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Master of Science in Public Health: Online Degree

Find out about online master's degree programs in public health. Get program requirements, course topics and career information to determine if online learning is right for you.

Essential Information

Online master's programs in public health are fairly common and often allow students to study full- or part-time. Some are offered entirely online, while others are provided in a blended format that may involve a brief residency on campus for courses, conferences and/or seminars. Field experience may be a requirement as well.

Many master's degree programs in public health allow the students to customize their studies to suit their career goals. Specializations can include epidemiology, biostatistics, public nutrition, Native American health, reproductive health, tropical medicine or health informatics.

Master of Science in Public Health

Many schools have master's degrees in public health that can be earned completely online. Students must meet graduate school admission requirements, which generally include a bachelor's degree and passing the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

An online Master of Science (M.S.) in Public Health may include concentrations such as biostatistics, epidemiology, occupational health or public nutrition. The epidemiology focus usually involves a methodological and comprehensive research experience. A concentration in biostatistics provides rigorous training in biostatistical methods and their applications, training students for positions in government or private institutions. The public nutrition focus addresses population-based dietary needs and programs.

With an online M.S. in Public Health, students will obtain the same skills and knowledge they could expect from a traditional program. Graduates will be able to critically evaluate epidemiological literature, and be cognizant of disease surveillance methodology and patterns. They'll be able to formulate a testable hypothesis, evaluate study designs, and gain control of health problems.

Course Topics

Students may choose from courses as varied as epidemiology, current issues in public health, health policy and tobacco control. The courses named below describe the most common ones in an online master's degree in public health program:

  • Health in Complex Emergencies
  • Nutritional Assessment
  • Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • Human Nutrition
  • Disease Surveillance
  • Descriptive Epidemiology
  • Problem Conception
  • Hypothesis Generation
  • Conduct of Epidemiological Studies
  • Analysis of Study Data

Career Information

Many public health workers must be certified by the state in which they wish to practice. A student should make sure that an online master's program meets the requirements of the state in which they intend to work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings of epidemiologists were about $69,450 in 2015, and employment in this field was expected to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024.

Over the course of an online MS program in public health, students can expect to take advanced coursework in community health alongside more focused classes in their particular area of interest. Whether taken in a fully online or hybrid format, these programs provide a comprehensive education in the field.


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