Generalist Degrees in Public Health

The generalist track for public health degrees was created in an effort to provide students with a better understanding of the requirements needed to properly analyze and advance the studies of public health.

Consider a sponsored 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 (MPH@GW) 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.

CEPH Accredited

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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, MPH@UNC. 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.

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The CEPH-accredited online MPH program from Tufts University School of Medicine empowers students to advance health equity through data and statistical analysis. No GRE required; complete in as few as 20 months full-time.

Learn more about Tufts’ MPH

The Master of Public Health (MPH) online program from Baylor University, MPH@Baylor, 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 MPH@Baylor.

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.

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Program Overview

A Generalist Public Health program seeks to elevate individual knowledge of how the overall public health status affects concern and application of public health principles, provides learners with the necessary skills required to research and address public health services, and also encourages the recognition of public health problems. Students that take part in this degree program have the opportunity to learn about the different effective components of disease, illness, injury, socioeconomics, occupational health, and nutrition.

Desirable Skills
Skills such as analytics, communication, and research are spotlighted throughout this degree program, giving enrollees the opportunity to utilize these important skills in relationship to initiatives that focus on public health. The generalist track itself promotes public health education and constant innovation within the area of public health reform, so that the public is given the best opportunity to retain wellness and reduce their worry with public health concerns. Without serving any particular group or societal demand, the generalist has the opportunity to focus on overall public health and the different methods available to increase it.

Top Online Public Health Programs Available

Pursuing a college degree is a life-changing experience. The growth of online education has created a large pool of potential colleges that all seem to offer the same basic education at varying costs and with different requirements. Choosing the right college should involve the consideration of accreditation, cost, reliability, and requirements. The researchers for this article took a deep look inside some of the online programs available for this major and have provided some of the top online programs below.

Bachelors in Generalist Public Health Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs in public health may be found in universities across the country. The generalist concentration focuses on a need for extended education on the field of public health as a whole and tends to touch on the many different aspects of public health, rather than just one particular specialty. In terms of length, students can typically complete a bachelor’s level program within 4 years, with most programs requiring around 120 credit hours for graduation.

One university offering this degree online focuses on the need for understanding in areas such as psychology, sociology, finance, and law – since these areas are central to the development and implementation of public health policies. More information about bachelor’s programs in public health can be found below.

Typical Curriculum

During the first 2 years of a bachelor’s programs, most students may be required to complete prerequisite courses that mandatory for all undergraduate degree earners. These courses may include general education requirements such as English, Algebra, and History. During the last 2 years of education at this level, degree-specific courses are merged into the curriculum in an effort to prepare students for work in the field or movement to higher degree programs. Some of the sample core classes are listed below.

Nutrition for Fitness & Wellness

Nutritional aspects of diet and the components of exercise may be discussed in this course to help students provide educated insight into the creation and implementation of public health programs.

Health Policy Research and Development

Students are encouraged to take a research-oriented perspective when solving complex public health issues. The methods and processes involved in the development of public health policies is outlined.

Health Analysis and Communication

This course describes properly analytical procedures involved with public health research. Proper communication methods are also introduced, including public relations and patient-provider communication.

Masters of Generalist Public Health Programs

The prevalence of online MPH programs has expanded within the last few years. Online education has provided a more acceptable setting for busy adults to pursue higher level degrees. Online MPH programs can provide a more specialized look into the field of public health, giving students the opportunity to form an expert-like knowledge on the subject. The generalist concentration applies concepts that are relevant to the field of public health as a whole, making this level of degree a great choice for students that are seeking management positions in policy development or in applied research. Acceptance into online MPH programs typically requires previous completion of a Bachelor’s in Public Health from an accredited university and acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination. Some universities will consider accepting students with higher GPA scores in lieu of the GRE requirement.


The average credit hour requirement for the MPH is 48, with some universities requiring more or less depending on university preference. The entire duration of the master’s program consists of public health-specific coursework that focuses on the desired specialization. Universities that offer the MPH Generalist degree require that students take part in classroom activities that test skills learned throughout the course. There are also some universities that require students to take part in supervised work experience prior to graduation. Some of the common core courses for the generalist track are listed below.

Biostatistics for the Health Professional

This course focuses on the need for skills in statistics, graphical mathematics, mathematical research and testing, and real data analysis. Students taking this course have the opportunity to review real-world statistics in an effort to develop meaningful policies related to public health.

Analytical Epidemiology

This course outlines the processes and methods associated with a proper epidemiologic investigation. Students may be introduced to the behavior of illness and disease, statistics, screening, and prevention methods.

Economics for Policy Analysis

Students taking this course may be given knowledge of how public health reform is associated with economics. The effects of the economy on public health and financial tactics may be discussed throughout this class.

Doctorate Programs

Doctorate programs for the generalist path are found more commonly than other specialization. These programs have been implemented to encourage a more refined look into the public health sector without giving undue attention to any particular field or specialty. At this level, students may be familiarized with the most effective methods of communication, research, theory development, and creation strategies necessary for the creation of the most effective public health programs.

Who is the Doctorate of Public Health for?
Doctoral level education is appropriate for professionals that seek higher positions in their current career or for those that are looking into research fields as a primary career goal. Extensive knowledge into the field of public health can provide learners what is needed to prove expertise in comparison to other graduates. In order to be considered for admissions, applicants should have a master’s degree or higher in the public health field as well as an acceptable graduate GPA. Some schools also require that students submit transcripts from all attended universities as well as 2-3 reference letters.


The standard Doctorate in Public Health – Generalist program requires students to complete 78 credit hours on average. In addition to the coursework requirement, most doctoral-level programs mandate 1-2 residencies, which consist of in-person training to assist with gaining a better understanding of what goes into the development of public health programs. Residency requirements in online education can sometimes require students to set up their experience through school-approved agencies. Some universities may also provide students with options to choose from.

The coursework in this degree program begins with research-oriented studies and individual assignments that allow students to research relevant topics of choice. The independent learning experience can prepare students for the work that they may be responsible for in the field. While the coursework can differ between universities, most common core classes are similar, if not the same, for most universities. Some of the core courses are listed below.

Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students may be taught how to properly use data analysis and statistical concepts in relation to public health. Insight into testing and research is provided, so that students can be effective and reliable resources for policy development.

Public Health Leadership

Public Health Leadership can provide a greater understanding of the strategies and methods required in public health and healthcare sectors. The core concepts of organizational leadership, group dynamics, and leadership models may be outlined.

Economics and Finance in the Public Health System

In this course, students may gain knowledge in how the economic system affects public health. Students may also investigate how public health programs are affected by proper and improper financial planning, as well as the methods required for effective financial stability.

Career Options and Salary/Employment Information

Obtaining a Public Health Generalist degree can potentially allow for furthering a current career or moving forward into the broad field of public health. Professionals in this discipline can work in applied careers in hospitals and medical centers, or may take a more indirect approach to policy development in the research perspective. As a generalist, there is a multitude of career choices that involve the investigation, analysis, development, and methodology associated with public health policy creation and management. Some potential career options are listed below.

  • Medical and Health Services Manager – $96,540 per year on average (BLS;2015)
  • Public Health Educator – $44,390 per year on average (BLS;2015)
  • Public Relations Manager – $107,320 per year on average (BLS;2015)

Top Public Health Organizations

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization partners with agencies around the world to promote better health for all people. The top priority for this group is engaging in policies and activities that encourage companies, individuals, and society as a whole to appreciate good health practices. This can be done through policy formation, regulations, and educational programs that reach the public. This type of organization plays a large role in the development and advocacy of health-related programs that seek to educate and improvise systems that the general public relies on for a happy and well lifestyle. In terms of professionalism, WHO is a great place to become involved before, during, and after degree completion.

American Public Health Association

APHA is a great organization that focuses on public health at its core. This popular association provides companionship for public health professionals that want up to date information and statistics on a regular basis, so that they are doing their best at serving the public. Staying involved in groups such as the APHA can evolve a career into a lifelong dedication to the betterment of society. Graduates looking for a place to join others with similar interest should look into this association for membership.

Top Employers

  • State and National Government
  • Consultant Agencies
  • Research Facilities
  • Non-Profits
  • Healthcare

Consider A Sponsored Online Public Health Program

School and Program Information Online Program? GRE Requirements Time for Completion
Tufts University
Online MPH, Online MHI
CEPH Accredited
No GRE Required
Online GRE Waivers Available As few as 20 months
George Washington University
Online MPH, Online MHI, Online MHA
CEPH Accredited
Online GRE Waivers Available As little as 12 months
University of North Carolina
Online MPH
The University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health is an Accredited School of Public Health under the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
Online GRE, GMAT or MCAT scores required As few as 20 months
Baylor University
The service-oriented Master of Public Health online program from Baylor University is now accepting applications.
Online No GRE Required As few as 12 months
Simmons University
Develop the methodological, leadership, and advocacy skills needed to address health inequity during our 21-month program.
Online No GRE Required As little as 2 years