Master’s in Public Health (MPH) Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Public Health Program?

A master’s of public health (MPH) is a graduate-level degree that focuses on preparing professionals to work for the general public to help improve health for the entire population. Public health encompasses a variety of disciplines that affect our daily lives. From food inspectors to environmental hazards, an MPH degree prepares you for helping others. Obtaining an MPH online allows you to continue working full-time and lets you choose your own pace to earn your degree. It also is ideal for those who live in an area without access to an on-campus program. If you’re interested in obtaining your degree online, it’s important to do your research and find the right program to help you reach your career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Public Health

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Biostatistics Students gain a deep and rigorous understanding of the foundations and methods of analysis in statistics as they relate to public health. Statistical consultant, data analyst, project manager at various health-related organizations, including pharmaceutical companies, federal and state health organizations and academic establishments requiring bio-statistical support
Disaster Management Focuses on courses in relationships with state and federal agencies, management of hazardous materials, protective devices and strategies, risk assessment and resource management. Disaster management specialist, emergency manager, disaster response technician, disaster risk reduction manager, case manager, disaster management administrator
Environmental Health Science Professional students enroll in various public health courses, biostatistics classes, public health electives and practical experience courses. Students gain a broad perspective on public health sciences and social sciences. Health inspector, environmental scientist, state or federal health officer, agency or lab directors, air pollution analyst, groundwater protection specialist
Epidemiology Health professionals expand their understanding of health and diseases. Classes include health care policy, biostatistics, global environmental health and epidemiology design and methods. Research data analyst, pharmacoepidemiologist, director of epidemiology, research coordinator, senior analyst, communicable disease nurse
Gerontology Prepares you to work with both healthy and sick aging adults and their families. Coursework includes the psychology of aging, sociology of death and dying, and aging and the human services. Social worker, administrator, director of social services, activities director
Health Policy and Management Ensures students have a comprehensive understanding of the practice of health administration. Coursework includes classes in financial management of healthcare programs, public health systems, healthcare policy and behavior management. Social services manager, healthcare consultant, insurance specialist, medical practice manager, hospital administrator, nursing home administrator

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Public Health

When searching for a program for your online MPH, take into consideration that different schools offer different concentrations. First, think about where you want to go in your career, and see how those objectives fall in line with a college or university’s curriculum offerings. You should also consider some of the specific requirements for the degree program. Some colleges require you to take exams and labs on-ground, while other programs allow you to complete everything online. Students can expect to complete capstone courses and practicums for some concentrations.

The required coursework depends mainly on the concentration, but there are several core classes that are standard across all programs. Some of these include:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Statistical Reasoning in Public Health Provides a conceptual understanding of the statistical ideas and methods used in public health.
Fundamentals of Human Physiology Focuses on each organ system in the human body and the current public health issues and environmentally relevant topics that affect each.
Biostatistics Trains students in the basics of statistical theory, biostatistical and bioinformatic methods. Students should have a background heavy in math and biology.
Epidemiology Covers the incidence, distribution and control of diseases and other factors relating to public health.
Statistical Reasoning in Public Health Examines concepts on how to manage a healthcare organization and how to develop strategies for the administration to change and evolve as the industry transforms.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Public Health?

The online MPH degree is typically a 43-credit-hour program that includes 15 courses. The time it takes to complete the degree full-time is around two and a half years. Professional students going to school part-time may take four to five years to finish their degree. Some schools offer accelerated programs that may be completed in as little as 14 months.

Individually paced programs let you move through the program as quickly or as slowly as you wish, while cohort learning requires you take all your classes with the same group of people.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Public Health Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified in Public Health (CPH) Given by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE), this certification ensures graduates have received adequate instruction within different concentrations through a CEPH-accredited degree program. To pursue certification, you must be currently enrolled in a CEPH-accredited graduate program, be a graduate of a CEPH-accredited MPH or DPH program or be a graduate with a BPH and have at least five years of work experience in a public health profession.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Public Health

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) provides accreditation for some MPH programs. This organization is recognized by the U.S. Department of education, which sets the requirements and standards for public health education. Some employment opportunities may only be available to those with a degree from an accredited program.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Public Health Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Overall, positions for those with an online MPH degree have a job outlook that is much higher than average. Health service managers can expect a 20 percent growth from 2016 to 2026, while environmental specialists can expect to see job growth of approximately 11 percent. For jobs that require certification, an MPH is required, which opens many doors throughout your career.

Expected Salary

Salaries in public health vary by depending on the concentration. Managers who held positions in large corporations made more than healthcare workers in government jobs.


MPH Careers Average Salary Comparison

Source: PayScale.com

Median Salary for Possible MPH Careers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Opportunities

An online master’s degree in child development opens the doors to a wide range of career opportunities. Most of them involve teaching in some capacity to young children. Those who enjoy working with children, multitasking and find value in educating the next generation can find lots of career opportunities in the field.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Health Service Manager Also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, health service managers plan, coordinate and implement health and medical services in a specific clinical department or an entire facility. They may work in nursing homes or medical practices. $98,350 per year 20%
Epidemiologist Epidemiologists investigate the causes and patterns of diseases. They work in health departments, state and local governments, hospitals, colleges and universities, and laboratories. $69,660 per year 9%
Emergency Management Director Emergency management directors create the plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters. They can lead response teams, coordinate public safety officials and manage government agencies. Most emergency management directors work in state or federal positions. Some work for healthcare facilities, nonprofits or private companies. $72,760 per year 8%
Environmental Scientist Environmental scientists find ways to protect the environment and human health through their knowledge of natural science. They may work with lawmakers to clean up polluted areas or work in industries to reduce waste. Some work in the field monitoring the environmental impact of various conditions. $69,400 per year 11%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations are a way for those with an online master’s in public health to meet and discuss industry standards and news. These organizations also make it possible to keep up with the latest public health trends and benefit from the expertise of others.

American Public Health Organization: The APHO is the oldest and most diverse public health organization. The group advocates for improved health for all.

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists: The CSTE provides information, developmental support and education for practicing epidemiologists. It also works to improve the relationships between state and other agencies.

National Association of Local Boards of Health: NALBOH serves as the voice for the national boards of health. It works to strengthen and improve public health governance.

National Environmental Health Association: The NEHA is a national professional society of environmental health practitioners who work together to provide a healthful environment for all.

The Public Health Foundation: PHF is a professional organization dedicated to creating communities of excellent health through training, technical support and research.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Public Health

An online master’s degree is often available at a fraction of the cost of an on-campus program. While they may be more affordable, paying for the degree may still require assistance for most students. This is accomplished with federal funding, scholarships, grants and other options. The first step in seeking assistance is by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application gives you access to the various funding methods available through the federal government. You can also check out some of the other resources available to those looking for a master’s in public health.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships Details

AFDO Scholarships

Award: $1,500

Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or better and must be interested in research, regulation or education.

Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Award: $500

Deadline: March 31

Eligibility: Applicants must be a minority in their final year of education. Preference is given to members of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Bill and Mary Russell Health Care Scholarship

Award: Varies

Deadline: April 15

Eligibility: Based on financial need. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a graduate program in public health.