Public Health Schools and MPH Programs in North Carolina

Home to the oldest state university in the country, North Carolina has a long history of leading the way forward for higher education. To that end, the state boasts a multitude of online and on-campus Master of Public Health programs at schools including East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Lenoir-Rhyne University. Within these MPH programs, there are multiple concentrations—as well as joint degree programs—that expand North Carolina’s health education offerings well beyond MD, MRP, and PharmD programs.

Like all of us, the 10.4 million citizens of North Carolina depend on the medical community for the care and prevention of ailments. North Carolina is 33rd out of all 50 states in United Health Foundation’s 2018 health rankings [PDF, 14.6 MB], which means the population’s health is in the bottom 50 percent of the nation. 

Public health initiatives are key to improving and promoting good health within the state and beyond. Fortunately, for those interested in public health, North Carolina offers a range of degree programs for different learners, including those with full-time job and family commitments. Finding the right one takes some time and research, but ultimately, your education plays a role in your preparedness to practice and address the state’s most urgent health needs.

Master of Public Health Programs in North Carolina 

Across North Carolina, there are multiple Master of Public Health programs. All major MPH programs are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an organization that ensures the quality of educational programs in public health. 

Learn more about some of CEPH-Accredited MPH programs in North Carolina.

Information last updated April 2020

Many public health professionals have the opportunity to help shape broad initiatives that influence the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people. If you are interested in this rewarding career path that empowers you to make a local, national, or even global impact, you may want to explore public health degrees to help you get started. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the national demand for community health workers, one category of public health professionals, will grow by 13 percent leading up to 2028. The clear need for public health workers may be another reason you choose to earn a Master of Public Health online or on campus. 

Overview of Public Health Degrees in North Carolina 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14 percent of North Carolina residents live below the poverty line. And as of 2017, 11 percent of the state population does not have health insurance [PDF, 2.3 MB]—higher than the national average of 9 percent. Public health is a primary concern for professionals and lawmakers due to the health equity of minorities and the underserved populations in North Carolina being high [PDF,9.5 MB]. The NC Department of Public Health reports that as of 2018 the 3.6 million minorities living in the state had below-average access to healthcare and higher disease and mortality rates. 

Public health professionals can contribute to essential health programs, healthcare improvement, workplace safety, and disease prevention, potentially improving outcomes across North Carolina. If public health sounds like a field that you’d like to be a dedicated member of, one of the many MPH programs throughout the state can help you reach that goal. You may also wish to consider dual degree programs that merge public health with other relevant fields, such as dietetics or social work. MPH/RD programs are incredibly unique and equip future students with tools to tackle current and urgent public health issues, such as food deserts and obesity. 

Online MPH Programs in North Carolina

Attending college is a significant commitment, with different challenges for different students. For those concerned about scheduling, commuting to campus, or fully uprooting their lives to move to school, online degree programs may allow the flexibility you need. Over the years, online higher education has been questioned about its quality. But today, there are plenty of high-quality programs available that mirror or even rival on-campus programs. There are two MPH programs/dual degree programs available in an online setting through Lenoir-Rhyne University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From the comfort of your home (or anywhere else you can log on), online courses enable you to access homework, complete tests, communicate with classmates, participate in live lectures, and even watch recorded ones. As seen from the table above, online MPH programs in North Carolina are CEPH-accredited. Choosing an MPH program with accreditation can help to ensure that you receive an education that is valid and relevant in the field of public health.

Public Health Careers Outlook in North Carolina

In North Carolina, healthcare is a $104 trillion industry [PDF, 205 KB]. The state’s department of public health reports they have recently made strides in improving overall health, lessening poverty rates, and lowering substance abuse [PDF, 590 KB]. Issues that are still prevalent include obesity, diabetes, dental diseases, and sexually transmitted infections. These are all areas to consider when exploring what Master of Public Health program is right for you and where you see yourself fitting into the career landscape. 

Specializations in High Demand in North Carolina

In the state of North Carolina, there are a number of rewarding paths aspiring public health students can pursue. 

Epidemiology is a field that uses different forms of data collection and testing to determine how diseases are formed and transmitted throughout society. Public health professionals in this role help develop effective policies and programs, research different prevention options, and assist with protecting the public from the dangers of mass illness. If you want to be a part of this field, degree programs throughout North Carolina can get you ready. In North Carolina, epidemiologists and medical scientists account for over 5,100 jobs, according to 2019 BLS data.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health has also invested heavily in women and children’s health programming. There are also several organizations, like NC Child, that work to improve the health of children from birth through early development—and into their teenage years. 

A degree that specializes in women’s, children’s, and family health may be another fulfilling career choice in North Carolina. A vastly in-demand profession, North Carolina employs over 12,000 child, family and school social workers, according to the BLS—and many other professionals that support these demographic groups.  

Organizations to Work with a Public Health Degree

With a public health degree in North Carolina, you qualify for a wide range of jobs spanning schools, state and local government offices, hospitals, and health systems. The North Carolina State Government is the largest employer statewide. You can review job openings on their site

If you are interested in working in a healthcare setting, you may look to the larger cities in North Carolina. Some of the biggest hospitals and health systems in the state include the Duke University Hospital in Durham and the Atrium Health system in Charlotte. 

Other websites where you can explore job prospects for MPH graduates and professionals include the   following:

  • North Carolina Public Health Association: Members of the NCPHA can sign up to receive an email newsletter that includes open positions in North Carolina sourced by working professionals in public health. 
  • North Carolina Alliance of Public Health Agencies: The NCPHA provides a database of available positions across NC’s public health department. The organization also provides staffing assistance for agencies and temporary to permanent job placements for candidates. 

Local State Public Health Resources

North Carolina’s public health programs are constantly evolving to better serve its large population. Below is a list of current public health resources in NC: 

  • North Carolina Division of Public Health: The NC Division of Public Health’s homepage contains all need-to-know information for professionals and residents on the state of public health in North Carolina. The agency shares annual reports and public education tools to help keep the population of North Carolina safe and healthy.  
  • North Carolina Women’s and Children’s Health Division: The NC Women’s and Children’s health division contains information on initiatives specific to women and children. They offer a wealth of resources focusing on early child development to help combat the effects of poverty on children. 
  • N.C. Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities: This office serves as a resource for minority health in North Carolina. They offer public health resources to help educate residents on the discrepancies in minority healthcare and fight inequality for underserved populations. 
  • North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics: Individuals can search state-backed public health statistics from recent years. Available data includes rates of diseases and maternal and children’s health data. 
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: The NC DPI is North Carolina’s board of education. The website provides current news on state education initiatives as well as information pertaining to public health in schools. 
  • North Carolina State Government: The official North Carolina state government website contains links to all state government agencies, job listings, social programs, and more. All formal state announcements and communication are shared to this website.