Public Health Specializations and Concentrations

The expansive nature of public health allows for many areas of specialty. Because of this, most colleges and universities that offer a degree in public health have concentrations that students can declare. This applies to both on-campus programs and online MPH programs. By declaring a concentration, the student will focus his or her course work in a specialty area of public health and will gain the skills needed for a career within that specialization. has compiled a list of the top public health specialties in the field that translate into public health program concentrations.

Two additional things to note is that colleges and universities may combine similar specialties into one overarching concentration (ex: Community Health and Health Promotion) and that a school may use different names for their concentrations (ex: Industrial Hygiene instead of Occupational Health).

Biostatistics Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: The collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data that affects health and health outcomes.
Education Levels: Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to design, implement, and analyze various health-related studies through the use of statistical theory, bioinformatics and biostatistical methods, planning methods, and scientific writing tactics.
Common Work Environments: Academia, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, independent research groups, public health organizations, and government agencies.

Child & Maternal Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: All aspects of developmental, mental, social, and behavioral health of mothers and children
Education Levels: Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to examine biological constituents of an individual’s and family’s health, along with the geographical and socioeconomic factors that may play a role in maternal and child health. Plus, design and implement health programs targeting soon-to-be mothers, mothers, infants, children, and families.
Common Work Environments: Hospitals, healthcare centers, local health departments, nonprofits, and social services agencies

Community Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: The needs of all citizens within the community rather than just one individual group and provides a broad outlook of public health in terms of awareness, education, and research.
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to perform community assessments and develop, implement and evaluate health programs. Knowing how disease and illness can affect people. Understand how adequate community health education can lead to
better preventative habits and an overall safer area to live.
Common Work Environments: Community centers, health and wellness clinics, state and local government agencies, health departments, non-profit organizations, and academia

Environmental Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus:  Human health and the health of the environment as it affects the general well being of the population
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Have a base understanding in toxicology, disease prevention, zoonotic diseases, occupational hazards, and air & water quality. Know how societies, occupations and geographical settings affect the health of populations.
Common Work Environments: Academia, companies involved in chemicals or pharmaceuticals and environmental protection agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

Epidemiology Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Study of disease, illness, and the associated risks in the population
Education Levels: Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to use epidemiological and statistical methods for data analysis, research design and implementation, and transferring information to oral or written communication. Confidence to lead daily investigations and laboratory work that is relevant to individual health.
Common Work Environments: local, state, and federal government agencies that are concerned with Public Health, research laboratories that work to solve influential health problems, academia, or pharmaceutical research.

Generalist Public Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Lays the foundation in the five core disciplines of public health – Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy and Management, and Social & Behavioral Health.
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to properly investigate, analyze, develop, and use methodologies associated with public health to help advance the studies of the field.
Common Work Environments: Government agencies, research facilities, and nonprofits.

Global Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Ecology, global economy, the differences between cultures and countries, and how those relate to human health and wellness. Provides an educated outlook on potential solutions for widespread health-related issues.
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, & Doctorate
Program Outcomes:The ability to properly plan, analyze, and implement public health agendas that can improve public health throughout various areas. Be able to investigate the cause of widespread illness in foreign countries, implement health policies, and promote wellness programs in areas without advanced knowledge of everyday health practices
Common Work Environments: Government agencies, research facilities, and non-profit organizations

Health Equity Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Addressing the inequalities and disparities in healthcare access, treatment and outcomes across race, ethnicity, geographic residence, gender, sexual orientation and disability status.
Education Levels: Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate
Program Outcomes: A deep understanding of health disparities and social determinants, as well as the ability to identify opportunities and design, implement, evaluate and monitor interventions and policies to advance health equity.
Common Work Environments: County and state health departments and nonprofits.

Health and Human Services Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Improving the life and wellbeing of individuals through a combination of counseling, psychology, social work, and criminal justice skills and methodologies.
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Help humans through prevention and remediation to improve quality of life through the use of case management, crisis/trauma response, advocacy, conflict resolution and community collaboration. Have an understanding of project and service management, ethics, systems management, theory, and research methodology.
Common Work Environments: Health departments, hospitals, mental health facilities, and nonprofits

Health Science Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Research and application of scientific principles to human health
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Know how to increase the efficiency in the use of technology in medical practices, research, and the development of new and innovative medical advances. Understand the underlying aspects of healthcare, such as internal hospital function, patient statistics, and theory of disease and medicine
Common Work Environments: Hospitals, local, state, and government agencies, research institutes, and community health organizations

Infectious Disease Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Research and the prevention of widespread illness and disease
Education Levels: Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Understand how diseases and illnesses are acquired, spread throughout the population, and methods for controlling them. Provide educational programs that raise awareness, explain how diseases are spread, teach proper prevention techniques, and how to treat the diseases. Collect relevant data concerning disease and develop hypotheses about disease acquisition.
Common Work Environments: Local, state, and federal agencies, hospitals, and research institutes.

Leadership in Public Health

Specialty’s Focus: Strategic planning and evaluation, public health policy design and implementation, and political analysis. 
Education Levels: Master’s and doctorate
Program Outcomes: Sharpening students’ management, leadership and public health skills to become effective leaders and managers to be able to improve conditions and foster change in local and global communities.
Common Work Environments: Various sectors in public health.

Nutrition Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: The historical, cultural and sociological aspects of food and nutrition through the life cycle. Plus the role of food in human lives and how it affects health, well-being and the prevention of disease.
Education Levels: Bachelors, Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: skills in nutrition counseling & clinical practice, community education and health promotion
Common Work Environments: Private and holistic practices, health food stores, schools and universities, community health organizations, local health departments, and nonprofits focusing on access to food & nutrition

Occupational Health Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: To create healthier communities and workplaces through the use of policies, awareness, and health programs,
Education Levels: Masters & Doctorate
Program Outcomes: Ability to create and promote sustainable workplace environments, along with how to develop emergency response and disaster response plans.
Common Work Environments: Commercial and retail organizations, regulatory and governmental organizations, insurance carriers, petrochemical companies, and heavy and light industries.

Social and Behavioral Science Degrees and Programs

Specialty’s Focus: Gain knowledge in psychology and sociology with health habits and preventative notions that affect public health
Education Levels:
Program Outcomes: Ability to investigate the effects of society and behavior on the acceptance of health programs, motivation behind staying healthy, and the overall sustenance of illness and disease. Identify cultural norms or ideas that influence how people respond to health dilemmas.
Common Work Environments: Government agencies, non-profit organizations, organizations dealing with mental health, and academia