A Master in Public Health (MPH) is an master’s degree that is the most recognized professional degree for leaders in the field of public health. This degree is designed for people who want to become leaders in how to solve the most pressing public health problems, such as proper sanitation, HIV/AIDS prevention, and malaria.
Many of the people who get their MPH aspire to high level management roles in public health in health organizations and in state and federal government.
An MPH offers you many different career opportunities that will suit many different types of skills and interests. No matter if you are interested in number crunching, doing research, or educating local communities, there is a good position that is available for you in public health.
Your MPH will give you a big competitive edge over other professionals in this field. For example, you will learn:
- About the factors that affect local, national and global social and legislative policies
- How the latest quantitative and qualitative public health skills are needed to solve pressing health problems
- To develop strategies at the local level to solve public health crises
- To improve communications about public health problems by working with diverse communities
- Become better positioned for a role in leadership for both disease prevention and health promotion
Masters in Public Health – Coursework
During most MPH programs, you will need to complete some core coursework in several areas, including biostatistics, environmental health, health education, biology and problem solving. Some of the classes that you may take include ones such as the following:
- Statistical reasoning in public health
- Statistical methods in public health
- Environmental health
- Principles of epidemiology
- Occupational safety/health management
- Problem solving in public health
- Human physiology
- Infectious disease evolution
- Social and behavioral foundations
- Health literacy
MPH Degree Admission Requirements
To be admitted into a good MPH program, you will need most of the following:
- Official college transcripts from your bachelor’s program
- Three letters of recommendation from both professional and academic sources
- Test scores: Typical acceptable tests include GRE, MCAT, GMAT or LSAT. Some programs may allow you to have test scores waived, if you already have a master’s degree in a related subject.
- Previous coursework in mathematics, biology, health-related sciences
- At least two years of health-related work experience
- An updated resume that reflects your health-related work experience
In an MPH program, you can study many different disciplines. Any MPH degree will provide an overview of the topics below, but your specialized MPH degree will focus intensely on one of these topics.
Most MPH programs offer the following specializations:
- Epidemiology: You will be trained to analyze how a disease is distributed among a population and how to determine its cause.
- Social and Behavioral Sciences: Learn the theoretical bases of health behavior and how behavior influences health.
- Health Policy and Management: Trains you to address risks in public health and develop the most effective health services to provide optimum health in local populations.
- Biostatistics: Trains you in the science of health data collecting, as well as analysis, storage, retrieval and interpretation. Learn how to use statistics to design/analyze health surveys and experiments.
- Environmental Health: Helps you to understand the biological, physical and chemical factors that affect population health.
Who Can Apply for An MPH Degree
Anyone who has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in a related field may apply to an MPH program. As stated earlier, you should have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, and you should have a background in health, biology and the health sciences.
Some public health majors actually have an MD and want to focus their medical career on public health.
If you have a master’s degree in a related field, you may be able to have the standardized test score requirement waived.
Do International Students Study MPH and Do Companies Sponsor Work Visas For Them?
Most good MPH programs in the US encourage applications from prospective students around the globe.
Many programs will require international MPH applicants to take the TOEFL test to ensure they have the necessary English language skills to perform in a graduate school setting.
Also, you may need to complete a certificate of eligibility to ensure that you have the legal status to study in the US and to receive financial aid. Your MPH program will have to arrange a visa for you to study in the United States.
After you graduate, your potential employer can arrange for you to get a work visa so that you can stay and work in the US.
MPH Degree Salary Range and Job Opportunities
There are many different specialties in the field of public health, and many different salary ranges.
Overall, there is a major demand for more workers in public health. This is because there are more demands on the health care systems in many parts of the world.
Also, it is now understood that the best way to improve public health is to stop people from getting ill and coming down with diseases before they start.
Some of the typical salary ranges, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, include the following. Note that with an MPH, you will usually earn towards the upper end of this pay scale, after 5 years or so of experience.
- Health Services Administration: $37,050 – $161,400
- Biostatistics: $33,000 – $63,000
- Epidemiology; $38,175 – $136,237
- Health Education/Behavioral Science: $33,000 – $86,625
- Environmental Health: $44,550 – $143,700
- International Health: $31,500 – $86,625
- Public Health Practice/Program Management: $41,175 – $102,000
About the Author
Robert Sanchez is a staff writer for a Guide on MPH Degrees, a public health program resource aimed at educating students about science and the art of improving the health of local communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles. He recently highlighted the 16 Top Careers in Public Health.