Online Public Health Degrees

Public health professionals work to maintain healthy living conditions throughout their community. They are responsible for collaborating with community officials and local governments to address community health and wellness needs. They focus on preventative and wellness care and are trained in all aspects of disease prevention, human nutrition, and environmental safety.

Ideal candidates for a career in public health are analytically inclined problem-solvers with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. A bachelor’s degree is required for many entry-level jobs, and MPH programs can provide additional training for professionals seeking managerial responsibilities in the field.

Increasingly, public health students are turning to online programs. As distance education opportunities have expanded in recent years, those interested in pursuing a public health degree have more opportunities to pursue bachelor’s and master’s programs online than ever before. Read on to learn more about the online opportunities available to students in the field.

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Jennifer Dunphy Public Health

“This virtual program allowed me the flexibility to be the most successful version of myself.”


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Degrees

Online Public Health Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $12,744 14.5% 2 years $33,100 $46,200 N/A
Bachelor's $15,422 10.36% 4 years $37,500 $60,500 4.1%
Master's $17,977 6.57% 2 years $52,900 $75,600 N/A
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Pursuing a public health degree online can prepare you for a variety of career options in public health and wellness, social services, and community engagement. However, because there is no formal licensing requirement at the undergraduate level, employers in many industries prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Students who complete online MPH programs often also choose to earn the Certified in Public Health (CPH) credentials or other voluntary specialty certifications, increasing their marketability in the workplace.

Online Public Health Degrees

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Online Associate’s Degree in Public Health

An associate degree can be completed in two years, and these programs are suitable for students aspiring to become community health workers. While salary and job growth rates improve significantly for students who complete a bachelor’s degree or MPH program, associate degree graduates can expect to earn an average annual salary exceeding $30,000 per year.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    American History and World Civilization, Public Speaking, Introduction to Ethics, Social Problems, and Health Services Organization

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Health Education and Wellness Coaching

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Community Health Worker, and Social and Human Service Assistant

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $34,870

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    15% growth projected 2014-2024

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health

A bachelor’s in public health is the minimum requirement for many jobs in the industry. Graduates stand to earn a significantly higher salary than those holding an associate degree, with lower loan default rates as well. Degree holders can pursue a range of jobs, including positions in health services management, nutrition, and health education. BPH graduates are also prepared for online MPH programs or to obtain CPH certification.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Health Care in the US, Global Health, Introduction to Epidemiology, Safety Fundamentals, and Strategic Planning

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Environmental/Occupational Health, Disaster and Emergency Management, Health Informatics, and Health Promotion and Wellness

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Health Services Manager, Nutritionist, Health Educator, and Community Health Worker

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $92,810

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    17% growth projected 2014-2024

Online Master’s Degree in Public Health

Master’s degree-holders are prepared to enter research-oriented jobs in the field. Graduates have low loan default rates, and earning an MPH online can open the door to a variety of jobs in science, research, and upper-level management in the field. Some online master’s in public health candidates may choose to obtain specialty certification in an area of expertise alongside their degree.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Science, Health Sector Reform, and Economics for Health Policy

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Epidemiologist, Survey Researcher, and Political Scientist

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $67,420

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    6% growth projected 2014-2024

Online Public Health Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, OnlineColleges.net has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Public Health Master’s Degree Rankings

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Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill$$$$$103 South Bldg Cb 9100
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 962-2211

UNC offers the Global Online Master of Health with two available concentrations: Applied Implementation Science and Water and Population Health. This program is designed for professionals with a bachelor's degree in a related field or a medical degree, plus three or more years of work experience. Completion of the program requires 42 credit hours, with a minimum of six credit hours taken per semester. Students typically complete the degree in two years.

Coursework emphasizes the development of leadership skills, public health solutions and best health practices. Topics covered include global public health, public health leadership, epidemiology and biostatistics. Coursework includes a three-credit practicum and a three-credit master's paper. All work for online MPH programs are accessed through the Blackboard platform.

2

University of California - Berkeley

Berkeley$$$$$200 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-6000

The public health program prepares graduates for careers in the areas of: environmental hazard protection, disease prevention, disaster recovery and healthcare advocacy. Core coursework covers epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, social and behavioral science and health service management.

The program is designed for completion in two years, with students taking two courses per semester. Two classes require one week on campus each, usually occurring in June. Students must also complete a practicum, consisting of field placement with a total of at least 110 contact hours. Partial credit may be available for those already working in public health. All other coursework is completed online through the Blackboard platform.

3

University of Florida

Gainesville$$$$$
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-3261

The public health degree is a 48-credit online program with no campus visits required. Coursework is accessed through the Canvas online learning platform.

Students choose one of two available concentrations for their studies: Public Health Practice or Social and Behavioral Sciences. Topics covered by classes include environmental health, health policy, epidemiology and health management. Coursework includes core classes, concentration courses, a seminar and a five-credit internship. Graduates must also complete a major written paper and make an oral presentation of their completed project. Upon graduation, students are expected to have mastered ten core areas of competency, including communication, research, policy and plan development and health services evaluations.

4

University of South Florida

Tampa$$$$$4202 East Fowler Ave
Tampa, FL 33620-9951
(813) 974-2011

Students considering an MPH online have seven concentration tracks to choose from, including Public Health Practice, Epidemiology, Infection Control and Social Marketing. Each concentration requires supervised field experience, which may be completed in the student's local area. The MPH prepares students to launch careers in diverse places including the Centers for Disease Control, foreign military locations and isolated rural communities.

Depending on concentration, students earn between 42 and 46 credits in order to graduate. Though the courses students take in each specialization differ slightly, every MPH candidate must take the History & Systems of Public Health and a comprehensive exam. Faculty provides online coursework in various multimedia formats such as blogs, podcasting, web conferencing and discussion forums. Students access coursework through the Canvas platform.

5

Tulane University of Louisiana

New Orleans$$$$$6823 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118-5698
(504) 865-5000

Tulane offers three online MPH programs, each requiring 42 total credit hours for completion: Disaster Management MPH, Occupational Health and Safety Management MPH and Occupational and Environmental Health MPH. Students may also pursue a Master of Science In Public Health, Industrial Hygiene, which requires 45 credit hours to complete.

Core curriculum for each specialty includes coursework in policy, social and behavioral sciences, public health medicine, environmental health and biostatistics. Each program also involves completion of a culminating learning experience, in the form of a writing project or comprehensive exam, and a practicum. The practicum requires 200-400 hours of field work; prior experience may be applied toward these hours. All online classes are completed with the use of the Blackboard learning platform.

6

Michigan State University

East Lansing$$$$$
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
(517) 355-1855

Online MPH programs emphasize applied knowledge. Completion requires 18 credits of core coursework, 18 credits of electives and a six-credit culminating experience project that involves a 240-hour internship and a capstone paper. Students may complete their internship anywhere in the U.S. or internationally, and the paper integrates knowledge gained during this experience with concepts learned in class.

All coursework for the MPH online is completed through the institution's Desire2Learn platform. Core classes include standard MPH coverage of epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral aspects and environmental health. Students may enroll part-time or full-time and must complete the degree in five years or less.

7

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Amherst$$$$$374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-0111

MPH students can choose between two online concentrations: Public Health Practice and Nutrition. Completion of the degree includes a three-credit practicum experience, during which students are required to log 200 hours in a public health or healthcare setting. Students with prior experience in the field may be eligible to apply up to 80 hours towards this requirement.

Classes are offered completely online through the Blackboard learning management system. Students of either concentration take the same five core courses; the degree requirements differ slightly after completing the core requirements. PHP students can focus their degrees through the electives they choose; options include: Population Aging and Public Health, Public Health Law and Communicable Disease Epidemiology. Students in the nutrition concentration take 17 credits of required courses, including Nutritional Epidemiology and Nutritional Problems in the U.S.

8

Des Moines University - Osteopathic Medical Center

Des Moines$$$$$3200 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 271-1400

The public health program emphasizes a practical, problem-based approach based on the integration of theory and experience. Students complete 45 credit hours; core coursework covers topics that include: public health law and ethics, human health and disease and community research methods. Students can complete the degree in two or three years. All online coursework is completed through the institution's Desire2Learn platform.

Studies culminate in a three-credit internship and a two-credit public health capstone. The internship for the MPH online is a supervised and evaluated field experience. Completing the capstone course involves choosing a project that applies the theory and principles of coursework to a professional situation. Students will complete a project that is beneficial to their learning experience and the partner public health agency/organization.

9

University of South Carolina

Columbia$$$$$Columbia-Campus
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7000

USC offers an online Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior program. Graduates must complete 45 total credit hours, including a three-credit Practicum Seminar and a three-credit Practicum Fieldwork course. Core classes include epidemiology, biostatistics and health administration. Focus courses cover topics such as health promotion programs, community health and research methods.

The program creates health professionals who are trained in leading, advocacy, health program development and evaluation and research. The program is designed for current professionals in community, school and health department settings. Courses are eight weeks long, and the degree typically takes 22-24 months to complete. Classes are accessed through the Blackboard online learning management system.

10

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda$$$$$11139 Anderson Street
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-1000

Loma Linda's learning philosophy is to integrate health, science and the Christian faith. MPH candidates have the choice of nine degree concentration areas, including Environmental and Occupational Health, Global Health, Health Policy and Leadership and Lifestyle Medicine. Graduates of this program are ready to launch careers in a variety of fields, including health and public organizations at all governmental levels, as well as advocacy organizations, community organizations and healthcare facilities.

The program requires three years to complete. Online coursework is accessed through the Canvas platform. Students have access to a writing center and resources specific to public health assessments, reports and research.

11

Benedictine University

Lisle$$$$$5700 College Rd
Lisle, IL 60532-0900
(630) 829-6000

Students who wish to add a specialization to their 66-credit MPH degree can obtain a certificate in one of the following: Epidemiology, Health Education and Promotion, Emergency Preparedness or Health Management and Policy. Each certificate class includes a mini capstone experience to apply material to real-world public health issues. Those who do not wish to choose a concentration can take 12 credit hours of electives instead.

Students access online coursework and resources through the school's BenUConnect platform. Core course topics include epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and biological aspects of public health. Classes also merge and overlap with fields such as advocacy, community organization and government policy. Completion of the program requires 240 hours of field experience through an internship, which may be fulfilled with students' current employers.

12

San Jose State University

San Jose$$$$$1 Washington Sq
San Jose, CA 95192-0001
(408) 924-1000

San Jose State's Master of Public Health is an online 42-credit program with a specialization in community health education. Curriculum is made up of 16 credits in health education core, 22 credits in core public health courses and a four-credit practicum. Completion of the program requires passing a comprehensive exam as the student's culminating experience.

Classes are five to seven weeks each, and the degree can be completed in 24 months total. Coursework is delivered in synchronous format through the Canvas learning management system. This platform allows them to access courses with interactive whiteboard, virtual breakout rooms and session recording. Students are also required to meet once a year for four to five days in San Jose.

13

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham$$$$$Administration Bldg Suite 1070
Birmingham, AL 35294-0110
(205) 934-4011

Students interested in UAB have six MPH degrees to choose from, including programs with concentrations in: Health & Toxicology, Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health & Safety. Core coursework in the 42-credit program emphasizes competency in areas such as data and policy analysis, ethical and legal issues, program planning and administration and cultural and political factors in health. With the exception of the internship requirement, all classes are completed online over the Canvas learning platform.

Students must meet the Biological Basis of Public Health Competency Requirement for admission to the program. This is accomplished through a previously earned medical degree, prior education or a grade of 70 or better on the Biological Basis of Public Health Exam.

14

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland$$$$$3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239-3098
(503) 494-7800

OHSU offers a Master of Public Health with a Primary Health Care and Health Disparities track. The program emphasizes improving healthcare accessibility and quality for underserved populations. This degree prepares students to take on roles in community health centers, community health departments and health maintenance organizations. Coursework combines content in core public health issues as well as community and transitional care and leadership skills. In addition to core coursework, students complete track classes covering topics such as community based research, program planning and social determinants of community health assessment.

Students complete 58 credits to fulfill graduation requirements, including a six-credit internship providing field experience. All courses are online and are accessed through the Canvas platform.

15

West Virginia University

Morgantown$$$$$Stewart Hall, 1500 University Avenue
Morgantown, WV 26506-6201
(304) 293-0111

WVU offers an online Master of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences major. The 44-credit program ends in a culminating experience project; students either write a thesis or do a capstone project, which consists of a paper and presentation. The thesis option requires engagement in an applied research project, an oral proposal and defense and production of a manuscript of publishable quality to be submitted to a journal.

After completing their first year of study in the MPH program, students are required to fulfill 180 hours of fieldwork. MPH candidates may add a worksite wellness concentration to their degrees by taking: Worksite Wellness, Performance and Economic Evaluation for Public Health, Occupational Injury Prevention and Women and Violence. Students complete all online courses via the Blackboard-based eCampus platform.

16

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Public Health in online format with some residency requirements; students are required to attend an orientation, weekend seminar and exit seminar. All online coursework is completed through the Blackboard learning management system.

In addition to core curriculum, students complete a six-credit field experience, and they must pass a comprehensive exam, in order to graduate. A range of electives is available, including: School Health, Women's Health, Substance Abuse and Tropical Diseases. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have mastered 24 core competencies, preparing them for careers in disease prevention, program evaluation, research and community service.

17

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield$$$$$One University Plaza
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
(217) 206-6600

Students have the option of completing a generalist Master of Public Health degree or pursuing an environmental health concentration. Both are completed online by accessing courses, discussion boards and materials over the Blackboard learning management system.

Completion of the program requires a minimum of 48 credit hours. Students complete 28 credits of core coursework and 20 credits of electives. Core classes include a four-credit internship. In addition to fulfilling degree requirements, electives can be used to complete either an Emergency Planning and Homeland Security or a Risk Assessment Graduate certificate. Studies culminate in a comprehensive exam taken during the final semester.

18

Medical College of Wisconsin

Milwaukee$$$$$8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-8296

The Master of Public Health program requires completion of 42 total credit hours. Coursework includes five core courses, three community health courses, an ethics course, three electives, a field placement and a capstone project. The program emphasizes community-based learning and research, community partnerships, advocacy development, professional diversity and principled precepts.

Online coursework accessed through the D2L platform. A student's field placement involves practical experience in a public or private health organization, including an action learning project related to the student's area of interest. The capstone project is the culminating experience which requires students to apply theory and principles to a paper covering a public or community health issue.

19

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago$$$$$1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000

Students seeking an online Master of Public Health degree at Loyola have two options: the online Health Policy & Law concentration or the hybrid Epidemiology track. Both programs require the completion of 44 credits, including a practicum experience and capstone project. Practicum experiences involve a minimum of 210 hours in a public health setting. Online courses are completed through the Sakai learning platform.

An emphasis is placed on racial and economic health disparities and bioethics. Student learning involves mentoring, research and community engagement.

20

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tallahassee$$$$$1500 S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tallahassee, FL 32307
(850) 599-3000

Online learners can complete the Master of Public Health degree at FAMU in five semesters of full-time work. The specialty of the online program is public health practice. An emphasis is placed on health disparities impacting the poor and underserved. The program is 50 credit hours, with a practicum completed during the final semester.

All online coursework is accessed through the Blackboard learning management system. Admission requires three years of professional healthcare work experience, a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

21

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

Kirksville$$$$$800 W Jefferson
Kirksville, MO 63501
(660) 626-2121

The online Master of Public Health program at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is a 64-credit-hour, 15-course program. Studies culminate in a practicum experience that requires 240 contact hours in a supervised public health setting and completion of a project that evaluates or resolves a service or program in that setting.

Students may choose from eight elective options including Cultural Change in Geriatrics, Global Health Issues, Managing Human Resources and Community Health and Social Media. All online classes for the program are accessed through the Blackboard online learning management system.

22

Salus University

Elkins Park$$$$$8360 Old York Rd
Elkins Park, PA 19027-6262
(215) 780-1400

The Salus University Master of Public Health program requires 42 credits for completion. Coursework includes 23 credits of core classes, 13 credits of electives and six credits attained through a capstone project. Students can choose from more than 15 elective courses, including Independent Studies, Introduction to Bioterrorism, Health and Human Rights and Public Health Issues of Aging Populations. The capstone project provides professional experience and the application of acquired skills to a public health problem.

Students may also acquire a Humanitarian and Refugee Health Care Certificate or a Health Policy Certificate. MPH candidates have up to five years to complete their degrees on a part-time basis. All coursework is accessed through the Blackboard learning management system.

23

University of Memphis

Memphis$$$$$Southern Avenue
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

The Master of Public Health degree focuses on five areas: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health systems management and behavioral sciences. The program emphasizes urban and global health concerns and advocacy for the underserved. The goal of the program is to develop skills that will enable students to promote healthy communities, prevent chronic disease and protect against the spread of diseases.

Online courses are offered in an asynchronous format, allowing distance learners the flexibility of completing coursework on their own schedule. All classes are accessed through the Desire2Learn online learning management system.

24

The University of West Florida

Pensacola$$$$$11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
(850) 474-2000

The online Master of Public Health is a 42-credit program, with coursework accessed through the Blackboard learning platform. Students can attain a certificate in one of the the following specialties: Emergency Management, Environmental Health, Infection Control or Occupational Safety and Health. Over a dozen electives allow further personalization of coursework to meet individual career goals and interests. Elective options include Environmental Toxicology, Disease Surveillance and Monitoring, Global Health and Bioterrorism.

Core curriculum includes studies in environmental health, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences and biostatistics. Coursework also includes a six-credit internship involving field experience in a public health-related setting. Students must complete research, submit a written report and defend their conclusions to fulfill the required capstone experience based on this internship. Students must also pass a comprehensive exam to complete the program.

25

Liberty University

Lynchburg$$$$$1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(434) 582-2000

Students seeking an online Master of Public Health degree can choose from three concentrations: Global Health, Nutrition and Health Promotion. The Global Health concentration focuses on epidemiology and biostatistics. A sociological perspective is applied to the Nutrition concentration, with coursework focusing on disease prevention, food-borne illness and nutritional health disorders. Those choosing the Health Promotion track will learn how to manage and educate others in health and wellness to impact the health of individuals and communities.

All tracks require 42-credit hours for completion. Coursework is accessed through the Blackboard platform. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Online Doctorate Degree in Public Health

After completing an MPH online program, some graduates choose to pursue a terminal degree in the field. DrPH candidates are qualified for senior research positions in public health, along with post secondary teaching jobs. Many graduates become postsecondary teachers at a college or university, or take on a senior educator role involving policy reform or national public health programming.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Public Health Ethics, Leadership/Management, Research Design and Methods, Public Health Intervention, and Health Politics and Policy Analysis

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Postsecondary Teacher and Medical Scientist/Researcher

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $70,790

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    13% growth projected 2014-2024

Online Public Health Choose Your Career

Average Public Health Salaries

$65,270
$34,870
$56,950
$92,810

Epidemiologist

Salary: $65,270
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
10% 5,100 Masters None

Epidemiologists research the causes and patterns of diseases, illnesses, and epidemics. They conduct research, analyze data, and develop community outreach programs and health policy reforms to prevent and reduce public health risks. Those suited to careers in epidemiology are detail-oriented critical thinkers and capable teachers with strong math skills. Epidemiologists are required to have at least a master’s degree to enter the field.

Community Health Worker

Salary: $34,870
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
14% 54,000 Associates None

Community health workers educate the public on wellness and healthy behaviors. Professionals collect data and statistics pertaining to public health, connect the public with health care services and programs, and plan and implement programs of their own to raise awareness in the community. Ideal candidates are analytical problem-solvers with strong writing and instructional skills. Community health workers holding an associate degree are qualified for entry-level jobs in the field, though many job-seekers go on to earn a higher degree in public health to increase their career opportunities and earning potential. Entry-level community health workers with an associate degree are prepared to enroll in a bachelor’s program.

Nutritionist

Salary: $56,950
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
16% 66,700 Bachelor's Registered Dietician

Nutritionists are trained to promote health and wellness by altering their clients’ diets. Professionals may counsel clients individually or in groups, helping them develop meal plans, encourage healthy eating habits, and promote a healthy lifestyle. Some nutritionists help patients achieve a particular goal, such as weight loss or diabetes management. Nutritionists should be compassionate and sensitive towards those they work with. Candidates who complete an online MPH program may earn a higher salary and have more job advancement potential. Though not always required, nutritionists are also encouraged to earn a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential.

Public Health Administrator

Salary: $92,810
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
17% 333,000 Bachelor's None

Public health administrators coordinate medical and healthcare services in a variety of settings. They may oversee a clinical department, specialty practice, or healthcare facility. These professionals are well-versed in public health policies, laws, regulations, and relevant technologies affecting the field. Ideal candidates also have strong leadership and communication skills, and must be detail-oriented and tech-savvy. As a management-oriented profession, public health administration requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. Public health administrators are well-compensated and the job growth rate in this area is high, though advancement opportunities and salary are contingent on your experience and credentials.

Online Public Health Degree in Action

Jennifer Dunphy Public Health

Jennifer Dunphy is a director of population health at Regal Medical Group. The flexibility offered by an online program allowed Dunphy to earn her master’s degree in public health from Berkeley College while she continued working.

Why did you choose to pursue your degree online?

I chose to pursue my degree online for several reasons. I was on my second masters, my first was a full-time MBA, so taking two more years to complete my MPH would have put me behind my peers in regards to professional experience. I needed an alternative which would allow me to make strides in both areas.

Berkeley is also well known for it's exceptional public health program, and online was the only way I could continue to work at my current organization while enjoying access to Berkeley's faculty and curriculum.

What were the advantages of taking online classes?

The advantages to taking classes online were vast. I could make my own schedule, which sometimes involved being "in-class" or watching lectures during lunch at work, at 2 am on Saturday nights or 5 am on Monday mornings. I set my own schedule so that I could be most effective professionally and academically. If you have scheduled times you need to be somewhere in two disciplines (work and school), it becomes much more difficult to fit the pieces together in a way that works best for you. This virtual program allowed me the flexibility to be the most successful version of myself.

What were the challenges you faced taking public health classes online?

Challenges of working online include not being able to have face-to-face interactions with classmates and instructors. This was really only a large hindrance when I came across topics that are hard to talk through conversationally, like advanced statistical modeling. If the topic is mainly visual and involves a lot of symbols it's harder to talk things out. The other part of online learning I found challenging was exams-- finding and paying for a proctor, and scheduling exams at testing centers with administrators that can't answer any questions specific to your course material was frustrating at times. I found the rest of the aspects of online learning pleasant and adaptable.

How did your online public health degree prepare you for the job market?

My experience with online classes did prepare me for the job market, but this really had nothing to do with the courses being delivered online or not, and much more to do with the quality of faculty, access to resources such as office hours, content and delivery of course material and the context of the course compared with the professional opportunities available.

Online Public Health Professional Requirements

Public health workers may choose from a variety of credentialing opportunities in both general public health practice and individual sectors in the field. Though not required, common general certifications demonstrate your expertise and may make you a more marketable job candidate. Depending on your area of expertise and education, prospective licensees may opt to pursue a specialized credential (emergency management, wellness coaching, tobacco treatment etc).

Certified in Public Health (CPH)

The CPH is the most general certification for public health professionals. The test covers fundamental concepts in the field, including health policy and management, along with social and behavioral sciences. The CPH exam addresses the same basic skills students learn in an undergraduate public health degree program. To take the test, you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have five years of work experience in public health. The cost of the test is $385; international students must pay an additional $125 fee.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Students have four hours to complete the exam

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

The CHES is a common specialty certification that assesses seven primary skills in prospective entry-level health education positions. CHES exam candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a major related to health education. If their major is not in health education, they must submit an official transcript to demonstrate they have completed at least 25 semester hours (37 quarter hours) preparing for the exam’s Seven Areas of Responsibility and Competency for Health Education Specialists. The cost of the test for non-students begins at $240, and is $210 for students. As a form of standardizing high-quality health education across the country, more states are adopting policies encouraging health educators to become CHES-certified, though currently this credential is not required.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Students have three hours to complete the exam

Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

The MCHES is an advanced certification that can be obtained as a stand-alone credential or as an extension of the CHES. Like the CHES, the exam assesses your understanding of the Seven Areas of Responsibility of Health Education Specialists. The MCHES delves deeper into both advanced and sub-level competencies within this framework. MCHES exam candidates with a CHES credential must have at least five continuous years of experience as a certified health education specialist. Candidates who do not have prior CHES certification (or who have CHES certification but fewer than five years as an active-status CHES) must have a master’s degree or higher in public health or a related field, or must show evidence of at least 25 semester hours preparing for the exam’s Seven Areas of Responsibility. Non-public health majors must also have five years of experience as an active-status CHES. The test costs $250 for students, and $300 for non-students. Job-seekers aspiring to senior-level educator positions or government work may be required to obtain MCHES certification.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Students have three hours to complete the exam

Career-specific Certifications

In addition to the common general certifications listed above, there are more than 25 available certifications spanning the primary sectors of public health, including occupational, environmental and first aid, and safety and emergency professions. Many employers will require first aid, CPR, and AED training for professionals providing direct health care to patients. If you are working with children, you may also need to obtain Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician certification. Wellness coaches and personal trainers may opt to obtain specialized credentials to improve their credibility and increase their advantage over competitors in their line of work. Other categories of public health that offer career-specific certifications include physical activity, nutrition and obesity, and drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.