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What is an MPH degree?

A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is an advanced degree in public health. Unlike a Ph.D., which is generally an avenue to research and teaching, an MPH is typically sought by people who work as a practitioner in the public health field in some capacity, such as in community health or public policy. Public health workers focus on the welfare and health of individuals, families, and communities.

What types of jobs are available with an MPH degree?

Those seeking MPH degrees usually work in public health, often in schools, health departments, worksite wellness, or non-profit associations. Obtaining an MPH can qualify someone for a position as a program manager or evaluation specialist. Because it is an advanced degree, obtaining an MPH may also make you eligible to earn a higher salary at your current position. MPH degrees are also popular with nurses and social workers who specialize in public health. Job growth in the public health sector looks favorable over the next decade; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% growth in employment among health educators and community health workers from 2012 to 2022. With an online Master of Public Health program, you can complete your MPH degree while you continue to work full time.

What coursework do you take in an MPH program?

The coursework associated with an MPH degree will vary by school. Accredited MPH programs offer foundational courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, behavioral health, environmental health, and health policy. Beyond the required foundational courses, students structure their coursework around a specialty, such as health education, healthcare administration, or epidemiology. All coursework, even electives, will be focused on the practical aspects of these specialties. In addition, some MPH programs are inherently specialized in certain aspects of public health. It is important to check program descriptions to identify available specialties.

How long does it take to complete an MPH?

It is possible to complete an MPH degree in approximately two years, and many schools offer an online Master of Public Health program. Different programs may allow accelerated or extended degree completion timelines.

Is there a practical component to an MPH?

Because an MPH is inherently practice-oriented, most degree programs will require a practical or applied component. Depending on student preferences and program requirements, this practical component may take the form of a supervised internship or an extended project. If you are completing an online Master of Public Health program, you may be able to complete this portion of the degree supplemental to your current work assignments.

An MPH degree is an opportunity for public health workers to obtain advanced education in their field. Because it can be completed in a relatively short period of time and because of increased online Master of Public Health program options, it is more feasible than ever for public health workers to obtain the MPH degree without having to leave the workforce.


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