Best Online Master’s in Public Health Programs

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The interdisciplinary field of public health focuses on the most effective ways to identify and fight diseases, disseminate health information throughout communities, and promote healthy lifestyles among at-risk groups like children and senior citizens. Public health represents a synthesis of health and medicine, sociology and anthropology, economics, marketing and information technology. Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most public health careers, many professionals choose to pursue the post-undergraduate degree known as the Master of Public Health (or MPH). A survey from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) found that approximately 7,100 master’s degrees in public health were awarded during the 2011-12 academic year, making MPH the second most popular graduate degree for health professionals behind a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

A master’s in public health can prepare you for a variety of fast-growing careers, ranging from epidemiology to health administration.

Most MPH programs follow a comprehensive curriculum that tackles topics like epidemiology, biostatistics, emergency management, socioeconomics and marketing. Most MPH programs culminate in a capstone experience course, which usually takes the form of an intensive research project. Internships and/or clinical residencies are also common; these on-site experiences give students the opportunity to receive supervised training from experienced professionals. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their master’s in public health online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based MPH students follow the same demanding curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to a comparable number of job offers after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and easy study-from-home format of most online MPH options are also conducive for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other obligations that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in public health and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

An MPH is designed to build on the foundational knowledge and skills of undergraduate studies while also introducing more complex theories and approaches to the public health profession. Many MPH pathways allow students to narrow their studies on one specific area of the field; these ‘specializations’ often include public policy, occupational health and safety, diet and nutrition, emergency and disaster management, global health and environmental health. Capstone experiences and internships/residencies also give students the chance to apply what they have learned to real-world problems and concerns.

WILL AN ONLINE MPH WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online MPH programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional higher education. Students can access lectures and course materials, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of home. Current technology also enables to study away from their desktop computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online MPH students can usually coordinate internships and clinical residencies at sites that are reasonably close to their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MPH?

Students who graduate with an MPH will be well-positioned to compete for jobs against candidates with a bachelor’s and other lesser credentials. In many cases, MPH-holders will be qualified for supervisory or managerial positions. Other common roles include epidemiologists, biostatisticians, medical researchers, health educators and administrators, social service managers, emergency management directors and community health workers. Public health professionals may find employment in a wide range of workplaces, including hospitals and clinics, nonprofit organizations, research laboratories, government agencies, and colleges and universities.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MPH PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s in public health programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online MPH, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific master’s degree requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1 University of Florida 81.91 3/5 Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, offers several distance learning programs where courses are taught asynchronously, including an online master's in public health. With the option to concentrate in public health practice (PHP), this MPH program totals 48 credit hours and is completely remote, with no requirement for campus visits. Students can access the pre-recorded lectures at their convenience, assignments are due weekly, and tests are taken through an online proctoring service. The curriculum consists of five core classes in topics like statistical methods and contemporary issues. The majority of the degree plan is taken in the PHP concentration, with courses in four sub-categories: environmental health, epidemiology, public health management and policy, and social and behavioral sciences. Students round out their education with required internships, special projects, and presentations during the national Public Health Day events. Online tuition is $550 per credit hour. Applicants who hold a doctorate in a health-based field may opt for an accelerated version of this program, reducing the total credit hours to 42.

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2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 81.08 3/5 Chapel Hill, NC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opened its door in 1795 and today offers more than 250 degree programs, many of which are accessible to distance learners. Through the Gillings School of Global Public Health, students can pursue an online MPH if they have a bachelor's or professional degree in a related field and have three or more years of work experience. The 42-credit curriculum can be completed in two years and includes courses in leadership, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Graduation requirements include the completion of a practicum as well as a thesis or master's paper. Students also have the option to pick from four concentration areas to further personalize their degree, including implementation science which focuses on the research, creation, actualization, and analysis of health interventions within a community or population. Tuition is priced at $979.08 per credit hour, and financial aid is available, including the degree-specific scholarship for emerging scholars which awards a total of $12,000 over two years.

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3 University of California-Berkeley 76.13 3/5 Berkeley, CA

Founded in 1868, the University of California - Berkeley is one of the most prestigious public institutions of higher education in the United States, boasting seven Nobel prizes held by current faculty. Among the school's 170 academic programs is an online public health master's track designed for flexible part-time course completion. The curriculum consists of 14 courses, taken one-at-a-time, back-to-back over seven semesters. Interdisciplinary topics include epidemiologic methods and health and social behavior. Students also take classes in their chosen concentration, picking either global health or health policy and management. Online students are required to visit the UC-Berkeley campus twice during their program. During this time, they will complete the practicum requirement for graduation. The School of Public Health's Career Services Office connects students with workshops, conferences, and internships, and even careers upon graduation.

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4 George Washington University 71.55 4/5 Washington, DC

Among GW's graduate degree programs is a master's in public health online option designed to prepare students for work in one of the world health organizations based in D.C. Students complete a total of 45 credits, and the curriculum includes core public health courses in epidemiology, social and behavioral approaches, and biostatistics. Students also take classes in their focus area, of which there are five choices: global health, program planning and evaluation, health policy, health communication, and environmental and occupational health.

Students are encouraged to complete the required practicum with an organization that fits their interests. With over 700 affiliated partners around the world, MPH students have the opportunity to work with organizations that include think tanks, state legislatures, and health startups. Graduation requirements also include the completion of one of three culminating experience projects: the critical analysis of published research, a program plan that addresses a public health concern, or an original research project. Online students can tailor the length of their program, completing their degree in one to four years, depending on the number of credits they take each quarter. For example, the 12-month intensive program requires students to take 11.5 credits per quarter, while the 18-month accelerated track requires only 7.5 credits.

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5 University of Southern California 70.64 4/5 Los Angeles, CA

The University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, opened its doors in 1880 to a class of 53 students. Today, the school enrolls over 44,000 learners annually and offers a plethora of remote degree programs, including a Master of Public Health. Among other online MPH programs, USC stands out as one of the few delivered by a highly-prestigious medical school and world-renowned faculty. Totaling 47 credit hours, the curriculum is divided into core, concentration, and practicum requirements. Student take classes in general topics like health education and American health services, and they can choose from one of five concentrations: geohealth, global health leadership, public health policy, biostatistics and epidemiology, and health education and promotion.

Practicum components, which can be completed anywhere, take up the last seven credits and include a master-level seminar and capstone research. Online students also have the opportunity to go on faculty-led trips and work with clinics, government organizations, and communities all round the world, further building on their practical and experiential knowledge.

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6 Emory University 68.76 4/5 Atlanta, GA

Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836, Emory is a leading liberal arts university focused on research and student-centered education. Among the university's graduate degree programs is an Executive Master of Public Health degree designed for working professionals in the field. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools, this 42-credit-hour curriculum is facilitated through Blackboard, and, like other MPH online programs, consists of core, concentration, and practicum requirements. They must also complete a thesis in a related topic.

Students may choose from one of three subfields: applied epidemiology, applied public health informatics, and prevention science. Though almost all coursework can be completed remotely, EMPH students are required to attend on-campus sessions twice each semester. Distance learners have access to a variety of resources, including health services, library privileges, career advice, and assistance from the Rollins School of Public Health Academic Writing Center.

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7 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 68.10 3/5 Minneapolis, MN

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities offers three online MPH programs: the executive degree in Public Health Administration and Policy, which is focused on management and policy analysis; the MPH in Maternal and Child Health, designed for those interested in reproductive health and social disparities; and the MPH in Public Health Practice for those who want to care for and manage populations of people in healthcare and human services environments.

The three MPH programs share core course and a practicum requirement, and they are designed for working professionals with a few years of experience in the field. It should also be noted that among the three programs, only the Maternal and Child Health track can be completed entirely online. The other two programs require campus residencies of varying lengths and frequencies. Tuition is $910-$933 per credit hour depending on the program, and financial aid is available, including scholarship opportunities.

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8 Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center 67.03 3/5 Des Moines, IA

Founded in 1898, Des Moines University - Osteopathic Medical Center is Iowa's premier medical and health sciences institution. Among its graduate degree selection is an online master's in public health that prepares students to become leaders in the field through intensive study and collaborate application of skills. Designed for all types of students, DMU's MPH curriculum totals 46 credit hours and includes courses in environmental health, research methods and statistics, and an overview of the U.S. healthcare system. Students also choose from three concentration areas and complete six hours of "culminating experiences," which includes field-based learning, internships, and capstone courses. These practice-based requirements can be completed anywhere, enabling students to follow their passions, even if this means going abroad. DMU works with students who are interested in global health, connecting them with organizations like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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9 University of Nebraska Medical Center 66.00 3/5 Omaha, NE

The University of Nebraska Medical Center, located in Omaha, was established in 1880 as a dental college and remains the state's only public academic health sciences institution. Among the available degrees are three online MPH programs in biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, and public health practice. All three programs can be completed entirely online and have a curriculum totalling 45 credit hours. While students in any of these programs will take courses in standard topics like health behavior, biostatistics, and health services administration, advanced and specialized courses in the concentration will make up most of the coursework in the second year.

For example, students pursuing the MPH in Biostatistics will build on what they've learned in the core with additional work in statistical methods and data analysis. MPH students will also take a mixed research methods seminar in preparation for their own research and capstone projects. Tuition is $560 per credit hour, and financial aid, including a MPH-specific scholarship, is available.

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10 Salus University 64.62 4/5 Elkins Park, PA

Salus University, located in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, traces its history back to 1919 with the creation of its founding college of optometry. Today, Salus offers a Master of Public Health dedicated to training professionals who will help improve the disparities and inequities in well-being and access to treatment among certain individuals, communities, and even nations. This online MPH degree consists of 42 credit hours and is designed to be completed part-time in a window of up to five years. Students take courses in policy, biostatistics, epidemiology, and capstones. The Salus program allows students to take about one-fourth of their degree in elective topics ranging from cost-effectiveness analysis to more globally-focused areas that closely align with the university's social justice focus. Various awards, including the Haffner Public Health Scholarship, are available to offset the cost of tuition, which is priced at $753 per credit hour.

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11 University of Maryland-College Park 64.49 3/5 College Park, MD

Founded in 1856, the University of Maryland - College Park offers a number of research and academic opportunities, including degree programs for distance learners. The master's in public health online with a concentration in public health practice and policy is an interdisciplinary degree for working professionals looking to pursue or advance their specific career in the PH field. Students take most of their courses online, which are supplemented with six weekends of on-campus instruction where practical skills in communication and leadership are integrated with online coursework. The curriculum totals 42 credits, with courses focused on management, strategic planning, and analysis of health policies and intervention projects. Like other similar programs, internships and capstones are graduation requirements. Internships can be completed at an organization in the student's local community, though there is a vetting process and faculty guidance is offered throughout the experience.

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12 Michigan State University 63.25 3/5 East Lansing, MI

Michigan State University, located in East Lansing, offers a variety of graduate degree programs, including a Master of Public Health facilitated through the College of Human Medicine. Designed with a focus on applied knowledge, this online MPH program is perfect for mid-career professionals with goals of advancement and leadership in their field, and the program attracts students from all academic backgrounds. Coursework is based on collaboration with peers in order to tackle real-world challenges such as the lack of quality health services many communities face and the problems caused by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. The curriculum totals 42 credit hours, and students take the same number of electives as they do core classes, enabling them to specialize in an area of their choosing. In addition to capstone research and internship opportunities in their local communities, students are invited to go on faculty-led trips abroad where they can gain further hands-on experience and knowledge.

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13 A T Still University of Health Sciences 62.59 4/5 Kirksville, MO

Located in Kirksville, Missouri, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences was founded in 1892 and is the first osteopathic healthcare institution in the United States. Osteopathic medicine is focused on promoting the body's innate ability to heal itself, and ATSU's academic programs are created with this philosophy in mind. The school offers an online public health master's degree with a dental emphasis, one of the few programs of its kind in the nation. Due the specific nature of this MPH program, courses are more focused on dental health; classes include dental epidemiology and dental healthcare policy and management. Students also pick two courses from a selection of electives, including geriatric needs and global health issues, which enables them to further concentrate on an area of dental public health. The MPH experience culminates in a 240-hour practicum where certain didactic knowledge and practical skills must be shown. Online courses are facilitated through Blackboard, and tuition is priced at $638 per credit hour.

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14 Northeast Ohio Medical University 62.06 4/5 Rootstown, OH

The Northeast Ohio Medical University, located in Rootstown, was founded in 1973 with a mission of training the next generation of health professionals. Today, NEOMED enrolls roughly 1,000 students annually and offers a Master of Public Health degree facilitated through a consortium of Ohio universities. Totalling 42 credit hours, this MPH online program consists of a combination of core classes, electives, and courses for the generalist track, which includes grant writing and research methods. The NEOMED program is conducted in a hybrid format; students take their 18 hours of core requirements online and the remainder of their work is completed on-campus at any of the participating Ohio universities. MPH students must also produce and present a capstone project that is "useful" to those in the field, including academic research, analysis or evaluation of existing work, or a grant proposal. Tuition is $565 per credit hour, and students may transfer approved credits towards their MPH to shorten the time to graduation and reduce overall cost.

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15 University of South Florida 61.82 3/5 Tampa, FL

Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida offers several graduate-level academic options to distance learners, including seven different Master of Public Health degree tracks. These seven online MPH programs enable students, many of whom are working professionals, to gain specialized skills and expertise in a specific public health subfield, ranging from epidemiology and infection control to public health administration and humanitarian relief.

Students may also pursue the executive master of public health. Designed for those with a few years of experience under their belt, students in the EMPH program develop leadership skills and learn advanced tools to help maintain and expand the health of local and international communities. The curriculum totals 44 credit hours, 12 of which are electives, and the degree culminates in a special project and comprehensive exam. Students interested in pursuing coursework and field experience abroad will find a number of opportunities and scholarships.

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16 University of South Carolina-Columbia 61.32 3/5 Columbia, SC

Established in 1801, the University of South Carolina is a top-tier research and community-engaged university, offering a number of degree programs, including an online master's in public health. With a concentration in health promotion, education, and behavior, this MPH program is designed for current professionals working with health inequities among individuals and communities. Graduates leave the program with the knowledge and skills to advocate for change and create programs that catalyze these improvements. The curriculum totals 45 credit hours and includes core requirements and specific concentration courses in topics like consumer health and the intersections of health, race, and ethnicity. Students must also complete a practicum, which consists of a seminar and fieldwork experience, each spanning 14 weeks. The degree can be completed in a little over two years, and the cumulative cost is $24,891, regardless of residency status.

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17 New York Medical College 60.67 3/5 Valhalla, NY

New York Medical College, located about an hour north of Manhattan, was founded in 1860 as a school of medicine for women, one of the first of its kind in the United States. Today, NYMC enrolls about 1,500 students annually. Students can choose one of three remote Master of Public Health degree pathways: behavioral sciences and health promotion, environmental health science, or health policy and management. All three require a total of 46 credit hours, and coursework can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid delivery method.

Students in any of these online MPH programs take core courses in U.S. healthcare systems and epidemiology. They then complete 15 hours in their concentration, another 12 in electives that are chosen in consultation with an advisor, and a culminating experience, which can either be a thesis or capstone project. Health professionals who hold terminal degrees who want to complete their MPH in less than the usual two years can enroll in the accelerated, 12-month intensive with the health policy and management track, which requires a certain amount of on-campus residency.

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18 Nova Southeastern University 59.29 4/5 Fort Lauderdale, FL

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a private, research-intensive institution that offers small class sizes and a number of graduate degree programs, including a Master of Public Health for distance learners. Based out of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, this MPH online degree focuses on preventive medicine and prepares students to define, analyze, and solve public health challenges. Students take roughly half of their coursework in core classes that include health ethics and research methods. The rest of the curriculum is completed with a combination of field experience and electives chosen from a large selection which enables students to personalize their degrees to their passions and future goals. The Nova program stands out for offering independent projects as part of their elective catalog. Through these projects, students engage in experiential learning through advocacy, community health endeavors, and research opportunities with health organizations from around the world. While the majority of coursework can be completed remotely, some on-campus attendance is required. Online MPH tuition is priced at $585 per credit hour.

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19 Tulane University of Louisiana 58.89 5/5 New Orleans, LA

Located in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tulane University stands as a prestigious private institution dedicated to research and professional education. Tulane offers a number of graduate programs for distance learners, including four Master of Public Health degrees: industrial hygiene, disaster management, occupational health and safety management, or occupational and environmental health. Curricula for these programs total 42 credit hours, with the exception of the industrial hygiene track, which grants a Master of Science in Public Health, and is therefore more intensive at 46 hours and offers less leeway in terms of elective options. All students take five to six courses in the School of Public Health core requirements before deviating into their specific concentrations. Thesis and practicum requirements are also ubiquitous among Tulane's MPH programs. Application requirements include a medical undergraduate degree and three or more years of professional experience in the field.

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20 Medical College of Wisconsin 58.84 4/5 Milwaukee, WI

The Medical College of Wisconsin was established in 1893 as a training school for physicians and surgeons, but over the years has grown to encompass other health fields and professions. Located in Milwaukee, MCW offers a Master of Public Health degree program for distance learners. Based out of the Institute of Health & Society, this online MPH program closely adheres to the institute's three main objectives: to provide quality education, to engage students in community service and collaboration, and to offer opportunities for research that seeks to improve the health of the public. The curriculum totals 42 credit hours, and coursework is divided into core, degree-required, and electives chosen from topics like health communication, infectious diseases, and public health law. Students must also complete a field placement and a capstone project designed to provide professional skill development and enable students to demonstrate necessary field competencies, respectively. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students may also pursue co-educational research opportunities with one of the program's partner organizations, including the Center for AIDS Intervention Research.

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21 Northeastern University 58.74 4/5 Boston, MA

Northeastern University is dedicated to community engagement and cutting-edge research. The online Master of Public Health with a concentration in urban health is one of only a few of its kind. This online MPH program is designed for students who want to define, assess, and resolve the complex and diverse health challenges in American cities and abroad, particularly among racial and ethnic populations. The curriculum totals 42 credit hours, 33 of which are required courses like quantitative methods, urban health history, and ethical issues. Students also choose three elective courses from a selection including: health education/promotion, research, policy, and special interests. Graduation requirements include a minimum of 200 hours of field experience and a capstone project; both are completed with the extensive guidance of faculty. The total cost is approximately $56,070, and financial assistance is available.

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22 University of Illinois at Springfield 56.55 3/5 Springfield, IL

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a comprehensive institution of higher education with an extensive catalog of academic programs, including a Master of Public Health degree that trains students to handle the myriad of challenges facing our local, national, and international communities. The online MPH curriculum enables students to understand the complex and intertwining factors at work in a community's well-being, to effectively measure and analyze health statistics, and to devise and implement solutions. The curriculum totals 48 credit hours, and courses are taken in core requirements and electives, which are chosen from three categories: emerging issues, analytical tools, and social determinants. Students must also complete at least one internship during their time in the program and pass a comprehensive exam during their final semester of coursework. Online graduate tuition is priced at $362.25 per credit hour, and financial aid is available, including the Zimmerman Scholarship awarded specifically to MPH students.

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23 Loma Linda University 56.26 3/5 Loma Linda, CA

Loma Linda University was formally established in 1905 as an institution dedicated to promoting healthful living and providing care for the sick. As one of the leading health-sciences schools, LLU offers a number of graduate academic programs in the field, including options for a Master of Public Health degree in lifestyle management, population medicine, and health education. All three online MPH programs consist of 56 credit hours and take two to three years to complete. While students may take certain fundamental classes common to every MPH program, the program tracks at LLU are largely distinct, with coursework specific to their subfield. For example, students pursuing a MPH in health education take courses in program development and evaluation as well as grant writing and relevant leadership skills. They must also spend at least 400 hours in a practicum experience at an eligible health organization throughout the United States. Tuition for any of the MPH programs is priced at $880 per credit hour or unit.

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24 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 56.07 3/5 Denver, CO

Anschutz offers a number of academic programs, including a Master of Public Health in Leadership and Public Health Practice. This online MPH program is designed for working professionals who want to pursue training for leadership positions at their current jobs or at another organization. With a focus on the differences in health challenges between urban and rural communities, students take a total course load of 42 credit hours in topics including management systems and occupational and environmental health. Students also take courses in their concentration, which is chosen from a large selection, including applied biostatistics, health services research, and maternal and child health. While most requirements, including practicum and capstone, can be completed online, students are required to visit campus during their time in the program in order to complete certain leadership requirements. Tuition is based on residency status, and students in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education states are eligible for per credit discounts.

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25 University of Missouri-Columbia 54.03 3/5 Columbia, MO

The University of Missouri - Columbia was founded in 1839 as the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi. Today, Mizzou enrolls students from all over the world and offers 89 remote degree options, including a Master of Public Health that concentrates on health promotion and policy. Unlike many other online MPH programs, Mizzou's can be completed entirely through the distance education platform, with no campus visits required. Students take a total of 45 credit hours in core requirements like statistical methods and principles of epidemiology. They also take elective classes chosen from several specialty areas as well as complete internship and capstone requirements that prepares them for work in areas including research analysis, tobacco studies, and HIV/AID prevention and education. Tuition is $438.20 per credit hour, and roughly 75% of students at Mizzou receive financial assistance, with the average aid package totaling approximately $20,000. Active military, veterans, and their families may also apply for the Online Tuition Award which reduces the base tuition cost by 10%

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Timeline
18 months to 3 years
Program costs (when available)
$10,000 to $30,000 in annual tuition
Concentrations
Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Infection Control, Health Policy and Management, Environmental Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nutrition, Health Informatics, Public Health Biology, Social Marketing, Global Health Leadership, Disaster Management, Occupational Health and Safety
Accreditation
Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

Master of Public Health

Due to the wide range of occupations associated with public health, the job outlook for MPH recipients will largely depend on their occupation of choice. Some job titles have been linked to strong job growth, including health educators, community health workers and social/community service managers; these occupations are expected to collectively grow by nearly 29,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024. Other occupations have been linked to below-average growth projections, such as epidemiologists and emergency management directors, which are both expected to grow by 6% during the same timeframe.

In addition to projected job growth, unemployment rate is another key indicator of job outlook for MPH graduates. The following table lists the unemployment rates for seven of the most common career paths in public health.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
Statistician 0.8%
Epidemiologist/Medical Scientist 1.9%
Child and Family Social Worker 2.1%
Clinical Social Worker 2.1%
Social and Community Services Manager 3.6%
Community Health Worker 3.9%
Health Educator 3.9%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Comparatively, all seven occupations had unemployment rates lower than the national average for all occupations, which currently sits at 4.7%.

Earning a Living

Students who earn an MPH have significantly higher earning potential than those who complete their formal education with an associate or bachelor’s degree in public health. The next table looks at salary expectations for all three of these degree-holders at two key career benchmarks.

Degree Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ years)
Associate Degree in Health Care Administration $29,600 $38,800
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health $38,300 $65,000
Master of Public Health (MPH) $52,400 $81,100

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, MPH recipients outearn their counterparts by a considerable margin. At the entry-level stage, those with an MPH earned 36.8% more than bachelor’s degree-holders and 77.0% more than those with an associate in health care administration. After 10 years in the workforce, employees with an MPH earned 24.8% more than bachelor’s recipients and 109% more than associate degree recipients.

The specific job title of an MPH-holder can also be used to determine their salary potential, as well as other factors like employer size and city/state of employment. The next table explores 20-year salary growth for five of the most popular careers in public health.

Profession Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Salary for Late Career Employees (20+ years)
Epidemiologist $56,795 $74,584 $89,119 $98,214
Health Educator $40,272 $48,032 $51,443 $58,175
Occupational Health Manager $61,000 $69,000 $73,000 $77,000
Public Health Specialist $47,000 $45,000 $49,000 $84,000
Infection Control Coordinator $60,000 $69,000 $82,000 $77,000

Source: PayScale

All five careers reported at least 26% salary growth after 20 years on the job. Public health specialists experience the highest growth rate: a 78.7% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Epidemiologists placed second with 73.0% career salary growth, followed by health educators with 44.4% growth.

Career Opportunities

An MPH will qualify students for various positions and posts throughout the public health sector, although individual eligibility will somewhat depend on the candidate’s degree specialization and experience level. Four common careers for MPH graduates are outlined below.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers: Health educators coordinate and deliver classes that address topics like disease prevention, nutrition and diet, exercise, safe sex and positive lifestyle building. These classes often target at-risk groups like children/teenagers, the elderly and military veterans. In addition to the MPH, many health educators and community health workers choose to earn the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

Social and Community Service Managers: Social and community service managers are behind various programs that educate and support individuals, groups and communities at large. Those with a background in public health often design, coordinate and deliver programs related to mental health awareness, HIV and AIDS, nutrition and other ‘hot topics’ in community health.

Epidemiologists: Epidemiologists research the root causes, symptoms and overall impact of different diseases and conditions, as well as treatment options. Their days often consist of collecting data and samples, interviewing patients, delivering public surveys, and presenting their findings in oral and written form. Epidemiologists often have a hand in public policy and regulations that affect the healthcare industry.

Emergency Management Directors: Emergency management directors oversee teams of personnel responsible for creating contingency plans, responding in emergency situations and working with other agencies to provide relief to affected individuals. After an emergency situation has been dealt with, directors often review the response timeline to look for areas of potential improvement.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $43,840
Social and Community Service Managers $63,530
Epidemiologists $69,450
Emergency Management Directors $67,330

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to public health is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for public health professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Public Health Association: Founded in 1872, the APHA is a nonprofit organization that strives to provide professional development opportunities for health professionals and develop meaningful public health policy. Members receive complimentary journal and periodical subscriptions, invitations to networking events and discounts on continuing education courses and other services.
  • Society for Public Health Education: Representing more than 4,000 individuals, the SOPHE promotes “healthy behaviors, healthy communities and healthy environments” in the U.S. and overseas. The organization’s website includes an events calendar, a vast online resource library and links to continuing ed opportunities.
  • World Health Organization: A specialized branch of the United Nations, the WHO is dedicated to researching diseases with a major international impact and developing strategies for providing treatment, medical equipment, education and other resources to affected groups. The organization’s past efforts have concerned epidemics like HIV/AIDS, ebola and malaria, as well as public health concerns like obesity and malnutrition.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

An Overview of Financial Aid

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options savvy students can use to reduce the total costs of their education.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and funding opportunities for online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and school. Here, we’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for single parents looking for a more secure financial future for their children. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships for these hard-working parents.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Millions in education benefits are available for veterans and active members of the military. Unfortunately, much of this goes unused. Find out if you’re entitled to help with college and start planning for your future.

Best Online Master's in Public Health Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 A T Still University of Health Sciences MO
2 Nova Southeastern University FL
3 George Washington University DC
4 University of Florida FL
5 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC
6 New York Medical College NY
7 University of South Florida-Main Campus FL
8 University of Southern California CA
9 University of Nebraska Medical Center NE
10 Tulane University of Louisiana LA
11 Benedictine University IL
12 University of California-Berkeley CA
13 SUNY at Albany NY
14 The University of West Florida FL
15 University of South Carolina-Columbia SC
16 West Virginia University WV
17 University of New England ME
18 University of Massachusetts-Amherst MA
19 University of Alabama at Birmingham AL
20 University of Arizona AZ
21 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University FL
22 National University CA
23 University of Memphis TN
24 New Mexico State University-Main Campus NM
25 East Tennessee State University TN