Master’s in Public Health Program Guide

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August 20, 2021

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Public health examines the healthcare challenges that impact communities everywhere, encompassing disciplines, such as epidemiology, nutrition and dietetics, environmental health, and community medicine. Graduates with an in-person or online master's degree in public health position themselves to contribute to an important and growing sector.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of more than 130,000 medical manager jobs between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $104,280.

Read on to learn more about master's programs in public health, including careers, courses, and concentrations.

Should I Get a Master's in Public Health?

A master's degree in public health prepares graduates to tackle population health issues from healthcare, social, and economic perspectives. These skills-based programs allow students to chart a career path based on their interests and goals. Learners also gain transferable skills that can apply to many different positions and industries.

A master's degree in public health prepares graduates to tackle population health issues from healthcare, social, and economic perspectives.

Many public health professionals experience high demand. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 32% job growth for medical services managers, 8% growth for dietitians and nutritionists, and 5% growth for epidemiologists.

Nevertheless, a master's degree in public health requires a significant commitment from students. These programs typically require two years of study, a considerable research component, and a significant financial investment. An online master's degree in public health, however, can be more flexible, accessible, and affordable.

Most public health professionals continue their studies long into their professional lives. They need to stay informed about issues and major topics in the field. For some public health careers, professionals may need additional credentials or advanced training, such as a certification or doctoral degree.

Find the best online master's in public health programs.

What Will I Learn in a Public Health Master's Program?

In most public health master's programs, learners take courses in biostatistics, environmental health, management sciences, and social and behavioral determinants. Many programs also offer concentrations.

Students gain skills in research and analysis, ethical leadership and governance, and policy management. These degrees often include a substantial experiential component, which provides practical skills in making needs assessments and implementing public health programs and initiatives.

While most schools offer a master of public health (MPH), prospective students may also pursue an MA in public health or an MS in public health. These tracks can differ in their electives and focuses, as MPH programs feature a comprehensive and practical approach, MA programs feature a more interdisciplinary approach, and MS programs focus on the technical aspects of the field.

Concentrations

Epidemiology
This concentration teaches students the various determinants, challenges, and controls related to disease distribution. Learners study pandemics and epidemics, nutrition, addiction, and processes for spreading epidemiological information and research.
Health Education
Health education concentrations teach students different public health information and communication strategies. Covered topics include global health disparities, nutrition, school health, and physical activity.
Health Services Management
Health services management concentrations introduce students to challenges in healthcare organizational leadership. Degree-seekers learn tactics and strategies related to negotiations, program development, communication, and ethical and socially responsible management.
Environmental Health
Environmental health concentrations examine various environmental impacts on public health, such as pollution, poisoning, water contamination, and waste. Coursework may also delve into health education, geological science, and toxicology.
Food, Nutrition, and Health
In food, nutrition, and health concentrations, students learn about healthy eating and the impact food has on public health. Learners study the role of nutrition and food in biological systems, disease, development, and humanitarian emergencies.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs

How to Get Into a Public Health Master's Program

Admission requirements for a master's degree in public health depend on the program, but prospective students typically need a relevant bachelor's degree and letters of recommendation. Additional requirements may include a minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE scores; and prerequisite coursework in math, biology, and health. Prospective students may also need to submit a statement of interest or research proposal.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Public Health?

Public health professionals can find employment in state and federal governments, schools and school systems, hospitals, and research and development organizations. They can also secure positions in epidemiology, dietetics, public policy, and medical services administration and management.

A master's degree in public health can also lead to careers in community and social services, business, and education. Graduates can pursue further education in a doctoral program.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Public Health?

Salary potential depends on location, industry, employer, and credentials. For example, epidemiologists make a median annual salary of $74,560, while dietitians and nutritionists earn a median annual salary of $63,090, according to the BLS.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Public Health Programs

Where can public health graduates work? true

Public health graduates can work in hospitals, governments, and community organizations. They can also teach or work in research and development. With a master's degree in public health, graduates gain access to policymaking positions, along with management careers in various healthcare settings.

Is a master's in public health worth it? true

A master's degree in public health offers graduates the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives and their communities. These graduates also enjoy access to growing industries that pay much higher wages than the median annual salary for all occupations.

Do you need a bachelor's in public health to get a master's? true

A master's degree in public health usually requires a bachelor's degree for admission, sometimes in a related field. However, students with unrelated degrees may be able to earn admission by completing prerequisite coursework.

How long does a master's in public health take?

A master's degree in public health usually takes students two years to complete. However, an online master's degree in public health may offer accelerated, asynchronous delivery, which can reduce completion times. Part-time programs take longer and can better accommodate working professionals.

What is the highest-paying job in public health?

The highest-paying career for graduates with a master's degree in public health is likely medical and health services manager. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for this occupation is $104,280. The top 10% of earners in the field make more than $195,630 per year.

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