Public Health Scholarships for College

Public health professionals track infectious disease outbreaks, administer programs that promote health and wellness, and educate communities on public health threats. A public health degree at the undergraduate or graduate level meets the requirement for many public health careers, including as a health educator, epidemiologist, or public health administrator.

Earning a public health degree often costs tens of thousands of dollars. However, public health scholarships and other forms of public health financial aid help students cover their degree cost. This guide introduces public health scholarships, tips to pay for a public health degree, and advice on submitting the strongest possible scholarship application.

Public Health Scholarships



Students enrolled in an accredited public health program qualify for various scholarship opportunities. This section introduces a few of those opportunities, including scholarships that award $10,000 or more for public health students. In addition to these opportunities, public health majors should search for scholarships based on their background, school, and career focus.

 
 
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation

    Who Can Apply: Students interested in nutrition and dietetics qualify for multiple scholarships through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. For example, the Commission on Dietetic Registration Advanced Practice Residency Award supports a registered dietitian nutritionist pursuing an advanced practice residency program.

    Amount: Up to $5,000

    Explore Here

  • Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers Hunt Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Hunt scholarship supports an undergraduate interested in community and public health. Applicants submit a short essay explaining their interest in community health or public service. The scholarship also considers optional letters of support and evidence of financial need.

    Amount: $2,000

    Explore Here

  • Indian Health Service Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: The IHS scholarship supports American Indian and Alaska Native students pursuing health professions, including public health careers. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and intend to serve Indian people in their career.

    Amount: Tuition and fees plus a stipend

    Explore Here

  • NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: The National Institutes of Health offers undergraduate scholarships to full-time students with a minimum 3.3 GPA at an accredited school. Applicants must also demonstrate exceptional financial need and commit to work at the NIH after graduation.

    Amount: up to $20,000

    Explore Here

  • The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The scholarship supports students with an interest in promoting health in Hispanic communities; applicants are not required to identify as Hispanic. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA, strong academic performance, and leadership activities.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

Create a Strong Scholarship Application



Scholarship committees often receive dozens or even hundreds of applications for a single award. How can students create a strong scholarship application? This section outlines the process step-by-step, including identifying opportunities and writing a compelling personal statement. The following tips will help your public health scholarship application stand out.


  • Make a Plan

    Before applying for a scholarship, public health students need to make a plan. With dozens of public health scholarship opportunities available every year, organized students increase their odds of receiving funding. Without a plan, students could miss out on opportunities.

    The process starts with collecting possible scholarship opportunities. Pay close attention to eligibility guidelines before beginning a scholarship application. Some scholarships only accept full-time students or those who demonstrate financial need. After identifying possible scholarships, applicants should make a list and prioritize their next steps based on deadlines and requirements.


  • Create a List

    Once students compile a list of possible scholarships, they can begin creating a scholarship document that includes the required materials and deadlines for every application. For instance, many scholarships request official transcripts, a purpose statement, and recommendation letters. Applicants may also need documents demonstrating their public health experience.

    Creating a master list of scholarship requirements and deadlines helps students stay organized and complete scholarship applications on time. By requesting transcripts and recommendation letters well before the deadline, students can avoid missing out on opportunities because of an incomplete application.


  • Demonstrate Knowledge of the Public Health Field

    Public health scholarships look for applicants knowledgeable about the field. For example, the application may ask about career plans in public health, specializations, or experience in a public health role. Students should explain their background in public health, both in terms of academic training and volunteer or professional experience. Scholarship committees also look for a commitment to the field, so applicants should mention specific career goals.

    Applicants have several opportunities to discuss their public health experience. Scholarships often ask for a letter or statement of purpose. The application may also include opportunities to highlight knowledge of the field.


  • Craft a Comprehensive Personal Statement

    Most scholarship applications ask for a personal statement that speaks to the applicant’s academic background, interest in public health, and career goals. Some scholarships include specific elements in the personal statement. For example, the Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship requests a written statement on issues impacting the future of health education. 

    A strong personal statement directly addresses the topic. While it might feel tempting to write a standard personal statement for every application, a customized statement stands out to committees. Also, pay attention to spelling, grammar, and clarity. Plan to revise, edit, and proofread the statement before submitting the application.


  • Reach Out to References

    Many public health scholarships call for reference letters or contact information for people who can affirm the applicant’s academic and professional qualifications. Plan to contact letter writers at least 2-3 weeks before the deadline. And before putting someone’s name down as a reference, reach out to confirm they will act as a reference.

    Who should students consider as references? Scholarships often require at least one academic reference from a professor. Depending on the scholarship, other references may include former bosses, supervisors in public health settings, or others who can speak to the applicant’s qualifications.


  • Submit Before the Deadline

    Like admissions applications, scholarships set a strict deadline and typically do not allow late submissions. However, scholarship deadlines occur throughout the year, so some students struggle to stay on top of the deadlines. Creating a scholarship deadline calendar helps applicants manage their applications and submit on time.

    Students should also submit well in advance of the deadline if possible. If something unexpected arises, applicants can address the issue and still submit their application on time.

    Finally, allot time to double check your work, or ask a friend or family member to review your application before submitting it. Small errors can make a difference when applying for scholarships.


Practical Ways to Pay for Your Public Health Degree



Start Saving Now

Creating a savings plan helps students pay for their public health degree. Start saving as early as possible to take advantage of compound interest. For example, students can open their own 529 college savings plan. These plans offer tax advantages such as no income tax on withdrawals. Some states also offer tax incentives for 529 savings. 

Students also save for college by investing in mutual funds, buying savings bonds, or adding to a savings account. However, before putting college savings in the stock market, consider the potential risk. If you plan on attending school in the next few years, the stock market might not be the wisest choice.

Check Program Length

Program length influences college costs and public health financial aid. For example, some scholarships only provide one year of funding, while others offer multiple years of support. Students in a public health program should plan to fill out the FAFSA annually, which can mean several times for part-time students.

Costs may also rise if students need to take time off during their studies. Tuition increases often happen on an annual basis, so students generally pay more if they take a gap year or two before returning to complete their degree. Finally, while accelerated programs shorten the timeline to earn a degree, they may impact the total cost of the degree.

Earn a Certified in Public Health Credential

The certified in public health (CPH) credential helps public health professionals demonstrate their skills and stand out on the job market. The National Board of Public Health Examiners offers the CPH credential for experienced public health professionals. The voluntary certification demonstrates mastery of public health science based on national standards. 

A public health degree plus work experience meets certification eligibility requirements. Candidates then sit for a four-hour, 200-question exam that tests evidence-based approaches to public health, program management skills, public health biology, and public health policy. After earning the CPH credential, professionals recertify by completing 50 recertification credits every two years.

Explore Company Incentives

Companies may offer incentives for current or potential employees considering a degree in public health. For example, more than half of companies offer employee tuition reimbursement plans for their current employees. These plans pay some or all of a student’s tuition costs if they meet eligibility requirements such as a minimum GPA. Some companies also offer scholarships, grants, or student loan repayment programs to assist degree-seekers.

In addition, public health organizations may offer incentives to prospective hires. Recruitment incentives, for example, reward public health graduates who accept job offers from companies.

Public Health Scholarship Resources



  • Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

    ASPPH provides a resource on financing a public health degree. The site includes a list of external funding sources, tips and tricks for finding scholarships, and opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Explore Here

  • Explore Health Careers

    A collaboration between health professionals and healthcare associations, Explore Health Careers offers information on public health careers, a career explorer to prepare for public health jobs, and resources on paying for college.

    Explore Here

  • Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

    Columbia’s School of Public Health provides a resource on outside sources of funding, including U.S. and international opportunities. Site users learn about scholarship, fellowship, and grant opportunities.

    Explore Here

  • MPH Programs List

    With more than 50 public health scholarships, MPH Programs List includes a comprehensive look at public health financial aid opportunities. The site also recommends how to find scholarships through your school or private organizations.

    Explore Here

  • Public Health Online

    Public Health Online connects students with public health scholarships for undergraduates and graduate students. The site also lists specialized scholarship opportunities, fellowships, and grants.

    Explore Here

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See more articles by Genevieve

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