MPH Vs. MS in Epidemiology

Feb 02, 2018

Master's degree programs in public health and epidemiology serve students who are interested in working in public health, as well as professionals in the field. Learn about each program, common courses and admissions requirements.

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Students interested in working in the field of public health may further their education by pursuing a Master of Public Health or a Master of Science in Epidemiology. These two programs differ in their educational focus and prepare graduates for different types of careers. Compare and contrast the two degree programs, common coursework and typical admissions requirements here.

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Comparing a Master of Public Health to a Master of Science in Epidemiology

Master of Public Health

Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs are broader programs that can be found on-campus and online at many institutions across the country. These programs are usually 2 years in length and offer various concentrations depending on the program, including epidemiology, biostatistics, global health, health policy and environmental health. Common core coursework for students in these programs includes biostatistics, health policy and management, environmental health and epidemiology. Most MPH programs also require students to complete a practicum prior to graduation that allows for hands-on learning experiences and networking opportunities. MPH programs are ideal for recent graduates, public health professionals or clinical practitioners looking to advance their career, further specialize in a particular area or move into a management position in their organization.

Master of Science in Epidemiology

Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology programs are specialized programs that are usually only available on-campus, but are still widely available. These programs usually range from 1 to 2 years in length and prepare students for a career in the field or doctoral study. Common coursework for students in these programs includes epidemiologic research methods, biostatistics, applied epidemiology, intermediate epidemiology and statistical computing. Some programs also require students to complete independent research and data analysis in the form of a thesis prior to graduation. Graduates of an MS in Epidemiology program tend to pursue careers as epidemiologists or research-oriented positions in healthcare, the government or private sectors.

Common Entrance Requirements

Many graduate programs, including most MPH and MS in Epidemiology programs, require applicants to submit the appropriate applications and fees, official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and/or a resume. MPH degree programs may also require students to have an undergraduate GPA in the range of 2.75 to 3.0 or higher and some may require professional work experience. MPH programs typically accept students with prior coursework in statistics and the life sciences and online programs may require that accepted students be able to make mandatory on-campus visits. Students applying to MS in Epidemiology programs must hold a bachelor's degree, but it does not usually need to be from a particular field and work experience is not generally required. These programs do encourage students to score well in the quantitative and writing portions of the GRE and hold high grades in quantitative coursework.

Students interested in learning more about public health and various topics in healthcare may want to pursue an MPH, while students interested in research and quantitative analysis may want to pursue an MS in Epidemiology. These programs vary in required coursework, but both prepare graduates for advanced careers in public health.

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