Best Online Master’s in Public Health

Timelines, Programs and Resources for Public Health Students

The master’s in public health (MPH) degree represents a comprehensive multidisciplinary education leading to expertise in fields including biostatistics, epidemiology, community health promotion, environmental health and health policy. An online master’s in public health degree is designed for mid-career health professionals seeking advancement, people in another field seeking broader career options and those who need to balance education with family and work obligations. Discover the variety of online degree programs for a master’s in public health, review admissions and graduation requirements, curriculum and long-term career options.

Best Online Master’s in Public Health Degrees: 2016

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The master’s in public health degree programs below were ranked based on factors pertinent to online students, including tuition, student teacher ratios and graduation rates. After narrowing the choices, students should examine prospective programs to learn about admissions requirements, faculty expertise (their publications and service), available specializations, curriculum requirements, research opportunities and participation with scholarly public health associations.

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Concord University 99.75 89% 2 15:1 38%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate38%
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2 East Tennessee State University 99.32 76% 8 18:1 41%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate92%
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3 Albany State University 99.29 80% 2 16:1 39%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate47%
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4 Western Carolina University 99.09 66% 4 16:1 48%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate43%
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5 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 99.07 73% 4 20:1 62%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate75%
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6 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 99.01 75% 11 15:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs5
  • Acceptance Rate49%
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7 Liberty University 98.91 84% 6 18:1 46%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance Rate22%
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8 University of Kentucky 98.79 84% 15 18:1 58%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth8
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate72%
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9 University of Memphis 98.77 76% 7 14:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate47%
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10 University of Illinois at Springfield 98.68 65% 3 14:1 47%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate62%
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11 University of Central Florida 98.63 72% 13 31:1 65%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs8
  • Acceptance Rate50%
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12 University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne 98.57 88% 8 12:1 50%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate97%
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13 South Dakota State University 98.44 59% 6 17:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate92%
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14 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice 98.30 63% 3 17:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate37%
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15 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 98.28 61% 26 18:1 62%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs10
  • Acceptance Rate76%
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16 Central Michigan University 98.28 75% 5 20:1 57%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate69%
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17 Idaho State University 98.28 56% 27 16:1 31%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs9
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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18 University of Southern Indiana 98.27 74% 5 17:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate71%
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19 Temple University 98.26 74% 19 14:1 66%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate62%
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20 University of Alaska Fairbanks 98.24 43% 1 14:1 33%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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21 University of Toledo 98.17 71% 27 20:1 46%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate95%
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22 University of Akron Main Campus 98.14 64% 10 19:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate96%
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23 Arkansas Tech University 98.13 74% 2 20:1 41%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth1
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate86%
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24 Texas A & M International University 98.13 70% 2 21:1 39%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate47%
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25 University of Massachusetts-Amherst 98.04 69% 5 17:1 70%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate61%
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26 University of Alabama at Birmingham 97.99 56% 13 18:1 48%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate86%
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27 Ferris State University 97.97 72% 1 16:1 53%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate78%
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28 Youngstown State University 97.96 72% 13 15:1 32%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate83%
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29 West Virginia University 97.95 63% 12 21:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate86%
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30 Lewis University 97.93 80% 2 13:1 59%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate62%
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Search Online Master’s in Public Health Programs

Online public health programs generally offer a generalist master’s degree matched with as many as ten specialty fields, including public education, biostatistics, global health, health services administration, nutrition and environmental health. The range of choices can seem overwhelming, but the following search tool helps students focus on the master’s programs that address their specific public health educational goals.

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The Online Public Health Master’s Timeline

This comprehensive timeline helps prospective students to navigate through the major milestones of earning an online master’s in public health degree, from application to graduation. Learn the steps it takes to begin applying to schools and the key educational milestones students should aim to accomplish each year of their online degree program.

Application Process

Completing the formal application process to master’s in public health programs requires a few steps with firm deadlines. Consider these key elements when compiling a successful application to these master’s programs:

Send Bachelor’s Transcripts

Master’s programs require applicants to complete a bachelor’s degree to establish eligibility. The graduate school will require submission of sealed college transcripts from all completed undergraduate programs. Those who have completed post-baccalaureate certification programs, workshops or employer-sponsored training courses should include proper documentation, especially if seeking advanced credit. Most transcripts can be ordered online.

Meet Grad Level Prerequisites

Colleges and universities offering a Master’s of Science in Public Health degree may establish prerequisites for participation in their graduate programs. For students who haven’t completed prerequisite coursework during their undergraduate education may have to take summer classes before their first semester of their master’s program. For public health this may include coursework in mathematics, statistical reasoning, biology or behavioral and social sciences.

Take Standardized Graduate Entrance Examinations

Scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are among the standard requirements for applying to any master’s in public health program, and they may weigh heavily in competitive programs. Practice tests can acquaint students with exam questions as they study, and exams should be completed during the fall preceding anticipated entry into a master’s program.

Gather Letters of Recommendation

Most schools require three letters of recommendation as part of their master’s in public health application packet. Two of these should come from previous mentors and professors. Letters from employers may be substituted for applicants who have been out of school and working in a field relevant to public health for five or more years. It’s a good idea to send a formal letter to potential references to remind them of scholarship and accomplishments.

Write Formal Entrance Essays

Some programs call for entrance essays detailing a student’s professional experience, career ambitions and a summary of how the institution best meets their academic needs. This is a great time for applicants to describe their goals and why they want to be in a master’s in public health program. Consider including passages focused on a specialty offered by the school that makes it a solid match, or identify faculty members with expertise in a specialized research or practice field in public health.

Submit Financial Aid Application

The Federal Student Aid website is where graduate students submit a formal application for financial aid, including loans, grants and scholarships. The completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) assesses financial need and is mailed to your selected master’s in public health degree programs. The database on the site identifies each institution by school code.

Year 1 Milestones

Online and hybrid programs are designed to maximize the student’s time in their class and practicum experiences. As a result, most online master’s in public health programs are conducted in a two-year sequence. Explore educational milestones for these 24-month programs, beginning with year one below.

Core Principles

First-year public health graduate students complete core studies in health service research methods, epidemiology, biostatics and computing for public health. Depending on their school, students may also attain competencies in basic health economics, public health administration or environmental health science.

Specializations Focus

During the first year, students should successfully take courses in their public health specialization of focus. These build a grad student’s competencies in fields of health policy and finance, global health, public health communications, programming and management, marketing, human resource management and community health ethics.

Year 2 Milestones

The second year in the master’s in public health program is devoted to the student’s applied research in their specialty, targeted toward successful completion of a Capstone project and fulfillment of the practicum requirement.

Capstone, Applied Public Health Research

Students complete a research design leading to a written study of a public health topic backed by research methodologies learned during their first year. They scientifically apply measurement instruments, gather and analyze data and formulate a thesis supported by findings in relation to theory, to the existing body of knowledge and literature and a proposed response to their findings.

Hands-on Experience or Practicum

The accrediting Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) mandates a field-training event or practicum for students in their final year of a master’s in public health degree. Following completion of all core requirements, the student selects a project site for the practicum within their specialized field in a research, service or practice environment. The practicum culminates with a written professional report or outcomes presentation.

Graduation Requirements

In addition to completing their required courses and practicum, there are a few other requirements students will need to meet to earn their master’s in public health degree. Here are some general requirements that are common to online programs:

On-time Completion

Students are typically given 5 to 7 years to complete an online master’s in public health degree. They should demonstrate continuing progress toward the degree, documented each quarter or semester. If they must miss a quarter or semester, students are required to file for a leave of absence or may be penalized.

Maintain a Minimum Grade Point Average

Master’s in public health students must maintain a certain grade-point-average, typically a 3.0, (B) or higher, or may be placed on academic probation or dismissed from the program. In some programs, elective courses may be taken on a pass/fail basis. The student must complete all class requirements with a minimum grade point average before petitioning the graduate school for graduation.

Fulfill All Practicum or Field Assignment Requirements

Depending upon the major and specialty, master’s programs will require a completed practicum experience culminating in the presentation of a final project or capstone thesis in public health. Students are advised to work with faculty advisors to schedule their field assignments and have their capstone thesis approved in timely fashion. The field assignment must be performed in a department-approved setting.

File Application for Graduation

Master’s degree candidates in public health must formally apply for graduation, requesting a requirement check from the appropriate college office of records to evaluate grades and completed class units. To ensure graduation requirements are met, some online master’s in public health programs require digital conferences with departmental advisors at the end of each semester.

After Graduation: What to do with a Master’s in Public Health

While clinical professionals specialize in the treatment of health problems, public health professionals are engaged in the prevention of illness and disease. Careers are constantly evolving to address global and local issues in healthcare disparity, public health education policy, research and development of public health programming, and the safeguarding of digital privacy in health records. Upon completing their master’s in public health, graduates can begin or advance their careers in a wide range of professions including

Browse Master’s in Public Health Careers
Biostatisticians

Biostatisticians work for research institutions, hospitals, governmental and public health agencies and pharmaceutical companies to design research, collect data and analyze findings. Their studies may evaluate the efficacy of medications and procedures or track outbreaks in illness and infectious disease.

Mean Annual Wage

$69,900

Growth Potential

34%

Medical and Health Services Managers

Healthcare administrators may oversee operations of a medical facility, healthcare agency, clinical department or a private practice clinic. Broad duties include management of human resources, community outreach, budgeting, change management, regulation compliance and long-term planning.

Mean Annual Wage

$94,500

Growth Potential

17%

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists conduct extensive research on causes of infectious disease with a goal toward preventing outbreaks and reducing the risk to humans. They work in public health and research settings and in the private sector with insurance or pharmaceutical organizations.

Mean Annual Wage

$69,450

Growth Potential

6%

Health Educators

Health educators work in local, state and federal organizations, assessing community health, developing programs to address the understanding of health issues and services available to clinical populations, supervising staff training and conducting follow-up research on program effectiveness.

Mean Annual Wage

$52,000

Growth Potential

13%

Skills Taught in an Online Public Health Master’s Program

Master’s in Public Health

  • Assessments and Evaluations

    Graduate level public health students understand how to design, conduct and analyze findings through scientific, evidence-based evaluation testing and assessment. By the end of the program, students can use an array of qualitative and quantitative tools to create policy, track efficacy, and communicate their research findings to administrators.

  • Project Management

    Understanding the essential theoretical and research-backed evidence employed in creating program design, implementation and follow-through of projects in institutional policy designed to alleviate the risks of infections and disease is critical for master’s level public health students. Project management skills are important when navigating between an institution and formal compliance organizations.

  • Informatics and Information Management

    Graduates of public health master’s programs should have a solid grasp of skills required to use computers and software to conduct research, track public health data, compile statistics and provide necessary security of public records. They will be trained to be proficient in the use of conventional digital communications software as well as specialized epidemiological, data management and graphics applications.

  • Public Outreach

    Core skills in public communications and educational outreach are essential components for a well-rounded public health career. Master’s level students must know how to develop and track effectiveness of communications campaigns. These include outreach to governmental bodies and the media, and community education efforts to increase the understanding of environmental health concerns, service disparities and communicable disease.

Additional Resources

Master’s of public health students can broaden their professional development and knowledge resources beyond the scope of their online degree programs through professional associations in the public health sector. Many organizations provide extensive research and training resources, public health databases, participation in conferences and peer communities, and career mentoring. Here is a sample of associations targeting your field:

American Public Health Association

The APHA advocates on behalf of public health issues and policies supported by science. Members have access to information on continuing education, career assistance, fellowships and internships.

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

APIC is a leading national association representing professional infection preventionists, offering the professional Certification in Infection Prevention and Control. Member benefits include access to a network of peers in practice communities, resources for local chapters, and career mentors for professionals and students.

NAPHSIS

A national, non-profit organization founded in 1933, NAPHSIS is dedicated to the promotion of public health with an emphasis on protecting the privacy of private records and identity. It is a clearinghouse of publications and leads the Vital Statistics Improvement (VSI) Project to establish state data standards.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the NIH is an indispensable resource for students pursuing a master’s in public health. Public health students and professionals enjoy access to extensive news and data resources, funding and grants programs (and applications), research and training opportunities and a clinical research database.

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

SOPHE represents educators and college students in public health. Its website provides information on public health advocacy, conferences, resources and continuing education. Members gain access to sections on jobs and internships health education news updates and grants.