Students who decide to pursue a Master of Public Health degree are typically required a select a specialty area within the degree program. One of these options is the field of epidemiology. Below, we will discuss common coursework and admission standards for these degree programs, as well as career information for epidemiologists.
Information About MPH Degree Programs in Epidemiology
MPH degree programs in epidemiology focus on the study and control of the spread of different types of human diseases. These degrees generally take two years to complete, depending on the education history of the student and the nature of the program. Students who already possess advanced degrees may be able to complete an MPH program in a shorter amount of time, while students who begin the program with only a bachelor's degree may need to spend more time to earn an MPH. In addition, students may have the ability to select a further specializations within the field of epidemiology, such as global epidemiology, infectious diseases, or hospital molecular epidemiology, to name a few possible options. Below, we will look at five different courses that are commonly found in MPH programs in epidemiology.
Basis/Principles of Epidemiology
One of the first courses a student may take in an epidemiology MPH program is a principles of epidemiology course. In such a course, students get an overview of the field of epidemiology. Students study factors that affect the spread of disease, how various diseases are spread, and the different approaches to infectious versus noninfectious diseases. In addition, this course likely covers policies and laws that govern the field of public health and epidemiology.
Statistical Methods in Public Health and Epidemiology
Another common course in epidemiology MPH programs, statistical methods classes teach students various methods for analyzing and displaying public health data. Topics that will likely be discussed include the fundamentals of probability and statistical inference. Students can learn to work with frequency tables, box plots, and other graphical displays of data.
As degree programs in public health and epidemiology are typically research-oriented and data heavy, it is also common for students to be required to take a course in biostatistics. In this course, students gain an understanding of advanced methods in statistical analysis as they apply to the field of public health and epidemiology research. Topics that may be discussed include discrete probability, sample size, Bayesian techniques, and interpretation of P values.
Many MPH programs in epidemiology require that students take a course in global health, which focuses on topics like global health risks and how globalization impacts the frameworks in place to deal with health problems. In addition, students learn about various governmental and non-governmental actors that operate within the field of global health as well as the laws and policies in place that are pertinent to disease prevention on an international level.
Environmental Factors in Epidemiology
Another commonly found course in these programs is a class that covers environmental factors and the role they play in the spread and study of human disease. In this course, students study how factors like water and air pollution, the use of pesticides, and exposure to various environmental toxins can affect human health. This class may also include discussion of the populations most vulnerable to these types of health risks.
Admission Requirements for MPH Degree Programs in Epidemiology
When applying to a Master of Public Health in epidemiology degree program, students will need to submit their college transcripts and proof of obtaining a bachelor's degree. Letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement or essay discussing their motivation for completing an MPH program, and GRE test scores are also typically required. Some programs also require that students have completed certain courses in their undergraduate career in science and mathematics, but this requirement varies by program. Applicants with related work or volunteer experience could have the strongest changes of being accepted.
Career Info for an MPH in Epidemiology
Students who complete their MPH degree in epidemiology have a number of career paths they could choose to pursue. One of these options is to become an epidemiologist. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, epidemiologists earned a median salary of $70,990 as of 2019. However, salaries do vary within this field, as the bottom 10% of epidemiologists made less than $44,000 and the top 10% earned over $119,290. The majority of epidemiologists find employment through state and local governments, while many others are employed at hospitals, universities, and research institutions.
To summarize, students who are interested in the spread of human diseases may want to consider enrolling in a Master of Public Health degree program in epidemiology. Once completed, this degree can lead to a number of different careers in the field of public health and research.