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Master of Public Health (MPH)

The Master of Public Health is a satisfying and versatile degree.

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Home » Public Health » Master of Public Health (MPH)

Why Get a Master of Public Health?

If you’re one of a rare breed of people who desires to serve the public, help create and instill community policy and change, and love the idea of working in the healthcare field, you may be perfect for a career in public health. Earning your Master of Public Health can lead you to administrative and multi-disciplined roles in direct and related fields such as social work, medicine, science, biostatistics and even politics.

In fact, there are a number of reasons to consider an MPH. It’s one of the most versatile degrees you can earn and comes with great career reward, as well as having high demand for qualified individuals. Let’s take a look at five good reasons to earn your master’s in the public health arena:

Job Growth and Security

Careers in public health are in high demand and in fact, surpass the national average for all career fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS predicts that healthcare and public health is the fastest growing area in general, so combined with a master’s degree, you’ll be able to find a job that not only offers variety and a diverse career path, but stability.


You’ll be primed to work in any number of fields, from academia and research to the private sector, such as insurance or drug companies. You can turn your focus to the political or governmental arenas, or work as in administration in a healthcare facility.

Community and Environment Involvement

There’s no glass ceiling in public health, and no limit to the good you can do in the community or educational realms. From improving the workplace to improving food and quality of life for those in need, you’ll help foster a better living and working environment for children, families, the elderly and the environment.

Leadership Opportunities

Taking the reins and leading effectively is an art in itself. Your Master of Public Health program will teach you the skills and foster your inherent abilities as a leader and administrator and help you to make decisions that will create cost efficient and positive change.

Personal Growth

With the unlimited opportunity in the public health field, you can work in numerous roles in almost any location. If you choose to work in global health, you’ll have the chance to visit and promote change and betterment in other countries—or chart your personal progress in your own neighborhood, if that suits you.

Who Gets an MPH?

Put simply, if you want to use your skills to create healthcare change for the betterment of the public on a local or global level, the Master of Public Health is for you. Your motivating force is making a difference in the world through research, health policy, educating the public about disease, sanitation, social issues and food; or providing leadership and administration for patients and staff in a healthcare facility.

What Makes for a Great MPH Program?

The most important thing to look for when you research MPH programs is accreditation. Accreditation assures you that your school or master’s program has been rigorously scrutinized by professionals and educators for quality and completeness and the most current standards of content.

Ask your potential school if they are accredited and if your program holds accreditation. Most future employers will prefer hiring graduates from accredited programs, and accreditation also ensures that you may be eligible for federal financial aid to pay for school and that all your credits will transfer should you need to move to another school.

Other types of accreditation may include regional accreditation from one of six Council for Higher Education Accreditation-approved agencies.

Another thing to look for is the sub-specialties offered within your MPH program. Public Health is such a broad field that honing in on the area in which you would like to specialize will help customize your studies to fit your future goals. Since not every school offers every sub-specialty, you should first try to decide where you’d like to focus your energies and then look for these studies when you conduct your research. Finding a program that seems personalized for your interests will provide the best school experience.

What Will I Study in an MPH Program?

A Master of Public Health is a widely acknowledged credential designed for leaders and administrators in government, nonprofit and private sectors of the healthcare industry. One big component of any MPH program you research should be ethics, as you may be required to make decisions and implement policy—or conduct research—on a large scale and for the greater good.

Once you earn your MPH from an accredited program you’ll be ready for a number of critical roles.

Here are just a few things you can consider with an MPH:

  • Academic Researcher
  • Health Services Manager
  • Health Consultant
  • Healthcare Advocate
  • Community Health Organizer

Some of the coursework you’ll be required to complete may include the following types of subjects:*

Foundations of Public Health:
You’ll learn the foundations and historical contexts of public health and how they relate to biological, psychological and cultural factors. You’ll also learn about leadership in the public health enterprise as well as the basics of disease prevention. You’ll begin to understand the interdisciplinary skills required for public health careers and the critical thinking skills you’ll be required to use on the job.

Healthcare Statistics: 
You’ll learn how to analyze and implement health research data so that you may apply your knowledge to your work within the healthcare industry.

Epidemiology deals with the study, incidence and control of disease within populations. The Center for Disease Control defines it as the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations.

Environmental Health:
You’ll study the relationship between human health and environmental contaminants. You’ll learn about risk assessment and environmental policy as it relates to the population on a local, state, national and global level.

Public Health Biology:
You’ll investigate the biological processes in disease, such as transmission and host risk factors, in order to plan control strategies and interventions for the good of the public.

Leadership and Administration:
You’ll need business skills to be an effective leader, and you’ll learn costs, financing, outcomes and accessibility of human healthcare. You’ll also learn the principles of making effective and ethical economic decisions for your healthcare organization’s benefit and stability.

Practical Skills in Public Health:
This course acts as an externship so you can practice what you’ve learned within a functioning healthcare organization. You’ll work with professionals in the public health field and be evaluated on your performance.

Health Policy and Ethics:
Ethical issues in public health research, practice and policy form the basis for this course. You’ll also study the impact of decisions on individual and larger population health.

You may also select electives that may hone in on your area of interest. Here are some examples of courses to consider:
  • Health Law
  • Grant and Contract Writing
  • Cultural Diversity in Public Health
  • International Epidemiology and Global Health
  • Disaster Management and Public Health
  • Healthcare Safety
  • Health Education
  • Infectious Diseases

Once you complete your coursework you’ll be required to take part in a capstone project, in which you take all of your educational learning and apply it to a healthcare setting outside of the traditional or virtual classroom. The capstone project is a bridge project in which you graduate from classroom learning to real-world application and practice.

Are Online Master of Public Health Programs Available?

Online programs are a godsend to returning students who have extenuating circumstances to consider when returning to school. The good news is more and more colleges and universities are offering online programs—and Master of Public Health programs online are in plentiful supply. If you have family obligations, must continue working or live in a remote area where there is no physical school, online degree programs can help you complete or start your credential wherever you live and usually, whenever you’re ready.

Public Health Online says online MPH programs help advanced students earn their degree in a flexible environment and offer a wide range of resources, such as job placement upon completion, affordable tuition and fees, and support services to help you all along your educational journey.

A couple of things to consider if you’re interested in the online path are accreditation—especially important when selecting an online program—and a curriculum that fits the specifics of your future goals. Not every online program offers specialties within the field so make sure you do your research thoroughly. If you’re uncertain, we can help you find the program that will best fit the outcome you’re looking for.

*From Purdue University Global Public Health Master degree program curriculum.