There are multiple opportunities for masters degree in public health, the most common being a Masters of Public Health (MPH). A Masters of Public Health is an option for those interested in health and health care on a broader scale than provider-to-patient care. The scope of an MPH degree is to prepare an individual to work with the general public or a population to improve health for all. This may include working for a government, non-profit organization, or a for-profit business.
However, there is another variation of the degree - Masters of Science in Public Health (MSPH). The MSPH focuses mostly on statistics and data, as well as science-based studies. If you are interested in pursuing a MSPH or a more research-based degree within public health, visit our Research-based Programs page.
There are also dual degrees, for instance an MPH with MD, MBA, or JD, etc.that are available to individuals at select schools or programs - feel free to explore different dual degree options.
About MPH Programs
A Masters in Public Health provides a broad knowledge of public health and the potential for advanced knowledge in a given specialization. It can be quite rewarding as a career and requires problem solving and ingenuity. It pairs well will other degree options and can stand on its own. While most programs are generally a standard two year degree, some programs will offer extended or shortened time-frames for individuals to complete their degree.
Typical Graduate Level Admissions Requirements for Master's in Public Health Program
The admissions requirements generally include a bachelor’s degree and/or a number of years' experience in a professional, health-related field, a standardized test score (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.) letters of recommendation, a resume or CV and a personal statement. Each school will have a slightly different set of requirements for admissions, so it is important to work with an admissions advisor to ensure your application meets all the appropriate requirements.
Courses within a Master's in Public Health Degree
The course load of a master’s in public health will vary across programs, concentrations, and the amount of time a student chooses to complete their degree. Using a standard two year MPH degree as an example, a student will complete the core courses, based on the five concentrations, during their degree and often in the first year. These courses often teach the principles of epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and/or management, environmental health, and social and behavioral sciences (examples include John Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and St. George's University School of Graduate Studies). After completion of these core courses an individual will continue to take courses in their concentration and elective courses.
According to the ASPPH, MPH curriculum requires at least 42 credit hours, and should be similar across most programs to ensure consistency in academics across multiple institutions. There are varied learning objectives based on specialty, but in general, knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis are the key points of emphasis; one can argue they should be heavily weighted on the specialization or concentration rather than the core public health coursework.
Other Requirements for a Master Degree in Public Health
Two other requirements that MPH students will in general need to complete for their degree are a capstone and practicum. The capstone project or seminar is a culminating experience consisting of a paper with an oral presentation. The thought behind the capstone project is to have a student utilize all they have learned through their degree and apply it in one, organized method to show their level of compression and application. The second requirement is a Practicum Experience which provides the students with a field-based experience in which to apply their freshly learned skills and knowledge. This practicum experience must be in the scope of the concentration the student has chosen and often needs to be found by the student. These two experiences are prerequisites for the student to enter into their chosen field of public health.
An MPH must typically choose one of the five core disciplines (also known as a track or concentration) to specialize in: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy and Administration, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Not all of the disciplines may be offered in every school or program, and some programs offer more nuanced or specialized concentrations to choose from, so it is wise to conduct research on what the school offers before applying to determine which discipline an individual might be interested in. In each of these concentrations an individual will take core courses to gain a solid base of public health knowledge and then continue to take specialized courses in their chosen track.
You can learn more about the different concentrations by visiting our Specializations page.
CEPH Accredited MPH Programs
The Institute of Medicine arguably put some pressure on United States’ universities to add accredited public health and MPH programs, saying that the public health workforce must have appropriate education and training to perform its role in its report titled The Future of the Public's Health in the 21st Century.
Some MPH programs are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education that sets standards and requirements for public health education. While it is currently not a requirement for a public health program to be CEPH accredited in the U.S., some employment opportunities may only be available to individuals who graduate from a CEPH accredited program. Additionally, the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) offers a national credentialing exam only to these CEPH accredited program graduates.
A Note on CEPH Accreditation
Institutions and programs in the United States, those abroad, and even those online may or may not be accredited by the CEPH, but there are other accrediting bodies for public health programs. In your research for your master’s in public health, be sure to check with any universities you are interested in about their accreditation.
We provide school listings of both on-campus and online public health programs. An online MPH could be a fit for an individual who desires to work while in school or their public health program of choice would require the individual to move.Consider a featured online master's in public health program, currently accepting applicants:
Consider a featured online master's in public health program, currently accepting applicants:
- The online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University ([email protected]) prepares public health professionals to make a difference in communities around the world, helping students succeed in advancing the health of populations locally and globally.
Complete your MPH in 12 months. GRE waivers available.
- UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, the No. 1-ranked Public School of Public Health, offers an online Master of Public Health program, [email protected]. Earn your master’s degree in as few as 24 months. Part-time and full-time program options are available. GRE, GMAT or MCAT scores are required to apply.
Click for admissions information from OnlineMPH.UNC.edu
- The Master of Public Health (MPH) online program from Baylor University, [email protected], offers a specialization in Community Health. Improve quality of life in Texas communities and around the world. The program can be completed in as few as 18 months. No GRE required.
Learn more from [email protected]
- MPH @ Simmons, the online Master of Public Health program from Simmons University, prepares students to become public health practitioners and address health inequity at a local, national, and global level. The program can be completed in 21 months. No GRE required to apply.
Click for admissions information.
International MPH Programs
International schools and programs may be a better option for someone interested in international public health. International public health programs may differ from other public health programs because of its wider impact focus. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are examples of international public health organizations and initiatives. Currently there are five countries that have CEPH accredited programs: Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Lebanon and West Indies.
National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) Credential
After you have chosen and completed an MPH degree, you may be wondering if there are any more steps required to display your expertise within your field. Like most other fields, credentialing could be vital to showing that you are vested in your field. The National Board of Public Health Examiners is a certification agency that specializes in providing certification for public health professionals all over the country. This organization seeks to ensure that graduates have received adequate education within different core areas such as biostatistics, environmental science, health policy, and behavioral science. Most students meet these requirements through their enrollment in CEPH-accredited degree programs.
Opportunities for MPH degree holders
Professionals holding Masters degrees in Public Health typically work within government and relevant health-based organizations to help develop policies and conduct research, as well as help health organizations that are in charge of regulating the industry. They also work to create and improve educational programs for the masses, and help communities achieve health and growth as a whole.
Those with an MPH tend to have an abundance of career opportunities, especially in government or high-end private research companies or corporations.
Visit our Career Guide for more information regarding the different career opportunities for those with their MPH.