Types of MPH Masters in Public Health Degrees

This article describes the different types of master’s in public health degrees, specialties, and information about different online universities where you can complete your public health education.

People who want to help to create healthy communities by providing education, research and promoting healthy lifestyles should consider a career in public health. In public health, there is a focus on promoting healthy living and preventing disease and injury. This contrasts with medicine, where the focus is more upon diagnosing and treating illnesses that are already present.

There are several types of public health professionals who analyze and develop programs that strive to protect the health of communities. You can earn your master’s degree in public health in one of these specialties and enjoy a very rewarding career. There is a high demand for more public health professionals in the workforce who can help to prevent diseases from occurring. This can reduce healthcare costs.

To work in public health, you generally need to have your Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, and you may eventually earn your doctoral degree if you want to dedicate your career to research. The major types of public health professionals and degrees at the master’s level are:

  • Biostatistics: This science applies statistical theory and mathematical foundational principles to research in public health and related fields. Biostatisticians use math and science to figure out the causes of disease in communities and to identify negative health trends in local areas.
  • Environmental health: These professionals boost public health by identifying and addressing problems in the environment that lead to negative health outcomes. Many people with a master’s degree in environmental health work for local and state public health departments.
  • Health services administration: Combines policy, business and science to manage human and financial resources that are needed to provide the best public health services. You may work in a public health clinic, a business or an insurance company, among other options.
  • Epidemiology: These public health professionals investigate the various patterns of disease and injury in certain populations. They try to reduce the occurrence of negative health experiences with research, community education and advanced health policy.
  • Community health education: This area is about teaching people in communities about behaviors that promote health and wellness. They will develop new strategies that boost the health of people in many areas of the country. They also will collect data and talk about health concerns with certain people in at risk communities.

As you are looking at options for your public health education, you should look for accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Accreditation from this respected, national public health body shows that the program has met high standards of quality.

Master of Public Health – Epidemiology

For students who interested in a career in epidemiology, the University of South Florida offers a 2.5 year program. This is the ideal epidemiology program for students who do not live in the Florida area and are working full time. The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics has 17 full time faculty and more than 200 full time MPH students.

All of the classes are online and the majority are asynchronous so that you can take your classes on your schedule.

Your MPH classes include:

  • History and Systems of Public Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences Applied to Health
  • Biostatistics II
  • Epidemiology Methods I and II

You also will need to complete a field experience in your local community where you will apply the epidemiological principles that you have learned.

Master of Public Health – Environmental Health

The University of Illinois Springfield has an MPH in Environmental Health that requires you to complete 48 semester hours online, with 28 hours of general MPH classes, and a four hour internship. You also need to complete eight hours of environmental health classes. Classes include:

  • Biostatistics for the Health Professional
  • Community Health Research
  • Foundations of Epidemiology
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Public Health Policy and Administration
  • Community Health Education
  • Risk Assessment
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Environmental Risk Assessment

At the conclusion of the two year program, you will undergo a closure requirement sequence; this is a comprehensive written examination that is based upon a case study in public health. It will test your ability to apply the knowledge that you learned in the five core classes.

Master of Public Health – Biostatistics

Kent State University offers an MPH in Biostatistics that will train you in the quantitative science of collecting health data, as well as analyzing and interpreting it for positive health outcomes. Graduates of the program in biostatistics will have the skills in statistics to design and analyze health surveys and experiments to improve public health.

The purpose of this program is to provide students with the skills and knowledge that they need to pursue exciting career opportunities in public health and biostatistics. The faculty in this large department have many research interests and work on applying biostatistical analysis to understand critical health problems. Some of the health problems the faculty currently are working on include HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and cancer.

Master of Public Health – Health Education and Communication

The George Washington University has an MPH degree in health education and communication. The goal of the program is to educate you on how to use marketing and communication as tools to influence places, people and environmental circumstances to advance public health in local communities that are at risk.

Graduates of this two year, online program in public health have been shown to be effective public health leaders. They are able to develop specific expertise in communication and marketing that allow them to work effectively with public health experts that have a high impact and enhance public health.

Professionals who graduate with this degree may work in private consulting organizations or large government agencies at the federal, state or local level. Other graduates work for wellness centers, healthcare organizations and insurance companies.

Required coursework includes:

  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing and Research for Public Health

Master of Public Health – Public Health Policy and Practice

The University of Maryland School of Public Health offers this MPH in public health policy and practice that provides working professionals with the knowledge and competencies that they need to assume public health leadership roles to address vital public health practice and policy matters.

People who take this online program do not have to stop working and can complete the program in 18 months to two years. Instruction includes online courses and also six weekends of residency where you come to the campus.

The 42 credit hour program covers the core areas of public health; public health policy; internship and capstone.

Courses include the following:

  • Introduction to Health Systems
  • Foundations of Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Foundations of Environmental Health
  • Health Behavior
  • Healthcare Leadership and Communications
  • Public Health Practice and Management
  • Public Health Research Methods
  • Policy and Politics of Health
  • Health Law and Ethics
  • Health Economics and Analysis

Public health overall has many exciting possibilities and professions in the 21st century. Each of the above specialties is very important to reduce public health problems and control health care costs. Decide which one is for you and then get started on your best MPH degree search.

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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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