Tennessee Graduate Public Health Programs and Public Health Grad Schools

Public Health Graduate Programs focus on the different aspects of the art and science of preventing and treating disease, prolonging life and promoting the health of people and communities through organized efforts. If you are interested in:

  • Scientific or administrative aspect of public health.
  • Developing and implementing educational programs.
  • Formulating public policy.
  • Providing services.
  • Conducting research.
  • Tracking disease outbreaks.
  • Providing regulation and safety standards for health systems.

Then earning a degree at a public health grad school may be a great choice for you.

Public Health Graduate Programs Information

Public Health Graduate Programs: Essentials

Public Health Graduate Programs encompass disciplines such as epidemiology, biostatistics, health services, health services administration, health education, behavioral science and environmental health. Essentially, a public health grad school may teach about anything concerned with preventing disease and improving the health of the community. As this is such a vast field, there are many different types programs to allow students to align their studies with a specific interest or goal.

When choosing between public health graduate programs, it is important to answer four questions.

  1. What area of public health do you wish to study?
  2. What level public health graduate program are you looking for?
  3. What type of public health degree do you wish to earn?
  4. How do you wish to study? Online? On campus? A mix of both?

Thinking about your educational and career goals can help you with these questions. Does your ideal career require a certain level degree? Have you always been fascinated by a certain public health issue? Are you dreaming of a research focused public health graduate program to help you cure cancer? Are you working while earning your graduate public health degree and need an added degree of flexibility? Once you know what you hope to achieve, it can be a lot easier to narrow down the large list of public health graduate programs.

Graduate Public Health Programs: Areas of Study

As stated above, public health is a very broad discipline. For this reason, it has been split up into several specialty areas.

Generally public health graduate programs can be organized into the following five categories.

  • Bioethics
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Education and Communication
  • International Health
  • Occupational Health and Safety

Some public health graduate programs are general in nature and provide a broad overview of the space. Others focus more narrowly on one of these areas. Below is a brief introduction to each type. However keep in mind that every public health grad school designs their programs differently, so it's best to read course lists and contact them directly.

Bioethics Graduate Programs

Bioethics graduate programs may focus on the ethical issues emerging due to advances in medicine and biology. Students may learn how to scrutinize public policy or identify dilemmas that arise in the interplay between life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law and philosophy (e.g. abortion or euthanasia).

Epidemiology Graduate Programs

Epidemiology is one of the cornerstones of public health as it is the field concerned with the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in different populations. When you think of the Zika virus, epidemiologists are behind the attempts to track any outbreaks.

Health Education and Communication Graduate Programs

Health education and communication graduate programs are focused on the teaching of healthy lifestyles, habits, and health measures as they relate to environmental, physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual spheres.

International Health Graduate Programs

As a field of healthcare, International Health is also referred to a s ‘global health’ and is often performed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Areas of interest within international health include travel medicine and global processes that impact health.

Occupational Health and Safety Graduate Programs

Occupational health and safety is concerned with wellness in the workplace. Some of the areas of interest are creating programs and/or policies to prevent injury, the promotion of health and working capacity, and improvements in working conditions that may be warranted.

Types of Public Health Graduate Programs

Public health graduate programs are typically available at the masters, doctorate or certificate level. These levels each have different entry requirements, timelines and potential degrees of difficulty. You'll want to ensure you're picking the appropriate one for your needs.

Public Health Masters Programs

Masters programs in public health are designed to help students attain advanced knowledge in a specific area of public health. They are considered the next step after college for those hoping to become experts in their field. Some public health masters programs may be oriented toward developing research skills and exploring advanced theories and concepts. Others could focus more on leadership and preparing graduates to pursue management roles in the field. Regardless, most full time students take two years or more to earn their masters degree in public health.

The curriculum will vary to mirror the individual public health masters program's specialization and goal. Perhaps one of the most popular options are MPH programs. Master in Public Health programs are designed to help students develop a thorough understanding of the factors that influence health. As such they may touch on several core areas, such as Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Services Administration, and Social and Behavioral Studies. Further concentrations may also be available. Typically students take several core courses, as well as electives or specialization courses. Masters in Public Health programs may also include a practicum or research thesis. Requirements will differ by school.

There are also more focused public health masters programs for those hoping to explore a specific area or interest. These are often found as MS programs and may touch on topics such as Health Education or Health Communications.

Applying to Masters Programs in Public Health

Typically public health masters programs require applicants to hold a bachelors degree from an accredited school. Other potential requirements include test scores, a minimum GPA and have completed some related coursework. Some masters in public health programs also may require students to have attained some professional experience, though this isn't always the case. Follow up with your preferred program for details.

Doctorate in Public Health Programs

Public health doctorate programs are the next step in graduate education. These are terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest level of study available. For this reason, they may take a bit longer to complete and require a masters degree for entry. Some public health grad schools may also require applicants to have a specific amount of experience in their field of study. Other details may vary depending on the university or college.

The two most common doctorate public health programs are the PhD or DPH. A PhD in public health is an academic degree and focuses heavily on research. These programs are often available with a focus on a specific area of public health, such as community health or mental health policy. The goal is to prepare graduates to contribute new knowledge to the field. Most have a dissertation requirements which require students to conduct independent research, and write and defend their findings. Students also often complete a written and oral exam.

DPH programs (also referred to as DrPH) mirror the MPH, in that they are professional programs. They focus is on the practical application of research in the field. Many DPH programs are designed for students interested in leadership. They may teach ways to manage insitutions and design and implement solutions to public health issues. Students in this program may also complete a dissertation but often the focus is more on applied research vs academic. Schools vary so follow up directly with the public health grad school that interests you. 

Certificates in Public Health

A certificate in public health program is a non-degree program which may offer the quickest way to participate in graduate studies. These are shorter, focused programs at the graduate or post graduate level. Certificates in public health allow students to explore one topic in depth or gain an introduction to the field. They are great for those hoping to brush up on professional skills or add on a concentration to another degree. Credits from a certificate may also be eligible for transer to a later degree program. However this varies by public health grad school.

Generally, a certificate in public health could be earned with 1-1.5 years of full time study. Applicants may need a bachelors degree or masters degree, depending on the program level. Contact schools to learn more.

FACT: Job prospects for medical and health services managers are likely to be favorable; candidates with a master’s degree in health administration or a related field, as well as knowledge of healthcare IT systems, will likely have the best prospectsi

Types of Public Health Graduate Degrees: MPH, DPH, DHS, MS, PhD and More

Just as graduate public health programs may focus on one of several specialites, they could also award various types of degrees. In many cases, the type of public health degree indicates the programs approach to subject matter. Graduate degrees in public health may be professional or academic in nature.

Professional degrees are geared towards a practice in public health settings such as health departments, hospitals, or managed care facilities. They are more concerned with applying theories in the field to address public health issues. 

Professional public health graduate degrees include:

  • The Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DPH)
  • Doctor of Health Science (DHS)
  • Master of Health Care Administration (MHA)

Academic public health graduate programs are oriented more towards research and scientific study. They may be great for those interested in the scientific basic of public health and preventive medicine, including those interested in academic or research careers.

Academic public health graduate degrees include:

  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Doctor of Health Science (DHS or DHSc)

It is important to note that some public health graduate programs may award degrees that are not on this list. The differences between these programs may be small and simply due to a naming convention. Or the different degrees can represent a specific area of focus or approach. Every school defines their programs differently. For that reason, it's best to contact an admission advisor at any of the public health graduate programs that interest you.

On Campus or Online Public Health Graduate Programs?

Public Health Graduate Programs are available on campus or online, with varying formats and curriculums depending on the institution and the subject matter. Campus programs are great for those wishing to spend time in a lab and participate in the traditional classroom experience. Online public health programs, on the other hand, could offer unparalleled convenience and flexibility.

When deciding,  you may wish to consider some of the following factors.

  • Your proximity to an accredited public health graduate school
  • Your scheduling needs and how the programs accommodate you
  • Whether your program requires hands-on learning
  • Whether your program is more research and seminar-oriented
  • Whether you are autonomous or like a social learning atmosphere
  • Whether your program will require lab work or use of facilities

Once you have determined what your preference is, use this information to filter your search by either ‘campus’ or ‘online’. You can also search by location; use the city, state or country tabs to determine where an interesting graduate public health program is available. Some graduate schools have both formats, but this is not necessarily the case.

Some of the listings you might explore: Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Philosophy – Mental Health Policy and Practice, PhD in Public Policy and Administration, Graduate Certificate in School Health Education and Graduate Program in Bioethics.

Why Earn a Graduate Degree in Public Health?

If you are seeking a job beyond an entry-level position, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a trend for employers to prefer candidates with a master’s degree for jobs such as those listed below.

  • Medical or Health Services Managersi
  • Social and Community Managersii
  • Health Educators (may require master’s or doctorate degree)iii
  • Epidemiologists (may have a medical degree & M.P.H.)iv
  • Environmental Scientists (master’s or Ph.D.)v

Entry level education requirements vary.

Find Your Public Health Grad School

Whether you are interested in disease control, public health legislation, or teaching school children about the importance of washing their hands to prevent spreading germs, there may be a Public Health Graduate Program that's perfect for you. Choose from a variety of concentration areas to match your professional aptitude, prepare you for potential careers in the field, or serve as a spring board to continued education. Browse the full list of public health graduate programs on this page. Or refine it by specialty, level or format using the menu.

When you're ready, click on any sponsored listings' link to learn more and contact the school directly. Just fill out the simple form and you're on your way to finding a perfect public health graduate program!


Sources:[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm |{ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm |[v] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm

 

The Sacred Heart University MPH program prepares individuals to protect and improve the health of individuals and communities.
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