Hero Image The 25 Most Affordable Online Master of Public Health Programs of 2021

The 25 Most Affordable Online Master of Public Health Programs of 2021

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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.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Have Questions About Public Health Degrees? We Have Answers.

Question Answer
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.

Degree Requirements

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.
Environmental Health
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
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.

David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship

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

Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

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

Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

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

Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship

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

Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship

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

  1. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL



    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.

  2. Mississippi University for Women

    Columbus, MS



    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.

  3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Chapel Hill, NC



    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.

  4. New Mexico State University-Main Campus

    Las Cruces, NM



    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.

  5. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    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.

  6. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

    Stillwater, OK



    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.

  7. University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL



    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.

  8. University of South Florida-Main Campus

    Tampa, FL



    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.

  9. Simmons College

    Boston, MA



    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.

  10. East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN



    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.

  • Methodology: Here’s How We Rank Schools

    At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.

    We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

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