How to Choose a Master's in Public Health College
Students who want to pursue a master's degree in public health can enroll in programs available at 4-year colleges and universities. Universities offer both professional and academic master's degree programs in public health; prospective students should choose the one that matches up with their career goals. Students looking for careers practicing public health at a clinic or guiding public health policy at a government agency choose schools that offer a Master of Public Health (MPH). A Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) program, featuring a curriculum focused more on theory than on practice, prepares students for academic careers in teaching or research. Dual degree programs combining an MPH with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) allow students to start a career as a doctor, lawyer or veterinarian who focuses on public health issues. The Council on Education for Public Health accredits viable programs. When selecting a school, consider the following points:
- Students' choice of either a MPH or MSPH program should be based on their career goals.
- Public health master's degree programs differentiate themselves with available specializations, including biostatistics, community health education, epidemiology or public health administration, so students should seek programs that offer specializations in their area of interest.
- Fellowships and internships are important ways to build experience while in a graduate degree program.
Master's in Public Health Program Overviews
Master of Public Health
An MPH program prepares students to be public health practitioners and work on public policy. Students learn to understand the community context of public health issues and to apply relevant research to solve recurring problems. They must complete coursework and a practicum or fieldwork experience. Some programs also require a thesis or project. Coursework could include:
- Environmental health
- Behavioral sciences in public health
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree and scores from graduate exams; prior coursework in mathematics and the sciences is also necessary.
Master of Science in Public Health
An MSPH program trains students to be researchers in the field of public health. Participants typically focus their studies on a specific concentration, such as biostatistics or environmental health. MSPH programs emphasize quantitative analysis and laboratory research. A thesis or research project and practicum may be required to complete the program. Courses typically include:
- Epidemiologic methods
- Health systems
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with sufficient preparation in mathematics and the sciences to be admitted. They also need to submit scores from graduate exams.
Top 10 Graduate Public Health Schools
|Johns Hopkins University||4-year, private not-for-profit|
|Harvard University||4-year, private not-for-profit|
|University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||4-year, public|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||4-year, public|
|Columbia University||4-year, private not-for-profit|
|University of Washington||4-year, public|
|Emory University||4-year, private not-for-profit|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||4-year, public|
|University of California - Berkeley||4-year, public|
|Boston University||4-year, private not-for-profit|