Best Public Health Degrees

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Public Health is where science and politics meet.

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Degree programs in Public Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and related fields consider the relationship between culture and health, explore the design and implementation of health policy programs, and focus on the general well-being of the public population.

Careers in public health are wide-ranging. They can focus on a variety of issues like communicable diseases to environmental hazards. They can engage these issues in various capacities as well. And with online options the way there are, now is the time to earn your degree from any place that works best for you! If you’re leaning that way, check out our best online bachelor’s in public health and best master’s rankings.

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Top 10 Best Public Health Degrees

What kind of public health degree should you get?

While the career paths are numerous, undergraduate degrees in public health fields are not. The required education for most entry-level public health professions is an upper-level degree, often at least a master’s in public health (MPH). Thus undergraduate degrees in public health are not offered as widely as similar graduate programs.

There are, however, a growing number of schools offering Bachelor’s of Science or Art in Public Health. In addition, many colleges and universities, while not offering stand-alone undergraduate degrees in public health, do provide certificates programs, minors, or co-majors that undergraduates in complementary degree programs can pursue.

What can you do with a public health degree?

Some public health graduates go on to pursue careers in research or data collection and analysis. Others go into administration and management in places like government agencies, HMO offices, community medical centers, or the offices of city health planners. Still others become educators and policy makers, working with state or federal legislative committees, consumer advocacy organizations, and non-profit organizations.

Epidemiologists, for instance, investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans, seeking to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy.

A medical service manager, alternatively, might manage an entire facility or clinical department in a hospital or other health organization. And a health educator would plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate health education programs that help individuals, families, and their communities maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles.

How much money can you make with a public health degree?

As you can see, the career options for public health graduates are vast. That means your potential salary is hard to pin down, unless you look at specific career paths. So let’s take a look! With the help of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s a glance at some of the average annual incomes you can expect with this degree:

  • Epidemiologist: $69,660
  • Health educator: $53,940
  • Medical service manager: $98,350

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 5-25% growth in many of the more popular public health careers between now and 2024. Most public health careers are expected to grow faster than other occupations nationwide, and the median income for the jobs is equal to or exceeds the national average.

What are the requirements for a public health degree?

Curricula for a public health degree will focus on a broad education, ensuring students have knowledge in all of the main public health tracks or specializations, so that future public health professionals understand the multi-disciplinary nature of public health.

Getting a solid public health foundation in your undergraduate years can prepare you to enter the workforce straight away or it can lay the groundwork for pursuing a masters or doctorate in public health or related field. To get that solid foundation, you will want to select a program that fits your desired outcome. If you are more interested in policy, then explore those programs that excel in the political aspects of public health education. If you are more interested in field or lab work, there are programs that better emphasize the compiling and analyzing of data.

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What are the best public health degrees?

We have compiled this list of the best public health programs in the nation as a way to help you in your exploration. By taking into consideration tuition, reputation of the schools, anticipated salary, and other factors, we have put together a list that includes a variety of options as far as degrees, majors, programs, certificates, minors, and emphases. Prospective undergraduates interested in public health have a great place to start their journey.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Washington
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Drawing together a curriculum that reaches communities on a local, national, and global level, the Public Health degree at the University of Washington offers students numerous opportunities to jump into field the wherever they find a niche. Among the focus areas of the major are Assessment and Measurement, Environment, Ethics and Social Justice, Communication, Natural Science, Population Health, Policy, and Social Science.

    Though students may choose between a BA or BS in Public Health, the degree requirements are relatively similar. The BA is designed for students interested in health education promotion, policy and non-profit work, or public health nursing, whereas the BS prepares students for science-focused graduate programs, epidemiology, medicine, pharmacy, and biostatistics.

    In total, students must complete 180 credits within the degree on top of the 84 credits of general education requirements. With an emphasis on experiential learning, many students in this major choose to take advantage of study abroad programs (like a semester-long course on Race, Health, and Society in London), research opportunities, and internships.

    The University of Washington, located in Seattle, is one of the oldest universities on the west coast. It consistently ranks among the top five research universities in the United States. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

  2. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in the heart of Minnesota, with some of the leading health-care companies and organizations in the nation, the Public Health program at the University of Minnesota provides top-notch access to hands-on learning in the field. At the undergraduate level, the program offers a minor in Public Health or a 4+1 program, which allows students to earn a MPH in Environmental Health or MS in Biostatistics in addition to their bachelor’s degree in just one extra year of coursework.

    Even though the course requirements for the minor in Public Health are relatively small—just 14 to 16 credits—adding this degree to an undergraduate diploma will serve students well in their future academic pursuits. Because the university offers Public Health degrees at the masters and graduate level (MPH, MS, MHA, and PhD in Public Health), undergraduates have the opportunity to take upper level courses, on top of getting access to some of the best faculty and research in the nation.

    Within the minor curriculum, students may choose from numerous classes in four different areas: Introduction to the Discipline, Understanding Health Issues from Varying Social Scientific Contexts, Applying Public Health Theory, and Global Impact.

    The University of Minnesota—Twin Cities is a public research university split between its two campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul with an impressive student body of over 50,000. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. University of Pittsburgh
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Center for Global Health at the University of Pittsburgh was developed to “effectively address health issues that affect populations around the globe.” Through its collaboration with several schools and institutions within the university, the Center for Global Health provides a number of opportunities for undergraduates interested in Public Health.

    The BA of Philosophy in International and Area Studies degree gives students an interdisciplinary and research-based approach to Global Studies and Public Health. Because this dual-degree is intended for students who will eventually build careers outside of the United States, students must complete three years of language study and complete a study abroad experience in addition to the 24 credits of coursework.

    Regardless of their major, students can also earn a Global Studies Certificate with a concentration in Global Health, which requires students to do the following: take Introduction to Global Studies, take three classes in global health, take two courses in regional health, earn a second-year-level proficiency in a foreign language, and complete an interdisciplinary capstone research project.

    The University of Pittsburgh is made up of seventeen undergraduate and graduate schools and is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

  4. Arizona State University-Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University offers a BS in Public Health, with a special focus on health statistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health behavior, and health administration/policy. Rather than focusing on individual health, the curriculum at ASU prepares students to study and shape populations at the local, state, national, and international level.

    Spread out between eight terms, this degree requires 120 credits of coursework, with classes ranging from General Biology and Anatomy & Physiology to Epidemiology and Health Care Legislation. Unlike some schools, this program does not require or a incorporate a second language into the curriculum.

    Graduates from the program at ASU have gone on to fill a wide range of positions in the work force. Some are in the growing field of Community Health Workers, who typically make a yearly salary of around $35,000. Others are are in the health care system as Medical and Health Service Managers, making an average salary of $93,000 a year. Whatever your end goal is in the field of Public Health, the BS program at ASU is a fantastic place to start.

    The Arizona State University, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States, with over 82,000 students. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Committee (HLC).

  5. Ohio State University-Columbus
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Undergraduate students at Ohio State University may choose from a variety of degrees within the College of Public Health: Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH), BSPH for Pre-Health Professions, BSPH and MPH Combined degree program, Global Public Health Minor, and Epidemiology Minor. Furthermore, within the BS in Public Health, students have the option of specializing in either Public Health Sociology or Environmental Public Health.

    While both specializations within the BS in Public Health major require around 120 credits, the curriculum is shaped around different core classes for each focus; whereas Public Health Sociology blends the social sciences with research and data, Environmental Public Health emphasizes applied earth science and math courses, both with the intention to address social and environmental issues and inequalities.

    This degree highly encourages the exploration of public health in a global setting by offering study abroad programs in China, Japan, India, and Finland/Estonia. In addition, all students are required to complete a capstone project related to their area of interest. This could include a public health internship, a research project, or a field experience in public health.

    Located in Columbus, Ohio State University, is known for its strong showing in agricultural research, its extensive student life programs, and its Division I football team, among other things. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

  6. Rutgers University
    Location

    Newark, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1992, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University provides a cutting-edge academic and research environment for students interested in public policy, urban planning, public health, and health administration at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The Bloustein School emphasizes their commitment to collaboration and research across the four areas.

    In addition to completing the 24 credits of general education coursework, the BS in Public Health at Rutgers requires 46 credits, which includes 31 core credits and 15 additional elective credits. If you are a particularly engaged and ambitious student, you can choose to complete the joint BA/MPH or BS/MPH program, which allows you to finish both your bachelor and masters degrees in five years.

    Or, if you want to specialize even further within the field, the program at Rutgers offers four different Public Health Certificate Programs—each requiring 18 credits—to any student interested, regardless of their major. The Public Health Certificate include Health Disparities, Public Health Advocacy/Education, Public Health Management, and Public Health Preparedness.

    Rutgers University is a public research university in New Jersey, and the largest academic institution in the state. Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  7. Pennsylvania State University-University Park
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The BS in Health Policy and Administration at Pennsylvania State University blends together courses in liberal arts, business administration, and health sciences. Whereas some schools on our list promote the study of public health in many different contexts, the program at Penn State specializes within the healthcare system.

    This 120-credit-hour program promises their graduates jobs in one of six positions: health care providers, health insurers, health care consultants, health care suppliers, health services researchers and policy makers, and health department promoters. Students who would like to continue their education can participate in the Integrated Degree Program, which allows them to earn both their BS and Masters of Health Administration (MHA) in five years.

    In addition to studying with an impressive list of faculty, undergraduates in this program are encouraged to travel the country through study abroad programs. The semester-long Health Practice and Policy program takes students to London or Kingston, Jamaica, immersing them in a new culture through field experience and hands-on learning. Students can also choose from short-term, three-week courses in Costa Rica or Sweden.

    Pennsylvania State University—and its flagship school, University Park—is a public research insitution with a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  8. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Since 1958, the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida has been educating over 2,200 students a year in cutting-edge research and health systems. Its Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) is a competitive, two-year program intended for motivated students going into the healthcare system.

    Students apply to the program in their second year of undergraduate study. Although the program requires a total of 120 credits to graduate, it only requires 60 credit hours of 3000-level coursework within the Public Health degree. Because of the limited space within the department, students receive personal and specific mentorship from the ten core faculty members.

    Among the many student organizations available to Public Health students at the University of Florida (like the Undergraduate Public Health Association and the Public Health College Council), the L.E.A.P. Mentorship Program, created in 2014, invites junior and senior Public Health majors to guide and mentor freshman and sophomore students who show interest in the degree.

    One of the nation’s largest research universities, the University of Florida is a public institution in Gainesville that is also considered a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  9. University of Maryland Global Campus
    Location

    Adelphi, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The 120-credit-hour BS in Public Health Science degree at the University of Maryland, College Park integrates earth science with public health, giving students truly an interdisciplinary experience in subjects ranging from ecology to statistics to policy.

    The curriculum is organized into five main areas: scientific foundation, public health science foundation, public health science options, general education options, and general electives. The degree also incorporates a 3-credit capstone research project in the final year. This capstone project requires students to complete an in-depth, global study into a real-world issue, and is often the highlight of the program at University of Maryland.

    This program also offers two winter-term study abroad options that are unique to Public Health undergraduates. “East Meets West: Contrasting Public Health Priorities, Pragmatics, and Polemics in the US and India” is a class that exposes students to global policy in the context of two very different cultures. “Thailand: Human Trafficking in Context” sends students to explore a number of NGOs in Thailand that are working against child and human trafficking.

    Located just four miles from the nation’s capitol, The University of Maryland, College Park is a public research university. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  10. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    While there is no bachelor’s degree of Public Health offered at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, the school awards an Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health to all interested undergraduate students.

    Seen as an effective introduction to public health, and complementary add-on to another related degree, this 15-credit certificate requires a core class (Introduction to Global Health), at least one of the other core classes (Local to Global Perspectives or Global Environmental Health: An Interdisciplinary Introduction), a field experience, and 6 to 9 credits of electives.

    The field experience usually involves a one-on-one mentorship between you and a faculty member to choose a field location that suits your interests and needs. Students may either choose to stay local or within the United States, or they may travel to other countries, including Mexico, Ecuador, Uganda, Kenya, China, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

    The oldest and largest public university in the state, the University of Wisconsin is a public research institution in Madison. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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