What Can You Do With a Masters in Public Health?

Jul 21, 2018

A public health master's degree program prepares graduates for work in places like community health centers, nonprofit healthcare-related residences, government agencies or private companies. Graduates of this master's degree program can seek various positions within these types of organizations.

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  • 0:04 Career Options with an MPH
  • 1:15 Salary & Job Outlook
  • 1:59 Master's in Public…
  • 2:46 Areas of Emphasis
  • 3:13 Coursework

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Career Options with an MPH

Let's discuss some of the career options and salaries for individuals with a master's degree in public health. Then, we'll explore the degree program, areas of emphasis, and common coursework.

Those with a master's in public health (MPH) work in both the private and public sectors. Places of employment may include schools, government agencies, organizations such as the American Cancer Society or the American Red Cross, and local nonprofits that are involved with health. Public health workers often work alongside social workers with diverse populations, especially in urban areas. Popular career titles include policy analyst, epidemiologist, food safety inspector, health educator, health and safety engineer, public health lobbyist, biostatistician, nutritionist, and public health journalist.

Graduates may find jobs within the private sector as well. Both health insurance and pharmaceutical companies are involved with government legislature as it pertains to legalities of their products and services. Those with a public health degree are often fluent in this field and may find work helping companies meet bureaucratic requirements.

Salary & Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that managers in the health services field earned a median annual wage of approximately $96,540 as of May 2016. However, due to the broad nature of the field, salaries vary widely according to type and place of employment. For example, health educators earned a median annual salary of $53,070. The health educator field was expected to grow by 12% in the period between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reports that the median salary for statisticians, including biostatisticians, was $80,500 as of May of 2016.

Master's in Public Health: Overview

We've covered some of the careers that a Master of Public Health graduate can pursue. Now we'll look at the degree itself. MPH programs introduce skills relevant to environmental health services, health services administration, social sciences, human behavior, and communication. Programs typically require students to apply these teachings in a real-world context before they are eligible to graduate. A thesis paper or capstone project may also be needed.

Students in this degree program may learn how to influence social and health policies at the government level through both presenting and lobbying. They may also learn to work with diverse populations and use cultural and sociological skills to understand how communities require individualized services that pertain to physical and mental health.

Areas of Emphasis

A specialization or area of emphasis may be required and can affect career opportunities. Students generally focus on the quantitative methods associated with research in this field, as well as effectiveness at a clinical level. Specializations include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy
  • Environmental health
  • Nutrition
  • Health services management
  • Health education


The curriculum for an MPH varies widely depending on the school. Classes blend with experiential field training and are rounded out by seminar and practicum sessions. Some components may be completed online. Common themes include:

  • Global health issues
  • Health systems
  • Health care statistics
  • Public health administration
  • Disease control

A master's in public health opens the door to a wide range of careers that include health educators, epidemiologists, and more. Students often prepare for a career by specializing in a particular area during their graduate studies.

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