Online Master’s in Public Health

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MPH Degrees Online

If you’re already working in a health profession or have a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field, you may be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in public health to expand your ability to provide public health education, epidemiology, community health programs and health support services. An online degree program allows working professionals to expand their practice. It can also be the pathway to a new career, such as at a government agency or community health program. Learn more about online MPH degrees, including the top schools, what you can expect from the program and possible career paths.

To create our rankings for the best online master’s degrees in public health, we rely on information provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. We also collect information from published materials from the colleges and universities included here. Each of the ranked schools has been accredited to ensure it provides a quality education.

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What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Public Health Program?

An online master’s degree in public health typically takes two years to complete, although there is flexibility to meet students’ needs. Most require 42 to 48 credits. Courses focus on science, health and community development, giving students the skills needed to do research, work on policy, provide education and work in disease prevention. The focus is always on health as it impacts groups, communities, countries or the world population at large, so topics such as the environment or statistics are viewed through this lens.

Most students choose a specialization, so they can hone their skills to fit a particular job, such as epidemiologist or public health nurse. Experience gained through internships is a valuable component of this degree as learning hands-on skills is crucial for most public health professionals. Online public health master’s degree programs may offer fewer arranged internships and practicum opportunities than on-campus programs, or they may require students to find internship opportunities in their own communities.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in public health program?

Specific course titles vary, but some of the courses you can commonly expect to find include:Epidemiology

This course teaches students how and why diseases spread. Students learn how to gather and analyze public health data.Biostatistics

Biostatistics introduces students to the sensitivity and predictive value of medical tests and how to gather and interpret health data. Statistical significance and how to calculate statistical formulas are part of the coursework.Health Services Administration

Students learn the basics of health delivery systems, leadership and executive skills, strategic planning and organizational communication.Global Health

Courses in global health focus on exploring international concerns in the health field, including disaster response, treating and preventing pandemic diseases, providing access to health services and the social and biological factors that create global health challenges.Environmental Health

Students learn how to identify environmental factors that have an impact on health and to develop tools that support an environment that is healthy. The course offers information on assessing risk, evaluating the impact of human activity and more.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Most courses in MPH programs require exams, papers and projects. Many programs require students to complete an internship and/or participate in practicum courses where they can actively apply their knowledge. Graduates are not required to pass a board or certificate exam, however a student can choose to apply for a Certified in Public Health credential from the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).

What specializations are available in a master’s in public health program?

There are a variety of specialization options available for online master’s degrees in public health, particularly because public health is such a multidisciplinary field.

Epidemiology

A specialization in epidemiology focuses on tracking and analyzing trends in public health. Students learn to create and implement public health studies and investigate the origins of health problems. Courses teach how to prevent and intervene at all levels of society.

Environmental Health

MPH specialization in environmental health teaches students to identify and investigate environmental causes of disease that impacts communities and individuals. There may be an emphasis on workplace hazards and how to evaluate and reduce those risks.

Biostatistics

A biostatistics specialty track focuses on statistical models, computing, inference, probability and analysis. It also teaches data collection techniques. This specialization prepares students for careers as researchers.

Health Education/Prevention

Students who choose this specialization learn how to interact with and influence individuals and communities to improve health outcomes by providing information, teaching skills, setting priorities and implementing procedures.

Health Policy and Management/Joint MBA

It is possible to earn a joint degree with an MPH and an MBA (master’s of business administration). This type of specialization focuses on how to apply public health concepts through business models with courses on health budgeting, management of public health entities and public health laws.

What Can I do with a Master’s in Public Health Degree?

A master’s in public health opens the door to a wide variety of careers and professional opportunities.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists work to determine patterns and causes of illness and disease. They try to reduce negative public health outcomes using research, education, outreach and policy initiatives. An epidemiologist might work in a laboratory doing research, or in an office creating policy and procedures. Other epidemiologists work in the field collecting samples and data. Career paths are often through government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An MPH with a specialization in epidemiology is necessary for this type of work.

Health Educator

The goal of a health educator is to educate people about wellness. Health educators work in schools, community organizations, non-profit organizations, physician’s offices, departments of public health or other government agencies. They might teach classes, counsel people individually, plan community programs or handle intakes of patients into programs. Many health educators are Certified Public Health Specialists and focused their MPH degree on health education.

Biostatistician

Collecting and reviewing data is the main responsibility of a biostatistician. Professional biostatisticians conduct research and analyze data to answer questions about public health. They may work with other medical professionals to develop studies. A specialization in biostatistics is required as part of the MPH degree for this career path.

Disaster and Emergency Specialist

When disasters or emergencies strike, these professionals are on hand to coordinate health efforts, create plans to provide for health care and implement procedures to prevent further public health dangers. A large part of their job involves planning for and rehearsing for every foreseeable event that could have a detrimental effect on public health. Specialization in environmental public health is important for this career.

Public Health Nurse

A career as a public health nurse allows professionals to combine a nursing degree with an MPH for a specialized career path. These professionals may work in a government agency, school, correctional facility or business to reduce or eliminate public health risks. Some public health nurses do home visits with patients and refer families to needed services while also providing hands-on nursing care. Others work in the community, creating programs to improve public health or coordinating assessments to evaluate public health concerns.

Environmental Health Specialist

Work in this field focuses on exploring, analyzing, responding to and preparing for public health issues caused by environmental or occupational hazards. Professionals often work for governmental health departments or environmental agencies. Others work for companies or consultant groups who focus on workplace health concerns. Jobs might involve food safety, air quality, water contamination, waste management, noise management or radiation protection. Specialization in environmental public health is required.

Professional organizations in public health provide opportunities for networking, continuing education and advocacy. Here are a few organizations to consider joining.

American Public Health Association (APHA)

The APHA is known for its influence on national and international public health policies. The organization publishes a journal and newspaper that keeps members up to date on key issues. The annual meeting provides an opportunity for continuing education and networking. They offer student and early career memberships to help those starting out in the profession.

American College of Epidemiology (ACE)

ACE sponsors professional publications, educational opportunities and scientific meetings. The organization also advocates for policies that support epidemiology, public health and science. Admission is based on credentials and involves a promotion procedure in which members who are the most experienced receive the highest recognition.

Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

The focus of SOPHE is supporting health education professionals and students who work in schools, organizations, healthcare agencies and government. SOPHE advocates for health promotion policies and research. They offer conferences, publications, networking opportunities and fellowships to their network. They also certify health education specialists. Student memberships are available.

Global Health Council

The Global Health Council’s mission is to improve global health though investment and policies. It created the Women Leaders in Global Health Initiative to represent the women who make up a large majority of global health workers. They also have a global advocacy hub that provides information, tools and resources for members. Monthly salons allow members to keep in touch.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Public Health?

The career path you choose as a public health professional will directly impact the salary you can expect to earn. Salaries increase with years of experience.

CareerLowest 10% Earned AnnuallyMedian Annual SalaryHighest 10% Earned AnnuallyJob Growth 2016-2026
EpidemiologistLess than $42,810$69,660More than $113,560+9%
Health EducatorsLess than $25,150$38,370More than $64,500+16%
Emergency Management DirectorLess than $38,270$72,760More than $141,620+8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Public health-related careers in general are growing as fast or faster than average. The field of health education, in particular, is expected to grow 16 percent which is much faster than average and likely in response to the efforts to reduce healthcare costs. In addition to having more advanced education, workers in this field who speak a foreign language may have an advantage over other job seekers.

Online Master’s in Public Health Program Accreditation

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for accrediting public health schools and programs. To receive accreditation, each school and program must submit a detailed accreditation criteria report which addresses topics such as student engagement, diversity, graduation rates, ethics, guiding statements, foundational competencies, evaluation practices, applied practice experiences, faculty resources and effectiveness, community involvement, student complaints and technology resources.

The accreditation process involves intensive peer review of the school’s operating policies and practices. The decision-making body then makes the accreditation decision based on all of the findings as well as public comments, formal complaints and comments from the school. Programs that receive accreditation are periodically reviewed to ensure they continue to meet the standards of the CEPH.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Public Health Degree

There are a variety of ways students can find assistance paying for an MPH degree. Here are a few options:

Best Online MPH



See Our Rankings Methodology
  • Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students working toward a career in middle-level health care administration can enroll in a fully online option to earn a Master of Health Services Administration at Mississippi College. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, this Christian-based private school is the oldest higher learning institution in the state. For program acceptance, students must hold a bachelor's degree in one of the health care sciences with a minimum 2.5 GPA. In lieu of a GRE requirement, the admissions team requests an essay responding to the question, "What does health services administration mean to me?" Prerequisite courses include Accounting Principles and American History or Government. Upon admittance, students will satisfy 30 semester hours with a grade C or above in order to graduate. Core classes explore topics such as research methods, ethics in health care administration, health care marketing and organizational behavior. Students can also choose from a variety of electives, including Dynamics of Group Communication, Professional Writing, Advanced Developmental Psychology, Multicultural Counseling or an internship. Curriculum is delivered through the web platform Moodle, which allows students and instructors to communicate, hold class discussions, complete quizzes and submit assignments. The Student Success Center is host to a number of resources, which are available on campus and online. These resources includes access to the school's library and free tutoring with the Writing Center. The Office of Career Services provides how-to guides for resume writing and interview preparation as well as tools for job exploration. Their updated calendar connects students with networking and career fair opportunities throughout the year.

  • Independence University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The online program to receive a Master of Public Health at Independence University builds a strong foundation for students to work in a variety of health-related fields ranging from biostatistics, to environmental health science, to health services administration. Alumni have found work as health promotion specialists, public health policy coordinators and health services administrators. Students typically spend 16 months completing 58 credits in classes such as Nutrition for Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Healthcare Professionals. In order to maintain a quick and succinct program, there are no elective options. Students, however, are required to complete a public health internship as well as a thesis. The school is committed to supporting online learners, and students can expect free tutoring and 1-on-1 mentoring from their instructors. Tuition covers any materials needed for classes. This includes textbooks as well as a new tablet and laptop, which are yours to keep following graduation. Career Services assists in job placement, networking and interview skills. Following degree completion, students can audit classes in their field at zero cost. All coursework, which is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, begins once every month. As a result, applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For those interested in the program, the first step is to contact an admissions consultant, who will help you begin the admissions process with a short career assessment. Your consultant, as well as a financial planner, is available to assist in registration, tuition questions and financial aid opportunities throughout the remainder of your academic journey.

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online option to earn a master's degree in a variety of public health concentrations. Students interested in appraising the effectiveness of wellness treatments can work toward a Master of Science in Public Health. The standard Master of Public Health offers 6 concentrations, which include populations health, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology or maternal and child health policy and leadership; the maternal and child health policy and leadership choice can be combined with a program for completing a Master of Social Work, which prepares students to work as advocates for wellness improvement in diverse populations. Although coursework varies by program, core curriculum covers topics such as management and policy in public health systems and services, biostatistics, epidemiology and the fundamentals of environmental health. Students take an average of 2 years to satisfy 43-44 credits in order to graduate. During this time, they can find online and field-specific resources through the university's resources webpage. The UBA Career Center assists students in writing curriculum vitae, searching for open jobs and practicing for interviews. Student Counseling Services showcases resources for online self-help. To help cut down on program costs, there are over 20 scholarships available to graduate students within the School of Public Health. Additionally, online enrollees pay the same tuition rates as residents and non-residents. Prospective students will need to submit GRE scores, 3 letters of recommendation, transcripts, a resume and a statement of purpose. Each specific program requires a different application, so students should be sure to find their desired program's application when applying.

  • University of Illinois at Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students interested in completing a master's degree in public health via a fully online format can choose from 3 different options at the University of Illinois in Springfield. The general Master of Public Health requires 48 total semester hours and covers topics of community health research, occupational health, public health policy and epidemiology. A second opportunity, which involves the same number of credits, emphasizes environmental health. Although students participate in the same core classes, the electives for this option focus on environmental toxicology, risk assessment, hazardous waste policy and environmental policy. U.S. physicians who have earned a doctorate and are currently in their residency program can enroll in the Master of Public Health professional option. This program is composed of 36 hours of core curriculum, an internship and electives. For all programs, students must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA in both undergraduate and graduate work in order to be admitted as well as to graduate. Degree completion also entails passing the comprehensive examination at the end of your graduate studies. Throughout the 2-year average it takes to finish a program, there are a number of resources to help along the way. Information regarding scholarship and internship opportunities specific to the Department of Public Health can be found through the university's resources webpage. Students can also take advantage of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service's online tools, which work to acquaint learners with the web platform Blackboard Learn and offer technical assistance. Online students also have access online to the library, career guidance and free tutoring services. Interested students will need to submit GRE scores, an essay, transcripts and 3 letters of recommendation to be considered for admission. Graduates with a Master of Public Health are prepared for careers such as administrators, public health project managers and epidemiologists.

  • East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, East Carolina University affords students the opportunity to earn a Master of Public Health. Although most of the program takes place on campus, there are a growing number of courses available online. Upon registration, enrollees will choose from 3 concentrations, which include epidemiology, health administration or health behavior. All students will complete 24 credits of core coursework covering topics in public health administration, social and behavioral sciences, environmental health, epidemiology and biostatistics. An additional 21 elective and internship-based hours leads to a total of 45 credits necessary for graduation. The internship experience involves 240 hours of fieldwork in the student's chosen area of study and is usually completed during the summer between the first and second year of the program. A final requirement for degree completion is the presentation of a professional paper at the medical school's annual research day. Depending on whether you engage in a part-time or full-time workload, students move through the program in 2-4 years. After graduation, students can pursue careers including public health directors, disease investigators and environmental health specialists. Students can apply to and begin programs for both the fall and spring terms. Eligibility is based on transcripts, test scores, 3 letters of recommendation, a letter of intent and a resume. A minimum 2.7 GPA and a GRE score of 300 or above is encouraged. The Master of Public Health Manual provides information regarding curriculum, admissions, graduation and important forms. Students can also take advantage of online resources such as the writing center, math tutoring, career services, web tutorials, exam proctoring and online library access to assist in their studies.

  • University of California-Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Enrollees in UC Berkeley's online program to receive a Master of Public Health will work through 27 months of coursework via the cohort model, in which a group of students follows a similar plan of study to begin and end their studies together. During the first and second year, all students satisfy 6 core classes, which include Health and Social Behavior, Environmental Health Science, Health Management, and Introduction to Probability and Statistics. From there, students will have to option to choose from concentrations such as health policy, global health, infectious disease or regulatory science. During the month of June in both the first and second year, students will visit the Berkeley campus for 10 days as a requirement of the core curriculum. Additional expectations for graduation involve participation in 110 hours of a practicum field experience as well as the passing of a comprehensive exam. Students who graduate with this degree will be prepared to work in a variety of settings in the health care field, including government organizations, for-profit businesses and nonprofit agencies. Some online courses can be accessed at a student's convenience, while others entail real-time, scheduled interaction. All coursework is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The Student Hub is a go-to spot for finding online course registration, exam access, financial aid information and student resources. Distance learners can take advantage of the library, technical support, free software programs and services for students with disabilities. Prospective students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit GRE scores, have completed a college-level math or statistics course with a grade B or above and demonstrate proof for 2 years of post-undergraduate work experience in any field.

  • University of South Florida-Main Campus
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At the University of South Florida, graphic and instructional designers from the Office of Educational Technology and Assessment team up with faculty members to continually improve online education. A combination of podcasts, web conferencing and media streaming is used to deliver curriculum for a number of programs, including one to receive a Master of Public Health. Students can select from concentrations in epidemiology, social marketing, nutrition and dietetics or global disaster management. Regardless of degree choice, all students complete 18 hours of core work in topics such as History and Systems of Public Health, Population Assessment and Translation to Practice. In order to graduate, you must receive a C or above in each class as well as pass a comprehensive examination at the end of your studies. A final requirement is to satisfy a field experience, which begins after the second semester. Depending on your desired workload, degree completion takes an average of 2-2.5 years. Every concentration, with the exception of nutrition and dietetics, is eligible for the Reduced Rate Program, which offers discounted tuition to students enrolled in fully online coursework. Additional resources for online learners include library access, career services and technical assistance. Depending on the area of concentration, graduates can find employment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the military, or as hospital infection preventionists. If you are interested in applying, you will need to provide transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework, GRE scores, 2 letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a resume. These materials will be submitted through the SOPHAS application, a centralized tool used for public health programs throughout the nation.

  • South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota have teamed together to offer an online alternative for receiving a Master of Public Health that focuses on the health care needs of rural communities. The program requires 42 total credits, which include 30 hours of core curriculum and 12 hours of electives. Core classes include Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Health Services Administration and Environmental Health. Elective options include topics such as Maternal and Child Nutrition, Public Health and Native American Communities and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Students will also participate in 3 credits of field experience. Conveniently, both schools partner with the South Dakota Area Health Education Center, Indian Health Services and the South Dakota Department of Health to provide opportunities for applied practice. An additional expectation is that students complete a research paper, which is then published in a peer-reviewed journal or presented at a professional conference. Graduates with a Master of Public Health often find careers as health care industry analysts, medical and health services managers and as epidemiologists or biostatisticians. In order to be eligible for this program, you must submit transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate degree, a statement of purpose, 2 letters of recommendation and the graduate school application. If accepted, you will need to pass a background check. Following admissions, there are a number of resources for students to take advantage of throughout their academic journey. Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service that provides support for a wide range of subjects. The Office of Career Services guides students through interview processes, job exploration and interview preparation. financial aid, technical support and library access are also available.

  • Kent State University at Kent
    Location

    Kent, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At Kent State University, prospective students can earn an online Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in either health policy and management or social and behavioral sciences. Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, 3 letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a goal statement about why you want to pursue an MPH at Kent State and a resume or CV. Students who have been accepted into the online MPH program and are ineligible for tuition waiver benefits and maintain competitive GPAs may qualify for tuition offset scholarships worth $500-$4,000. This 46-credit hour program consists of 7 core courses, including a practicum, 5 specialization-specific courses and 2 electives. While the goal of the health policy and management specialization is to help students become effective public health leaders so they can make a difference in their communities, the goal of the social and behavioral sciences specialization is to teach students the skills they need to create community-based health programs. Those who select health policy and management can expect to take courses such as health care systems, public health policy and financial management for public health organizations. Students in the social and behavioral sciences specialization will be required to take courses like quantitative methods in social and behavioral sciences, grant writing and public health programs. After graduating with an online MPH from Kent State University, many individuals pursue careers in health maintenance organizations, health insurance companies, health education, nonprofit organizations, emergency management and health care administration. Online students have access to resources including a 24/7 helpdesk for assistance with online course access and technical issues, library instructional services and career development guidance.

  • North Dakota State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Fargo, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Dakota State University offers an online Master of Public Health. This program is designed for graduates and employees in health-related fields who hold bachelor's degrees or higher. It focuses on rural health, health promotion and prevention, disease-state management and related activities of interest to public health care practitioners and policy makers. Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, GRE test scores, 3 letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Students in this MPH program may choose from 4 specializations: American Indian public health, health promotion, management of infectious diseases or public health in clinical systems. This 42-credit-hour degree includes core courses such as leading and managing public health systems, biostatistics, essentials in epidemiology and specialization courses like American Indian health policy, health promotion programming, principles of infectious disease management and advanced community assessment. In addition to completing all coursework, each student is required to submit a master's paper, which provides an opportunity to work on public health projects under the guidance of faculty and community public health practitioners or researchers. The purpose of the master's paper, which contains both oral and written components, is to synthesize, integrate and apply the skills and competencies gained in the degree program to a public health problem. In most cases, students graduate with their MPH degrees in 3-5 years. Once they graduate, they often pursue careers as health care administrators, public health educators, community health professionals and environmental health specialists. Enrolled students have access to useful online resources such as a comprehensive, web-based "Getting Started" guide, online tutoring and the Graduate Center for Writers.

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