Masters in Public Health Programs Online

Why Earn a Masters in Public Health Online?

Online MPH Programs may appeal to both emerging and current professionals seeking advanced study in core and specialty public health topics. These topics may include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Health education
  • Global health
  • Wellness in the workplace
  • Health administration

Earning an online master of public health may be the ideal format for students who are currently working and cannot leave their full-time jobs. Students can “attend” online classes at their convenience, from home or overseas, wherever they have reliable Internet. Assignments are generally research-based and submitted via email, Blackboard, or a similar web-portal method. Classes are often flexible. Students often have the same wide range of course offerings as they would at a traditional campus-based graduate school. In an accredited online MPH program, online students are held to the same rigorous standards as their campus counterparts. This online format makes distance learning a top option worth considering.

Online MPH Programs: Basics

Similar to campus masters of public health programs, admissions to an Online MPH degree program requires students to hold a Bachelor’s degree. Admissions also may require possibly work experience in the field. Although the schedule may be flexible, some programs are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study or four to five years of part-time study. Online students must meet the same hands-on clinical or practicum requirements as campus-based students. However, online students are usually able to do so through local health agencies of their own choosing. Students may also take a practical experience class and a capstone course. In these courses, students put their newly-learned skills and knowledge of best practices to use on a real public health issue.

Potential Features of Online Masters Public Health Programs

There are many graduate schools offering Online MPH Programs. It is advisable to read through the descriptive for the school you are considering, as formats do vary. In some cases, a university might offer an orientation (non-credit) course for new online students. What are some of the possible benefits to earning your master in public health degree online?

Synchronous and Asynchronous

Content is usually available around the clock and is therefore self-paced (asynchronous). However, some courses require students to log in to live online sessions or virtual office hours (synchronous).

Group Contact

Students may also coordinate with classmates for occasional group work or study help. Interactive tools like online message boards, email, web chats, and social media encourage personal connections.

Onsite Requirements

Many Online MPH programs offer the majority of their coursework online. However, there may be some on-campus requirements where students may connect with their peers and professors. These may be offered in short, intensive courses that are placed in segments for classes that are not suitable for an online format (though this will vary). By necessity, many master of public health programs are blended online (hybrid) where a percentage of the program is completed on campus. Ideal candidates for an online MPH include those who are motivated and autonomous.

DID YOU KNOW? 31% of Health and Social Service Managers hold a master’s degree[i] (O’Net)

Types of Online Master’s Degrees in Public Health

Master’s degrees in public health are typically either professional or academic degrees – the Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Public Health[ii].

Online MPH Degree

The (online) Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is considered a practical, professional degree. The degree is focused on public health practice as opposed to research or teaching. Coursework for an Online MPH program usually has less focus on research. The curriculum generally includes a study of the five basic areas of public health[iii]:

  • Epidemiology
  • Public health administration and policy
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health
  • Behavioral/Social Science

Online MSPH Degree

The online Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree is an academic public health degree (rather than a professional public health degree) and is more research oriented. The MSPH degree requirements include additional coursework in areas such as:

  • Research methods
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Public Health Studies

Most MSPH programs take an average of two years to complete. They may require students to write and defend a research thesis to fulfill degree requirements. Most MSPH programs do not have concentrations of study such as: community health, health education, and health communication or health policy.

Concentration Areas in Public Health

Students interested in focusing their master’s degree around a particular aspect of public health might review online Public Health Masters Degrees in:

Online Masters in Bioethics – if you enjoy studying controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering

Online Masters in Epidemiology – if you enjoy studying statistical methods, causal analysis, survey design, multiple regression, medical informatics, reviews of previous biomedical research, comparisons of healthcare systems, and practical applications of data.

Online Masters in Health Education & Communication – if you enjoy translating scientific language into understandable information, teaching others how to adopt healthy habits and lifestyles.

Online Masters in International Health – if you enjoy studying about immunizations and prevention of infectious diseases from spreading across borders.

Occupational Health and Safety – if you enjoy studying how to evaluate a workplace for safety, hazard prevention and employee wellness.

Take the Next Step

Once you have narrowed down the type of degree you are looking for, start browsing through the directory of sponsored online programs such as:

Request info from the graduate schools to get more details. Keep in mind that the the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the programmatic accreditation organization which reviews and approves public health education programs throughout the United States. This will help you select a reputable program and quality online education.

Sources: [i] |[ii] |[iii]

  • Purdue University Global

  • Grand Canyon University

  • Rivier University

  • Walden University

  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Southern New Hampshire University

  • Benedictine University

  • Liberty University Online

  • Columbia Southern University

  • George Washington University