Degrees in Public Health - Options & Specifics

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Picking the right public health degree and/or program can become overwhelming, especially since there are multiple specialties, concentrations, and focuses within the public health field. There are even very specific degrees with relatively minor differences, for example, Bachelors of Arts verse a Bachelors of Science. However, is here to help! We have organized public health programs by the degree level if the program is available online, and by concentrations/specialties. This will hopefully help you discover which degree level and the program is the right fit for you!

But before you dive into the degrees and programs, one thing to consider is if the public health program is accredited. The following section explains who the accrediting organizations are and why it is important to pursue a public health degree from an accredited institution.

Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Accreditation

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the main accrediting organization of public health programs in the United States and is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to accredited public health schools or programs. With their mission being to “assure quality in public health education and training to achieve excellence in practice, research, and service, through collaboration with organizational and community partners,” they take the accreditation process very seriously, which is why it can take up to three years for a school or program to become accredited.

Why go to a CEPH-accredited school or program?

Schools or programs that are CEPH-accredited allow prospective students to know that the degree program has completed a multi-level review and meets the nationally-agreed-upon standards developed by public health academics and practitioners. This ensures that accredited degree programs are the most comprehensive; plus it allows for credits to be transferred more easily between CEPH-accredited institutions (as long as the performance is sufficient and credits are appropriate).

Plus, some employment opportunities are only available to graduates from CEPH-accredited units; such as jobs at the US Public Health Services, some US military public health jobs, and jobs at some state and local government agencies.

CEPH-accredited programs also allow graduates to sit for the CPH (Certified in Public Health) exam, which is administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). Receiving a certification within the field of public health demonstrates not only your knowledge of key public health sciences but also your commitment to the field through continuing education focused on emerging and established public health issues.

Consider a featured online master's in public health program, currently accepting applicants:

Public Health Degrees - Levels

Public Health Program Areas has created a comprehensive list of programs within the field of public health. Below you will find programs filtered by degree levels and online programs.

Bachelors Degrees In Public Health

Many students with a desire to work in the public health field often choose a different area of study for their undergrad/bachelors degree. This is because the majority of schools do not offer a Bachelor’s degree in public health (64 schools in the US & only 2 are CEPH-accredited), however, a majority of schools do offer programs that are closely connected to, or fall under the umbrella of, public health. Some fields/programs to consider are:

  • Nursing
  • Health Sciences
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Statistics

Many students who complete their bachelor’s degree then move on to a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree to advance in the public health industry. However, there are also “five-year” or dual degree programs available that allow students to receive their bachelor’s degree and their Masters in Public Health degree in five years. If this is something that you might be interested in, visit our BS-MPH dual degree page.

Masters In Public Health

There are many options available to those interested in receiving their Masters in Public Health. Plenty of schools offer in-person, online, or hybrid programs and many MPH programs have concentrations or specialty options that interested students can choose from. Some common concentrations are biostatistics, community health, epidemiology, environmental health, and health promotion, just to name a few.

It is OK to be unsure which concentration or specialty you might be interested in pursuing because each concentration can lead to numerous job opportunities. However, one thing to remember is that if you are interested in the research side of the public health field, an MPH will most likely be required for employment.

Additionally, if more than one field of study interests you, select schools offer dual degrees where you can earn two master’s degrees or your MPH, plus a doctorate degree. You can view these options by going to our Masters Dual Degrees page and/or our Doctorate Dual Degrees page.

Doctorate In Public Health

Doctorate degree programs in the field of public health tend to be more specialized and usually align with an individual’s current specific field of study. Generally, individuals who are looking to get their doctorate degree tend to be interested in furthering their career in research or academia; however, this may not always be the case.

For those who are interested in receiving a doctorate degree, there are a few things to keep in mind: nearly every doctorate program requires a master’s degree or above to enroll and, depending on the school/program, two to five years of related work experience may be required before acceptance into the program.

Additionally, if more than one field of study interests you, select schools offer dual degrees where you can earn your MPH, plus a doctorate degree. You can view these options by going to our Doctorate Dual Degrees page.