Master of Science (MS): Public Health Degree Overview

A Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree provides individuals with the skills required to collect and analyze health data gathered in a community, and subsequently make effective high-level policy decisions in the best interest of the general public. This program generally takes two years to complete and may require students to write and defend a thesis to fulfill degree requirements.

Essential Information

Students considering MSPH programs should have a solid understanding of mathematics and science prior to enrollment. Although a health-related major isn't generally necessary for admission, those students with majors outside of the field may be required to complete prerequisite coursework. In addition, some programs offer internship opportunities with research facilities for professional experience.

  • Program Levels in Public Health: Master's degree
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores, specified minimum GPA
  • Program Specializations: health policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, health management or environmental health, among others
  • Program Length: 2 years

Master of Science in Public Health

Although master's degree programs in public health typically emphasize research and thesis courses, many curricula also highlight theory development. By doing so, students learn how problems arise in public and community health, and what the common barriers are to implementing new policies. Courses in this program may include:

  • Data management
  • Biostatistics
  • Social and behavioral medicine
  • Health service management
  • Health care law

Popular Career Options

Graduates from an MSPH degree program can find employment opportunities either in research or in the implementation of healthcare policies. They can work in government, private industry or academia. Some possible job titles include:

  • Health policy analyst
  • Healthcare program director
  • Community healthcare advocate
  • Research consultant
  • Government policy specialist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has employment outlook information for professions that require master's degrees in public health, including health educators and epidemiologists. These professions had respective job growths of 21% and 10% from 2012-2022. In 2014, the BLS reported that epidemiologists earned a median salary of $67,420, while health educators earned $50,430 as a median wage.

Continuing Education

Graduates interested in an advanced graduate degree can pursue a Ph.D. degree in public health. An advanced degree could lead to higher-level management positions in hospitals and research facilities.

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