Best Online Master’s in Public Health 2021

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The public health field includes research and practice efforts to prevent illness and promote wellbeing among populations. This field values social justice, accessibility, and effectiveness in healthcare and environmental health. An online master’s degree in public health usually accommodates working students’ busy schedules. Online public health program curricula vary based on specialization, but most public health master’s degree programs include coursework on epidemiology, research methods, and public health policy.

Many public health graduates serve as researchers or administrators in healthcare settings, community health organizations, or government agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 17% job growth rate for social and community service managers from 2019-2029. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $67,150, but master’s degree-holders may earn more.

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Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Public Health

FAQ


  • What is the difference between public health and health administration?

    Health administration focuses more heavily on business and personnel management. Public health programs emphasize research, policy, and health education.


  • What kinds of jobs can you get with a master’s in public health?

    An online master’s degree in public health can support leadership careers such as social and community service manager, research director, and health educator.


  • What does a career in public health look like?

    Public health jobs often involve research, analysis, and collaborative problem-solving. Many professionals work in research and policy, while others engage directly with the public.


  • Are public health majors in demand?

    According to the BLS, social and community service managers, epidemiologists, health educators, and medical and health services managers all enjoy above-average job growth projections.


Best Online Master’s in Public Health Degrees 2021



  1. University of California-Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Hands down, one of the most prestigious and innovative schools in the nation, the University of California at Berkeley is a leader among public universities. Founded in the middle of the nineteenth century, it is also one of the oldest universities on the West Coast and among the UC system. Over 40k students attend Berkeley.

    Features

    The online MPH program at Berkeley takes 27 months to complete and was specifically designed with working professionals in mind. While most of the coursework is completed online, you will still be expected to visit campus twice during the program. In addition to learning about the prevention of environmental health hazards, disease spreading, community disasters, and more, you will take classes that cover:

    • Epidemiology
    • Social and Behavioral Science
    • Biostatistics
    • Health Services Management

    Notables

    UC Berkeley is a top-ranked university, as are its many departments and disciplines. The School of Public Health, for instance, has a number of degree programs ranked among the top ten best of their kind. It was also the first School of Public Health established west of the Mississippi.

  2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of the country’s oldest public universities, the Chapel Hill arm of the greater University of North Carolina system (UNC) is now organized into fourteen schools. UNC prides itself on delivering a liberal arts education to each of its 30k students, regardless of major. UNC Chapel Hill is a flagship university.

    Features

    This two-year, online Master of Healthcare Administration program is ideal for those who want to enforce public health standards in hospital, health systems, and clinical settings. At UNC you will have the unique opportunity to earn a graduate global health certificate by taking international health courses and participating in immersion internships. Some of the classes in this program include:

    • Healthcare in the United States: Structure and Policy
    • Public Health Concepts in a Systems Context
    • Health Economics for Policy and Administration
    • Health Law

    Notables

    U.S. News & World Report, ARWU, Forbes, and Washington Monthly are just some of the sources that rank UNC as a top national university. But even more, U.S. News recently designated the Gillings School of Global Public Health as the top public health school in the nation.

  3. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    George Washington University (GWU) is located in Washington D.C. and is home to 27k graduate and undergraduate students. It is organized into fourteen colleges, though it is most known for its elite Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Public Health, and the School of Media and Public Affairs.

    Features

    Earn a Master of Public Health degree in just 12 months at George Washington University. This intensive program (which can also be completed in 18 months) can be completed online, but requires you to be a full-time (non-working) student. Whichever program you enroll in, GWU ensures you receive a solid foundation in public health theory and application. Five areas of specialization are offered:

    • Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Global Health
    • Health Communication
    • Health Policy
    • Program Planning and Evaluation

    Notables

    On top of its academic rankings, George Washington University receives accolades in a number of areas. For example, The Princeton Review counts GWU as one of the most politically active schools, with the best study abroad programs, located in one of the country’s best college towns.

  4. A.T. Still University
    Location

    Kirksville, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Kirksville, Missouri with a second campus in Arizona, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) is a private graduate school. All of its 30 degree programs, which are housed in six schools, focus on the health sciences. Over 3k graduate students attend ATSU.

    Features

    Offered through the School of Health Management, ATSU’s Master of Public Health degree can be earned in as few as 18 months. This program, which can be completed fully online, prepares students for careers in an array of areas, from administration to direct client care. In fact, ATSU provides four areas of concentration:

    • Oral Public Health
    • Health Policy and Administration
    • Health Planning
    • Environmental Health

    Notables

    Due to its academic emphases, this may come as no surprise, but ATSU is well regarded for its commitment to health. It was recently awarded a Fit-Friendly Worksite Gold Achievement by the American Heart Association. It is also considered a top military friendly school too.

  5. University of North Texas Health Science Center
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Part of the larger University of North Texas System, the Health Science Center (UNTHSC) is a graduate school. It is based in Fort Worth, Texas and offers degrees in medicine, public health, pharmacy, physical therapy, and biomedicine. Approximately 2k students attend UNTHSC.

    Features

    UNTHSC’s Master of Public Health program is comprised of 48 credit hours that can be taken online. You’ll have the option to concentrate in either Global Health or Geographic Information Systems, in addition to being trained in a variety of public health services. For example, some of the classes you’ll take include:

    • Environmental Determinants of Health
    • Health Services Management
    • Community Assessment and Program Planning
    • Health Politics and Policy

    Notables

    UNTHSC is a known hub for health-related research activity. Its campus alone houses a number of renowned research facilities and centers. Among them, the Center for Community Health, the Institute for Public Safety, and the Texas Prevention Institute.

  6. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Part of the sprawling, twelve-campus State University System of Florida, Florida International University (FIU) is one of the state’s best graduate research schools. FIU offers nearly 300 areas of study to its 55k students. Among the most popular and highly regarded are the engineering, business, health, and law programs.

    Features

    At FIU you have the option of taking all your MPH classes online, or taking some on campus and the rest from a distance. However you design your degree experience, FIU’s program introduces you to core public health issues while allowing you to explore a diverse range of topics, from chronic disease to health education. FIU’s core courses include:

    • Health Statistics
    • Health Behavior and Public Health
    • Health Policy and Management
    • Research Methods in Public Health

    Notables

    Over a dozen departments within FIU are ranked top in the country. In addition to its academic excellence, FIU is also often praised for its affordability, graduating the students with the least amount of debt in the nation.

  7. New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University (NMSU) is a large, research university. It is the oldest public school in the state, with 25k total students, and it is designated a top-tier research university. NMSU is most known for its health and medical science programs.

    Features

    At New Mexico State University you can earn a MPH degree while concentrating in either community health education or health management, administration, and policy. The NMSU program can also be completed online, but you still be expected to fulfill the fieldwork requirement locally. Furthermore, you can pair your degree with a graduate certificate in one of two areas:

    • Gerontology
    • US-Mexico Border Health

    Notables

    NMSU was recently recognized as being among the top 25 institutions nationwide for effectively including diversity into their STEM programs. It is also considered one of the most LGBT friendly campuses in the nation. NMSU is also home to the state’s NASA Space Grant Program!

  8. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of North Dakota (UND), located in Grand Forks, is known for its commitment to liberal arts education, across disciplines and departments. It is now considered a prominent research university, and one of the best sites for scientific research in the Midwest. Nearly 14k combined undergraduate and graduate students study at UND.

    Features

    Unique to the MHP program at UND is its focus on big health data analytics. Students learn how to transform data into coherent information that influences public health decisions. Two areas of concentration are offered: Population Health Analytics and Health Management and Policy. Further, the UND program is steeped in the following public health fundamentals:

    • Leading and Managing Public Health Systems
    • Health Care Systems
    • Environmental Health for Public Health Professionals
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health

    Notables

    UND is a great school in and of itself, but its online learning program is considered among the very best in the nation. It is highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, among others. And it is known for providing flexible, convenient, and affordable education to any who seek it.

  9. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Southern California is located in Los Angeles. It is a private research university, and the oldest of its kind in the state. Because of its proximity to the Silicon Valley, USC has a long history of providing innovative and business-driven education to its students. But, of course, it also offers degree programs in a diverse range of fields, from medicine to the humanities.

    Features

    At USC you will work closely with leaders and experts in a range of public health sectors. You will also gain hands-on experience through fieldwork, immersion opportunities, and real-world case work. In addition to core classes covering public health fundamentals, USC offers five areas of concentration to its MPH students:

    • Biostatistics and Epidemiology
    • Health Education and Promotion
    • Global Health Leadership
    • GeoHealth
    • Health Services and Policy

    Notables

    USC is top ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, Washington Monthly, and much, much more. It is known for its academic rigor, its commitments to sustainability and social justice, and for being home to an array of highly regarded departments.

  10. University of Iowa
    Location

    Iowa City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Iowa City, a cultural hub of the Midwest, the University of Iowa (UI) is a public research institution. UI is the oldest university in Iowa, as well as one of the most highly respected. It is best known for its degree programs in health and medicine, and its hospitals and clinics are nationally ranked.

    Features

    UI’s College of Public Health offers a MPH degree that not only provides a foundation in public health principles, but its offers a diverse set of electives. This allow students to explore a range of domestic and international health issues, from media and health to feminist activism and global health. UI’s core consists of coursework on:

    • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    • Introduction to the U.S. Healthcare System
    • Global Environmental Health
    • Biostatistics

    Notables

    UI’s campus is pocked with several renowned research facilities. Among them are the Institute of Agricultural Medicine and Occupational Health and the Public Policy Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks UI 82nd in the country among all national colleges and universities.

 
 

What Are the Goals of a Public Health Degree?

An online master’s degree in public health often attracts health professionals pursuing career transitions, promotions, and/or salary raises. The master of arts in public health (MPH) works best for aspiring public health educators and policy leaders, whereas the master of science in public health often supports research careers. Some public health students earn an MPH/MBA dual degree that includes business and management coursework.

Online public health programs usually offer several concentration options. In-demand concentrations include epidemiology, health services administration, and health education. Many programs also offer specializations and/or elective coursework in biostatistics, global health, and environmental health.

Why Get a Degree in Public Health?



An online master’s degree in public health affords many potential career and personal advantages, including the following five benefits.

Expertise and Confidence
This advanced degree may boost personal and professional confidence. MPH expertise can also improve job performance.
Career Advancement
MPH graduates can compete for high-level roles such as medical and health services manager. The specialized expertise associated with master’s degrees can help job-seekers qualify for niche careers.
Salary Advancement
Graduate degree-holders often earn more money than bachelor’s degree-holders, even when performing the same job. Obtaining promotions also typically increases salary.
Networking
Graduate students often collaborate with peers and professors, leading to professional connections that can prove helpful when seeking work.
Internships and Research Projects
MPH students typically gain professional experience through required internships. Enrollees also graduate with master’s theses or capstone projects that showcase interests, abilities, and accomplishments.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

How to Become a Public Health Professional

Public health career steps can vary by field. However, most public health career pathways involve education, professional experience, and on-the-job training.

Community health workers lacking college degrees may qualify for some entry-level positions, but higher-ranking and better-paying jobs often require at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the BLS, health educators usually earn bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in public health promotion/education.

Most online public health programs include internship experiences involving health education program design, implementation, and evaluation. Some graduates also earn a certified (or master-certified) health education specialist certification to qualify for certain health education jobs.

Many public health careers involve at least some on-the-job training. This training prepares participants in key competencies, systems, policies, and procedures needed for a specific role or context. Upper-level careers also typically require considerable professional experience in related roles.

Career and Salary Outlook for Public Health



Online master’s degrees in public health can help candidates with requisite experience to qualify for various healthcare occupations, such as nutritionist or occupational health and safety specialist. These careers pay $60,000-$70,000 median annual salaries, according to the BLS. Medical and health services managers often make over $100,000.

Other highly-sought public health careers include social and community services manager, emergency management director, and epidemiologist. See below for more information about public health careers.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Medical and Health Services Manager $100,980 32%
Epidemiologist $70,990 5%

Source: BLS

Scholarships for Public Health Students

Like other college students, online public health program enrollees sometimes qualify for need-based and/or merit-based scholarships and fellowships. Granted by professional organizations, government agencies, private funders, and schools, these awards usually go toward tuition expenses and do not require repayment. Many scholarships serve learners from particular backgrounds and/or in specified fields. The following three scholarships support public health students.

National Environmental Health Association and American Academy of Sanitarians Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Serving undergraduate or graduate students in environmental health sciences, this NEHA/AAS scholarship goes to applicants with strong academic records and recommendation letters. Application materials include transcripts, a faculty recommendation letter, and an NEHA-member recommendation letter.
Amount: $2,500

Indian Health Professions Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Alaska Natives or American Indians pursuing health-related degrees and clinical careers supporting public health in tribal settings may apply. Qualified applicants belong to a federally recognized tribe and attend school full time. Scholarship recipients must fulfill a tribal community service commitment upon graduation.
Amount: Varies

Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Full-time health education students may qualify for this SOPHE scholarship by demonstrating academic merit, SOPHE membership, and financial need. Applicants must have completed at least one-third of their program to qualify. Recipients must participate in SOPHE committees, initiatives, or task forces for one year.
Amount: $2,500

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