months.
Core courses explore public health issues, data analysis for public health, and how to conceptualize public health solutions. Students also learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate public health solutions. The program offers three concentrations: leadership, nutrition, and MPH/registered dietician. Enrollees build field experience by completing a 200-hour practicum at a public health organization. Students culminate the public health program with an interdisciplinary project that addresses a problem in public health practice.
All enrollees pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires college transcripts and a resume.
New Mexico State University provides comprehensive learning opportunities on five campuses, at a satellite learning center, and online. The school's online master of public health (MPH) program is designed for working public health practitioners. The 42-credit program's core explores five topics, including biostatistical applications in public health and community and psychosocial aspects of public health.
MPH students choose one of two 18-credit concentrations: health behavior and promotion or health management, administration, and policy. All students complete 160 hours of field experience, applying classroom learning to real-world problems. Students in either concentration may opt to culminate the degree with a thesis. All other learners must pass a comprehensive written and oral examination. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Renowned for academic excellence, Harvard University offers a hybrid 45-credit master of public health in epidemiology. Students join a cohort and learn from some of the world's most accomplished epidemiology professionals. Participants complete about two-thirds of the public health program's requirements through distance learning, supplementing online courses with several on-campus intensives.
The curriculum explores topics such as analytic methods for epidemiology, study designs for epidemiologists, core components in public health, and applications for epidemiology. During a faculty-mentored practicum, students apply skills learned to address a health-related issue. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.
Admission requires GRE scores and a minimum of five years of relevant post-bachelor's, health-related experience.
Established in 2014, Oklahoma State University's master of public health (MPH) blends instruction, research, and community outreach. The 42-credit MPH offers online learning and classes on campus in Stillwater and Tulsa. Students can pursue an MPH in public health or MPH in rural and underserved communities.
MPH in public health students can customize the degree with coursework in focus areas such as epidemiology, disease prevention and education, and geriatric/elderly health and aging. The MPH in rural and underserved communities requires coursework in biostatistics, environmental health, and health services administration. Students in both tracks can culminate the public health program with their choice of a practicum or thesis.
Graduate assistantships help enrollees pay for tuition. Students can complete 20 hours of teaching/research duties each week in exchange for tuition waivers, competitive stipends, and health insurance. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, with experience serving underserved populations preferred.
Part of a three-campus system, the University of Illinois at Springfield offers an online master of public health (MPH) that prepares students to build healthy communities. Learners choose one of three options: a general MPH, an MPH in environmental health, or a dual MPH and master of public administration (MPA). The general MPH and MPH in environmental health require 48 credits, while the MPH/MPA joint degree requires 70 credits.
All MPH students complete core coursework on key topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, public health policy, and research methods in public health. Enrollees build on their theoretical knowledge with an internship at a health organization. Students culminate the degree with a comprehensive written examination. All online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.
A recognized leader in online education, USF offers a master of public health (MPH) online. The 42-credit MPH program features seven concentrations, including epidemiology, public health practice, infection control, and social marketing. All MPH students complete a common core that explores topics like population health, history and systems of public health, and translation to public health practice.
Students complete 9-15 credits in their respective concentration. Enrollees apply knowledge learned during supervised field experiences at an agency or community partner. All MPH students culminate the degree in public health with a comprehensive exam. Florida residents pay the most affordable tuition. Out-of-state students benefit from USF's reduced-rate program for online students.
Established in 1899 as a women's institution, Simmons College now offers educational programs for men and women. The Boston-based school's online master of public health prepares students to promote health equity at all levels. Students can complete the 45-credit degree in 21 months. The curriculum consists of live online classes, self-paced coursework, and field experiences. Students explore core areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, social determinants of health, and health equity and social justice.
Students acquire hands-on experience in different cultures and contexts during immersions in Boston and another domestic or international city. Participants also complete at least 20 hours of service learning as part of a course on health advocacy, community organizing, and innovation. Learners culminate the program with a project that explores public health inequities in or close to their communities.
All online students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
East Tennessee State University administers a variety of online programs to accommodate the needs of working students. The fully online, 43-credit master of public health (MPH) focuses on health promotion and education. All MPH students complete core courses that examine topics such as analytic methods in public health, health leadership and management, and community-based methods in public health. Students also complete 12 credits in one of four concentrations: biostatistics, epidemiology, community health, or public health administration.
Students apply concepts learned during a supervised field experience focused on their concentration. Participants culminate the program with an evidence-based paper on a public health topic.
All fully online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Those who live in select bordering counties in Virginia and North Carolina may qualify for in-state tuition. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA and no GRE scores.
Florida International University is a top-tier research institution located in Miami. FIU's virtual college offers an online master of public health (MPH) that students can customize to meet their career goals and interests. The 45-credit degree offers flexible full- and part-time scheduling. Students develop proficiencies in key areas such as public health statistics, public health policy and management, and environmental health risk assessment.
Participants can use nine elective credits to acquire specialized training in areas such as AIDS epidemiology and environmental disaster and human health. With limited additional coursework, students can also earn a certificate in health policy, epidemiology, or environmental health sciences. All enrollees complete both a practicum and an integrative seminar in public health.
Through Career Engage, students can add certifications in public health and access scholarships to help pay for them. All online MPH students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
A Jesuit college located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University offers graduate programs that emphasize leadership and service to others. The online master of public health (MPH) offers a customizable 44-credit curriculum that students can complete in 2.5 years. The program's core explores key concepts such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and social and behavioral aspects of public health.
Students choose one of two 15-credit concentrations: healthcare management or health policy and ethics. Learners can further customize the degree in public health by earning a certificate in bioethics. A pre-practice course focuses exclusively on the establishment of a practicum site, preceptor, and focus area. Learners complete the practicum under the supervision of a qualified public health professional. Participants culminate the MPH with a publishable article or commentary based on the findings of their practicum experience.
All online students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
One of the nation's oldest colleges, Mercer University offers a hybrid master of public health. The 42-credit curriculum focuses on the reduction of health disparities and how to improve life quality for families and communities. Students complete courses on campus in Atlanta and online. Participants develop expertise in key areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics and health measures, and disease prevention and health promotion.
Enrollees also learn how to design population-based programs and interventions. Students can use elective credits to focus on niche areas such as maternal child and health and geographic information systems. Students build hands-on expertise during an internship at a health organization. Enrollees pay competitive tuition. Admission requires a minimum 2.85 GPA.
St. Catherine University is a private Catholic college located in Minnesota. The master of public health in global health program cultivates transformational leaders who can address population health threats locally and globally. The program requires 44-45 credits and features hybrid and fully online formats.
Core courses examine topics like global public health, principles of epidemiology and biostatistics, and social and behavioral health theories and applications. Students also explore ethics and human rights for global health. All students complete a 200-hour practicum. Learners may fulfill the international experience requirement by completing a 200-hour practicum at an international location or by attending a faculty-led global studies course abroad.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Part of a nine-college system, Concordia University-Nebraska is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Concordia operates a robust virtual college that includes an online master of public health. Experts in the public health field teach students how to develop, implement, and assess strategies to promote positive health outcomes. Students choose one of two concentrations: community health educator or health policy administrator.
All students complete core courses that include biostatistics, concepts of environmental health, applied epidemiology, and health policy and management. Each concentration requires 12-15 credits. Students also complete a 75-hour practicum. Students in either concentration may opt to enhance their practical experience with a global mission trip, during which they apply acquired knowledge to serve underserved populations overseas.
Eight-week sessions accelerate degree completion. All online students pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires college transcripts.
The University of Memphis offers 50 master's programs through 11 academic units. The 42-credit master of public health (MPH) offers a customizable curriculum that students can complete online in two years. The generalist option suits students seeking managerial positions in policy development or applied research. Learners interested in a specialized MPH can pursue concentrations in areas like epidemiology and social and behavioral sciences. An urban health concentration focuses on racial disparities and cultural competency.
All students complete an MPH core that explores key topics such as environmental health, epidemiology in public health, and health policy and organization of health services. Students also complete a field experience related to their concentration. Learners culminate the public health program with a thesis or research project.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.
Andrews University is a Michigan-based Seventh-day Adventist institution. The 42-credit master of public health in health and wellness features a unique focus on vegetarian nutrition and health promotion in keeping with a Seventh-day Adventist worldview.
The program offers a 50% tuition discount for online learners. Full-time students can complete the degree in just 18 months. Core courses explore topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, principles of health behavior, and principles of health administration.
The concentration requires 12 credits. Topics covered include fitness and health promotion and vegetarian nutrition and disease prevention. Students build experience when they complete a field practicum. Learners culminate the public health program with a research project, written exam, and professional portfolio. All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is a preeminent public college with three campuses. The master of public health enrolls working professionals from a variety of disciplines who want to assume leadership roles in public health. Full-time students can complete the 63-credit curriculum in 18 months. They supplement the mostly online curriculum with three in-person sessions at Puget Sound Plaza in downtown Seattle.
Two courses in this public health program focus on the development of leadership and communication skills. Onsite sessions allow students to network with peers, interact with faculty, and strengthen leadership and communication skills. Students also complete a 160-hour practicum at an organization or agency in their community, building hands-on experience in the field.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
University of Michigan-Flint is one of three campuses in the renowned UM system. The hybrid master of public health prepares students to develop broad-based strategies to address public health challenges. The curriculum requires 42-45 credits and explores topics such as epidemiology, biostatistics for health professionals, and public health administration and policy.
Students can customize the degree with one of two 12-credit concentrations: health education or health administration. With elective credits, students can enhance their knowledge in areas such as research methods and global health. Enrollees receive hands-on training during an applied practical experience in a public health setting. A culminating experience allows learners to apply lessons learned to address a community public health issue.
In addition to competitive tuition rates, UM-Flint offers scholarships to help graduate students pay for their education. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University has a long legacy of providing affordable, rigorous education to the underserved. Students with professional public health or healthcare work experience can enroll in the 50-credit online master of public health (MPH).
The program's core explores key concepts such as biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy and management, and behavioral science and health education. Enrollees learn about the environmental factors that contribute to adverse health. They also design and conduct a community-based research mini-study and analyze preliminary data results. A three-month internship at a health agency gives learners real-world experience. Students culminate the program with a comprehensive exam.
Participants receive free access to support tools such as SAS statistical analysis software. All online MPH students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores for some applicants.
Idaho State University is designated by the state as the lead college in health professions. ISU offers the only master of public health accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in Idaho. The online curriculum gives learners a well-rounded education in how to improve population health with an emphasis on the community.
The 48-credit program includes a core that explores topics such as biostatistics, leadership and administration, health program planning, and environmental and occupational health. Participants develop skills in program planning, research, and writing. An internship provides hands-on experience in the United States or abroad. Research opportunities allow learners to work with faculty on existing projects or develop their own for a thesis.
Many students can use MPH scholarships to help pay for tuition. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.
A Christian college located in North Carolina, Lenoir-Rhyne University offers 30 graduate programs on campus in Hickory and online. The 42-credit online master of public health incorporates theoretical learning, research opportunities, and service learning. Core courses explore five topics, including epidemiology, public health leadership and management, and program planning and implementation.
The community health concentration equips learners with key skills in quantitative and qualitative analysis and program evaluation and management. Learners use elective credit to acquire complementary skills in areas such as marketing, accounting, and finance for healthcare administration. Students complete a series of capstone requirements that include an extensive field experience.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires all college transcripts and GRE/MAT scores, with waivers available.
Ferris State University offers an online master of public health that prepares students to educate and empower communities. Students can complete the degree in two years or less, blending classroom lectures with discussions, projects, and presentations. Core classes explore concepts such as biostatistics, chronic disease epidemiology, health communication and mass media, and health services administration and management.
Enrollees learn how to use public health statistical software packages. They also complete a two-part capstone that provides practical experience at a public health agency or related organization. FSU's small class sizes promote personalized learning. An accelerated option allows learners to earn a bachelor's and master's in five years.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. They also benefit from scholarships and payment plans to help pay for tuition. Admission to the public health program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.
The state's flagship college, the University of South Dakota operates a comprehensive virtual college with 50 online programs. The online master of public health (MPH) focuses on protecting and improving public health in rural America. USD offers the only MPH of its kind in the state. The 42-credit program requires a core that explores topics such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and the theory and practice of public health.
A unique course introduces students to the public health challenges faced by American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Students can use electives to explore topics such as health services for long-term care and public policy and addiction. Students build on classroom experience with practice-based training at relevant organizations. Enrollees culminate the public health program by developing a publishable research paper on public health science and practices.
All students pay the same competitive tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Located in Georgia, Augusta University specializes in health, sciences, and medicine. During the master of public health program, students complete 90% of coursework online and 10% on campus in Augusta. The 45-credit program offers two 15-credit concentrations: health management and health informatics.
All students complete a common core that explores five topics, including epidemiology, biostatistics, and health management and policy. In addition to a concentration, students can customize the degree with an elective such as healthcare financial management or HR management. All students complete an internship under the supervision of an experienced preceptor. The culminating experience consists of lectures, activities, and a project that integrates technical and professional knowledge.
Augusta University offers competitive tuition and comprehensive financial aid. Admission requires all college transcripts and GRE scores.
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