Master’s in Public Health Degrees + Online Options!

The purpose of this page is to provide valuable information to students and professionals who are interested in earning a master’s degree in public health, or MPH. The information collected on this resource should be helpful as you pursue this educational path in hopes of establishing a fruitful career in public health.

One of the most important things to know about public health generally is that job growth in the field is expected to be strong in the next 10 years: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand for public health educators and community health workers will increase by 21%. Those who have advanced degrees in public health will be in a strong position to find good-paying employment.

This article contains information about the MPH programs available to students throughout the country where knowledge seekers can access resources, internships, specialization opportunities and even paying jobs. This guide will also explain why an MPH degree is worthwhile, the types of skills and knowledge that it imparts and why the field is so important to our modern way of life.

Further, you will learn what is driving the demand for more public health-related jobs. As healthcare costs continue to increase, many stakeholders in the public and private sector want to find ways to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes. One of the ways to do so is to teach communities to live more healthily, which can reduce the long term costs associated with disease treatment.

Skills required to excel in a public health career and an MPH program include:

  • Strong analytical skills that allow you to properly collect and analyze public health data, so you can effectively evaluate public health efforts.
  • Instructional skills used to to engage in public speaking that may include leading public health programs, teaching classes and facilitating discussions with members of the at risk community.
  • Interpersonal skills that are needed to interact with people from all backgrounds. You should be a good listener and be very culturally sensitive.
  • Writing skills are important for developing written materials that convey vital public health information.

If you need more information about public health careers or MPH programs, please get in touch and let us know how we can assist you.

MPH Degree Overview

Those who enroll in a MPH program will learn how public health workers can make an impact on a local and global basis. Most MPH programs take two years to complete. Students are usually provided with an interdisciplinary look at the many factors that impact public health, the psychology of human behavior, how diseases spread and how laws affect health.

Educational institutions strive to incorporate their values, such as respect, service, community, teamwork and communication into this master’s degree program. The degree empowers individuals to work in healthcare subsets that strive to improve the health and well-being of the community at large. It is worth noting that only those who have graduated from a college accredited by the CEPH (Council on Education for Public Health) will be eligible to take the CEPH exam.

Prospective students should perform their due diligence and research numerous institutions of higher learning before making a commitment to a MPH program. Some might find that an online MPH program is the most prudent route. Studying public health on the web allows those who work and those who are parents to juggle their responsibilities in a flexible learning environment.

Online MPH Programs

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A large number of online institutions offer advanced Public Health degrees along with access to voluminous resources and opportunities for specialization. Many actively help students find employment. Students learn online through a combination of methods. These include recorded videos, live lectures and all sorts of challenging assignments.

All in all, most online MPH students will complete over 200 hours of online classes. It is worth noting that several online learning institutions are limiting the size of their MPH classes to 10 in an attempt to provide students with more individualized attention. Most students are empowered to visit with professors during their live office hours as well.

Those who enroll in a MPH program will learn how public health workers can make an impact on a local and global basis. Most MPH programs take two years to complete. Students are usually provided with an interdisciplinary look at the many factors that impact public health, the psychology of human behavior, how diseases spread and how laws affect health. Jump to How to Choose a Graduate Degree Online.

Educational institutions strive to incorporate their values, such as respect, service, community, teamwork and communication into this master’s degree program. The degree empowers individuals to work in healthcare subsets that strive to improve the health and well-being of the community at large. It is worth noting that only those who have graduated from a college accredited by the CEPH (Council on Education for Public Health) will be eligible to take the CEPH exam.

Reasons to Earn a Master’s in Public Health

Working to safeguard the public’s health is a very rewarding career. Public health professionals make a significant impact in the community’s well-being through research, prevention, promotion and education. Yet for many public health professionals, their main focus is the actual cause that prompts public health issues in the first place. The roots of these causes tend to impact not only the public’s health but the surrounding environment and social/behavioral contexts as well.

Public health professionals educated the masses about living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding injuries and diseases. These individuals coordinate and execute campaigns and initiatives that aim to boost exercise levels and promote healthy eating. In a nutshell, those who earn a MPH will play key roles in the public’s general health. While a bachelor’s degree in public health will open entry level doors at hospitals, human service agencies, wellness centers and public health departments, those with a MPH will have a considerable edge on the competition.

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MPH Degree Course Requirements

The MPH is a cross discipline degree, so candidates can expect to take a wide range of courses from healthcare and public affairs programs.

Courses will be geared towards creating graduates who have an intensive knowledge of the healthcare field, but also have an intensive understanding of public policy and administrative techniques.

Candidates can expect to take:

  • Courses in biostatistics
  • Courses in environmental health or international health
  • Courses in policy (specifically health policy) and problems of policy
  • Courses in social science
  • Courses in administrative practice

Other classes may include Policy Approaches to Public Health, The Biological Basis of Disease in Public Health, Occupational and Environmental Health in a Sustainable World, Management Science, Public Health Policy, Biostatistics, Epidemiology Behavioral Science and many more.

Many students will participate in a field practicum where they can implement the skills that they have developed throughout the MPH program. The typical field practicum spans 100 plus hours and often occurs at a public health agency.

Educational Prerequisites

Those who pursue a master’s degree in public health will need a bachelor’s degree. Many students have undergraduate degrees in health related subjects such as behavioral sciences and health education, health administration, biomedical sciences etc.

The majority graduate programs require that the applicant have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.0 throughout his undergraduate studies. Additionally, most graduate programs desire applicants who have healthcare or public health related experience.

MPH Career Outlook

An MPH is a degree geared toward both public service and healthcare.  Graduates can expect to find positions in both the public and the private sector.

An MPH is great for a leadership position in organizations such as:

  • The Red Cross
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The American Cancer Society

Graduates can also expect to find positions in:

  • Health inspection
  • Food safety inspection
  • Public health policy
  • University research

Among MPH holders, it is becoming more popular to use this degree towards a degree in Occupational Nursing, as the MPH’s focus on public service, public affairs and health care puts it well in line with requirements for nursing programs and with the nursing profession itself.

In the private sector, graduates can expect to find work with pharmaceuticals companies or in health insurance.  These organizations are in need of highly educated and ethical healthcare professionals for leadership positions.

An MPH is the perfect degree for candidates seeking a career that will make a real difference.  It combines the best aspects of public affairs and healthcare. An MPH program should seek to shape graduates who will be excellent leaders and public servants in the healthcare field.

To say that the field of public health is expansive would be an understatement. MPH graduates have an array of unique career options available. Graduates often transition into research, teaching, government/policy making, management and community advocacy. Some of those who obtain a MPH work for mammoth government organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while others opt to make an impact on a smaller scale by working for local health departments.

In terms of compensation, the salaries obtained by those who have a MPH tend to vary drastically. The considerable shift in salary from one public health position to the next exists because of the industry’s diverse nature. The specific industry that one enters and his amount of schooling usually makes the largest impact on his compensation.

In epidemiology, you can expect a median wage of $65,200 per year, with the top 10% earning $108,000. The job outlook is good, with about a 10% increase in such jobs by 2022.

Those who obtain a MPH and have a medical background can work as medical practitioners or nurses but they typically do not treat patients. These individuals are critical behind the scenes in overarching organizational roles. Let’s take a look at some common occupations for those who obtain a MPH.

  1. Assistant Environmental Scientist — Assistant environmental scientists and specialists work to protect the planet as well as human health. Some work with policy makers while others strive to reduce waste or clean up polluted spaces. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Scientists earn a median pay of $63,570 per year. The number of jobs is estimated to grow by over 13,000 by 2012. This represents a 15 percent job outlook growth rate, which is faster than the national average.
  2. Health Educators/Community Health Workers — Health educators and community health workers educate the public about health. Their aim is to encourage behaviors that lead to mental and physical wellness throughout the community. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the future outlook for health educators and community health workers is bright. About 20,000 more of these positions will be added between 2012 and 2022. The job outlook for this time period is expected to grow faster than the national average at 21 percent. The 2012 median pay was $41,830 per year. However, it must be noted that not all of those who work as in this capacity have a master’s degree in the field.
  3. Nutritionists — The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median 2012 pay for nutritionists was $55,240 per year. It is estimated that the field will add over 14,000 jobs between 2012 and 2022 with the highest pay rates for those who have a Master’s or post-graduate level degree. This represents a faster than average growth rate at 21 percent. While the job is fairly self-explanatory, nutritionists play a critical role in the public’s health. They provide health advice in terms of proper eating and living a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Environmental Health Technician — Those who work as Environmental Health Technicians conduct tests to study the environment’s condition. They use this data to analyze how it impacts public health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Health Technicians earned a median pay of $41,240 per year. The field’s outlook is positive, with an expected 19 percent growth rate between 2012 and 2022.
  5. Public Health Inspector — Public Health Inspectors inspect private and public structures to ensure compliance with safety and health codes. They write comprehensive reports and issue citations as well. The average salary for a public health inspector is about $39,000 per year.
  6. Public Health Engineer — Public health engineers strive to ensure that the integrity of infrastructure and equipment is acceptable. Their quality controls check to verify the design and functionality of buildings, work spaces and machinery. This professional’s role is essential to reducing the public’s risk of injury and illness. Individuals working in this niche pulled down a 2012 median pay of $76,830. The job outlooks is positive, with an an expected 11 percent growth rate.
  7. Epidemiologist — An epidemiologist studies the patterns and causes of disease in the human population. The purpose of this public health role is to cut the risk and the occurrence of negative health outcomes. This is done mainly via intense research, followed by community education and new health policies.

Financial Aid

While you might be able to breeze through a MPA program thanks to your educational background and/or work experience, paying for the degree is an entirely different matter. Plenty of universities offer unique programs to help students pay the cost of tuition, room and board, books etc. associated with pursuing a MPH. Do not overlook common lending routes as well as these sources of funding offered by schools.

Additional Resources

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