Public Health Degree Programs
What Are Public Health Graduate Programs?
Public Health Graduate programs are professional degrees like the Master of Public Health. The MPH degree studies the ways to improve health for the entire population.
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There are two main areas addressed by Masters in Public Health programs. The first touches on the factors impact health. It often means exploring biology, behavior, social and environmental issues. The second is how to apply this data to craft public policies and health programs.
PhD in Public Health programs are terminal degrees like the Doctor of Public Health (DPH). These are for professionals who want to refine skills and research. Many take this time to problem solve in areas like disease prevention or health policy.
What Can I Do with a Master’s of Public Health (MPH)?
People with a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree often find careers as:
- Health and Safety Engineers
- Environmental Scientists
- Healthcare Administrators
- Natural Science Managers
- Public Health Director
MPH professionals work in governments, NGOs, hospitals, universities and in research. Many use the focus within an MPH degree to shape their career. For some this may mean a managing health programs or setting health policies. Others may want to use science to design systems to promote health and safety.
Are There Areas of Specialization With a Masters of Public Health?
No matter where your interests lie, you may tailor your MPH degree via a concentration. This may help you gain a deeper understanding of a specific theme and challenges in that area of study.
Epidemiology is one of the cornerstones of public health. It looks into the patterns and causes of illness and injury in humans. As such, you may learn how to research and measure risk, disease, and mortality in populations. This may involve looking back in time at some of the chronic and infectious diseases. Think – the Plague, Polio, Zika and Diabetes.
Biostatistics is the math and predictive side of public health. One aspect is about learning statistical tools and methods. The other is to apply them in analyzing data. This may be from sources like health care, biomedical, clinical and population-based data.
Bioethics is about the interplay between the life sciences, policy and biotechnology. It looks into the ethical issues that arise due to advances in medicine and biology. As such, it often focuses on hot button topics like euthanasia, abortion, politics and law.
Health Education and Communication
Health Education is about getting messages about wellness to the public. Part of this means studying healthy lifestyles and habits. While another borrows from successful marketing tactics. Together, they may help you understand how to plan and promote a public health initiative.
Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational health and safety courses explore wellness in the workplace. It centers on creating programs and/or policies to prevent injury and promote health. You may thus study risk factors to exposure to toxins on the job or how to prevent lifting injuries.
Public Health Management
Public health management blends concepts from business, leadership and health care policy. It often speaks to the strategy behind financing and delivering public health services. The goal being to improve the health status of populations, especially vulnerable groups.
International Health or ‘global health’' has to do with advancing health around the world. It may focus on the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). But other themes might include travel medicine and social justice.
Community health looks at how to serve people in your area and around the world. Side topics often incorporate things like grant-writing and inter-professional team building. You may also learn about strategy, goal setting and interventions for different situations. As such, you may study housing, transportation, substance use, and more.
Senior Services Administration
Senior services administration is about public health plans for the elderly. It may help you understand the biological, social and behavioral facets of aging. Some topics may analyze health issues as well as how to form policies that address seniors' needs.
Is a Masters in Public Health Worth It?
This being a health field, a masters in public health is often the degree one needs to launch a career. Having one may help you pursue a wide range of jobs in areas expecting from 30% growth in this decade. (Source: BLS.gov)
One example is Epidemiologists. One may enter the field with a MPH degree, though many also have a PhD or medical degree. With infection control looming as a healthcare issue, the BLS predicts 30% growth to 2030. Plus, if you are in research, you might earn an annual salary of $74,560. (Source: BLS.gov)
Another career path where you need a master’s degree to start out is Biostatistician. Growth in this field projected to grow 33%, which is much faster than average. The great thing about careers in this area is there are jobs in management and research. These positions garnered average annual salaries of $110,860 and $92,270. (Source: BLS.gov)
What Can I Do with a Doctor of Public Health (DPH)?
Public health PhD programs are for those who want to teach, direct research projects or lead.
The DrPH is for public health practitioners. It often appeals to those who want to serve as health policy advisors or program directors. In contrast, the PhD in public health often develops advanced research skills. These are key in areas like epidemiology and biostatistics.
Can I Get My PhD or Masters in Public Health Online?
If you don't fit into traditional class schedules, you can earn a PhD or masters in public health online. Many working professionals prefer this format for its convenient, often self-paced format.
In online public health graduate programs, you do not have to move or commute. But you do need to study well on your own and have good time management skills.
Most epidemiologists work for state 35% and local governments 19%. Many also find jobs in state, local and private hospitals 16%. Of the rest, 10% work in schools like colleges and universities. Another 9% work in scientific research and development. (Source: BLS.gov)
Popular PhD and Master’s in Public Health Programs
Public Health degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Health professions and related programs.
In fact, in the most recent update of the data (2013), across the U.S, there were 7,622 Public Health degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority 93 % of these graduate programs were at the master’s level.
Masters of Public Health (MPH) vs Doctor of Public Health (DPH)?
MPH or DPH degree? While two of the main practitioner degrees in public health, the two options are distinct.
The Master of Public Health (MPH) is a professional terminal degree for those who have a bachelor's. It generally provides a comprehensive public health graduate education.
MPH students not only complete a broad array of course topics. They are also required to complete a practicum, internship, or field work of some sort. Plus, there is usually a culminating project (E.g. comprehensive exam, thesis, presentation, etc.).
The DPH or DrPH
The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) is the doctoral-level equal of the MPH. It is a also a professional terminal degree. Yet it targets MPH degree holders and seasoned health professionals. Usually, ones hoping to become leaders and decision makers in their fields.
Whereas you may not need a clear-cut goal when you enter an MPH program, you are likely to need one for a DPH. Usually you'll also spend more time writing and researching for a dissertation.
This generally focuses on solving problems in public health issues. As such, it may allow you to choose courses from many disciplines to broaden your expertise.
|Public Health Graduate Program Guide|
|Master’s of Public Health (MPH)||Doctor of Public Health (DPH)|
|Masters in Public Health (MPH)||Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)|
|Length of Program: 2.5 Years (full-time), 42 credits||Length of Program: 4 Years (part-time), 76 credits|
|This program focuses on enhancing the health and wellbeing of diverse communities. It offers concentrations in Community Health Education (CHE) and Applied Epidemiology (EPI). Apart from courses, there is supervised field training and research design||This program blends coursework, a doctoral capstone and practicum. It focuses on how to apply research to the design of public health programs. There’s also attention to devising solutions to current and long-term public health care issues.|
|Environmental and Occupational Health Problems Administration Epidemiology Advanced Biostatistics Concepts of Health Behavior||Community Health and Behavior Leadership Applied Epidemiology Evaluation and Interpretation of Data in Health Care Design of Public Health Strategy|
|MPH program accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)||Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission but no specific program accreditation|
To sum, an MPH degree may suit those who are at the beginning of their career in public health. Or for those who may want to step into a leadership role in health administration.
A DPH program enrolls people with a masters or MPH degree under their belts. That stated, transfer credits from a master's degree may help you save time and tuition costs off a DPH.
What Are the Requirements for a Master’s in Public Health?
While each school is different, many MPH programs need a total of from 39 - 48 credits. These involve core courses, a supervised practice and research. Many students also build specific skills and knowledge through a concentration.
Required Public Health Graduate Programs Courses often provide a scientific and practical base for public health practice. At a glance, these may cover topics such as:
- Management and Public Health Program Planning
- Public Health and Healthcare Systems
- Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health
- Environmental Health
- Public Policy
What Classes Will I Take?
Classes and faculty differ at each school. So, while there are some common elements, you may also find unique offerings within Public Health majors.
Health Behavior Theory
In this class, you may study the concepts, theories and models used to promote health. You may also learn which ones to apply to induce positive health behaviors.
Policy in Public Health
In this class, you may study the legal, ethical, economic and regulatory facets of health care. This includes public health policy and advocacy. You may also discuss the roles and influences of agencies and branches of government.
Public Health Nursing
This type of class is part of a broader MSN-public health program. It may explore the influence of social, behavioral, and cultural factors on health. Other topics may look at ways to improve population and community health. This, while taking into account legal and ethical guidelines that inform nursing practice.
Principles and Methods of Biostatistics
This course is an introduction to biostatistics. It may cover topics of interest in public health fields. These often have to do with predicting how fast an outbreak can travel and assessing risks. It is likely you'll learn statistical methods and software too.
Epidemiology studies infectious or chronic diseases and other public health issues. It is a mainstay on all MPH curricula. Often, you may also look at how to analyze data and report findings. These are key facets to health plans and policies.
Foundations of Public Health
This type of class may help you understand and develop skills in several key areas of public health. Some of these touch on diagnosing health concerns. This may involve looking at communities and their needs. Other aspects may focus on study design and how to use statistics in disease control.
Is There Anything I Should Know About Accreditation with a PhD or Masters in Public Health?
The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredits:
- Schools of public health
- Public health programs outside schools of public health
CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It sets standards and core content for public health education. Because it maintains a database, one may verify the status of a school or public health graduate program.
Does it matter whether my degree is from a CEPH-accredited program or school? Some employers including local and state governments may prefer or require that candidates have a CEPH-accredited degree.
Also, CEPH-accredited program graduates may be eligible to take a national credentialing exam. This is available through the he National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).
How Long Does it take to Earn an MPH?
The average MPH program may take at least two years, but usually no more than three years to complete. Part-time students may take up to four to five years to finish their degree.
There are also some accelerated MPH programs which may take from 14 to 16 months. In these, expect a full course load and no summer break.
How Much Does a PhD or Masters in Public Health Cost?
The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
To give specific examples, this visualization shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with Marketing Graduate Programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also as reported by NCES.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
written by Rana Waxman
Schools with Public Health Graduate Programs
GradSchools.com offers 319 Public Health Degree Programs
Grand Canyon University
Purdue University Global
California State University, Northridge
University of Nottingham
Indiana University Of Pennsylvania
Nova Southeastern University
University of North Dakota
Georgia Southern University
Brigham Young University