What is an Online Master of Public Health?
The online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree allows you to practice a career in a public health setting. It’s a multi-disciplinary professional degree, as opposed to an academic degree. The MPH covers a broad scope of career opportunities like working within public health departments, care organizations, community-based organizations, hospitals, consulting firms, international agencies, state and federal agencies, and more. Public health workers try to treat and maintain the health of an entire population—seatbelt laws, flu vaccines, and fluoride in drinking water are all examples of public health achievements.
Curriculum within an Online Masters in Public Health Program:
The MPH degree covers coursework in a number of public health disciplines, such as health administration, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental science, environmental health, health education, epidemiology, occupational health, and behavioral health and studies. Online MPH programs are available through medical schools, schools of public health, and schools of public affairs. Most online programs come in both full-time and part-time formats, although these options vary depending on the program. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years, depending on your status and what your program requirements are like. Online programs want to be accommodating to professionals who are already working in a health or public healthcare field.
MPH programs want participants to “be part of the solution” to our society’s persistent health care problems. Professors will want you to become acquainted with the following information:
- Origins of current health care dilemmas
- Best practice community approaches to health promotion
- Applied epidemiology
- Research design and interpretation of findings from research studies
- Methods for analysis of data
- Influence of environmental factors on the public’s health
- Regulations and laws in public health
- Planning and evaluation
Courses that are offered by online MPH programs are typically 3 credits each and come in a variety of core curriculum as well as elective curriculum that depend on your certain public health specialization. The following is a list of potential classes you’ll take in your online program:
- Introductory Biostatistics
- Environmental Health Practices
- Social & Behavioral Theories in Public Health
- Public Health Interventions
- Introduction to the U.S. Health Care System
- Principles of Epidemiology
- Research Methods
- Health Politics and Policy
- Ethical Issues in Public Health
- Environmental Regulation and Compliance
- Comparative Health Care Systems
- Globalization and Health
- International Health, Population and Development
- Health Care Organization and Administration
- Financial Management of Health Institutions
- Evidence-Based Policy
- Leadership in Public Health Systems
- Social Justice and Public Health
- Health Program Planning
- Health Economics and Reimbursement
- Public Health Emergency Management
- Public Health Informatics
- Public Health Law
- Relationship between Health, Religion, and Spirituality
Most programs end with a capstone experience or practicum within a public health field. This is to provide students with a hands-on experience within the public health profession.
Online Masters in Public Health Post-Graduate Certification:
Once you’ve graduated from your online MPH program you will then be required to take the “Certified in Public Health (CPH) Exam.” The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) began offering certifications in 2008. The exam is based on the MPH degree’s five basic core competencies: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy and Health Administration/Management, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The test is supposed to reflect the nature of the field and the way one area of knowledge blends into another. The certification exam is administered to graduates of and students at CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health.
The board of directors of NBPHE represents five public health key collaborating organizations: The American Public Health Association (APHA), the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR), the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The board is dedicated to increasing recognition of the public health profession, raising the visibility of public health, and measuring and improving the competency of public health workers across the nation and around the world.
Why Choose an Online Masters in Public Health Program?
There are many reasons why you should consider an online master’s program for public health. First of all, online education is currently accepted as a quality learning method. It has the same credibility as on-campus learning, yet its flexible nature makes it much easier for working individuals to gain a graduate degree. According to a survey that was conducted by the Sloan Consortium, the rate of students pursuing online education is growing faster than the rate of students who pursue traditional graduate educations. Almost 3.5 million students now study online, and 60% of employers believe that online education is as good as or better than campus-based programs. Overall, online education is getting a great reputation, and you too can quickly gain your MPH degree through this online format.
Online education will allow you to juggle your demands of work, family, social life, and education. You won’t have to make great sacrifices to gain a career in public health. You won’t be wasting time or money in commuting to class everyday—instead you can work from the comfort of your home or office. Additionally, if you go on vacation or have to travel for your job you can still stay connected to your classes. Students have mentioned feeling more empowered through the online learning environment.
If you’re wondering if an online MPH program is a good path for you, there are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Can you manage time effectively? As previously stated, online education offers great flexibility. Some students do have a challenge though in completing the course work on schedule. If you’re not good at time management and can’t force yourself to work when there isn’t anyone pressuring you, then the online environment may not be the best option. The flexibility of an online degree is great though, and something very valuable to consider. You could read an assigned chapter during your lunch break, or take a test after you put the kids to bed. There are ways to manage both a busy life and school schedule.
- Do you prefer to take time to respond thoughtfully to issues? A great benefit to learning online is that it allows students to take time to reflect on new material. This can be an advantage over classroom learning, where you’re supposed to formulate an opinion almost immediately. Online learning allows you to have a thoughtful process when considering coursework and test material.
- Are you comfortable with communicating through writing? An online degree will require you to do most of your communication through writing. Correspondence with both classmates and professors will be done almost completely through writing. Online discussion groups and essays will be required for your MPH program. If you do not feel like you’re a strong writer or that you would prefer to communicate through talking, you should consider an online degree more carefully.
- Are you open to using computers and new technology? Most online programs use commonplace technology. They also have tech support that can help you 24/7. Even so, if you absolutely hate using computers and the Internet, then online learning may be a challenge. Some programs explore podcasting, email, discussion boards, and video chat. Consider ramping up your comfort level with technology before enrolling. Once you’ve got basic computer skills, the rest should come easily.
Career Opportunities with an Online Masters in Public Health
As previously mentioned there are abundant career options after completing your MPH online. There are options within the public sector at local, state, or federal health departments, such as food safety inspectors, health educators, policy analysis, and epidemiologists. There are also many options in the private sector that include working in university systems as researchers or becoming a health advocator or policy maker at a non-profit. Your career will depend on the online MPH program you participate in as well as your interest and specializations within that program. Some examples of job titles include:
- Public Health Management Analyst
- Director of Programs and Services
- Health Communications Specialist
- Research Scientist
- Environmental Health Intelligence Analyst Manager
- Breastfeeding Initiatives
Some of the most common career opportunities and salaries include:
- 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
- Nutrition: $31,500 – $70,875
- Public Health Practice/Program Management: $41,175 – $102,000
- Biomedical Laboratory: $31,500 – $78,750