This site offers resources and tools to learn about public health degrees, including online public health bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, in-person doctoral degree programs, and industry-specific data. Browse information about more than 150 schools and 2,000 accredited public health degrees. Many of them are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
Learners can explore different types of public health degrees, including traditional or online bachelor’s in public health programs designed to provide foundational knowledge and essential skills. Prospective learners can also explore a Master of Public Health (MPH), which offers the opportunity to focus on an area of public health that interests them, as well as online MPH programs that offer more flexibility.
Public health encompasses disease prevention, monitoring health conditions worldwide, and implementing policies to protect a specific community or the global community.
Why is public health important?
Public health professionals help keep communities around the world safe, protected, and healthy. Public health initiatives have led to many innovations and improvements in life expectancy and the ability to recover from, reduce, and even eradicate communicable diseases, as well as a global reduction in infant and child mortality. Since 1900, the global average life expectancy has more than doubled and now surpasses 70 years. Advancements in public health contribute to this.
Overview of public health in the United States
Public health in the United States is an expansive field with a long history and thousands of people working for agencies such as the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mitigating climate-related health risks, exploring disease prevention strategies, and developing emergency response plans are just a few examples of how the country’s public health professionals work across a range of industries to ensure that communities remain healthy and safe.
What is a public health degree?
A public health degree prepares prospective professionals to work in many industries, from environmental health and global health to epidemiology, biostatistics, and social sciences. Regardless of the type of public health degree you choose to pursue, curricula often consist of basic public health theories, concepts, history, and tactics for educating and influencing communities. Public health programs allow learners to develop specific skill sets for different specializations—cultivating the appropriate expertise for their desired career.
Careers for graduates with bachelor’s degrees are often entry-level positions with a focus on health education, program support, and data collection. Careers for graduates with master’s degrees might focus more on data collection setup and analysis or community organization, with responsibilities often suited to roles in research, academia, statistics, epidemiology, and health policy. As experts in their fields, graduates with doctoral degrees may be called upon by organizations to help solve issues at the forefront of the industry.
There are different types of public health degrees you can choose from. To find a public health degree that’s right for you, consider your long-term career goals and areas of interest.
Public health degrees by education level
There are public health degrees available at all levels—undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate.
Bachelor’s degree in public health
A bachelor’s degree indicates you have established a foundation of knowledge and learned about general public health topics at a collegiate level.
Most public health undergraduate programs offer electives so you can explore new areas to potentially specialize in later. Options for bachelor’s degree programs in public health are available on campus and online. Learn more about bachelor’s degrees in public health.
George Washington University
Milken Institute School of Public Health
Master of Public Health
With the online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, you can earn your MPH in as few as 12 months. Make a meaningful difference in public health without having to relocate. No GRE required.
Complete in as few as 12 months
No GRE required
Accredited by CEPH
Master’s degree in public health
A master’s degree indicates you have built upon your foundational knowledge and are focused on advancing your understanding of public health on a local and global level. Apart from a Master of Public Health, there are also MPH/RD programs for learners who want to become registered dietitians (RDs), master’s in healthcare administration programs for learners interested in healthcare leadership roles that teach about regulations and policies affecting health care service providers, and master’s in health informatics degree programs that combine technology, analytics, and healthcare to help improve patient outcomes.
Most public health master’s degree programs offer specific concentrations so you can specialize in an area of interest, such as epidemiology or community planning. Learn more about master’s degrees in public health.
A doctoral degree in public health indicates you have achieved a high level of expertise in the industry. This degree prepares you to qualify for some of the more advanced roles in research, academia, and public policy.
Most public health doctoral degree programs offer courses that focus on leadership, policy, and program management. These degree programs may also require advanced field experience.
Earning a public health degree often involves choosing a concentration, whether during an undergraduate program or in subsequent graduate programs. Public health concentrations allow you to dive into specific subject matter and advance your knowledge and skills to excel in your area of interest.
Biostatistics learners are taught the principles of statistics, biological experiments, and sampling. Given the way that technology and big data are changing the biostatistics field, this is a fast-evolving concentration. Many biostatistics programs are master’s level or above. Biostatistics graduates can work in areas such as data science, information technology, and biomedical research.
Community health learners are taught how to identify the factors that influence health problems and analyze disparities across and within communities. Community health program graduates can work in areas such as community health education or health promotion, and help to design prevention programs. However, there is no limit to the number of directions you can take this degree.
Epidemiology learners examine patterns, causes, and effects of diseases and other factors relating to health. Much of the epidemiology field is based on facts, figures, and case studies—among other things—to identify public health solutions and control measures. Epidemiology graduates can work in research and academia, for nonprofits, pharmaceutical, or insurance companies.
Global health learners examine disparities in global public health and other health issues worldwide. Many global health degrees are at the master’s level. Global health graduates can work in education and public policy.
Environmental health, or environmental health sciences, learners study the environment and how it affects human health. Environmental health graduates can focus on disease prevention, occupational hazards, or other topics at the intersection of human and environmental health.
Occupational health learners study health and safety in the workplace, regardless of industry. Typically, an occupational health professional educates employees on how to reduce hazards and prevent injury or illness in the workplace. Occupational health graduates can also work in occupational therapy and occupational medicine.
Nutrition learners study food production as well as the science of nutrients and their effects on the human body. A nutrition graduate might also have knowledge about the social factors that affect nutrition. Some professionals are self-employed, while others work in hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and elsewhere.
Your preferred learning environment. Public health degrees are offered online and on campus. Consider which format matches your preferred learning environment.
Online degrees vs. degrees in your state
Some MPH programs are offered on campus and some public health programs can be completed online. Your needs and lifestyle will often determine which type of program is best for you. If your desired school is outside your state, would you prefer to relocate or seek alternative offerings that allow for remote study? There are many online MPH programs available. Before selecting one of them, consider the pros and cons of completing a degree program online. Specialty areas are also important to consider during the decision-making process. Depending on your interests, you can choose to enroll in an online MHA program, online master’s in health informatics, or another concentration.
Think through all the factors—in-state, out-of-state, on-campus, online, full-time, or part-time—to make the most informed decision based on your circumstances.
Popular career paths
The public health field can offer a meaningful opportunity to do something for the good of the population, regardless of the size of the community you serve. No matter what route you take, a career in public health requires forging partnerships and advocating for others.
Before enrolling in a program, learning about potential public health career paths can help you develop clarity and goals. Some popular public health career choices include: epidemiologists, who analyze the causes and distribution of diseases across populations; biostatisticians, who apply mathematics and statistical methods to answer questions; registered dietitians, who handle issues related to nutrition and dietetics; and healthcare administrators, who manage the day-to-day operations and help medical facilities running smoothly.
There are a variety of career opportunities in public health. Employers seeking graduates with MPH degrees could include colleges and universities, government agencies, nonprofits, and research and development firms.
Next steps for a career in public health
If you’re ready to pursue a career in public health, now is the time to find a program that is best suited for you. You can explore our directory of public health degrees by level, program, and concentration to find the information you’re looking for and easily get in touch with a school to learn more about their specific offerings. If you still have questions, you may review our guide on public health resources, where you can find information on public health scholarships that include those for MPH learners, public health certifications, and more.
Are we missing a program or school? Let us know. We are a growing website solely focused on public health education.