Medical professionals with a master's in public health (MPH) make key decisions that move forward innovations in modern healthcare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in public healthcare management are projected to grow at a rate of 20%, well above the national average.
With a yearly salary between $39,000-$98,000, healthcare managers and technicians are well compensated for developing and improving healthcare policy, implementing and improving documentation, and directing a complex community of medical professionals.
Healthcare is a fast-growing field that continues to evolve as Americans increasingly strive to live longer and more fulfilling lives. An MPH opens the door to many career opportunities. Choose a professional healthcare career that you find most rewarding.
Should I Get a Master's in Public Health?
Before entering an MPH program, consider the following questions. First, what are the benefits to a master's in public health? And what programs are available to you? An MPH opens up careers in public health administration and analysis across both the public and private sectors, including community health centers, nonprofits, and private consultancy groups. Degree holders focus on trends and innovations in the medical profession, often specializing in one of five topics: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy or administration, and social or behavioral sciences.
MPH degree programs are available both on campus and online. Program length varies depending on your previous educational background and average time commitment, often ranging 1-2 years. For undergraduates or recent graduates of a bachelor's program, transitioning into a campus program is fairly straightforward, and those with a bachelor's in nursing or medical studies can complete the MPH in as little as one year. For non-traditional students or working professionals, a hybrid or online program offers more flexibility in time and location. Depending on previous experience and the speed of coursework, online students typically complete programs within two years.
Regardless if the program is in a classroom or online, participants benefit from networking with classmates and educators, and gain a sense for the profession's ethics. After graduation, your degree distinguishes you from the growing percentage of bachelor's degree holders in the medical field, and jumpstarts your public health career.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Public Health?
Public health is an ever-expanding field, offering careers in government, healthcare institutions, and private companies. Master's degrees in public health can also inspire careers in healthcare lobbying, where dedicated professionals speak for underserved communities. Community outreach program coordinators help the public understand disease prevention and how to make better lifestyle choices. Public health consultants work with companies to meet ethical standards in product promotion and marketing. These career choices cater to a variety of personalities and strengths. The following list details just a few of the possible directions you can pursue.
- Health Educator and Community Health Worker
Become a voice for change in your community as a health educator or community health worker. In this profession, individuals develop programs and information campaigns to spread awareness of key health issues on the local level; instruct others how to identify and manage existing health conditions; and advocate for better healthcare access and policies.
Median Annual Salary: $45,360
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
- Healthcare Administrator
These professionals analyze and improve the complex infrastructure of medical centers, private care facilities, or nonprofits to deliver the best healthcare possible. Administrators train new employees and manage accounts and facility documentation to maintain organization in an often frenetic profession.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
By monitoring situations and collecting data, epidemiologists identify and track outbreaks and long-standing problems that put entire communities as risk. Working with health practitioners, policymakers, and community members, epidemiologists effectively stem infection and increase awareness of chronic community issues such as substance abuse and environmental health risks.
Median Annual Salary: $69,660
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Environmental Scientist
These professionals approach the medical profession from an environmental viewpoint, offering new solutions to contemporary issues. Through data collection, analysis, and publication, scientists inform the public of environmental issues affected or instigated by modern healthcare practices.
Median Annual Salary: $69,400
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
With a strong background in mathematics or statistics, these professionals combine computational skills with biological trends. Critical to many research teams, they gather data from ongoing studies to provide clear demographic percentages of ongoing trends and predictive analytics. Biostatisticians solve real-world problems in the medical field by applying their analytical skills.
Median Annual Salary: $84,760
Projected Growth Rate: 33%
Best States for Public Health Professionals
Public health professionals work with communities and the general public to promote disease prevention and enhance general wellness across the human lifespan. They also provide valuable resources and advocacy support; design, implement, and evaluate health programs; and work to improve the overall health of individuals and groups.
Most public health workers hold a master's degree in public health or related field. By earning an advanced degree, public health professionals demonstrate their expertise to meet the wellness needs of individuals and communities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects community and social service occupations -- including health educators, community healthcare workers, social workers, and counselors -- will experience a 14% rise in job growth by 2026. This amounts to almost 400,000 new jobs in the community and social service sector, and an average median wage in the field that exceeds the national average.
Public health professionals can be found in a variety of sectors, including local and state governments, nonprofits, and community organizations. This dynamic field is projected to see robust growth over the next decade, and our rankings below can help you discover the best states to pursue this career. Our list was compiled using employment and salary data from the BLS and each individual state. The list also accounts for projected growth and areas with strong social and community engagement.
California employs the largest number of community health workers and health educators in the U.S. With high concentrations of public health workers in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland, opportunities for professional growth should remain strong through 2026. In particular, health educators should see a 20% projected increase over that time, far above the national average.
Health educators and community health workers in metropolitan centers like San Jose and San Francisco rank among the highest paid in the nation. For example, health educators in San Jose earn an average annual salary of just under $90,000 -- almost twice as much as the average in other states.
Additionally, the California Department of Public Health offers numerous programs for individuals and families in the state. Through efforts to improve environmental health, healthcare quality, family health, and health informatics, public health professionals can land careers that provide valuable public services while meeting their individual interests.
With the second largest number of community health and health education professionals in the country, New York offers numerous employment opportunities in its rural and urban centers. For example, the BLS projects that community health workers across the state will see a 26% increase in positions through 2026, much higher than the 18% rise across the nation. The BLS also projects a 24% growth rate in health education.
Public health professionals in the state are also compensated above the national average. Specifically, in 2017 community health workers and health educators earned a median wage of over $40,000 -- slightly above the national median wage of $38,000. Health educators similarly earned above the national median wage in major cities like New York, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Kingston.
Additionally, job opportunities at the local and state level provide public health workers with numerous social service career options.
Georgia features the fourth largest number of health educators in the U.S., and offers earning potential far above the national average. Health educators in Georgia earn an annual mean wage of just over $80,000, well above the national mean of just above $45,000. Urban centers like Savannah and Atlanta provide numerous employment opportunities for community health workers and health educators, while the presence of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta make the state a hub for public health.
Epidemiologists in Georgia rank third in the country for employment opportunities, and the field is projected to grow 11% by 2026. Similarly, the BLS projects that job openings for health educators should increase 13%, and that openings for community health workers should have a 26% growth rate over the same period.
Public health workers in Georgia have opportunities in health protection, health promotion, and district or county public health programs.
Texas is the third largest employer of community health workers in the country, and boasts the fifth largest number of health educators. Health professionals receive above average salaries in large portions of the state. Community health workers in cities like Waco, Houston, and Fort Worth earn more than $40,000 as average median salaries, higher than the national median of roughly $38,000. Health educators in Texas earn just under the national median, but cities like Amarillo, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Houston, and Dallas all exceed national wages. The Houston metropolitan area employs the ninth largest number of community health workers in the U.S., while non-metropolitan regions in northern Texas offer some of the highest salaries in the country for health educators.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services offers programs and career opportunities in public health, wellness, and infectious disease. Local health departments and clinics also provide programs to individuals and communities in Texas, giving public health professionals numerous options for employment.
Pennsylvania's extensive public health programs provide opportunities for professionals to specialize in individual, community, school, and clinical health. The Pennsylvania Department of Health provides support for women, children, and individuals struggling with opioid addiction and other health and wellness concerns. The state also receives numerous grants and other funding to support oral health, nutrition, and a medical marijuana program.
The BLS projects an 11% increase in employment for health educators, and these professionals also earn more than the national median average in other states. The BLS also projects a 12% increase in available positions by 2026 for community health workers in Pennsylvania. Community health workers earn above the national median wage in major cities and urban settings, while the same positions in rural locations earn slightly less. Pennsylvania has proposed a rural population health initiative to provide healthcare and improve access in remote locations, which may result in more career opportunities.
Propelled by the high number of public health professionals in the Washington D.C.-Alexandria-Arlington, Silver Springs, and Baltimore metropolitan areas, Maryland offers numerous career opportunities to community health workers and health educators.
The BLS projects that positions for community health workers in Maryland will grow 13% by 2026, with opportunities for health educators projected to rise by 5%. While the average median salary for health educators in the United States rests just below $54,000, the median wage for this field in Maryland sits at over $90,000. This high earning potential gives public health professionals clear incentive to work in Maryland. Community health workers also earn well above the national median salary, with higher wages in major cities and metropolitan areas.
The Maryland Department of Health offers extensive employment resources and continuing education opportunities to employees and to the general public. With programs and trainings in areas such as minority health, infectious disease, and medical programing, Maryland provides extensive support for public health professionals.
Public health professionals in Wisconsin may work within the Department of Human Services and Division of Public Health, but they also have numerous options within the public health network of the University of Wisconsin System. Additionally, the LEAP (Linking Education and Practice) for Public Health Nursing Program strengthens the public health infrastructure by providing increased opportunities for public health nursing education and implementation in the state.
Public health professionals can find employment in local, regional, and state public health programs in large cities like Madison and Milwaukee, and in rural areas in the northern part of the state. The BLS projects that community health workers in Wisconsin should see an estimated 11% growth in job openings by 2026, with jobs for health educators projected to increase by 12%. Community health workers in Wisconsin earn salaries in line with the national median wage, though they have much higher earning potential in metropolitan areas. Health educators experience similar earning patterns.
The BLS projects that health educators in Illinois will see a 6% growth in job openings by 2026. While this remains below the national average for the field, health educators in Illinois also enjoy higher salaries than their counterparts around the country. Health educators in Illinois received a median wage of almost $55,000 in 2017, above the national median average. Additionally, the BLS projects an increase of 6% for job openings for community health workers.
With numerous professional opportunities in the Chicago area, public health workers have access to careers at all levels. The Chicago metropolitan area employs the fourth largest number of community health professionals among urban locations in the nation. Chicago has the ninth highest employment of health educators among metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Additional job possibilities at local, county, regional, and state public health institutions and departments give public health workers direct influence over individuals and communities. The State of Illinois Department of Public Health offers programming and services in overall wellness, disease prevention, healthcare consultation, and emergency preparedness.
The BLS projects a 20% increase in job openings for community health workers in North Carolina by 2026, a rate that exceeds the national average for the field. Community health workers in the Durham-Chapel Hill and Charlotte areas of North Carolina earn salaries above the national mean wage. Community health workers in the Research Triangle region around Durham-Chapel Hill make more than $52,000 annually, while the national median sits at just over $38,000.
Health educators in North Carolina are also projected to experience increased employment opportunities comparable with the national forecast by 2026. Similar to community health workers in the state, health educators earn far above the national median wage in metropolitan areas like Durham-Chapel Hill and Charlotte.
With programs in minority health, family and child wellness, environmental health, and epidemiology, the North Carolina Department of Public Health offers numerous opportunities for public health professionals to enter the field.
The BLS projects that job openings for community health workers in Iowa will exceed the projected national average, with an increase of 19% by 2026. Community health workers in Iowa earn an annual median wage just shy of the national median, but throughout the southeast region of the state, salaries are much higher. Health educators similarly experience a high demand in Iowa. However, their biggest earning potential lies in the northwest portion of the state.
Public health professionals in Iowa can land careers at various levels. Most of the community health workers and health care professionals in Iowa have bachelor's degrees, but those with master's degrees can access advanced career options. Similarly, those with no college degree at all may find entry-level jobs.
The Iowa Department of Public Health offers internships to undergraduate and graduate students alike, providing necessary experience to public health students while working with individuals and communities. Internships also establish connections and provide avenues to future career opportunities.
Massachusetts employs the third highest number of community health workers in the country. In fact, the northwestern region of Massachusetts ranks second for the highest concentration of non-metropolitan employment for community health jobs in the U.S.
The BLS projects a continued need for community health workers in Massachusetts through 2026. Community health workers in Massachusetts earn a higher annual wage than the national median -- more than $41,000 versus the national median wage of just over $38,000. Additionally, health educators in the state should see continued growth, and several parts of Massachusetts offer much higher salaries than the national average. Health educators in Peabody, for example, earn an annual median salary of approximately $3,000 above the national median.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health offers job opportunities at the state, regional, and local levels. Internship options also let public health students work with individuals and communities in Massachusetts, as well as explore the numerous public health programs and organizations in the state.
The BLS projects that Florida will see robust growth in job opportunities for community health workers through 2026. With a 28% increase, Florida hosts a large number of career options for public health professionals. Community health workers in Florida already make up the fifth largest number of professionals in the country.
Health educators in Florida rank third in employment numbers across the U.S., and expect a continued rise in employment growth through 2026. The BLS projects a 21% increase in health education job openings, which offers numerous career options for professionals at all education levels. Health educators with bachelor's degrees or some college training remain the highest percentage of the workforce.
The Department of Health in Florida offers programs in disease and injury prevention, women's health, and health equity -- all designed to work with individuals and communities throughout the state. With the diverse offerings provided by state, regional, and local agencies, public health professionals can find numerous careers that meet the needs of Florida's population.
Public health professionals with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) enjoy mentorship programs, professional development opportunities, tuition reimbursement, and various other benefits. In addition to these perks, the BLS projects that community health workers in Colorado should see 31% growth in employment opportunities by 2026, far above the national estimated increase of 18%. Community health workers in Colorado also earn more than the annual median wage across the country, especially in north central Colorado and in the Denver area.
The BLS also projects a 27% increase in available positions by 2026 for health educators in the state. Earning potential for health educators also remains high in most of Colorado. The extensive continuing education and professional development opportunities for health educators through the CDPHE add additional incentives to working in the field.
Colorado's public health initiatives include programs in health equity, marijuana awareness, environmental health, and lead poisoning testing. With emphasis on numerous aspects of public health, community health workers, health educators, and other public health professionals can find a career that meets their interests while also fulfilling a public need.
The numerous sections of Ohio's Public Health Association indicate that public health professionals have an array of job opportunities in the state. The state's Department of Health also offers programs in environmental public health, public health nursing, and public health education, providing career options, resources, and professional support to public health workers.
The BLS projects a 14% increase in employment for community health workers in Ohio and a 12% rise in employment for health educators. This growth indicates the continued need for public health professionals over the next decade. Community health workers in Ohio earn just under the annual median wage; however, in major cities like Cleveland and Akron, salary numbers increase.
The northeastern region of Ohio holds the fourth position for the largest number of health educators in non-metropolitan areas of the country. Health educators earn above the national median wage, however, with an annual median salary of almost $56,000.
The Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria region of Virginia hosts large numbers of community health workers and health educators, making the area ideal for public health professionals in all aspects of the field. With the fourth largest number of health educators and fifth highest population of community health workers, eastern Virginia also provides high earning possibilities to public health workers. Health educators in the eastern part of the state earn more than $80,000 annually, while community health workers make more than $63,000 on average.
The BLS projects a 25% increase in positions for health educators in Virginia by 2026, with community health workers projected to grow by 21%. Both estimates exceed national numbers and reflect the high need for public health professionals in the state.
Public health professionals that want to work with individuals and communities in Virginia can find opportunities in numerous subsets of the field. The Virginia Department of Health and all 35 local health districts in Virginia provide programs in drinking water safety, environmental health, family health services, and health equity.
The BLS projects a 15% growth rate for health education careers in North Dakota, about the same as the national average. The BLS also projects a 27% growth rate for community health workers in North Dakota, far above the 18% projected nationally.
With expected high levels of growth in public health professions, North Dakota offers opportunities for entry-level and advanced public health workers. The majority of community health workers and health educators in North Dakota hold bachelor's degrees, but individuals with master's degrees and some college training also contribute significantly to the workforce.
Community health workers in North Dakota earn above the national median wage, with an annual median salary over $44,000. North Dakota is also the third highest top paying state in the U.S. for community health workers. Health educators earn an annual median wage just under the national average, but in cities such as Bismarck and Fargo, salary numbers increase significantly.
With a strong healthcare economy, Minneapolis-St. Paul hosts the fifth largest number of health educators and the seventh largest group of community health workers among metropolitan locations in the United States.
The need for community health workers in Minnesota remains consistent with national estimates. The BLS projects a 16% increase in job opportunities by 2026 for community health workers, and a 9% growth rate for health educators in the state. These numbers indicate public health professionals have numerous opportunities to find professional opportunities in the Minnesota. Community health workers in Minnesota earn just under the national median salary, but health educators enjoy median salaries above the national figure. Salaries for both groups remain strongest in metropolitan settings like Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester.
The Minnesota Department of Health hires an estimated 200 new employees each year. The department offers opportunities in clinical, urban, rural, and administrative contexts to public health professionals and support workers.
Public health workers enjoy robust employment and earning opportunities throughout the state of Oregon. The BLS projects a 16% increase in job opportunities for health educators by 2026, just over the national average of 15%. Similarly, the BLS projects a 14% rise in community health workers and an 11% growth in epidemiologists.
Positions at all levels of education remain open to public health professionals. The majority of community health workers and health educators in Oregon have bachelor's degrees, but significant portions of the workforce hold graduate degrees or some college coursework.
Community health workers and health educators in Oregon earn just under the national median wage. However, the Oregon Department of Public Health offers a range of specialized programs and areas for professionals to pursue, including medical marijuana, death with dignity, and family health initiatives.
Public health initiatives in Missouri are supported by the state's Department of Health and Department of Health and Senior Services. With a strong emphasis on providing healthy living information, senior services, and environmental health education, both agencies provide numerous career options in the public health field.
St. Louis hosts the tenth largest group of community health workers in a metropolitan area of the U.S. Jefferson City also employs one of the highest concentrations of health educators in the country.
Both fields are projected to experience significant growth by 2026. The BLS projects a 23% increase in employment of community health workers in Missouri by 2026, well above the national forecast of 18%. The BLS also projects a 23% increase for health educators. Currently, most community health workers and health educators in Missouri hold bachelor's degrees, but the employment possibilities for all education levels remains strong.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services offers extensive resources for public health professionals -- and the general public -- on issues such as opioid addiction and Hepatitis A outbreaks.
Morgantown, home to West Virginia University, hosts the fifth largest number of health educators in the country. The state's proximity to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area gives public health workers in West Virginia further opportunities for careers in the field.
Because the state is largely rural, the need to disseminate public health information and services remains strong. The state offers a healthcare plan aimed specifically at these regions, focused on addressing issues such as obesity, behavioral health, and cardiovascular disease. The need for health educators and community health workers reflects the attention directed to these communities; the BLS projects increases in job openings of 10% and 13% respectively by 2026.
The Public Health Division of the Department of Health in New Mexico hosts events, programs, and outreach initiatives to provide individuals and communities with information on chronic disease, family health, and healthcare access. With an array of programming aimed at a largely rural population, public health professionals can find employment opportunities in both urban and remote locations. The University of New Mexico also offers public health opportunities through its health extension rural offices, giving students and professionals the chance to work with rural and underserved individuals and communities.
Santa Fe employs the fourth highest concentration of health educators in the country. The city also offers health educators the second highest median wage in the state, behind Albuquerque. Health educators in Albuquerque earn a median salary of $61,000, above the national median of $53,000. The BLS projects an increase in positions for community health workers and health educators by 2026.
Community health workers and health educators in Connecticut develop programs to improve environmental health, address disease prevention, and promote parent and child health. The Connecticut Department of Public Health offers employment and internship opportunities to public health workers and students, as well as courses that build career competencies.
The BLS projects an 11% increase in positions for health educators by 2026. Community health workers should see an even higher level of growth; the BLS projects a 15% growth rate. With both professions projected to grow significantly, public health professionals have numerous options in the state's larger cities. Hartford and New Haven both offer health educators and community health workers above average median wages exceeding national numbers. For example, health educators in Connecticut earn over $63,000, higher than the national median of $53,000. Community health workers, meanwhile, earn almost $44,000, more than the national median of just over $38,000.
New Jersey's proximity to the greater New York City area means that it is part of the largest population of community health workers and health educators in the country. Wages for community health workers in New Jersey -- at just over a median of $45,000 annually -- exceed the national median wage of roughly $38,000. Health educators in New Jersey also earn more than the national median wage, with median salaries of nearly $59,000.
The New Jersey Department of Health, driven by the mission to improve health through leadership and innovation, offers public health programming in topics such as environmental and workplace health, animal welfare, and chronic disease. New Jersey's local and county health departments give public health professionals the opportunity to be the first point of contact for individuals and communities in need of assistance and information.
Health educators in Rhode Island enjoy the fourth highest wages in the field in the U.S. The annual median salary for health educators in Rhode Island exceeds the national median wage of $53,000 by more than $2,500. With an above average projected growth in health education careers by 2026, Rhode Island offers high levels of employment and earning potential to public health professionals.
Community health workers earn more than the median wage for their counterparts across the country. The annual median salary for community health workers in Rhode Island rests at just over $43,000. The BLS projects a 12% increase in community health workers by 2026. This growth provides strong opportunities for public health professionals to find in-demand and lucrative careers in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island's Department of Health houses a public health research academy, a public health education center, and a public health informatics program. The academic, technological, and communication emphases within public health open innovative avenues within the field for public health professionals.
Home to large concentrations of health educators and community health workers, Anchorage provides public health professionals with numerous career opportunities. With the locus of higher education public health programs offered at the University of Alaska Anchorage, public health students and professionals can branch out and extend their services to rural communities throughout the state.
The rural and community networks developed by Alaska's Division of Public Health provide fundamental information and services to remote populations within the state. Public health initiatives in women's health, family health, and disease prevention accompany rural and community outreach.
The BLS projects a 17% increase in jobs for community health workers in Alaska by 2026, near national figures in the field. The BLS also projects an 11% rise in job opportunities for health educators during the same period. Both groups earn above national median wages, with health educators making more than $58,000 as an annual median salary.
How to Choose a Master's in Public Health Program
As you research MPH programs, be sure to examine differences in program length, curriculum, and financial costs. Typically, an MPH program takes 1-2 years to complete, which is the case for most on-campus, hybrid, and online programs. Regardless of the program, most accredited schools offer similar coursework with standardized subject matter focusing on health policies. Learners explore environmental or social and behavioral issues, as well as research skills in biostatistics and epidemiology. Schools also offer specialized coursework in healthcare management, quantitative analysis, and clinical effectiveness to prepare participants for field research.
Finally, consider how much it costs to complete your MPH degree. Degree costs differ depending on format, length, and location. Typically, programs charge standard tuitions by the term, so if you enroll in a two-year program, you pay more than in a single-year program. Other expenses to consider include housing costs and material fees, such as textbooks and computer programs. Living at home rather than on campus or working while in a program may save money in the long term. Even so, other costs may inhibit online or working students. An intensive one-year program may cost in total as much as a two-year program, though the speed at which you can enter the job market may outweigh that initial cost.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Public Health Programs
School accreditation is like a seal of approval that guarantees the quality of your degree after graduation. Accreditation declares to future colleagues and employers the value of your knowledge and training, and attests to a focused background in the latest issues in public healthcare. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredits all public health programs in the nation. The CEPH is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which also sanctions regional accreditation bodies such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Higher Learning Commission. The CEPH specifically focuses on master of public health degree programs by monitoring public health educators to ensure student access to the latest information and up-to-date policy decisions.
All public or government institutions require degrees from accredited institutions in order to be eligible for hire, and most jobs in the private sector hold that same standard. It is critical for individuals to check school accreditation before enrolling in any MPH programs.
Master's in Public Health Program Admissions
To apply for a degree at the master's level, all prospective students must submit an application. Admissions vary by school and program, though some standards include set application dates and fees; proof of previous educational training; and statements of interest and support. Given the complexity of applications, be sure to begin searching for prospective MPH programs at least a year in advance of your intended enrolment date.
Whether on campus or online, most applications have a deadline, usually in late fall or winter of the year prior to starting school. Online programs may offer more flexibility by providing multiple application deadlines throughout the year, often one in the fall and another in early spring. The following list details some of the common prerequisites and application materials that you should expect to provide when applying for a master's in public health.
- Bachelor's Degree: All MPH degree programs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution prior to enrollment. Some programs require a bachelor's degree in a field related to the medical profession, such as nursing, biology, or mathematics. Review your potential school's requirements for details.
- Professional Experience: Many schools require some form of professional experience prior to enrolment (often two years). This experience need not be in public health specifically. This requirement allows you to demonstrate your maturity; collaborative and leadership skills; and career aspirations.
- Minimum GPA: Typically, MPH programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA from your bachelor's program. If your undergraduate GPA is not the strongest, post-baccalaureate classes completed prior to MPH enrollment can also demonstrate your commitment to education.
- Application: All master's of public health degree programs require a complete application. Typically, these applications include general information about the applicant, previous educational background, and an explanation of personal reasons for pursuing a career in public health, expressed through a personal statement or essay.
- Transcripts: A transcript is a roadmap of your previous education, easily legible by institutions during the application process. You must submit official transcripts from your bachelor's program, provided directly by your undergraduate institution. Note that possible fees may apply.
- Recommendation Letters: Letters of support fill in the human story behind the dry numbers of a transcript. Previous instructors or professors are the most common resource for recommendations, though coaches, community leaders, and employers may also submit letters. MPH programs typically require 2-3 letters. You should request letters of support at least one month in advance of the application deadline to give the writer time to compose a thoughtful response.
- Test Scores: Applicants must supply GRE test scores from a test taken within the last five years to be considered for any MPH program. For international applicants or students for whom English is a second language, the TOEFL exam is also required to prove language proficiency.
- Application Fee: Application fees typically range from $50-$100. This cost covers the financial burden of reviewing your application. In rare cases of financial hardship, this fee can be waived. Contact your prospective schools for details.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Public Health Program?
Though every school strives to offer a personalized educational experience, most MPH programs cover similar degree focuses relevant to the modern healthcare system. The following section explains five popular concentrations in MPH programs, detailing the objectives behind each specialization and potential resulting careers.
|Epidemiology||Epidemiologists study trends in infectious diseases, chronic illness, environmental health factors, and public emergency responses to assess and advocate for innovations in public health. In this professional branch, learners study outbreaks and systematic issues to save future generations.||Center for Disease Control (CDC) researcher Public health epidemiology specialist (local government) HIV/AIDS researcher|
|Biostatistics||By approaching medical and environmental issues from a mathematical or statistical background, biostatisticians identify and follow trends in contemporary public health to project future outcomes or growing issues in both local and global arenas.||Research project coordinator/manager Quantitative healthcare researcher Clinical scientist|
|Global Health||Compare diverse communities and locations with a global health perspective. Work from macro- to micro-scales to implement healthcare solutions across a diverse range of external and cultural stressors.||Nonprofit or private healthcare consultant International maternal and childhood mortality advocate Healthcare lobbyist|
|Health Policy or Administration||Valuable for future clinicians, managers, and policy writers, administrative training exposes students to the framework encompassing healthcare, including its innovations and its limitations. Skills in strategic management, organizational behaviors, finance, and economics prepare future managers and policy writers to continuously improve the public healthcare system.||Public healthcare policy writer Healthcare administrator (public or private sector) Director of healthcare administrative programs and services|
|Social/Behavioral Sciences||Explore the social, psychological, and behavioral factors that impact current public health issues. Spanning illness and recovery, as well as general wellness, this branch identifies and tracks behavioral side effects of psycho-social issues to promote positive behavioral patterns.||Psychosocial epidemiologist Social computing specialist (private sector) Social and behavioral sciences librarian|
Courses in a Master's in Public Health Program
While courses differ by school, all institutions accredited by the CEPH follow similar instructional guidelines. All MPH programs acquaint participants in the five major areas of public health, in addition to providing specialist training in the student's chosen focus area. The following five courses are typical of MPH degree programs.
- Principles of Biostatistics
An intensive course on biostatistical methodology, this class surveys previous and current trends in statistical analysis of biological data. Learners delve into data analysis by identifying probabilities, hypothesis testing, and variant analyses. Ultimately, this course introduces students to the fundamentals of inference and systematic projection that help diagnose public health crises.
- Financial Management
Most healthcare administrators will at some point be involved in the financial side of public health. This course introduces learners to organizational decisions, including operational and capital budgeting, and long-term financial analysis. Individuals study the practicalities of GAAP accounting, and financial tracking and documentation to prepare for future responsibilities in public health finance.
- Global Environmental Health
By taking a global perspective on environmental health, this course exposes students to the diversity of environmental effects on public health worldwide. Through isolated cases, and interrelated studies of cultural or environmental contact, students examine and critique public healthcare responses to complex disease outbreaks and chronic issues.
- Methods in Community Health Research
Students learn how to tackle healthcare issues through quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. Public health crises arise in the form of epidemics and outbreaks; underlying issues; and natural and man-made disasters. By encouraging multi-avenue approaches to research, students gain real-world training in responses to public health issues.
- Nutritional Epidemiology
Students learn the tenets of observation and intervention in nutritional habits to stem the spread of disease outbreaks or manage chronic illness. Coursework combines nutrition with physiology, biochemistry, and statistics to fully comprehend the value of nutrition analysis in epidemiology.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Public Health?
Many factors impact the speed at which you complete your MPH degree program. If your undergraduate education focused on medical or related fields such as biology or mathematics, or if you hold a registered nurse (RN) certification, you may qualify for an accelerated, one-year MPH program. Without prior experience, students can earn an MPH degree in about two years. However, part-time students may take longer to complete a program.
The final capstone or practicum can also potentially impact a student's timeline. A capstone project is a research project designed and executed by the student, required for submission prior to graduation. Research projects typically take as much time as you give them, so be sure to prioritize your time to stay on track for graduation.
By contrast, the practicum is a supervised practice experience in an internship situation. While preparation for the practicum is often more expedient, finding the venue for a practicum can be challenging. Take the initiative to find internship opportunities before the start of your final term to ensure you have a stage to present your skills.
How Much is a Master's in Public Health?
Master's degrees in public health vary in cost by school, program length, and location. The number of semester or quarter terms taken is commonly the largest financial impact. A one-year program, open to students with a previous background in medical or scientific fields, costs less than a two-year master's. An accelerated or intensive program, designed to catch up non-specialists in about one year, generally costs more because students take more courses in a shorter time span. A traditional two-year program that brings students from a variety of backgrounds into the field costs more.
Beyond tuition costs, be sure to account for additional expenses such as housing fees. After enrollment, this is often students' largest expense. Consider the pros and cons of living on campus, near campus, or working remotely to complete your degree. Likewise, consider the financial burden of out-of-state schools versus in-state institutions. Do any local programs offer your desired MPH specializations?
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Public Health Prepares For
- Certification in Public Health
Accredited by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, this is the only public health certification recognized nationwide. Certification requires passing the CPH exam, consisting of 200 questions to be completed within four hours. After passing the exam, members must maintain certification with a minimum 50 continuing education credits every two years.
- Certified Health Education Specialist
Become a specialist in education with this certification from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. This two-level exam series for both young and established professionals declares competency and an ongoing commitment to skill-building in health education. Certification requires successful completion of the CHES exam, with recertification every five years.
- Workplace Wellness Certification
The Wellness Council of America (WCA) strives for better working conditions across the public and private sector by training wellness professionals, occupational health nurses, dieticians, and human resources administrators how to analyze, identify, and manage intersocial stressors, and inspire community collaboration. The WCA increases awareness of workplace dynamics and encourages positive communication across businesses and organizations.
- Registered Environmental Health Specialist
Standardized by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), the REHS credential focuses on environmental issues impacting public health, from clean air and water, to safe food and waste disposal. Specialists handle spontaneous or natural disasters; coordinate emergency or long-term responses; and increase community awareness.
- Certification of Infection Control and Epidemiology
This certification qualifies your skills in identification of infectious diseases; surveillance and epidemiological analysis; data interpretation; and prevention planning. Run by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, this exam is offered year round, and qualifies successful applicants for five years with the possibility of recertification.
Resources for Public Health Graduate Students
Contribute to the largest student organization in public health as a member of the American Public Health Association Student Assembly. Gain free access to the American Journal of Public Health and qualify for conference grants from the APHA.
Connect with established researchers, scholars, and professionals engaged with environmental health as a student member of the NEHA. This organization offers accreditation, internship opportunities, scholarships, and professional conferences.
What began as a Yale University graduate student association has grown into a consortium of graduate students at over 100 research universities in 20 countries, all dedicated to increasing global access to medication. Join this association to participate in annual conferences and access internships regarding global public health.
Orchestrated by the NIH of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this resource lists internship, job, and research campaign opportunities supported by the U.S. government. Discover current academic and contractor positions available through a career services page.
As an association of CEPH-accredited institutions, this resource offers students access to ongoing or specialty education opportunities; undergraduate and graduate networks; and job search engines.
Professional Organizations in Public Health
Having decided to enter the public health field, your next step is to identify and join the professional organizations that will develop your career. These organizations offer vital networking and job-search centers, as well as mentor programs and internship directories to launch your professional life. Conferences and continuing education opportunities offer venues to present your ongoing research and build your professional repertoire with connections and specialty certifications. Impress your colleagues and employers with your dedication to the contemporary public health issues as a contributor to the professional arena.
Stay current on international innovations in public health as a member of the IEA, which publishes a journal on current events in epidemiology and holds regional and international conferences.
With publications, continuing education opportunities, and the public health career center, the APHA inspires professionals to continuously engage with current events and network nationwide.
Intended to bring statistics professionals together across disciplines in private industries, government, and academia, the ASA offers ongoing educational and publication opportunities, and networking venues to build one's career.
This independent international organization evaluates standards of private, government, and nonprofit clinical trials. Intended to spread awareness and educate professionals across public and private sectors, the SCT facilitates scientific meetings and webinars to keep members current on ethical clinical research.
Connect with all levels of professional nutrition and holistic medicine as a member of the NANP. Demonstrate your commitment to nutritional health by participating in the association's annual conferences, and qualify to take certification exams with prorated fees.