If you are interested in improving the health of individuals or communities, a public health bachelor's degree can lead to a job in a growing field that also has a positive impact on society. Careers in healthcare -- such as health educators, dieticians, medical and health services manager, and social and community service managers -- are increasing at faster than average rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions in the field are projected to grow 10-17% over the next decade. Below, we've covered how to get started in an exciting and rewarding profession that has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people.

What are the best public health programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
2 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
3 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
4 Central Washington University Ellensburg , WA
5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester , NH
6 University of Arizona Tucson , AZ
7 Excelsior College Albany , NY
8 University of Missouri Columbia , MO
9 St. Catherine University Saint Paul , MN
10 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

USF's bachelor's in applied science program offers a public health concentration. This program confers a BS and emphasizes coursework in the foundations of global health, epidemiology, and health disparities. Students personalize their educational experience through 18 elective credits and complete a capstone course.

This degree completion program targets individuals who already hold an associate of science degree. Degree-seekers must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

Approximately 70% of USF public health alumni find a job within one year of graduation; many other graduates enter a master's or doctoral program. The university prepares degree-seekers for professional success by providing resume reviews, Handshake job-search software, and informational videos.


The University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Students pursuing UWF's online bachelor's degree in health sciences can specialize in public health. Courses in this major include informatics and your health, health information systems, and medical disaster management. Degree-seekers also complete a capstone course in their senior year.

UWF supports students' professional growth in many ways, such as by providing resume critiques, mock interviews, and internship opportunities. These and other resources help 97% of undergraduate alumni find a job or attain admission into another academic program.

After gaining admission to UWF, students must earn a minimum 2.5 GPA to qualify for the upper-division public health program. Some out-of-state degree-seekers may receive an in-state tuition waiver. Additionally, UWF awards merit-based scholarships to new online learners and transfer students.


California Baptist University

Riverside, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Prospective students who want a Christ-centered education can enroll in CBU's online bachelor's in public health program. In class, students analyze public health nutrition, pathophysiology, and research methods. Courses are delivered asynchronously, which may appeal to degree-seekers who work full or part time.

CBU's career center features numerous resources for students and alumni, including one-on-one advising sessions, a private job board, and a four-year roadmap for career success. Learners can also access informational videos that cover how to create a LinkedIn profile, among other topics.

Although aspiring first-year students may apply, CBU prefers applicants who possess at least 24 transferable credits. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate at this Christian university. Incoming degree-seekers may qualify for federal grants and loans by submitting their FAFSA results.


Central Washington University

Ellensburg, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

CWU's online bachelor's in public health program offers two concentrations: population health and pre-nursing. Core course requirements include writing in the health sciences, theories of human behavior, and professionalism in public health. In their senior year, students complete a capstone that involves original research and a presentation.

Online degree-seekers can take a career assessment, read career guides, and set up an appointment for a virtual counseling session through the school's career center.

CWU admits new degree-seekers at four points throughout the year, and admission requirements include a high school diploma that reflects a minimum 2.0 GPA. In-state students save significantly on tuition compared to out-of-state learners. Degree-seekers can research the latest institutional scholarships by visiting the university's scholarship central website.


Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

SNHU's bachelor's in public health program may be especially appealing to students planning to earn a master's in public health. The asynchronous curriculum features coursework in research and assessment, social and behavioral health, and programming planning. Other graduation requirements include an extended essay, which students complete during their final term.

Degree-seekers can complete a career assessment, receive personalized career coaching, and pursue research internship opportunities. Students can also take advantage of service learning projects and an extensive alumni community.

Prospective first-year students need not submit standardized test scores or recommendation letters, and all degree-seekers pay the same credit-based tuition. Phi Theta Kappa members receive an automatic 10% tuition discount, and learners may qualify for additional federal grants and loans.


University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Both first-year and transfer students can enroll in Arizona's online bachelor's in public health program. The curriculum includes courses like the principles of health education and health promotion, introduction to epidemiology, and fieldwork in public health. In the fieldwork course, degree-seekers intern in a governmental or private health agency.

Degree-seekers can plan for a job hunt by using Handshake, completing a personal inventory, and developing a bespoke career plan with an advisor's help.

The university does not charge out-of-state tuition rates to online learners. New degree-seekers need only submit one application and their FAFSA results to apply for multiple institutional scholarships.


Excelsior College

Albany, NY Graduation Rate: 64%

Excelsior's bachelor's in health sciences program allows degree-seekers to transfer up to 113 credits. Participants can choose an area of emphasis in health and wellness, management, or public health. In the public health concentration, students complete coursework related to topics like epidemiology and the principles of public health.

Excelsior's career center features multiple online tools, including Focus 2 Career, Portfolium, and Big Interview. Students can also find links to job boards and professional organizations for public health undergraduates and alumni.

Excelsior uses a GPA cutoff for transfer credit and charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all degree-seekers. The university awards multiple need-based grants to eligible students. Active-duty service members and their dependents also receive a 50% tuition discount.


University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Mizzou's online bachelor's in public health program targets degree completion students who already possess an associate degree or adequate transfer credit. The curriculum emphasizes areas like global health, public health ethics, and qualitative methods. Additionally, degree-seekers select one of two capstone course options: emerging issues in public health or digital storytelling.

Approximately 90% of Mizzou alumni find a job or enter a graduate program within six months of earning a degree. Degree-seekers can visit the career center's website to research career opportunities and download over 60 sample resumes.

Prospective first-time college students can apply but they must complete all general education requirements before entering the public health program. Out-of-state learners pay approximately 30% more in tuition than Missouri residents. Mizzou awards a 10% tuition discount to veterans, active-duty military personnel, and community college graduates.


St. Catherine University

Saint Paul, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 56%

St. Kate's bachelor's in public health program is suitable for learners who already possess an associate degree. Coursework in the 48-credit major includes environmental health, statistical analysis, and healthcare policy. Most learners can graduate in 24 months.

The career development center provides online learners with access to Handshake software, online workshops, and a graduate school application guide. These and other services help 88% of alumni find a job within one year of earning a degree.

Applicants should submit their undergraduate transcripts and a personal statement. As a private institution, St. Kate's charges the same per-credit tuition to all students. Degree-seekers may also qualify for institutional financial aid.


Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

First-year learners and transfer students can consider earning NAU's online bachelor's degree in public health. In class, students analyze the theories of health behaviors, sexual health, and the organization of health services. During a capstone course, learners develop an original public health initiative.

Students can contact the career center to identify professional interests, hone interviewing skills, and obtain references. Additionally, advisors work with degree-seekers one-on-one to develop their resumes and explore additional resources.

The program uses a 3.0 GPA cutoff for admission purposes but grants conditional admission to applicants who possess at least three years of work experience in public health and a minimum 2.5 GPA. New degree-seekers may qualify for institutional scholarships and grants.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Public Health?

While all online public health degree bachelor's programs differ, most require students to complete a minimum of 120 credits, and blend general education courses, electives, and major courses. Some programs also offer specialized concentrations in areas such as healthcare management, health promotion and wellness, and global health. While curricula will vary, many programs require some of these courses.

  • Issues in Public Health: This course introduces the history, theories, and core values of public health to online public health degree bachelor's students. Students learn the structure of the public health system and the main knowledge areas of the field. Courses cover key concepts, such as mortality, disease, and disparity within populations. This course is often a prerequisite for many other courses and is essential for anyone working in public health.
  • Epidemiology and Disease Control: Disease control is a main concern among public health practitioners, and this course introduces students to the principles of epidemiology, along with specific tools used for monitoring and evaluating public health. Social and behavioral factors that affect human disease may also be included. These themes are particularly relevant to health care administrators, social and community service managers, and public health educators.
  • Research and Assessment: Many public health workers are responsible for researching and developing new programs, while also assessing current offerings. Bachelor's degree in public health students learn basic components of research methods related to public health, as well as the application of assessment instruments and statistical analysis to current health programs.
  • Public Health Education and Communication: One of the main roles of public health workers is to educate the public. Students in this course develop the necessary communication skills to perform this duty. The class also examines the impact the media and internet have on health issues. Students learn the ways in which public health education can improve individual and community health.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Public Health Degrees

Regional and national accreditation are the two primary types of institutional accreditation. Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious form of accreditation, as the Department of Education (ED) approves only seven accrediting agencies in the country. National accreditation usually applies to career and trade-related institutions; because of the diversity among these colleges, accreditation requirements are not as standardized. Many graduate programs look for students to have a degree from a regionally-accredited institution, and courses from regionally-accredited colleges are usually easier to transfer to another school. Additionally, individual programs within schools may be accredited by expert organizations in the field.

Accrediting agencies, both regional and national, are recognized by the ED or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If a college is not accredited by a ED-approved agency, they are unable to offer federal financial aid to students, and often credits will not transfer. The ED and CHEA provide necessary oversight to ensure accrediting agencies are meeting basic standards. Prospective students should always check to see if an institution is accredited on the ED's website.

Program-specific accreditation of public health bachelor's degrees may be granted by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). This ensures that a degree meets certain standards that CEPH deems essential in public health programs. Students can look for accredited programs and schools on CEPH's website.

Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Public Health Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in public health are experiencing faster than average growth, and almost all of these positions require candidates to have a bachelor's degree. Public health graduates develop their communication, health, managerial, and evaluation skills, leading to a number of different professions. Many of these public health professionals are employed by the government, individual and family services, and hospitals.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators promote wellness within communities by changing behaviors, collecting data, and working on specific health concerns within communities. Salaries within these professions vary, but the median annual salary for health educators is $53,070 and the median annual salary for community health workers is $37,330.

Dieticians and Nutritionists

These professionals use their knowledge of diet and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They assess health needs, counsel patients on nutrition issues, and develop and evaluate meal and nutrition plans. Employment is expected to grow 14% -- faster than average -- as people are increasingly aware of a diet's role in preventing and treating diseases.

Medical and Health Services Managers

Also called healthcare administrators or executives, these professionals plan and direct health services. They may oversee a facility, department, or clinical area. With a faster-than-average rate of growth at 17%, these managers have a median annual wage of $96,540. Managers must have at least a bachelor's degree, and master's degrees are often required.

Social and Community Service Managers

These managers coordinate social service programs and community organizations. They focus on a specific populations, such as children or the elderly, and some work with organizations focused on unemployment or mental health. Social and community service managers work in shelters, offices, clinics, and hospitals.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

By evaluating work environments, occupational health and safety specialists inspect workplaces to see if they are adhering to safety, health, and environmental regulations. This job often requires fieldwork and travel to worksites such as factories and mines.


Median Annual Salary for Health Educators by Employer Type

One of the main factors in the salaries of health educators their place of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for health educators in hospitals is over $23,000 more per year than health educators working in social assistance. The range of health educator salaries can also vary greatly beyond the median annual wage. According to the BLS, in May 2016 the bottom 10 percent of health educators earned below $30,400, and the highest 10 percent earned above $95,730.

Employer Type Percentage of Health Educators Employed Median Annual Wage
Government 22% $55,110
Hospitals; state, local, and private 21% $62,650
Ambulatory Healthcare Services 16% $52,950
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 10% $46,370
Social assistance 10% $39,030

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Public Health Program

There are many sources for funding a public health bachelor's degree education, including federal financial aid, scholarships, grants, and loans. To determine your eligibility for federal financial aid or other assistance, students should first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, institutions award scholarships and grants at the time of admission according to need or merit. Scholarships may also be awarded by a college's school of public health, and students should always search for outside scholarships related to the profession, such as those listed on publichealthonline.org.


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