The interdisciplinary field of public health focuses on how 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 synthesizes health, medicine, sociology, anthropology, economics, marketing, and information technology. A bachelor's degree suffices for most public health careers, but many professionals choose to pursue their master of public health (MPH) after undergrad. 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 a MPH the second most popular graduate degree for health professionals, after a master of science in nursing (MSN).
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A MASTER'S IN PUBLIC HEALTH?
Graduates with an online master's in public health may pursue careers as epidemiologists, health educators, or public health specialists. Read more here.
- WHAT IS A MASTER'S IN PUBLIC HEALTH?
A master's in public health emphasizes interdisciplinary, effective methods of identifying and fighting diseases, and promoting healthy lifestyles among at-risk groups. Read more here.
- IS A MASTER'S IN PUBLIC HEALTH WORTH IT?
An online master's in public health is worth it for experienced healthcare professionals who want to advance their careers while continuing to work. Read more here.
- HOW LONG DOES A MASTER'S IN PUBLIC HEALTH TAKE?
Most master's in public health programs take roughly two years to complete. Some programs require up to five years to complete. Read more here.
- WHY GET A MASTER'S IN PUBLIC HEALTH ONLINE?
Students earning a master's in public health online may complete coursework from anywhere, and they can usually complete internships and clinical requirements in their local community, as well. Read more here.
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. Programs commonly require internships or clinical residencies, as well, which provide students with supervised training from experienced professionals. Web-based MPH students follow the same demanding curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Online programs usually offer asynchronous, or self-paced, schedules, plus a simple study-from-home format, which makes most online MPH programs conducive for students with jobs, childcare duties, and other obligations that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Read on to learn more about what you can do with a master's degree in public health.
Questions to Ask When Choosing an Online MPH Program
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
An MPH builds 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 specialization options often include public policy, occupational health and safety, diet and nutrition, emergency and disaster management, global health, and environmental health. Capstone experiences, internships, and 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 home. Technology also enables students to work from their desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. For added convenience, online MPH students can usually coordinate internships and clinical residencies at sites near their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MPH?
Students who graduate with an MPH compete well against candidates with bachelor's degrees. In many cases, MPH holders qualify for supervisory or managerial positions. Other common roles include epidemiologists, biostatisticians, medical researchers, health educators, health 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, clinics, nonprofit organizations, research laboratories, government agencies, and universities.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MPH PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and you should properly evaluate whether a prospective school matches your educational needs. The school rankings below can help you start your search for the best online MPH programs in the United States. Our ranking depends on schools' course offerings, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online MPH, contact admissions specialists at various colleges and universities to learn more about their specific master's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online MPH Programs
|1||Harvard University Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 96%||
Harvard University started its master of public health in epidemiology in 2015. Designed for working professionals, the hybrid degree combines in-person, online, and in-the-field learning, making it a standout among master's in public health online programs. The National Research Council designates Harvard's Department of Epidemiology as one of the world's highest ranking research departments.
The 45-credit, part-time MPH takes two years to finish. Distance learners go through the program with a cohort of classmates and take courses in a predetermined sequence.
Classes include systematic review and meta-analysis, infectious disease epidemiology, and introduction to data mining and risk prediction. Students receive both a broad overview of the public health profession and detailed training in conducting epidemiologic investigations. All MPH students complete a five-credit, year-long practicum field project that includes a learner-chosen research topic and mentorship from a Harvard faculty member.
The program offers most coursework online, but also requires three on-campus sessions. Students start on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a three-week, all-day intensive course in epidemiology and biostatistics. They end their studies with a three-day, in-person capstone experience and graduation ceremony. Graduates find high-level positions in hospitals, nonprofit groups, public health departments, academia, and private organizations.
MPH students can apply for limited departmental grant funding and private loans to help pay for their degrees. Because the program is only available part time, learners may not qualify for all financial aid opportunities. Ideal applicants for the MPH include individuals with a bachelor's degree and five years of relevant professional experience; a master's and three years of experience; or a Ph.D. related to public health.
|2||Johns Hopkins University-Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University-Bloomberg School of Public Health offers a rigorous, evidence-based master of public health. World-renowned faculty members with teaching, research, and public health practice expertise provide instruction and mentorship. Students learn to approach complex global health problems from an evidence-based, multidisciplinary perspective.
The 80-credit, part-time program takes two to three years to complete, with five eight-week terms each year. Learners take three-eight credits each session. Although most instruction takes place online, MPH students must complete 16 credits by participating in special one-week or two-week on-campus institutes each year. Students can complete the in-person credits in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., or Barcelona. The program includes courses in public health practice, biostatistics, and public health biology. Half of the curriculum includes core courses, and students choose from more than 200 elective courses to complete the rest of their requirements.
MPH applicants must hold two years of relevant professional experience or a Ph.D. in a public health-related field. Many students work as physicians, but the department welcomes learners from a variety of other health-related backgrounds, such as journalists who cover health policy and individuals who manage health research labs. Applicants must also demonstrate a strong academic record, submit three letters of recommendation, and complete a personal statement. Prerequisites include courses in introductory biology, math, and health-related science. Graduates from Johns Hopkins' master's in public health online program work for the federal government, consulting firms, NGOs, and healthcare providers.
|3||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Prospective students who want to earn an MPH online can choose from two different master's in public health degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health. The school focuses on eliminating health inequities, improving public health, and promoting individual well-being. Departments of maternal and child health, epidemiology, and health policy and management all reside within the Gillings School. Learners receive a broad understanding of public health while also developing a specialization in a more narrow area of the field.
MPH students benefit from research, learning, and teaching opportunities through numerous interdisciplinary programs and institutes at UNC, including the Carolina Population Center, the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, and the Injury Prevention Research Center. Public health courses include interdisciplinary perspectives in global health, introductory Spanish for health professionals, and introduction to monitoring and evaluation of global health problems.
UNC offers distance learners seeking MPH degrees two options: a leadership MPH for those who already have professional experience and an MPH with a global public health track. The leadership MPH requires applicants to hold three to five years of related professional experience. Students in the global public health track MPH come from around the world and a variety of professional and academic backgrounds. The cohort-based program takes seven consecutive semesters to complete. Candidates must hold a bachelor's or professional degree and a minimum of three years of professional experience. UNC's MPH programs hold accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
|4||University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
The University of Southern California's master's in public health online program does not require any campus residences. Students complete 100% of coursework online and fulfill practicum requirements in their local communities. The program also offers the opportunity to complete a practicum in a global location.
Learners can start the MPH three times each year, in the spring, summer, and fall. USC's full-time fast-track MPH takes as little as one year to complete. Many medical school applicants enroll in the fast-track online MPH during their gap year. MPH applicants must submit proof of a bachelor's from an accredited institution, transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, and GRE scores.
Students choose from six concentrations: health services, biostatistics, community and global health, geohealth, generalist, and epidemiology. The program includes courses such as program evaluation and research, principles of biostatistics, and quality in health care. Known for their leadership on current public health issues, faculty members in USC's MPH program advise organizations like the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, and Environmental Protection Agency.
Distance students benefit from live class sessions that encourage a high level of interaction and discussion with classmates. Instructors provide personalized attention, guidance, and mentorship. Online learners also receive individualized support from career counselors, academic advisers, and practicum coordinators, as well as 24/7 technical support. USC's MPH program prepares graduates for public health-related positions with NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector. Possible careers includes infection control professional, research analyst, and global health consultant.
|5||University of Florida - Online Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Unlike many other online MPH programs, the 48-credit master of public health degree from the University of Florida does not require any in-person visits to the campus in Gainesville. The fully online program adopts a semester schedule, which offers flexibility for working professionals. Students watch pre-recorded lectures whenever convenient and take tests through an online proctoring service.
UF's MPH curriculum includes core, concentration, and elective courses; an internship; a seminar in contemporary public health issues; and a major paper and presentation. Students must complete the program within seven years of starting and earn a minimum 3.0 GPA in all classes. Learners choose a concentration in either public health practice or social and behavioral sciences. The social and behavioral sciences concentration includes four tracks: generalist, geriatric care management, HIV/AIDS, and trauma and resiliency. MPH courses include psychological, behavioral, and social issues in public health; statistical methods for health sciences; and environmental health concepts in public health.
MPH students must complete a five-credit public health internship designed to develop practical skills while using knowledge gained during the program. Most learners complete an internship during their final semester in the program. The internship requirement includes a special project that students use to develop their major paper and Public Health Day presentation. UF requires MPH applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit satisfactory GRE scores and demonstrate English proficiency. In some cases, the admissions committee may waive the 3.0 GPA minimum.
|6||University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
Available primarily online, the University of Washington's executive master of public health degree requires six on-campus sessions in downtown Seattle. The blended learning format combines the convenience and flexibility of online instruction with the benefits of in-person interaction. Students complete coursework primarily on their own schedules, with some required attendance of real-time teleconferences and webinars on Thursday evenings. Once per quarter, learners attend a three- to five-day in-person session.
UW's online executive MPH takes a cohort approach, with learners taking the same courses and collaborating on group projects throughout the program. Designed for working professionals, the 63-credit, two-year program helps students master skills in health promotion and education, program development and evaluation, and research methods.
MPH candidates complete a three-credit practicum and nine credits of a thesis or capstone project. The curriculum explores issues like epidemiology, health management and policy, biostatistics, population health, environmental health, and social and behavioral health. Learners take classes such as social determinants of population health, methods in applied community research, and introduction to statistics. Graduates of UW's online master's degree in public health program can find career paths in program evaluation, data management, administration, and epidemiology.
Applicants need at least two years of professional experience in a public health-related field, but the average student begins the program with nine years of experience. Candidates must also hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. UW's School of Public Health accepts applications on a rolling basis, with classes starting each fall.
|7||University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Expert faculty members with extensive online experience teach for the University of California-Berkeley's online master of public health program. Students complete the majority of coursework online, but must come to the Berkeley campus for one in-person session each year. The online MPH takes two-and-a-half years to complete, although some learners can graduate in two years with their adviser's approval.
The 42-credit curriculum includes courses such as maternal and child nutrition, public health and emergency preparedness, and applied spatial data science for public health. MPH learners take two classes each semester, one at a time. The program also requires a 110-hour public health practicum starting in the second semester. Students set up their own practicum experience with the help of the field supervisor. The program offers specializations in community health sciences, global health, health policy and management, spatial data science, and epidemiology and biostatistics.
UC Berkeley's online MPH program requires applicants to hold a bachelor's with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit satisfactory GRE scores. The school prefers prospective students with at least two years of post-baccalaureate experience, but waives this requirement in some cases. Required prerequisite courses include one college-level statistics class with at least a 'B+' grade. The program also expects students to understand introductory social or biological sciences. Students can start their MPH three times a year, in January, May, and August.
|8||University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
The Florida Legislature created the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida in 1984. USF offers master's in public health online degrees with concentrations in areas like epidemiology, global disaster management and humanitarian relief, infection control, public health administration, public health practice, and health, safety, and environment. Online students can also pursue an executive MPH in public health practice. USF became the first university in the U.S. to offer an MPH to distance learners.
Each MPH concentration includes its own specific graduation requirements, curriculum, and learning objectives. Students need to earn at least 42 credits, with some concentrations requiring additional credits. Learners complete their public health master's degree primarily online, with minimal on-campus requirements. The online MPH takes between two-and-a-half and five years to finish. Core courses explore issues like epidemiology, environmental health, and social and behavioral sciences.
MPH students benefit from the many public health-related research centers at USF, which investigate issues like violence prevention, maternal and child health, biological threats, and occupational health. Last year, the College of Public Health's Office of Research received more than $25 million in funding. Many public health students also take advantage of USF's global experiential learning opportunities, which include 170 international partnerships.
Admissions criteria for the MPH program include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum 2.0 GPA, satisfactory GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. USF's College of Public Health holds accreditation from the Council on Education in Public Health.
|9||George Washington University Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
The master's in public health online degree from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., holds full accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. The 18-month accelerated MPH program requires students to take an average of seven-and-a-half credits per quarter. The heavy course load does not allow MPH students to work full time, but some work part time while earning their degree.
Core coursework covers topics like cultural competency, public health biology, leadership, and professionalism. Students can customize their plan of study by focusing their electives on one of six public health areas, including health communication, program planning and evaluation, and epidemiology and public health research methods. Distance students participate in live, real-time classes in virtual classrooms, allowing high levels of discussion and interaction with classmates and instructors. Support services for online learners include academic advising, career guidance, and technical assistance. Graduates may work as emergency preparedness directors, medical writers, and healthcare policy analysts.
MPH applicants include both recent college graduates and seasoned professionals. Students do not need to meet minimum work experience requirements to qualify for the program. Admissions criteria include a bachelor's from a regionally accredited institution, satisfactory GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. GW accepts new students on a rolling basis, offering four start times a year. Prospective learners can find out more about the degree by participating in GW's regularly scheduled MPH informational events and webinars.
|10||New York University New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
The College of Global Public Health at New York University offers a master's in public health online degree that focuses on the health issues of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The globally focused program prepares graduates to work with governments to achieve the SDGs. Students learn a multidisciplinary approach to disease prevention and control while gaining decision-making and analytical skills. Graduates prepare to take leadership positions in the global public health field.
The College of Global Public Health traces its origins to 1931, when NYU first offered health classes through its School of Education. The college's mission includes advancing health equity globally, with an emphasis on values like diversity, integrity, community, and respect.
The 100% online degree does not include any in-person requirements. Its asynchronous format gives learners maximum flexibility, allowing them to complete weekly coursework whenever convenient. Full-time students on an accelerated timeline can complete the degree in one-and-a-half years, while part-time learners take two-and-a-half years to graduate. NYU's distance programs offer access to the same prestigious faculty, networking opportunities, and academic resources as its on-campus equivalents.
MPH students take courses such as global environmental health, global issues in social and behavioral health, and health policy and management. Many courses incorporate group and individual projects that develop solutions to contemporary health problems. All students complete a public health internship to acquire professional experience in the field. MPH applicants do not need a public health background to receive admission to NYU's program. The college accepts up to nine transfer credits from another program, with a case-by-case evaluation process.
|11||University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Students who want to pursue a master's in public health online can choose from two programs through the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: an executive MPH in public health administration and policy and an MPH in maternal and child health.
The 42-credit executive MPH caters to working professionals looking to advance their careers in public health management, administration, policy, and data management. The hybrid program combines asynchronous online coursework with some in-person learning. Students spend 17 days in on-campus sessions spread out throughout the program. Learners move through the program with a cohort of the same classmates and graduate together in 25 months. Students take classes such as data to drive public health, setting priorities and framing public health, and leading and evaluating public health change. Applicants to the executive MPH program need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA, but the school does not require a GRE score.
UMN designed the 42-credit MPH in maternal and child health for applicants with a minimum of three years of professional experience or a graduate degree. Full-time students can graduate from the 100% online program in two years with no required campus visits. One of the oldest and best-known programs of its kind, the MPH in maternal and child health focuses on developing skills like advocacy, epidemiology, program design, and evaluation. Students also gain a strong foundation of content knowledge in reproductive health, social disparities, and infant and child health.
|12||University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
The MPH in public health practice and policy program from the University of Maryland-College Park takes a multidisciplinary approach. The curriculum incorporates intensive leadership training and prepares graduates to take high-level roles in the public health field. Students complete the majority of program requirements online, with six weekends of required on-campus sessions at UMD spread throughout the program. The in-person instruction allows learners to integrate the knowledge gained through online coursework into hands-on practice. Designed for working professionals, the master's in public health online program takes as little as 18 months to complete. Learners can decide how many courses to take each term based on their time and work commitments, spreading coursework out over more semesters if they prefer.
Students take classes alongside a cohort of classmates throughout the program. The 45-credit degree consists of 15 required courses, including healthcare strategic planning and evaluation, public health research methods, and healthcare leadership and communications. Learners also complete a capstone project and supervised internship. The curriculum emphasizes evidence-based practice, systems thinking, public health management, and communication. MPH students who want to become certified in public health qualify to take the National Board of Public Health Examiners exam after they complete all their core courses.
UMD's School of Public Health holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. Students can transfer up to six credits from another CEPH-accredited school. Applicants to the MPH program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited school and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|13||Emory University Atlanta, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
The executive MPH from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health features three tracks: applied epidemiology, applied public health informatics, and prevention science. Designed for working professionals, the 42-credit master's in public health online program takes two years to complete. The core curriculum includes courses like applied epidemiology, perspectives in environmental health, and introduction to biostatistics.
MPH students also complete a practicum, which applies the skills and knowledge gained from their coursework to real-world public health problems. The practicum requires 200-400 hours of supervised, paid or unpaid, professional work experience. Students need departmental approval prior to starting their practicum, which can take place in their local community.
The hybrid program integrates online coursework with two on-site sessions per semester at Emory's Atlanta campus. The in-person meetings occur at the beginning and end of each semester, Friday through Sunday. Students receive a schedule of required on-campus sessions in advance so they can plan ahead. At the beginning of the program, all students complete a two-week course in strategies and resources for online learning.
Public health faculty members work with Emory's instructional design team to facilitate high levels of interactivity on the online learning platform. The MPH curriculum includes videos, online lab sessions, readings, live office hours, and annotated presentations. Learners also take part in weekly discussions. The executive MPH program holds full accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
|14||San Diego State University San Diego, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Designed for early to mid-career public health professionals, San Diego State University's master's in public health online degree takes as little as 18 months to complete. The MPH includes a health promotion and behavioral science emphasis. SDSU's School of Public Health offers a 100% online program with no in-person requirements.
The MPH program takes an asynchronous, cohort-based approach, offering pre-recorded lectures that learners go through at their own pace. Students take two courses each eight-week session, with a one-week break between each term. The 51-credit curriculum includes a three-credit, 180-hour practical field experience or internship. Learners take courses such as environmental determinants of human health, prevention and control of chronic diseases, and motivating health behavior. They become proficient in creating, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote public health. Students in the program qualify for federal financial aid.
SDSU's School of Public Health is affiliated with a variety of research centers and institutes, including the Center for Behavioral and Community Health, the Institute for Public Health, and the Center for Research on Sexuality and Sexual Health. MPH students can take advantage of educational and training opportunities through these research centers.
Admissions criteria to the MPH in health promotion and behavioral science include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum 2.85 GPA, satisfactory GRE scores, and at least three years of professional work experience. Applicants also must possess a full-time job, preferably in public health. The MPH program holds accreditation from CEPH.
|15||A.T. Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 95%||
Founded in 1892 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still as the world's first osteopathic medical school, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, Missouri, delivers health sciences-focused graduate programs. ATSU's online master's degree in public health prepares graduates to take leadership roles and find solutions to complex public health problems.
The two-year curriculum includes courses such as community health informatics, development of community-based programs, and public health administration. ATSU's highly experienced and academically qualified practitioner faculty includes innovative public health academics and top industry leaders. All of ATSU's public health faculty members hold doctoral degrees, with their research interests spanning topics like health disparities, maternal and child health, and access to care.
Thanks to small class sizes, students receive one-on-one attention from instructors, leading to lifelong mentorship and professional connections. Distance learners receive other support services, including career assistance, tutoring, academic advising, and technical help.
ATSU graduates follow diverse career paths in public health, including in positions such as director of community health services, health policy researcher, and public health project manager. ATSU's MPH program at the College of Graduate Health Studies holds accreditation from CEPH.
MPH applicants come from diverse academic, professional, and personal backgrounds. Admissions requirements include a bachelor's from an accredited institution, a minimum 2.5 GPA, completion of an essay, and submission of a current resume. ATSU does not require MPH applicants to submit GRE scores or hold a minimum amount of professional work experience.
|16||Michigan State University Flint, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 79%||
The master's in public health online program from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University in Flint stands out for its focus on applied knowledge. Through a combination of practical, skills-based training and coursework that gives a broad understanding of public health, students graduate ready to take positions as public health workers domestically and abroad. The 100% online degree does not include any in-person requirements. Distance learners pay the same flat-rate tuition per credit, regardless of their residency.
Students can pursue the 43-credit MPH part time or full time. The curriculum includes foundational courses (10 credits), selectives (3 credits), core courses (15 credits), electives (9 credits), and a culminating experience (6 credits). MPH classes include health equity framework for public health practice, public health program and intervention evaluation, and environmental factors for health. The culminating experience includes both a practicum and a capstone. Full-time learners can graduate in less than two years or five semesters. The program attracts experienced public health professionals and recent undergraduate students from disciplines like psychology, nursing, and anthropology.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, take the GRE, and submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation. The admissions committee prefers students with a minimum 3.0 GPA; however, lower GPA applicants are still considered. Prospective students can apply to the program throughout the year, and MSU admits new learners on a rolling basis.
|17||University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Prospective learners seeking online MPH programs can find three master of public health options with no on-campus requirements from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Online degree options include a 48-credit MPH generalist track, 48-credit environmental health MPH, and 40-credit professional MPH. The Department of Public Health at UIS prioritizes preventing disease, improving health, and reducing health disparities in the U.S. and globally.
Every master's in public health degree at UIS includes 32 core credits in courses like research methods in public health, public health policy, and biostatistics. All students also complete a four-credit, 200-hour internship at a public health organization in their local community. Learners begin their internship after completing all core coursework. MPH students must also pass a comprehensive written exam in their last semester of study. The exam tests learners' understanding of the knowledge and skills taught in the MPH core. Students must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA while in the MPH program.
In addition to the required core courses, students pursuing the general MPH take one course from each of the following categories: advanced epidemiology, advanced public health policy, and emerging issues in public health. The general MPH provides a broad understanding of public health issues and skills. The MPH professional option accepts U.S. physicians in residency programs, or those holding doctorates, and requires 32 core credits, eight electives, and an internship. The environmental concentration MPH requires a four-credit environmental toxicology course and 12 elective hours, in addition to the required core courses.
|18||University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
The Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina-Columbia offers a master's in public health online program that takes 24-26 months to complete. Designed for working professionals, the MPH includes a specialization in health promotion, education, and behavior. Graduates leave the program ready to work as public health advocates at organizations both large and small. Students learn to develop, implement, publicize, and evaluate health promotion initiatives. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes USC for its top-tier community engagement and research programs.
The Arnold School of Public Health boasts prestigious faculty members and research programs. The 45-credit MPH curriculum includes courses in planning health promotion programs; applied health communication; and race, ethnicity, and health: examining health inequalities. At the end of the program, students complete a practicum seminar and fieldwork, during which they undertake a public health-related work or service project in their own communities. Most courses in the program take seven or eight weeks to complete, with the practicum seminar and fieldwork lasting 14 weeks each.
Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, a minimum 3.0 GPA, satisfactory GRE scores from the last five years, and at least two years of post-bachelors professional health-related work experience. Prospective MPH students also need to submit three letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and a current resume. The competitively priced program charges out-of-state students only slightly more for the degree than in-state students.
|19||University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
The School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago offers primarily asynchronous master's in public health online programs in community health sciences and health policy and administration. Students can complete both programs fully online with no in-person requirements. UIC's MPH programs hold accreditation from CEPH. Graduates hold a broad understanding of the field of public health, as well as skills in a specific area of public health practice. Full-time learners can complete the MPH in two years.
Both MPH degrees require students to complete 32 core credits in courses like determinants of population health; analytic and research methods; and public health systems, policy, and management. Learners must also complete a three to five credit applied practice experience, totalling between 192-320 hours of fieldwork. Public health organizations collaborate with the School of Public Health to give students hands-on experience working on real-world public health problems. Learners keep a journal detailing their applied practice experience. In their final semester, students take an integrative learning experience course, which integrates the knowledge and skills gained during the program.
Designed for people with at least three years of professional experience in public health, the 45-credit community health sciences MPH offers six concentrations in areas like community-based research methods, maternal and child health, and community health interventions. The 43-49 credit MPH in health policy and administration, the only fully online program of its kind from a CEPH-accredited school, offers a concentration in public health informatics.
|20||Creighton University Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
A Catholic school in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University offers a master's in public health online degree steeped in Jesuit values. Offered through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies (DIS), the MPH program emphasizes disease prevention and control, advocacy for marginalized communities, and health education promotion. Faculty members from seven graduate programs -- including organizational leadership, health and wellness coaching, and healthcare ethics -- collaborate and learn from each other in the DIS.
The fully online program does not require any campus visits and takes 36 months to complete. Learners choose from two concentrations: health policy and ethics or healthcare management. Required courses for each concentration also count towards graduate certificates in healthcare management and healthcare ethics, making it easy to get a graduate certificate while earning the MPH. Instructors work with some of the most well-known public health organizations in the U.S., including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The 44-credit MPH includes 22 core credits, 15 concentration credits, and seven practice experience and capstone credits. Learners take courses like writing for graduate students, introduction to community-based participatory research, and public health ethics. Learners work with a practicum coordinator to set up a practice experience with a public health organization in their local community. Students also complete a final capstone project informed by their practicum experiences.
Applicants to Creighton's MPH programs must hold a bachelor's with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates submit a personal statement, resume, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.
|21||Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Distance learners can earn a part-time or full-time MPH online from the Dr. C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The MPH program emphasizes public health leadership, community service, and working with underserved and multicultural populations. NSU's MPH program holds accreditation from CEPH.
The program prepares graduates to identify and help solve public health problems in order to positively influence the future of healthcare. Students gain knowledge in evidence-based public health practice, health promotion, and public health policy. Learners also acquire skills in communication, leadership, systems thinking, and interprofessional practice.
The MPH curriculum includes core courses in legal and ethical issues in public health, research methods in public health, and biostatistics. Electives explore issues like women's health, public health grant writing, and vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Students also complete a three-credit supervised field experience and three-credit integrative learning experience. Experienced faculty members at NSU hold expertise in public health issues like genomics, homelessness, and tobacco cessation.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and satisfactory GRE scores. The admissions committee prefers prospective students with healthcare or public health-related professional experience. The MPH program accepts applicants year-round, with three start dates annually, in fall, winter, and summer. Full-time students can graduate in two years and part-time learners in three. All students in the online MPH program pay the same flat per-credit rate, regardless of residency.
|22||Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Located in New Orleans, Tulane University of Louisiana's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine boasts four master's in public health online programs for mid-career professionals in the field. Tulane offers master's in public health degrees in disaster management, occupational and environmental health, and occupational health and safety management. Distance learners can also pursue a master of science in public health in industrial hygiene.
The 42-credit disaster management MPH prepares students to take leadership roles managing public health issues arising from human-made and natural disasters. Designed for physicians, other healthcare workers, and environmental health professionals, the 42-credit MPH in occupational and environmental health focuses on the impact of the environment and workplaces on public health.
Created to help occupational health and safety management professionals advance in their careers, the 42-credit MPH in occupational health and safety management encourages systems thinking and teaches management basics. The 45-credit MSPH in industrial hygiene prepares students to take the American Board of Industrial Hygiene's certified industrial hygienist certification exam.
MPH and MSPH learners complete core courses such as epidemiology for public health, survey of environmental health, and biostatistics for public health. All of Tulane's public health master's programs require students to complete a 200-hour practicum and a culminating experience. Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum 3.0 GPA, at least three years of relevant professional experience, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose and objective. The industrial hygiene MSPH requires applicants meet additional admissions criteria.
|23||University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
https://www.usfca.edu/nursing/programs/graduate/masters/public-health" target="_blank">master's in public health online program can pursue their degree with a concentration in community and public health practice. The school's mission is to create student leaders who advocate for healthcare equity. Learners gain skills in public health practices, including quantitative and qualitative methods like biostatistics and epidemiology. The 100% distance degree does not include any
in-person requirements. The MPH holds accreditation from CEPH.
The curriculum includes courses like public health policy and leadership, community and behavioral health, and public health program planning, evaluation, and management. Small class sizes allow instructors to give one-on-one attention and mentorship to learners. The program takes a cohort approach, with students moving through the curriculum together and graduating in two years.
Learners gain real-world experience during a 250-hour fieldwork experience with a local public health organization. Online MPH students can complete coursework asynchronously with optional opportunities to log on for real-time instruction in virtual classrooms. Learners can also set up virtual office hours with instructors for specific times.
Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a personal statement of interest and goals. USF's online MPH does not require the GRE and does not include course prerequisites. The program prefers students with basic competency in biology, social sciences, and pre-calculus math. Prospective students must apply by January to receive fall admission.
|24||The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
The 42-credit master's in public health online degree from the University of West Florida in Pensacola takes two years to complete. The interdisciplinary program prepares graduates for leadership and advocacy roles in public health promotion and injury and disease prevention. The fully online degree does not require any in-person sessions. Students can pursue a generalist course of study or add a concentration in health promotion, education, and behavior.
The flexible MPH curriculum lets students tailor coursework to best fit their individual career goals and academic interests. Learners take courses like GIS applications in public health, disease surveillance and monitoring, and urbanization and public health. They must demonstrate competency in areas like biostatistics, environmental health, and health policy and administration by passing a proctored, closed-book comprehensive exam.
All MPH students must also complete an internship, allowing them to engage in public health practice and interact with professionals in the local public health community. The internship includes a student-designed public health project with supervision and guidance from a preceptor. The MPH faculty internship adviser must approve all internship plans. Learners complete the six-credit, 180-hour internship over two semesters.
MPH applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college, a minimum 3.0 GPA, satisfactory GRE scores, a statement of career goals, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Prospective students can apply twice a year, in July for fall admission and October for spring admission. UWF's MPH program holds accreditation from CEPH.
|25||San Jose State University San Jose, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
The Department of Health Science and Recreation at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, offers a CEPH-accredited online master's degree in public health. Founded in 1970 to educate community health workers, SJSU's MPH program takes a community-based, practice-oriented approach that emphasizes social justice through public health practice. The program includes a specialization in community health education.
The fast-paced degree takes 24 months to complete. Students complete the majority of coursework online, with one required four-five day on-campus session each year. The primarily asynchronous instruction lets students complete coursework when convenient. The virtual classroom uses technology like two-way audio, session recording, interactive whiteboards, and virtual breakout rooms. Learners also meet for a real-time virtual class once a week. Each year, the MPH program admits a cohort of 25 students who take their courses together.
The 42-credit MPH curriculum explores issues like applied data analysis, multicultural communication for public health professionals, and research design and methodology. Each course lasts five to seven weeks, and students typically spend 10-20 hours a week studying for each class. All public health students must complete a four-credit fieldwork seminar and fieldwork practicum.
Prospective students can attend an online MPH information session, available multiple times a year. Ideal applicants hold at least two years of professional experience in a health-related field. Due to the cohort model of SJSU's online MPH, the program does not accept any transfer credits. An affordable option for distance learners, all students pay the same per-credit rate regardless of residency.
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Interview with Adrianna “Annie” Evans
Adrianna “Annie” Evans
Annie Evans serves as program coordinator for Expecting Health, a maternal and child initiative at Genetic Alliance. She works to engage different stakeholders in Genetic Alliance programs through outreach efforts and the development of useable tools. Annie initially joined the Genetic Alliance team as an intern and was hired full time after graduate school.
Annie earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Penn State, with minors in international studies and global health. She received her MPH from George Washington University. Her focus was on global health program design, monitoring, and evaluation.
- Tell us a little about your day-to-day responsibilities as program coordinator for a healthcare nonprofit. How do the skills you gained in your MPH program apply to the work you do?
Much of my day is spent in the throes of managing projects and communicating about a number of different projects and programs surrounding maternal and child health. I apply the skills I learned in my MPH every day at my job. During my graduate program, I learned skills in program management, program implementation, health communication, and evaluation. These skills help me guide and track the progress of the projects I work on and make sure they are evidence-based and evidence-driven. Additionally, I feel that the global perspective of my program helps me to continually view things from a multicultural and health equity focused lens.
- Why did you choose to pursue a master's in public health specifically?
I chose to pursue a master’s in public health because I like the interdisciplinary approach to health. When I first entered college, I thought my interest in biology and health would lead me to a career in medicine. But, gradually, as I gained experience and learned about social determinants of health, I began to appreciate the multitude of factors that influence the health of individuals and communities. Traveling, volunteering in communities, and taking classes outside my major opened my eyes to how education, socioeconomic status, and other factors can influence health. I developed a passion for health equity and social justice and wanted to work in a field that accounted for those factors.
- What was the job search like after graduating from your MPH program? Did you feel adequately prepared to enter the workforce upon graduating?
Overall the job search was stressful but ultimately led me to a position that fits my interests and skills. When I began applying, I knew I had a number of hard skills from my MPH that would be useful, but I had to learn how to market myself. I wrote and rewrote many different cover letters and resumes that helped me learn how to highlight relevant skills for different jobs, but I also had to learn how to network. I emailed people for informational interviews and built a network of connections who would send me opportunities they thought I might be interested in. I also relied on connections I made during my MPH program, which were the most fruitful.
Once at my job there was a learning curve, as there will be with any position, but the skills I learned in my MPH program helped me analyze and think strategically. These skills have proven essential to my current position.
- What were some of the greatest challenges you faced when completing your MPH program?
One of the greatest challenges in completing my MPH was tackling my culminating experience or "CE." This piece of writing is similar to a thesis but stems from a practical experience in public health. For my CE, I had to design my own research, collect data, and write/present a robust analysis. It was a long, self-directed project that took a lot of work and guidance to complete. I had to be very regimented to continually make progress.
- What advice would you give to undergraduate students considering earning an MPH? Is a master's degree worth it?
Undergraduate students considering an MPH should not feel pressured to go into a graduate program immediately after their undergraduate degrees. Work experience in public health is highly valued alongside graduate education, so whether students go into the workforce or straight into a graduate program they will need to learn about what their true career goals are. An MPH is a versatile degree that is usable in many different positions, but graduate school is typically very expensive and individuals considering it should be sure it’s really what they want and not just something they think they have to do.
- Do you think it's necessary or important for students to have this kind of biology- or healthcare-focused background when entering an MPH program?
Students interested in MPH programs do not need to have a background in biology or another science. Public health is a multidisciplinary field, so experience in a number of different fields may be useful. It mainly depends on interest.
Personally, my background in biology has been advantageous because several of the projects I work on center around genetic conditions, so having a good understanding of the science helps me communicate with communities.
- What additional advice would you give to prospective MPH students?
I would recommend that prospective MPH students talk a lot with MPH graduates out in the field. Since MPH graduates work in a multitude of fields and positions, talking to as many as possible can help prospective students get an idea of all of the possibilities available to them.
I would also recommend that prospective students weigh location when making a decision on where to go to graduate school. Location of a school has a lot of potential impact on prospects for work experience and networking, which can really help supplement the graduate program.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Public Health Program?
Many master's in public health online programs include the same core elements, but several details vary between schools and programs. Below are some of the common concentrations found in online MPH programs.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master's Degree in Public Health
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Biostatistics||A concentration in biostatistics provides training in quantitative methods in public health. Students learn to use statistical procedures to analyze studies in healthcare research and identify health trends.||Technical, consultancy, or senior roles in public, nongovernmental organization (NGO), and international positions, such as biostatician, database administrator, and systems analyst|
|Environmental Health Sciences||This broad concentration focuses on topics related to public exposure to chemicals and physical agents, such as molecular toxicology and epidemiology, global health, and environmental health policy.||Positions in academia, chemical industries, pharmaceuticals, and environmental protection agencies including air pollution analyst, disaster management specialist, or groundwater protection specialist|
|Epidemiology||This concentration emphasizes various methods for researching human diseases, their causes, and preventative measures. Students learn the relationships between epidemiology and medicine, environmental science, social policy, and health policy in depth.||Epidemiology investigator, clinical trial research, infection control, field epidemiologist, and applied epidemiologist|
|Community Health Sciences||Students pursuing this concentration learn how to create and run community-based programs that promote healthy habits and behaviors. This concentration teaches students how community health programs can reduce gaps in health and wellness between different races and social classes.||Public health organization director, public health project manager, community health specialist, and public health administrator|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences||This focus area integrates heavy research into the public health degree. Students specializing in social and behavioral sciences learn about current research, theories, and trends in sociology and psychology as they relate to public health.||Public health educator, public health consultant, epidemiologist, and public health researcher|
|Disaster Management & Emergency Preparedness||Natural disasters and other emergencies wipe out resources in communities, often disrupting public health. This specialization teaches students how to respond to disasters and emergencies while prioritizing public health concerns.||NGO relief worker, emergency responder, public health consultant, and emergency management specialist|
|International Public Health Management||A concentration in international public health management teaches you to conceptualize the field from a global viewpoint. Students learn how different countries and cultures perceive public health, and how transnational organizations operate across borders.||NGO coordinator, manager, director, or worker; public health educator|
|Public Health Policy & Management||Students concentrating in public health policy and management study how leaders make legislative decisions. This specialization also trains students to lobby and influence lawmakers' decisions, advancing public health policy.||Lawmaker, public health lobbyist, and public health analyst|
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Public Health
Each online master's in public health program has its own unique curriculum and concentration offerings. Some courses, however, appear across most master's in public health programs, including the following:
- Epidemiology Methods: Students can take epidemiology as a standalone course, or study the subject more in-depth as a concentration. This course focuses on design and analytic reasoning, research methodology issues, how to execute study designs, and how to interpret results. It provides students with the foundational knowledge to pursue epidemiology roles in public and private organizations.
- Public Policy: Throughout this course, students learn to make critical decisions regarding public policy development in the government, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. This course also explores topics such as policy evaluation and implementation, ethics and values in policymaking, and applied statistics.
- Health Communications: This course examines the development of health communication programs, aiming to understand their role in behavioral and social science contexts. Learners cover topics such as theories of health communication and health behavior change. This course prepares students for communications careers in technical medical writing, public health journalism, or public health information.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Master's in Public Health?
Several factors determine how long it takes to earn an accredited MPH program online. The time it takes to complete your degree may depend on the depth of instruction, your chosen concentration, and whether you study part- or full-time. Online study adds a few more variables to the equation, including coursework delivery method. Online courses are available either synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes meet at a specific time, just like in a traditional classroom setting, while asynchronous courses allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. The average online MPH program takes two to three years to complete for full-time students, and about four to five years for part-time students. Some programs also offer accelerated options that allow students to earn their degree in 14 to 16 months. Most programs comprise 42 to 45 total credits.
Fast-Track and Dual-Degree Options for MPH Students
Most online master's degrees in public health take two years of full-time study to complete, while part-time students usually need another year or two. Some programs allow students to finish their degrees in one year. These fast-track programs require students to complete a more demanding course load than typical master's programs do, so some of them prohibit students from working jobs while enrolled in school. They expect students to dedicate most of their time to their studies. These fast-track programs often require students to possess either another graduate degree or several years of prior work experience.
Some schools offer dual degree programs, which let students earn their MPH while pursuing another master's degree in a different, complementary discipline. Students must usually apply to both programs separately. Schools provide several different options for dual-degree MPH programs. Some pair the MPH with a master's in business administration, nursing, social work, or public administration, while other programs allow students to pursue their MPH along with medical or dentistry studies. A few dual-degree programs couple MPH degrees with juris doctorates for aspiring lawyers.
Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Public Health Program
Admissions requirements for online master's programs in public health vary for each school. All schools require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, but the similarities in admissions criteria end there. While some programs expect applicants to have pursued a field related to public health in their undergraduate studies, other programs allow students to apply with a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Similarly, some schools require a minimum bachelor's 2.8 to 3.2 GPA. Other schools do not list a minimum GPA for admission. Most programs require applicants to submit their GRE scores, though candidates who already hold a master's or doctoral degree may be exempt.
Requirements for previous work experience also vary. Some programs only recommend work experience in the fields of public health, epidemiology, or medicine, while others require candidates to possess a certain amount of work experience before applying. Check with your prospective schools to learn about their specific requirements.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Public Health Prepares for
- Certified Public Health: Most online master's degrees in public health prepare graduates to sit for the CPH certification exam. This certification has become the expectation of leading public health employers. Earning this credential demonstrates your knowledge of national standards in public health sciences and emerging issues.
- Certified Health Education Specialist: This nationally recognized CHES certification acts as a prerequisite for careers in health promotion and education. Many employers also expect candidates to hold CHES certification as a standard. Students aiming to prepare for this exam might enroll in a program with a health education specialization.
- Certified Public Health Administrator: Professionals holding the CPHA certification demonstrate competency in community health practice, public health policy, and public health administration. The Public Health Practitioner Certification Board (PHPCB) runs the certification program. Successful certification candidates must have at least three years of experience in the public health sector.
- Certified Emergency Response Coordinator: Also offered by the PHPCB, CERC certification guarantees professionals a thorough understanding of concepts like infectious disease preparedness and response, and applied epidemiology. State government agencies seek public health professionals who can work during emergencies, so CERC certification can help job candidates find employment with these agencies.
- National Environmental Health Association Certification: NEHA offers several certification programs for professionals working in public health. These certifications cover subjects including food safety, emergency response, emerging pathogens, and water quality. NEHA provides courses covering these topics to its members, free of charge.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Public Health Degrees
Our methodology only accounts for accredited online MPH programs. Accreditation demonstrates that programs are of high quality, and allows schools to qualify for federal funding. Studying at an accredited institution shows employers that you have received a quality education.
Accreditation applies to institutions that meet high standards for curriculum, faculty, and educational resources. MPH programs can be regionally or nationally accredited. Many employers consider regional accreditation more prestigious. Without regional accreditation, your credits may not transfer easily to other schools.
Most master's programs in public health are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), a nationally recognized, field-specific agency. CEPH-accredited MPH programs online have curricula that has been thoroughly evaluated to meet certain professional standards. CEPH judges the following criteria: coursework quality, credit transferability, and the programs offered by a school.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees accrediting agencies. The ED, a federal agency, establishes education policies and coordinates federal funding, while the CHEA comprises 3,000 degree-granting academic institutions. Both the ED and CHEA form and implement regulatory criteria, and keep records of accredited institutions throughout the country. You can learn more by visiting the ED and CHEA websites.
An MPH qualifies graduates for various positions in the public health sector, though individual eligibility depends somewhat on candidates' degree specialization and experience level. See below for four common careers for MPH graduates:
Health Educators and Community Health Workers: Health educators coordinate and deliver classes addressing topics like disease prevention, nutrition and diet, exercise, safe sex, and positive lifestyle building. These classes often target at-risk groups, like children and teenagers, elderly populations, and military veterans. In addition to the MPH, many health educators and community health workers choose to earn the CHES credential from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.
Social and Community Service Managers: Social and community service managers help coordinate programs to educate and support individuals, groups, and communities at large. Those with backgrounds in public health often design, coordinate, and deliver programs related to mental health awareness, HIV, AIDS, nutrition, and other community health trends.
Epidemiologists: Epidemiologists research the root causes, symptoms, and overall impact of different diseases and conditions, along with treatment options. These professionals collect data and samples, interview patients, deliver public surveys, and present 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 to create contingency plans, respond in emergency situations, and work with other agencies to provide relief to affected individuals. After dealing with emergency situations, directors often review the response timeline for areas of potential improvement.
Program Coordinators, Nonprofit Organization: Program coordinators work in administrative capacities at nonprofit groups. They may run certain divisions of the nonprofit, or direct specific projects. Project coordinators work in management positions, and must answer to the group's higher administrators and board of directors.
Data Analysts: Data analysts in this industry gather and analyze data about public health to identify patterns and interpret trends. Within the realm of public health, data analysts might gather information about the health and nutrition of native populations, toxicology levels, or infant mortality rates. Public health data analysts usually use programs like SQL or Microsoft Excel.
Healthcare Consultants: Healthcare consultants work to solve problems and advise clients in the healthcare industry. Those clients might include hospitals, clinics, public health groups, or other healthcare organizations. Consultants' responsibilities typically include interviewing employees at these organizations, reviewing documents, identifying areas for improvement, and creating solutions for these problem areas.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|Health Educators and Community Health Workers||$45,360|
|Social and Community Health Workers||$64,100|
|Emergency Management Directors||$72,760|
|Program Coordinators, Nonprofit Organization||$41,090|
Employment Outlook for Online MPH Graduates
Due to the wide range of public health occupations, the job outlook for MPH recipients largely depends on their chosen occupation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects strong job growth for some job titles, including health educators, community health workers, and social and community service managers. The BLS projects these occupations to collectively grow by nearly 29,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024. Other public health occupations may experience below-average growth. The BLS projects epidemiologists and emergency management directors, for example, to grow by 6% by 2024.
In addition to projected job growth, unemployment rates also indicate job outlook for MPH graduates. The following table lists unemployment rates for seven of the most common public health career paths.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2017)|
|Child and Family Social Worker||2.1%|
|Clinical Social Worker||2.1%|
|Social and Community Services Manager||3.6%|
|Community Health Worker||3.9%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Why Earn a Master's Degree in Public Health?
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 following table looks at salary expectations for graduates with all three degrees at two key career benchmarks.
|Degree||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career|
|Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration||$32,400||$46,100|
|Bachelor's Degree in Public Health||$38,300||$65,000|
|Master’s of Public Health||$52,400||$81,100|
Professionals who graduate with their MPH degrees earn an average salary of $62,000, according to PayScale. The wage discrepancy between public professionals with master's degrees and those without often changes with time, with the gap widening through people's careers. For instance, recent graduates with MPH degrees who work at entry-level jobs may earn a median salary of $52,400, while professionals with bachelor's degrees earn about $14,000 less, as demonstrated by the table above. On top of that, associate degree holders earn about $20,000 less than MPH graduates.
This disparity grows as professionals continue to work and gain more experience. After a decade of work, MPH graduates may earn an annual median salary of about $81,000, which is $16,000 more than public health workers with bachelor's degrees. At the mid-career level, MPH graduates also earn a median salary of about $35,000, more than public health workers with associate degrees.
To learn more about the top online public health programs that can help you earn a MPH, you can find more information here.
Earning Power for Public Health Master's Graduates Over Time
For graduates with online master's degrees in public health, potential salaries vary based on their chosen career. Their earning potential also depends on how long they spend in the industry. As public health professionals continue to work, their salaries increase. For instance, health educators may start earning $39,000 immediately after graduating with their master's degrees, but they may earn more than $54,000 after working for 20 years. The table below more closely examines earning potentials for several careers options in the public health industry.
|Profession||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career||Median Salary for Experienced||Median Salary for Late Career|
|Community Health Workers||$32,000||$37,000||$40,000||$39,000|
|Emergency Management Specialists||$48,000||$57,000||$62,000||$73,000|
|Program Coordinators, Nonprofit Organization||$38,000||$41,000||$42,000||$46,000|
Where Do MPH Graduates Work?
After MPH students graduate, they go on to work in a variety of different settings. Health educators, for instance, may find jobs at religious organizations or outpatient care centers, but they stand a better chance of getting hired at hospitals and government organizations. According to the BLS, 23% of health educators work at hospitals, and 22% work at government organizations. Community health workers might find employment in government agencies, hospitals, and outpatient care clinics, as well. But they can also find jobs at organizations that provide individual and family services.
Most MPH graduates who become epidemiologists find employment at government organizations. In fact, 19% of epidemiologists work in local government, while 34% work at the state government level, according to the BLS. Many epidemiologists also work in hospitals, higher education institutions, or scientific research organizations. Emergency management directors often work in government, as well. About 52% find jobs in local government, according to the BLS.
The table below takes a look at different workplace options for MPH graduates. It also lists the median annual salary for people employed in those work settings, according to data from PayScale.
|Work Setting||Median Annual Salary|
|Physician's Office/Private Practice||$82,766|
|Ambulatory Care/Surgery Center||$63,673|
|Health Insurance Company||$76,633|
|Extended Care/Nursing Home||$64,415|
Advancing Your Education With an Online Doctorate in Public Health
After graduating with a master's degree, you can continue your education by pursuing a doctorate in public health. A doctorate requires students to dedicate more time to their education. Students typically take at least four years to complete their Ph.D. in public health, usually two years enrolled in classes, and two years working on their research and dissertation. Most public health doctorate programs prefer students to choose a concentration, such as epidemiology, health promotion, environmental public health, or community health education. In addition, doctorate degrees dictate that students must choose a hyper-focused subject for their dissertation. Finally, students must defend their dissertations in front of a committee of faculty members in order to graduate.
Since doctoral degrees demand several years to complete, prospective doctoral candidates should think long and hard about whether this degree would advance their career goals. Graduates with doctoral degrees often look for jobs with heavy research focus, like biostaticians, epidemiologists, and public health researchers. Others who receive their Ph.D. usually go into academia and find jobs as researchers, faculty members, and professors. If your goal involves going into a public health management position, for example, pursuing a Ph.D. would give you no real advantage during your job hunt.
JoAnn Yanez (naturopathic doctor, MPH, CAE) is the executive director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, and the vice-chair of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH). Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, Dr. Yanez's career has spanned advocacy, academia, patient care, and public health. As AANMC executive director, Dr. Yanez oversees research, advocacy efforts, and the joint academic endeavors of the accredited colleges of naturopathic medicine. She also helps spread awareness of naturopathic medicine as a viable and satisfying career path.
- Why did you decide to pursue an MPH degree?
After graduating from naturopathic medical school, I found myself ensconced in public policy, advancing integrative medicine and prevention or wellness initiatives. The MPH was invaluable to provide credibility for and a continuation on the knowledge I had already acquired working in the health policy sector.
- You've worked in a range of roles and settings, both administrative and clinical. What do you find most fulfilling about each? Most challenging?
Clinical: I am hard-pressed to find something more gratifying than a patient who has given up all hope on improving a diagnosis coming to me in a last ditch effort, only to have full resolution of their issue with naturopathic medicine.
This has occurred personally for me with patients struggling with insomnia, anxiety or depression, chronic pain, chronic skin conditions, infections, diabetes, and allergies.
One of the most challenging things for many physicians is knowing that your recommendation can make a difference in a patient's health but that they are either not willing or not in the right emotional space to make that change, or are unable to afford the treatments needed for full resolution.
Administration: One of the most satisfying components of administration for me is knowing the impact that I make on a larger scale. In contrast to clinical medicine that makes a difference more on an individual basis, as an administrator, I have the potential to impact thousands of people with my work. There are many challenging aspects with administrative work. With the visibility of positions like mine, you are also open to receiving regular criticism, and have greater responsibility for your decisions. As they can impact thousands in a positive way, poorly planned or executed projects can also negatively impact people as well.
- What do you wish prospective students considering healthcare professions knew about the field of naturopathic medicine, where it's headed, and the career opportunities that come with it?
Public demand for naturopathic medicine, prevention, and wellness-based approaches to health has grown steadily for several decades. Career opportunities continue to expand for naturopathic doctors, (NDs) including in high-profile centers of excellence, integrative medical systems, academia, the natural products industry, research, technology and private businesses. NDs enjoy very high career satisfaction, work-life balance, and flexibility.
- What advice would you give to undergrad students considering a master's degree in public health? Is a graduate degree in this field worth it?
There are many different areas of specialization in public health. Be clear on the area of emphasis you are interested in, and find a program that meets your personal and professional needs.
- What additional advice would you give to students considering an MPH degree?
Consider shadowing, volunteering, or preceptorship with organizations who share a similar mission to the way you want to use your degree. There are many aspects to and ways in which one can use their public health and clarity on the front end will be helpful in selecting the right program and faculty to help you meet your educational and professional goals.
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, APHA is a nonprofit organization that provides professional development opportunities for health professionals, and develops meaningful public health policy. Members receive complimentary journal and periodical subscriptions, plus invitations to networking events, and discounts on continuing education courses and other services.
- Society for Public Health Education: Representing more than 4,000 individuals, 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 education opportunities.
- World Health Organization: A specialized branch of the United Nations, WHO researches diseases with major international impacts, and develops strategies to provide treatment, medical equipment, education, and other resources to affected groups. The organization's past efforts concerned epidemics like HIV/AIDS, ebola, and malaria, plus public health concerns like obesity and malnutrition.
- National Environmental Health Association: With about 5,000 members, NEHA connects environmental health professionals in the U.S. The organization focuses on air and water quality, food safety, emergency preparedness, healthy homes, climate change, and tracking and informatics. It also offers several opportunities for continuing education, including certifications, credential programs, and other training plans.
- American College of Epidemiology: Established in 1979 as an advocacy and continuing education group, ACE hosts annual meetings, runs mentorship programs for junior and senior colleagues, and publishes the Annals of Epidemiology academic journal. Members work in the field of epidemiology, coming from disciplines such as genetics, medicine, and sociology.
- Society for Epidemiologic Research: This organization places special focus on research within epidemiology. To this end, SER publishes the American Journal of Epidemiology, the Epidemiologic Reviews, and several research papers presented at conferences. Public health students may learn a lot about their field through SER-sponsored research, and students may participate in the organization's student dissertation workshop.
Financing Your Online Master's in Public Health Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to learn more about loans, grants, and other aid opportunities from the U.S. government. Private grants and scholarships are also widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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.
Completing the FAFSA marks 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 learning equals 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.
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.
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.
Veterans and active military service members have access to millions in education benefits. Unfortunately, much of the funds go unused. Find out if you qualify to access these funds to aid with college expenses.
- Best Online Master's in Public Health Programs of 2018
Rank School City 1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA 2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 3 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 5 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA 6 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 7 George Washington University Washington, DC 8 University of South Florida Tampa, FL 9 Emory University Atlanta, GA 10 A T Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville, MO 11 New York University New York, NY 12 Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center Des Moines, IA 13 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA 14 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 15 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD 16 Northeast Ohio Medical University Rootstown, OH 17 Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI 18 New York Medical College Valhalla, NY 19 Salus University Elkins Park, PA 20 University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 21 San Diego State University San Diego, CA 22 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 23 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO 24 Northeastern University Boston, MA 25 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA
- Best Online Master's in Public Health Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 3 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4 George Washington University Washington, DC 5 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 6 Emory University Atlanta, GA 7 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 8 Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center Des Moines, IA 9 University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 10 Salus University Elkins Park, PA 11 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD 12 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 13 A T Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville, MO 14 Northeast Ohio Medical University Rootstown, OH 15 University of South Florida Tampa, FL 16 University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, SC 17 New York Medical College Valhalla, NY 18 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 19 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA 20 Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI 21 Northeastern University Boston, MA 22 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL 23 Loma Linda University Loma Linda, CA 24 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO 25 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
- 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