Public Health Schools and MPH Programs in Illinois

Illinois has a wide variety of higher education opportunities. There are eight public health schools in Illinois with programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), giving students plenty of options. With a need for public health professionals throughout this highly populated state, many graduates of MPH programs in Illinois continue living and working as public health professionals in the state.

The above MPH in Illinois programs are all accredited by the CEPH. Public health classes at the Illinois schools listed may feature small cohorts.

There are also dual-degree programs in Illinois that provide both an MPH and another master’s degree in subjects like business and social work. Depending on your career goals, you may want to look for programs that feature a concentration or courses that will help you as a public health professional.

Public Health Schools and Highlights in Illinois

Illinois has on-campus, online and hybrid public health school options. As many programs try to accommodate working professionals, on-campus programs may offer night and weekend classes for MPH students. Here’s what you can expect from each school.

Benedictine University – College of Education and Health Services

5700 College Road, Lisle, IL 

Benedictine University was founded in 1887 and is a Catholic university in the Benedictine tradition. It offers a Generalist MPH degree that can be completed in less than two years on campus or online, and certificate options in Epidemiology, Health Management and Policy, and Health Education and Promotion. The university also offers dual MPH degrees with Business Administration (MBA) and Organizational Behavior (MSMOB).


DePaul University – College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

2400 N. Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL 

The nation’s largest Catholic university, founded in 1898, Chicago’s DePaul University offers an MPH program that can be completed in two years. Courses are offered weekday evenings at DePaul’s Loop Campus. Students complete a nine-month practicum in public health, working at organizations like healthcare systems, government agencies and community organizations in Chicago. 

In 2015, DePaul University and Rush University founded the Center for Community Health Equity. Students may be able to earn academic credit by interning with center-affiliated faculty.

According to DePaul, 94% of graduates from its MPH program are employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation. MPH graduates have gone on to work at companies including Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Howard Brown Health and Rush University Medical Center.

DePaul University also offers a Global Health certificate and an MBA in Management/MPH degree program. There are also Universal Pathways, Bachelor’s + MPH and Health Sciences (BS) + MPH programs.


Loyola University Chicago – Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health

1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL

Loyola University Chicago is located downtown on Lake Michigan. Loyola, founded in 1870, has a strong research focus. Justin Harbison, Department of Public Health assistant professor, works with the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease researching how ticks and mosquitoes spread disease.

Loyola offers six public health degree programs including an MPH, an MS in Clinical Research Methods and Epidemiology, an MD/MPH and a Master of Social Work/MPH. The Loyola University MPH program receives about 200 applications a year and enrolls only about 40-50 students.


Northern Illinois University – School of Health Studies, College of Health and Human Sciences

1425 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, IL

Founded in 1895, Northern Illinois University focuses on educational excellence, equity and inclusion, research, ethics and service. The MPH program at Northern Illinois University, which is also offered online, has two specialization options: health promotion or health services management. The MPH program has been accredited by CEPH for more than 20 years. The university says 81% of graduates from the 2018-2019 program were employed by December 2019 and 6% were enrolled in other educational programs, including medical school. Northern Illinois University also offers an accelerated BS to MPH and a graduate certificate in public health.


Northwestern University – Northwestern Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine – Center for Education in Health Sciences

633 N. Saint Clair Street, 20th Floor, Chicago, IL

Founded in 1851 in Evanston, Northwestern University is one of the country’s oldest universities. Northwestern University offers several public health graduate degree programs, including a PhD/MPH, an MD/MPH, a Doctor of Physical Therapy/MPH, an accelerated program in public health and options for students who want to learn about public health without pursuing a degree.


Southern Illinois University – Public Health and Recreation Professions

1263 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, IL

Southern Illinois University (SIU) was founded in 1869. The university promotes diversity, with minority students making up 29% of enrollment. Southern Illinois University offers an MPH program as well as a concurrent PhD/MPH degree and MD/MPH degree. The MPH is 100% online. 

According to SIU, its distinctive location may enhance the educational experience of public health students, particularly those who are interested in health disparities and population health. The university is located in a region that is disproportionately affected by negative health outcomes and is designated as part of the Mississippi Delta Region. Students and faculty participate in community engagement to help in-need communities.


University of Illinois Chicago – School of Public Health

1603 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL

The University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health has worked to positively influence public health outcomes since its founding 50 years ago. It offers the following dual degree programs: MBA/MPH, MD/MPH, Master of Social Work/MPH, Master of Urban Planning and Policy/MPH, JD/MPH, Doctor of Chiropractic/MPH, Doctor of Dental Medicine/MPH and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/MPH.

All MPH students must complete an Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) during their second year. The ILE may take the form of a policy brief, a community health assessment or an intervention plan. The ILE must be relevant to the student’s professional and educational goals and is developed and delivered in a way that’s useful to external stakeholders.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – College of Applied Health Sciences

110 Huff Hall, 1206 South Fourth Street, Champaign, IL

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was founded in 1867 and boasts professors and alumni who have won 29 Pulitzer Prizes. The school’s MPH program promotes “culturally relevant individual and community health.” Students in the MPH program gain hands-on public health experience. The program states that 99% of students graduate within two years and 98% of graduates are employed or continuing education within one year of graduation. The MPH program has small cohort sizes and a 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university also offers several BS-MPH programs. 


Online MPH Programs in Illinois

If you want to pursue your MPH degree online, various Illinois schools have options that are CEPH-accredited and may support public health educational programs. Online MPH programs in Illinois teach students how to collect and analyze public health data from different sources, create preventative programs that promote good health and perform other public health duties.

There are five schools in Illinois offering online MPH programs, including those that focus on Public Health Policy and Management, Health Promotion, Health Services Management, Public Health Informatics and Community Health Sciences.

As you research online MPH programs in Illinois, you may want to consider choosing one that’s accredited by the CEPH. Accreditation can contribute to the quality and relevance of the degree program, which can support fellowships and job prospects.

  • The University of Illinois at Chicago has many programs, especially at the master’s level, with more than 30 concentrations ranging from Gerontology to Maternal and Child Health.
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago also has offerings at the bachelor’s and doctoral level, offering a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and eight DrPH, DPH or PhD of Public Health programs.

Public Health Careers Outlook in Illinois

Public health careers are in high demand in Illinois due to the large population, especially in the Chicago area.

For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area had the eighth-highest rate of employment of epidemiologists of all U.S. metropolitan areas, at 0.05 employment per thousand jobs in May 2019.

The BLS also reports the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area had the sixth-highest employment level of statisticians of all metropolitan areas in the United States, at 0.33 employment per thousand jobs in May 2020.

Other occupations are also comparably more prevalent in this  area. The BLS reports the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area had the second-highest employment level for health specialties teachers, postsecondary, of all metropolitan areas in the United States, at 1.95 employment per thousand jobs in May 2020. The BLS notes the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area had the eighth-highest employment level of environmental health scientists of all metropolitan areas in the United States: 0.33 employment per thousand jobs. In the table below, you can compare the average salary and job growth for public health jobs in Illinois and the United States, according to O*NET OnLine.

Job TitleAvg. Salary in IL (Yearly)Avg. Salary in U.S. (Yearly)Projected Job Growth in IL, 2018–2028Projected Job Growth in U.S., 2019–2029
Health Specialties Professors
Environmental Health Specialists
Medical and Health Services Managers/Healthcare Administrators
Health Educators
Occupational Health Specialists
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Health Informatics Specialists

Specializations to Consider in Illinois

In Illinois, environmental health specialists, epidemiologists and medical and health services managers/healthcare administrators earn average salaries that are notably higher than in the rest of the country. If you plan to live in Illinois after you get your MPH, consider specializing in these areas. For more information on these programs, see the Master of Public Health (MPH) programs in Illinois table above.

If you’re interested in epidemiology, check out the Social Epidemiology MPH program at DePaul University, the hybrid Epidemiology program at Loyola University of Chicago or the Epidemiology programs at Northwestern University, University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

If you’re interested in environmental health, look at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences program at the University of Illinois Chicago.

If you’re interested in being a healthcare administrator or medical and health services manager, you might be interested in the Generalist MPH at Benedictine University, the Community Health Practice MPH at DePaul University, the Policy and Management MPH program at Loyola University Chicago, the Health Services Management program at Northern Illinois University, the Health Policy and Administration program at the University of Illinois Chicago or the Health Behavior and Promotion program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Organizations to Work for with a Public Health Degree

If you’re staying in Illinois and want to put your MPH to use, there are several organizations that employ public health professionals. Check out the following for information on public health careers and opportunities in Illinois.

  • Chicago Department of Public Health: The Chicago Department of Public Health has services and programs promoting healthy communities, health data and reports, healthy homes, health inspections, healthy living, healthy mothers and babies, health services like HIV testing and health protection and response, including immunization and emergency preparedness.
  • Cook County Department of Public Health: This is the state-certified public health agency for Cook County, with the exception of Oak Park, Skokie, Chicago, Evanston and Stickney Township. Serving 2.5 million residents, this public health department works on services related to behavioral health, chronic and communicable diseases, epidemiology, emergency preparedness, environmental health, health equity and nursing services.
  • DuPage County Health Department: Based in Wheaton, the DuPage County Health Department provides a variety of health services, including disease reporting and immunizations. It also works on environmental health initiatives.
  • Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services: This is a government agency providing healthcare coverage for adults and children who qualify for Medicaid. It also provides child support services. The Division of Medical Programs administers and funds medical services provided to about 25% of the Illinois population.
  • Illinois Department of Human Services: The Illinois Department of Human Services provides and implements services to improve the quality of life of families, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
  • Illinois Department of Public Health: The Illinois Department of Public Health has 200 public health programs focusing on initiatives such as food safety and quality, hospital and nursing home care standards, recreational safety, farm and processing plant inspections, state vital records maintenance and newborn genetic disease screening.

Additional State Information

Illinois is the sixth-most populous state in the United States and home to Chicago, the No. 3 U.S. city in population. Illinois’ population was estimated at 12.6 million in July 2019, according to the Census Bureau. More than 7% of the people in Illinois younger than 65 were living with a disability, almost 9% of those under 65 years old did not have health insurance and more than 11% of the population lived in poverty.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in 2019, nearly 4% of adults in Illinois reported their health as poor, and more than 13% reported their health as fair. With a significant population in poverty, without health insurance and reporting poor or fair health, there may be opportunities to improve public health in Illinois and serve in-need populations.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.

Information last updated May 2021