The best master’s degrees in public health will give you a strong foundation from which to launch a lucrative and lifelong career.
Between the beginning and end of the 20th century, the average life expectancy rose sharply by 30 years. Advances in public health practices are said to account for the vast majority of improvements in enjoying a longer lifespan. However, the reality is that the sector is lacking the workforce that it needs to drive these advances forward.
In 2019, the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPH) estimated 250,000 more public health workers would be needed by 2020. And as of 2012, the workforce stood at around only 110,000 workers; 23% were also eligible to retire by 2012.
These are all fantastic reasons to pursue a Master’s in Public Health (MPH), securing your future with a career in a rapidly expanding field.
What is a Public Health Master’s Degree?
If you work in public health, you're working toward improving society's health and general attitudes toward healthy living. As a student, you'll learn how to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent disease and injury, and control the spread of infection. You could be studying -- or working on -- local policies within a community, or global policies to protect the planet.
Students will have to demonstrate competencies in all areas of public health as part of their studies. Classes will cover subjects like epidemiology, social and behavioral influences on health, biostatistics, and management sciences. You'll also likely cover public health policies and problem-solving, demographies, biological sciences, and environmental health.
GPA requirements for admission into these courses will vary from institution to institution across the country. Many colleges and universities will ask for a minimum GPA of 3.0, with additional work experience gained prior to application. However, the best applicants to the best Master’s in Public Health are likely to have a GPA of 3.3 or higher.
Careers for Public Health Majors
Anyone considering entering the field of public health has a broad selection of career specializations available to them. You could work as a dietitian and nutritionist, epidemiologist, emergency management specialist, health educator, or community health worker. Graduates can become microbiologists, work in occupational health and safety, become nurses, or pursue the career paths of social and community service professionals.
Some of the most common professions for newly-qualified graduates include Biostatistician, epidemiologist, environmental health scientist, and health educator. Some graduates also choose to become medical and health service managers for public health-oriented organizations. This is one key area in which the demand for more skilled workers tends to increase regularly.
The standard level of education for entry into most public health roles is a Master’s in Public Health or similar. Beyond this, you can apply for further studies toward a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), but it's not always necessary. Lower-level roles, like health educators, typically only require a bachelor's degree, with some roles only requiring a high school diploma.
Potential Salary of Public Health Professionals
After graduating with an MPH and gaining around a year's work experience, the average salaries available can vary quite broadly. Biostatisticians, nutritionists, and international health professionals typically earn the lowest starting salary, averaging at around $30-33,000. Entry-level roles in health service administration or epidemiology tend to pay more at around $40,000, though they can rise to around $160,000.
Environmental health roles can start at around $45,000 on average, increasing up to around $140,000. Some of the highest available salaries are for executive directors, with an average of between $60,000 and $137,000. However, most specializations see considerable salary growth throughout their careers; there’s a large emphasis on further education and professional development -- plus experience.
As public health is a broad field, the range of professional certifications available for specific roles vary widely. All public health professionals can attain the Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential to increase their prospects, and potentially their salary. This qualification is fast becoming an industry standard for some roles and requires continued professional development every two years.
What are the Best Master’s in Public Health Degrees?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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Ranked No. 4 on the list of Best Global Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report, the University of California, Berkeley is home to the Campanile, a 307-foot bell and clock tower, the third-largest in the world. The Master of Public Health provides students the necessary training they need to be a major asset to the population and to study the major issues affecting mental health and social behavior.
The MPH is an interdisciplinary degree that requires 42 to 48 units of core courses, electives, practicums, and capstone and thesis projects. Students can choose a focus in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology; Health Policy and Management; Health and Social Behavior; Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Environmental Health Sciences; or Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health.
To date, 31 UCB alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize and many faculty members have received other prominent awards. Program applicants are required to submit to the Office of Admissions three letters of recommendation, documentation of work experience, a statement of purpose and personal history, and official transcripts.
Located in Boston, Harvard University is the No. 1 national university in the nation, according to Forbes, ARWU, and Times/Wall Street Journal. Its public health graduate program ranks No. 2 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The MPH program at Harvard gives students the intellectual foundation and specialized skills they need to help make a difference in local communities and throughout the world.
The MPH offers two programs, depending on students’ experience levels. The 45-credit curriculum is for more advanced students who have expanded experience in the field and prior coursework, while the 65-credit curriculum is for bachelor’s degree students with just two years of health-related work and no other graduate degree. Students with less than two years of experience in public health are not eligible for consideration.
Harvard counts several former U.S. Presidents among its graduates, including Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Quincy Adams. For more information on how to apply and what documentation and prerequisites are needed, visit the school’s website and contact an admissions counselor.
Studying at the University of California, Los Angeles gives students access to one of the world’s largest cities and home to the upcoming 2028 Summer Olympics. Many students who study for a Master of Public Health at UCLA will have the opportunity to complete fieldwork in the university’s hospitals, which have been designated among the nation’s most “wired” institutions, according to a survey by Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine. The MPH program trains students by giving them real-world practice in the field, so they can best serve the population in leadership roles once they graduate.
Students can choose a focus in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Community Health Sciences, Environmental Health Sciences, or Health Policy and Management. Each focus requires 62 to 68 semester credits of coursework, which can be completed in two years or six academic quarters. Students complete a research project, an internship, and a thesis as part of their studies.
UCLA ranks No. 1 on the list of Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants interested in the public health program must meet all prerequisite course and field requirements and should provide the admissions office with official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and GRE test scores.
#4. Yale University
Yale University is one of the top colleges in the nation, as evidenced by its Top 5 national rankings from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Times/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Monthly. The Master of Public Health provides students with a solid education in the basic and applied sciences and allows them to receive an abundance of fieldwork practice to best prepare them for the profession after they graduate.
This two-year program consists of 20 units of coursework over four semesters, plus a summer internship. In addition, students must complete a capstone project and a thesis. There are a number of concentrations to choose from within the discipline, and students must demonstrate mastery of the major coursework before earning a degree.
Applicants to Yale are required to apply using SOPHAS, a universal online application allowing students to apply to multiple institutions. Along with the application, students are to submit with their application a statement of goals and objectives; three letters of recommendation; official transcripts; a resume; and GRE, GMAT, or MCAT scores.
Found in 1861, the University of Washington is steeped in tradition; it is the oldest university on the West Coast. It has graduated some famous people over the years, such as actors Rainn Wilson and Bruce Lee, Jeopardy! genius Ken Jennings, and actress Anna Faris. Graduates who enroll in the Seattle Campus’ Master of Public Health program will learn problem-solving skills on how to handle some of the world’s most challenging and complex public health problems. They learn to be leaders in the field and make an impact on the population.
The degree offers concentrations in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Nutritional Sciences, Health Services, Global Health, and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. The program can be completed in two years and requires students to complete 63 credit hours by mixing core foundational courses, concentration courses, electives, and fieldwork.
UW ranks No. 6 on the list of Top Public Health Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Interested applicants must have two years of professional experience in the health field and include with their application a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a current resume.
Ranked in the top 10 among Best National Universities, according to Washington Monthly, Texas A&M University, in College Station, TX, is home to the oldest student organization in Texas, the Corps of Cadets. The Master of Public Health is a multidisciplinary program designed to provide students with practical and real-world training in all areas related to public health practice.
Concentrations for the degree include Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Occupational Safety and Health, Health Policy and Management, and Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences. The 45-credit curriculum includes a capstone project, a practicum, and the option of a six-credit thesis.
Applicants to TAMU are required to submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and test scores from their GRE.
If you attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you will get basketball fever. Home to Michael Jordan and seven men’s national basketball championships, Tar Heels fans pack the Dean Smith Center for every game. On the academic side, students who study for a Master of Public Health will gain the skills and knowledge they need through an integrated program to solve urgent public health issues locally, nationally, and globally.
The practicum is a big part of the UNC Public Health curriculum. Students complete a minimum of 200 practicum hours, which are preceded by a practicum preparation and followed by a practicum reflection. Students also take core and concentration courses as part of the required curriculum.
UNC ranks No. 2 on the list of Best Public Health Care Programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose, official undergraduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a current professional resume.
Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University has the second-most Nobel Prize-winning faculty in the country. Studying on campus gives students access to one of the most exciting cities in the country. The Master of Public Health program provides students the critical-thinking and leadership training they need to take on today’s complex public health challenges.
As part of the curriculum, students complete a practicum and work in the field. During the first term, students are advised against taking on a heavy workload outside of school, because of the rigor of the early coursework. After the first term, however, the schedule becomes more flexible and students can take on more work outside of class, if they choose to do so.
Columbia ranks No. 3 on the list of Best National Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. For more information on the documentation needed in addition to the application, applicants should contact an admissions counselor via the school’s website.
When it comes to value, the University of Utah is one of the best in the nation. It ranks No. 11 on the list of Best Universities in the Nation For Value, according to The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey. Located in Salt Lake City, students can earn a Master of Public Health degree to elevate their careers in the health profession and learn different strategies for helping those who seek it.
The 45-credit curriculum can be completed in just two years. As part of the coursework, students complete 18 core credits, 21 elective credits, and six thesis research credits. Students may substitute a thesis with a research project to satisfy the six credits.
Those who apply must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA to be eligible for admission. Applicants are required to submit alongside their application a resume, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
There’s no doubt that the University of Minnesota is one of the coldest campuses in America. However, the university has built underground tunnels and indoor trails that allow students to go from class to class so they never have to walk outside in the bitter cold. The Master of Public Health program prepares students to take on the challenges of a rapidly changing world and gives them the tools they need to be leaders in the health care industry.
As part of the program, students engage with the public and get fieldwork experience to better train them to be health care professionals. The 42-credit curriculum is split among core courses in public health, elective courses, the applied practice experience, and an integrated learning experience. Students can study for the degree on campus or online.
UM ranks No. 5 on the list of Top Online Master of Public Health Care Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, GRE test scores, and a statement of purpose and objectives.
The University of Michigan has a distinguished group of alumni, including former President Gerald Ford, actor James Earl Jones, neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, quarterback Tom Brady, and Olympian Michael Phelps. The Master of Public Health offers a number of disciplines in which students may specialize to enhance their leadership skills and knowledge of the public health profession.
As part of the program, students take a combination of core courses, concentration courses, and electives. Students are also required to complete a practicum and research project during their studies. Concentrations are offered in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Sciences, Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Management & Policy, and Nutritional Sciences.
UM ranks No. 3 on the list of Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants to the program are required to submit a reflective essay, official transcripts, a resume, and three letters of recommendation to the admissions office.
The University of South Florida is surrounded by a lot of great attractions. It is just 1 mile away from Busch Gardens, within driving distance of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and a short distance from Tampa’s nightlife, which includes Ybor City and Channelside. It is a great place for those interested in earning a Master of Public Health, a program that aims to help students become leaders in the health industry and prepare them by teaching them the current state of health problems affecting the population.
The program requires the completion of 42 semester credits and offers concentrations in many areas, including Health Care Organizations and Management, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Humanitarian Relief & Homeland Security, Public Health Practice, Global Communicable Disease, Safety Management, Social Marketing, Maternal & Child Health, and Occupational Health. All concentrations require prerequisites, so be sure to visit the website to see which classes must be satisfied before beginning the program.
USF uses SOPHAS for its application and asks that students submit to the Office of Admissions all official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a writing sample. USF ranks No. 16 on the list of Best Public Health Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report
#13. Rutgers University
Located in Piscataway, NJ, Rutgers University is one of the 10 oldest colleges in the nation and is home to a successful college football team. The Master of Public Health program gives students a clear understanding of the roles of the core disciplines in the different areas of public health. It offers concentrations in Biostatistics; Epidemiology; Environmental and Occupational Health; Urban-Global Public Health; and Health Behavior, Society and Policy.
Students seeking the degree must complete 45 semester credits of coursework and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA throughout their studies. The program includes six core courses, six concentration courses, and nine electives. As part of the coursework, students complete a capstone practicum that consists of a research project supervised by a faculty member.
Rutgers ranks No. 39 on the list of Top National Universities, according to Washington Monthly. Interested applicants should provide the university with GRE scores, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement.
The University of Oklahoma ranks No. 1 in the nation for the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled, at over 800. Its Health Science Center, located in Oklahoma City, gives students the opportunity to study for a Master of Public Health degree to learn more about becoming a public health professional or public health research scientist.
The curriculum involves 44 credits with core classes in Biostatistics Methods I, Principles of Epidemiology, Environmental Health, U.S. Health Care System, Integrated Public Health Practice, and Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health. Students also take a Public Health Practicum, which requires a minimum of 240 contact hours.
Applicants are required to submit an online application using the SOPHAS system and to submit their GRE scores, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. OU ranks No. 55 on the list of Best Health Care Management Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.
With a campus nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, Utah State University gives students a perfect view of snow-capped mountains and is within driving distance of six national parks, including Yellowstone National Park. The Master of Public Health provides students with a strong educational background in the areas of biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, social-behavioral public health, and policy and administration.
The program offers three concentrations to choose from Public Health Nutrition, Health Education & Promotion, and Veterinary Public Health. Students take 36 semester credits of core coursework and choose two electives to complete the 42-credit curriculum.
USU ranks No. 5 on the list of Top Public Universities in the Nation, according to Washington Monthly. The Office of Admission requires applicants to submit alongside their application a professional resume, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Applicants must also have at least a 3.0 in their undergraduate studies.
#16. University of Iowa
Also known as the home of the Hawkeyes, the University of Iowa ranks No. 8 on the list of Best Health Care Management Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Its Master of Public Health prepares students for a number of professions in the health care field and gives them the opportunity to lead and help others who need it.
Concentrations for the MPH are offered in Policy, Epidemiology, Community and Behavioral Health, Biostatistics, and Occupational and Environmental Health. Overall, the program requires 43 semester credits, not counting the prerequisite courses needed prior to enrolling in the program. It also includes a seminar, internship, and capstone course.
Applicants are required to submit official transcripts and GRE scores as part of the documentation. The school is located in Iowa City, IA, which was ranked the No. 5 College Town in America by the American Institute for Economic Research.
#17. Emory University
Wednesday is a great day to be an Emory University student. On that day each week, the university has themed activities all around campus, brings in bouncy houses, has ice cream tastings, and even provides a petting zoo. It makes campus life a bit more enjoyable. Students in the Master of Public Health program will enjoy these while learning the essential skills they need to aid the public in a variety of areas.
Students enrolled in the program can choose a concentration in either Biostatistics, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Environmental Health, Global Epidemiology, Health Policy, Health Care Management, Global Health, or Epidemiology. The 42-credit curriculum includes an applied learning experience and an applied practice experience.
Applicants must provide a personal statement, official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Emory ranks No. 21 on the list of Best National Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Florida has graduated some of the most popular figures on TV, including former quarterback Tim Tebow, actor and comedian Darrell Hammond, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The Master of Public Health trains students to take up leadership roles as health care professionals.
The 48-credit program includes concentrations in Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Public Health Management and Policy, Public Health Practice, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship and a special analytical project during their studies.
UF ranks No. 8 on the list of Top Public Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA in their bachelor’s studies to be eligible for acceptance. The university also requires the submission of GRE scores.
The University of Georgia is known for its famous bulldog mascot, Butch, as well as its college football program, which ranks among the best in the country. Located in Athens, GA, a Master of Public Health gives students the training they need to provide service and leadership to the public when and where they need it most.
The 44-credit curriculum includes 15 core credits, 15 concentration credits, up to 12 elective credits, and fieldwork experience. Students can choose a concentration in Biostatistics, Disaster Management, Environmental Health Science, Health Promotion and Behavior, Gerontology, Epidemiology, or Health Policy and Management.
Applicants must provide the university with official transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE scores. UG ranks No. 15 on the list of Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Many famous politicians and even President earned degrees from Johns Hopkins University, including President Woodrow Wilson, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Located in Baltimore, JHU provides students a master’s degree at the No. 1 ranked Public Health school in America, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Master of Public Health allows students to turn their passion into action and study in a program where they can change people’s lives for the better.
Students can complete the M.P.H. program in as little as 12 months by studying full-time online or on-campus. The curriculum allows for five 8-week terms of coursework with a practicum and capstone project students taken at the end of the program. The M.P.H. offers twelve concentrations, including Aging and Public Health; Women’s and Reproductive Health; Infectious Diseases; Health Leadership and Management; Humanitarian Health; Child and Adolescent Health; and Food, Nutrition, and Health.
Applicants must have at least two-years of health-related experience to be eligible for entry into the program. The office of admissions requires that students submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and transcripts to JHU.