Commonly offered through a Master of Public Health curriculum, these distance learning programs typically take 2 years or more to complete. Students examine information pertaining to different elements that affect health and disease transmission, and they often narrow their focus to emphasize community or individual health. Public health master's degree programs, including distance learning degrees, usually require a bachelor's degree in a related field for admission. Programs are available in fully online and hybrid formats. The latter may require visits to campus or an internship.
Students enrolled in public health master's degree programs in a distance learning setting take required classes in five subjects. Below are details about each learning component.
Biostatistics covers statistical methods and statistical packages. These techniques are used to analyze data for use in public health research.
Environmental Health Science
Environmental health science teaches students how substances in air, water and earth affect health.
In epidemiology, public health students learn how to measure the incidence and transmission of disease.
Health Policy and Management
Health policy and management students concentrate on the administrative elements of health care systems and health care delivery, including finance and law.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Finally, social and behavioral sciences courses explore social, political, cultural and behavioral factors and their associations with health-related issues.
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How Distance Learning Courses Work
Distance learning public health master's degree programs are semester- or trimester-based and offer students the same degree they'd earn if they studied on campus, except with the advantage of learning at home. Some programs have a campus-visit requirement, whether it's a week annually, a weekend session twice per semester or some other arrangement. An internship may also be required.
Course materials and student assignments may be exchanged electronically through email or Blackboard, an online educational interface, or a similar method. Additionally, courses may combine synchronous and asynchronous components. Coursework can include text or video lectures, email discussion lists and participation in online forums plus required reading. Some students will still need to purchase textbooks.
Graduates of distance learning public health master's degree programs can work for local, state or national health departments. They work to assess and address public health risks, like infectious diseases or domestic violence. They may also find employment with nongovernmental or nonprofit organizations, pharmaceutical research firms or health insurance companies.
Fully online master's degree programs are available, though some programs may require on-campus visits or internships. These programs emphasize areas such as biostatistics, environmental health science, epidemiology, health management and social/ behavioral sciences.