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Public Health Programs in Massachusetts with School Options

Most programs in public health programs are offered at the bachelor's or master's degree level in Massachusetts. Two schools with such public health programs are Harvard University in Cambridge and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Essential Information

About 7 colleges and universities in Massachusetts offer degree programs in public health; degree program minors are also available. Although a few schools offer undergraduate options, most studies are offered at the graduate level, through master's and doctoral programs. Additionally, dual degree programs are offered, combining a Master of Public Health with another graduate or professional degree, such as a Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Juris Doctor or Master of Science in Biomedical Science.

Dual bachelor's and master's degree programs are also available, including a Bachelor of Science in Public Health/Master of Science in Nutrition and Health Promotion. At the graduate level, students may also be able to choose a concentration in biostatistics, community health, healthcare administration, environmental health or epidemiology, to name a few. The following school summaries present an overview of what each school offers, and the chart provides a quick comparison of each school.


Boston University

Students in Boston can attend this university and find numerous degree programs pertaining to public health. At the undergraduate level, students can complete a minor in public health by completing 6 classes. Four of these classes are required and cover public health foundations, epidemiology, statistics and global health. Students can choose from a list of approved electives for the remaining 2 classes.

While most of the public health degree programs are offered at the graduate level, the school does offer a dual degree program leading to either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science and a Master of Public Health. Both options take 5 years to complete. Students who choose the BS option must major in a field offered by the Sargent College; some of these options include behavior and health, health science and nutrition/dietetics. The BA option is offered in tandem with the College of Arts and Sciences, and students can choose any major in this college. However, choosing a major that's relevant to public health may show a stronger commitment to the field when applying to the MPH program. Some of the majors offered in the college include biochemistry and molecular biology, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Students must apply to the MPH program in their sophomore years.

A stand-alone MPH program is also available. MPH students can expect to complete 48 credits that include concentration-related coursework. Concentrations are available in:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health law, bioethics and human rights
  • Health policy and management
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Maternal and child health
  • International health

In addition to coursework, the program requires students to complete a 112-hour practicum that takes place in a public health work setting. Two professional training seminars are also part of the practicum experience. Those who want to study public health and law may be interested in the dual degree program leading to a Juris Doctor and MPH. Application to both the School of Public Health and the School of Law is necessary, and students can complete the program in 7 semesters.

The Doctor of Public Health program may focus on administration, healthcare policy, healthcare ethics and research. Applicants without MPH degrees may need to complete prerequisite classes in biostatistics, epidemiology, healthcare policy, management and environmental health. The curriculum is made up of core classes like public health finance and economics, healthcare programs and policy assessment and public health needs evaluation. Students also take electives, research classes and management classes. Before graduating, students can expect to complete a practicum, comprehensive exam and dissertation.

Harvard University

Multiple public health graduate degree programs are offered at this university in Cambridge. Many of the applicants to the MPH program have already earned doctorate degrees, but those with master's degrees in public health-related fields and at least 3 years of relevant professional experience may also be considered. Additionally, students who are in the process of working toward specific professional degrees may apply. Students in the program can earn the required 42.5 credits in 2 semesters. All MPH students complete core coursework and choose a concentration that's geared toward their career goals. Each concentration option includes its own practical training requirement. The concentrations include:

  • Clinical effectiveness
  • Healthcare management and policy
  • Global health
  • Health and social behavior
  • Law and public health
  • Occupational and environmental health
  • Quantitative methods

Students can also complete the MPH degree program concurrently with either the Juris Doctor or Doctor of Medicine program. Those who want to earn Doctor of Public Health degrees at Harvard should be prepared to complete 40 credits of coursework earned through a major and 2 minors. Students are given flexibility in designing their curricula; however, they must complete an epidemiology course and 10 credits of biostatistics courses. An oral qualifying exam must be taken before students can begin working on their dissertations.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

This Boston-based college provides an on-campus Bachelor of Science in Public Health program and an online Master of Public Health program. The curriculum for the BS program combines concepts in math, liberal arts and sciences. Classes may include chemistry, calculus, biology, statistics, psychology, public health foundations and human disease; some classes have laboratory components. Senior students may complete fieldwork and a capstone course.

Applicants to the MPH program must have bachelor's degrees, GRE scores and interest or experience in the public health field. Some of the core classes in the program cover environmental health, healthcare administration, behavioral sciences and medical research statistics. The program includes a community health concentration; concentration classes may teach students to design and evaluate community health programs and assess community health needs. Students may attend a 5-day seminar that prepares them for the culminating 120-hour fieldwork experience.

Northeastern University

Boston is also home to this university where up to 5 students each year can enroll in the dual degree program for a BS in Health Science and an MPH. Students can complete the program in either 5 years without a co-op experience or 5 years with 1 co-op experience. Alternatively, a 6-year option that includes 2 6-month co-op experiences is also available.

A stand-alone option for the MPH program is also offered. The program focuses on urban health, and students can expect to complete 42 credits. The curriculum is divided into 15 credits of core public health classes, 9 credits of core urban health classes and 12 credits of electives. The remaining 3 credits are earned through a practicum and capstone project. Students spend 200 hours working in a public health work setting and complete a project based on the experience.

Simmons College

Students can earn a minor, bachelor's degree or bachelor's/master's degree in public health at Simmons College in Boston. Five courses are required to complete the minor, which may cover environmental science foundations, human disease, statistics, global health and healthcare distribution. Students in the public health bachelor's program can choose between 2 concentration areas: social analysis and biological sciences. However, students in both tracks take the same core classes, such as biology, environmental science, microbiology, statistics, global health and a public health senior seminar. An independent learning requirement for all public health majors may give students the opportunity to complete laboratory research, a thesis, an internship or fieldwork.

The dual degree program leads to a BS in Public Health and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Health Promotion. Students must first enroll in the BS program and then apply to the MS program in their junior years. Graduate-level courses may teach research methods, healthcare promotion, nutritional diseases and fitness evaluation. It typically takes 5 years to earn the degree.

Tufts University

This Medford-based university offers several degree programs for students who want to study public health. In the 5-year BA/MPH program, students can choose any undergraduate major for the BA portion. Before starting the MPH portion, students must first complete a human services-related internship. Some of the course requirements in the MPH program cover epidemiology, biostatistics, healthcare policy and healthcare administration. Additional courses may relate to the student's chosen concentration area, which may be in healthcare administration and policy, nutrition, epidemiology and biostatistics, international health and health communication. Alternatively, students can enroll in a stand-alone MPH program.

Tuft's University also offers dual degree programs leading to an MPH and an additional graduate degree in areas of dental medicine, medicine, veterinary medicine, nutrition, biomedical sciences or law. Individuals who want to earn a terminal degree that prepares them for public health leadership roles may consider the Doctor of Public Health program. Typically, the program admits students with approved MPH degrees and public health work experience; however, applicants from other health-related fields may apply. Evaluation of coursework, a practicum experience and comprehensive and qualifying exams determine whether students are accepted as doctoral candidates. Upon admittance to candidacy, students can begin working on their doctoral dissertations. A few scholarship opportunities are offered to exceptional, full-time doctoral students.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in public health are available in Amherst through the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The BS in Public Health Sciences program combines topics in environmental science, biostatistics, healthcare administration and human disease. Concentration areas in social science or science are offered.

A 5-year, fast-track dual degree option allows students to complete the public health BS program in addition to an MPH degree program. Undergraduate students with 3.5 GPAs can apply to the MPH program in their sophomore years, and they must complete an internship during their junior years. Additionally, admission to the MPH program requires students to apply to the Graduate School and submit GRE scores.

A separate MPH program is designed for individuals who already hold professional, graduate health degrees; health-related master's degrees and 3 years of professional experience; or bachelor's degrees and 5 years of approved work experience. Students can choose concentrations in biostatistics, community health education, environmental health sciences, epidemiology and nutrition. The program includes a 10-week practicum and 3 semesters of full-time coursework. Working health professionals with 3-5 years of professional healthcare experience and bachelor's degrees may be interested in the online MPH program in public health practice. The program consists of 14 classes, a 120-hour practicum and a capstone project.

Bachelor's-holding students with basic research skills may be eligible to earn a public health PhD degree. The program focuses on nutrition, so completion of master's-level nutrition classes is necessary. Students who don't meet the requirement for the nutrition core must complete these classes before completing the PhD comprehensive exam. Students may complete courses covering vitamins, minerals, nutritional evaluation, epidemiology and biostatistics. Additional degree requirements include written and oral exams, completion of a minor, a graduate seminar and a dissertation.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Public Health Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Boston University University; private; nonprofit; large city Minor in public health,
Bachelor of Arts/Master of Public Health,
Bachelor of Science/Master of Public Health,
Master of Public Health,
Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health,
Doctor of Public Health
$48,436*
Harvard University University; private; nonprofit; midsized city Master of Public Health,
Master of Public Health/Juris Doctor,
Master of Public Health/Doctor of Medicine,
Doctor of Public Health
$45,278*
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 4-year; private; nonprofit; large city Bachelor of Science in Public Health,
Master of Public Health
$30,530*
Northeastern University University; private; nonprofit; large city Bachelor of Science in Health Science/ Master of Public Health in Urban Health,
Master of Public Health in Urban Health
$45,530*
Simmons College 4-year; private; nonprofit; large city Minor in public health;
Bachelor of Science in Public Health,
Bachelor of Science Public Health/Master of Science in Nutrition and Health Promotion
$37,380*
Tufts University University; private; nonprofit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts/Master of Public Health,
Master of Public Health,
Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health,
Master of Science in Nutrition/Master of Public Health,
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences/ Master of Public Health,
Doctor of Medicine/Master of Public Health,
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/ Master of Public Health,
Doctor of Dental Medicine/Master of Public Health,
Doctor of Public Health
$50,604*
University of Massachusetts Amherst University; public; fringe town Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences,
Bachelor of Science/Master of Public Health,
Master of Public Health,
Master of Public Health in Nutrition,
Master of Science in Public Health,
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health - Nutrition
$14,171 in-state, $30,504 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator


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