Master’s in Public Health Degrees & Schools Guide

Master's Degree in Public Health Career Options & Salary

Why Earn a Master of Public Health?


With continued global connectivity through travel, cooperative research, and international trade, it's more important than ever to have as many people as possible in possession of a degree such as a Master of Public Health, which can be gained from a campus or online MPH program or a relevant degree in health sciences. This is an ever-expanding field with many subjects that may be part of the core courses in a university program that reaches well beyond an individual's physical health. This may include water safety, childhood obesity, environmental health sciences and impact, biostatistics, community health or population health, community health education, health promotion and health education, mental health, safe housing, occupational health and safety, health systems, health management, epidemiology health policy management, and much more. This specialization covers the economic, environmental, and social health of local and global communities alike. By pursuing public health education in the form of a Master of Public Health, you are committing to a life of making a positive difference in the lives of every human on the planet.

A Master of Public Health may be available from a local state university or a school dedicated to the healthcare field. No matter where prospective students choose to earn their community health education, they must make sure that there is appropriate accreditation. Students who attend schools with accreditation enter with some professional experience and leave with practicum experience that will help them succeed in the real world and increase their annual salary as well. These freshly minted MPH graduates will work as public health professionals to maintain the health of communities, improve public health outcomes for the health of populations, maintain health equity and lower health disparities, face various public health challenges including rampant mental health issues and infectious disease prevention, and much more.

PROS

To advance your career in this field you must have at least a Master of Public Health. This degree may also increase your pay significantly, even if you were already in a health promotion or human health services administration position. Depending on the job, public health practitioners could quickly earn at least $20,000 more a year with a master’s over a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees also allow MPH students to select a specialization or concentration in the public health field such as those in global health, environmental and occupational health and safety, health management, public health educator, and more. These unique areas of expertise will also provide an illuminating culminating experience and help you increase your pay, even if you already had professional experience in the field. If prospective students select a combined or dual degree program that provides them with expertise in another area, this is also a bonus. You also must have a bachelor’s degree or master’s and several years of work experience in the real world if you want to achieve any of the professional certifications such as the Certified in Public Health (CPH), Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), or the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).

CONS

A Master of Public Health degree provides tremendous career and financial advantages; however, it does not come without challenges and potential setbacks. These master’s degrees often take significantly longer to complete than master’s degrees in other fields. You will have to commit at least two to three years of your life to an epidemiology health policy management program or something similar. The content of the curriculum is high-level and will provide access to clinical studies and leadership methods. It could be even longer if you cannot take the courses full-time each term and must instead attend part-time. Many Master of Public Health degrees also require several years of work experience before you can apply to a program, though not necessarily leadership experience. Therefore, you cannot continue your community health education immediately following your undergraduate degree. Also, if you are unable to secure a higher-level position, you may not be able to make enough money to justify your educational investment. Be sure to speak with your employer about tuition reimbursement opportunities to help eliminate some of the financial burdens of a graduate degree and ensure that the program you are considering is fully accredited.

Overview of a Master's in Public Health


What Public Health Master’s Degrees are Available?


Most master’s degrees law programs are not designed to gain you entrance into law school. Some programs exist where you can complete a master’s in law and a law degree at the same time, while some master’s in law programs are designed for legal professionals who already possess a law degree, as a way to advance their careers. The overall objective is the same regardless of the title: to provide non-lawyer professionals with a strong foundation in law to advance their existing careers or to change professions.

Here are some examples of degree titles you will find:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
    This degree is considered a professional master’s degree rather than educational, liberal arts, or scientific-based degree. Most MPH degree programs only take two years to complete and they often focus on biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health care administration, policy and behavioral, and social science.
  • Master of Arts in Public Health (MAPH)
    An MAPH will often focus more on social issues, such as state and federal health law, healthcare providers, and more. They also have a more general focus rather than a specialized approach. Many people who graduate with this type of public health degree will work for government agencies, health-related organizations, or for community health programs.
  • Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH)
    The MSPH focuses on an in-depth, academic and research-based degree rather than a professional degree. You might work to solve existing global health problems by examining data. You might be required to complete a thesis and the program can be completed in two to five years, depending on the program.
  • Dual Degrees
    The dual degree is becoming increasingly popular with all master’s degrees, particularly within the field of public health. Pubic health professionals can combine the previous degrees with any number of additional graduate degrees, including an MD, PharmD, veterinarian degree, law degree, MBA, and more.

Admission Requirements


The requirements for admissions to a master’s program in this field will vary greatly based on the type of master’s degree it is. All master of public health degrees, an online master of public health or on-campus MPH program, will require a bachelor’s degree in a related field with a minimum GPA for an application to be successful, as established by the program. Some programs will require a graduate degree entrance exam and others will not. If you do require one, the required exam will be dependent on the program type. The usual options are the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, or LSAT. You might also require several years of relevant work experience and letters of recommendation. If you wish to gain entry into the best programs, you should also participate in giving back to the community and extracurricular activities either within the U.S. or in needy places in other countries. Keep in mind that if you wish to take a dual or combined degree program, you will have to apply to the two programs at the same time to qualify for this special opportunity.

How long does it take to earn a Public Health Master’s?


A standard degree in this field will take between two and three years. Many programs will offer or require an internship before you graduate. Some degree programs will take up to five years to complete. Each program will be different based on whether or not it is online. The required time will also depend on the number of courses you can commit to each term and whether or not you work or have other family or social obligations.

Potential Careers in Public Health with a Master’s


  • Public Health Program Director
    A program director in this field will oversee all healthcare facilities and services for their employer. You might work for a clinic or work in health information. If you work in a clinic, you will be responsible for the policies and procedures all doctors must follow. If you work in health information, you will enforce all federal regulations.
    Average Income: $83,500
  • Public Health Director
    A director is responsible for all administrative activities in regard to public health. You will establish the vision and goals of policies you design within a community. You must monitor and report on the results.
    Average Income: $83,500
  • Healthcare Administrators
    A healthcare administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operations of various medical facilities, such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or research lab. You will establish goals and budgets in patient care.
    Average Income: $69,500
  • Epidemiologists
    An epidemiologist is a large part of public health. These individuals work to establish disease patterns, prevent outbreaks, and educate local communities. You might also be responsible for creating educational awareness programs and communicating information to the public, policymakers, medical professionals, and more.
    Average Income: $64,700
  • Health Informatics Manager
    A health informatics manager works in biostatistics and performance analysis. You will analyze and manage health and patient information. These positions are essential in the improvement of patient care, healthcare efficiency, and financial savings.
    Average Income: $68,400

Annual Salary by Occupation


Occupations Entry Level Salary Range Mid-Career Salary Range Late Career Salary Range
Health Educator $38,500 $50,500 $56,800
Epidemiologist $51,500 $75,400 $96,800
Environmental Scientist $43,600 $59,000 $81,700
Medical Laboratory Scientist $51,000 $60,200 $67,200
Health and Safety Specialist $56,300 $65,900 $78,600
Health Informatics Specialist - - -
Healthcare Administrator $55,400 $75,000 $91,800
Biostatistician $67,000 $86,500 $113,700

Options to Advance


You can become an executive and hold C-level positions with a master’s degree in public health. If you wish to keep ahead of the competition for these types of business-related positions, you should have a dual degree in an MBA and an MPH or a similar combination. Any individual who wishes to advance their career in public health to the highest levels will require a PhD or a doctorate degree, as such positions usually require medical and laboratory work. You might also wish to conduct medical research or become a professor. If so, both positions often require additional graduate degrees. Also, for any high-level position, work experience will be equally as important as a graduate degree.

Best Master of Science in Public Health (MPH) Programs


  • Emory University
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Emory University offers one of the most extensive public health graduate degree programs in the country. All of the programs are designed to provide practical experience and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of public health subjects based on the specialization of the program. Graduates will go on to work for hospitals, non-profits, local health departments, and corporations.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MS in Public Health - Biostatistics
    • MS in Public Health - Environmental Health and Epidemiology
    • MS in Public Health - Epidemiology
    • MS in Public Health - Global Epidemiology
    • MS in Public Health - Health Policy and Health Services Research
    • Executive MPH in Applied Epidemiology
    • Executive MPH in Applied Public Health Informatics
    • Executive MPH in Prevention Science
  • Tulane University
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Tulane University offers a variety of public health master’s degrees to meet the needs of many professionals, including health administration and tropical medicine. Each program provides a background in the five primary areas of public health and program participants will have the opportunity to study public health in a unique geographic environment.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master of Public Health
    • Master of Health Administration
    • Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
    • Master of Science in Public Health
    • Master of Science in Tropical Medicine
  • Brown University
    Providence, Rhode Island

    Brown University provides several public health graduate degrees with many options for specialization in nearly every aspect of public health, from maternal and child health to biostatistics. As a graduate, you will be trained in research, policy development, and analysis.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    • MPH in Environmental Health
    • MPH in Global Health
    • MPH in Health Behavior
    • MPH in Health Services
    • MPH in Maternal and Child Health
  • University of Iowa
    Iowa City, Iowa

    The University of Iowa has one of the best public health and epidemiology programs in the country. They also have a top occupational and environmental health MPH degree alongside several additional specializations in public health. Additionally, they have one of the most extensive lists of combined degrees in MPH and doctorate-level degrees.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Biostatistics
    • MPH in Community and Behavioral Health
    • MPH in Epidemiology
    • MPH in Occupational and Environmental Health
    • MPH in Policy
    • DVM-MPH Combined Degree
    • JD-MPH Combined Degree
    • MD-MPH Combined Degree
    • PharmD-MPH Combined Degree
    • MPH for Practicing Veterinarians
  • Texas A&M
    College Station, Texas

    Texas A&M provides MPH degrees in the primary public health concentrations. Each concentration offers a dedicated degree program to individuals who wish to pursue a particular niche within the industry, including environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and community health sciences.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Environmental Health
    • MPH in Occupational Safety and Health
    • MPH in Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences
    • MPH in Epidemiology
    • MPH in Biostatistics
    • MPH in Health Policy and Management

Traditional Schools Offering a MS in Public Health


  • Johns Hopkins
    Baltimore, Maryland

    Johns Hopkins offers a hybrid program that requires both online work and one to two weeks of in-person classroom participation. You can take the in-person class in Baltimore, Barcelona, or D.C. If you can take courses as a full-time student, you can complete an MPH in 11 months. They also offer several dual degree programs for in-person degrees.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Masters in Public Health
  • Des Moines University
    Des Moines, Iowa

    Des Moines University is one of the oldest and most prestigious osteopathic medical schools in the US. This intensive MPH program requires program participants to complete one of the most demanding internships in public health, along with a capstone project, before being able to graduate. As a result, the program has a 100% employment rate upon graduation.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Public Health Practice
    • MPH in Public Health Administration and Policy
    • MPH in Health Education and Promotion
  • New York University (NYU)
    New York City, New York

    NYU has a specialized global public health department that offers many concentrations that aren’t available through most other public health graduate programs, such as sustainable development goals and health policy and management. The programs focus on analytical and decision-making skills.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Sustainable Development Goals
    • MPH in Biostatistics
    • MPH in Community Health Science and Practice
    • MPH in Environmental Public Health Sciences
    • MPH in Epidemiology
    • MPH in Global Health
    • MPH in Public Health Nutrition
    • MPH in Public Health Policy and Management
    • MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL

    The University of Florida offers two MPH programs and prepares program participants for current public health issues and trends so that they are more employable upon graduation. Tests will be provided through online proctoring services and you will not be required to visit the physical campus for any reason.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Public Health Practice
    • MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Creighton University
    Omaha, Nebraska

    Creighton University is a private, exclusive university in the heart of Omaha. You can pursue a few MPH specializations, including healthcare management and health policy and ethics. The programs are estimated to take two and a half years for individuals who choose to take one course every eight weeks.

    Degrees Offered:

    • MPH in Healthcare Management
    • MPH in Health Policy and Ethics

Healthcare Degree & Career Paths