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The 10 Best Online Master’s in Public Health Degree Programs

Preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting wellness- what could be more important than public health?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health sector will have the highest growth rate between now and 2026. In fact, the healthcare field’s projected growth rate will nearly triple the average of all occupations. If you are looking to take advantage of this spike in employment, getting your master’s in public health now might just be the path for you. Public Health jobs promote and protect the health of entire communities, including tracking disease outbreaks, workplace protections, and school nutrition programs. Some common public health jobs that require a master’s degree include health educators, social workers, community planners and nutritionists, and public policymakers. With so many options, a master’s in public health gives graduates a lot of options for their careers, whether it be in hospitals or community organizations.

Due to the fast growth across all healthcare industries, master’s degree programs in public health, like many other healthcare degrees, are starting to be much more available in fully online formats. We narrowed our focus for this ranking to online degree programs, because many graduate students in Public Health already work full time in their field. The results are the culmination of a multi-dimensional metric system, which uses data compiled from individual program sites and national data collection platforms. With that information in hand, we focused on three major objectives. First, we wanted to know whether or not the school’s tuition made it a viable choice for online students. Second, we looked at whether the school offered flexible options to accommodate student needs, like fast-track options or multiple specialties. And finally, we wanted to determine the academic quality of the institutions we sampled. You can find a more thorough explanation of the methodology we used below.

Methodology:

  • Affordability (1/3): the estimated out-of-state tuition rate per credit hour
  • Flexibility (1/3): a range of factors including online options, life-experience or competency credits, accelerated options, and available concentrations
  • Prestige (1/3): a set core measurement including faculty with terminal degrees, selectivity, and class sizes

1. University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university in Gainesville, Florida. Founded in 1853, the University of Florida is the oldest university in Florida’s state system. Today, UF is constantly ranked as one of the top 10 public universities in the United States, and in the top 50 of all public and private institutions. UF includes 16 academic colleges, over 150 research centers and institutes, and over 200 graduate degree programs. That means that their nearly 55,000 students can be sure they are getting a high quality education that also offers many options to explore.

Some of the options UF students have come in the form of online degree programs. One such program is the fully online Master’s in Public Health. Online MPH students choose between 2 concentrations: public health practice and social and behavioral sciences. While each concentration has their own coursework, all master’s of public health students take courses in epidemiology, environmental health, public health management, and biostatistics. All students must also complete a public health internship, which ensures all UF MPH graduates have on-the-job experience built into their degree program.

2. University of California, Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California, Berkeley is the flagship institution in the University of California system. Today, it is considered one of the world’s most prestigious universities and the best public university in the United States. Berkeley offers over 300 degree programs for its students from the undergraduate and graduate levels. With so many options, Berkeley’s 42,000 students have the freedom to explore their interests while being confident in the quality of their education regardless of major. The quality of a Berkeley education can be seen in the prestige of their alumni, faculty and researchers which include 94 Nobel laureates, 45 MacArthur Fellowships, and numerous awards in specific fields at national and international levels.

One of Berkeley’s prestigious degree programs includes an online Master’s in Public Health. Online students can earn their degree in as little as 27 months, while maintaining their busy working schedules. Online Master’s in Public Health students choose between two concentrations: health policy & management or global health. Regardless of concentration, students take courses in public health, biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, social and behavioral science, and health services management. Online students also get options when it comes to course delivery mode. Online courses are offered in more traditional models with recorded lectures, video clips, reading assignments, and 24/7 access to course material. Other online courses allow for students to meet online in small groups to have real-time discussion and ask questions, thus modeling the benefits of face-to-face class interactions.

3. University of Nebraska Medical Center

The University of Nebraska Medical Center, or UNMC is a public institute of health sciences research, patient care, and education in Omaha, Nebraska. Initially founded as a private medical school in 1880, UNMC joined the University of Nebraska state system in 1902. Over the years, the school expanded to include a hospital and colleges of dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, public health and medicine. Many of UNMC’s programs are nationally ranked in the top 40, with programs like primary care and physician assistant placing in the top 10 in the country.

UNMC offers several degrees full online. One such online degree is their Master’s of Public Health. The MPH program offers 8 concentrations, 3 of which are available online: biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, and public health practice. In addition to courses in their speciality area, students also take courses in health behavior, epidemiology, applied research, and health services administration. All students, regardless of concentration, must complete an experiential learning sequence, which gives them hands on experience to further improve their careers. By combining core courses, concentration electives, and hands-on learning, UNMC master’s of public health graduates are well prepared for any career path.

4. University of Missouri

The University of Missouri, or Mizzou, is a public, land-grant research university in Columbia, Missouri. Founded in 1839 as the first public institution west of the Mississippi River, Mizzou is now the largest university in the state. Its nearly 31,000 students can choose from over 300 degree programs across 20 academic colleges. Mizzou is also home to the world’s first school of journalism, which continues to be one of the nation’s bests journalism programs. Today, Mizzou is known for many of its programs and research centers, including one of only six public universities to have schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture, and law all on one campus.

Mizzou offers a range of fully online degree programs, including a Master’s of Public Health. The program is designed for the busy student, with 100% of coursework available online and with students typically completing their degrees in 2 years. Coursework includes public health, global health, epidemiology, research methods, health care in the US, and community based public health interventions. While there aren’t concentrations within the online MPH program, Mizzou also offers 3 graduate certificate program that many MPH students complete. Those certificates include: public health, global public health, and veterinary public health.

5. University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public university in Springfield, Illinois. UIS was founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University and became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. Before 2001, UIS was an upper-division and graduate university only. That means their students where in the last 2 years of their undergraduate or in graduate programs. Today, UIS is considered one of the best regional universities in the Midwest. UIS is also well known for its online degree programs, which they started offering in 1999. Since that time, they have been recognized by multiple national organizations for their high quality online education.

One of UIS’s fully online degree programs includes a Master’s in Public Health. Online students can choose between 3 concentrations: a general MPH degree, or concentrations in environmental health or professional public health. Students take courses in biostatistics, community health research, epidemiology, public health policy, as well as speciality courses depending on their chosen track. All students are also required to complete an internship as part of their degree. This internship requirement ensures that all UIS students leave the master’s in public health program with hands-on experience. Students can also choose between 2 join degrees that allow them to combine their Master’s in Public Health with either a Master’s in Public Administration or a Master’s in Human Services. Through offering several concentrations and 2 join degree options, students can design a degree that best suits their career needs.

6. University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is most often referred to simply as University of Minnesota, Minnesota, or UMN. It is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The University of Minnesota is known as one of the United States’ Public Ivy universities. That means it’s regarded as one of the best public universities in the nation. For UMN’s nearly 50,000 students, that prestige means they can be sure of receiving a top-tier education across the university’s 19 colleges and schools.

UMN Online offers several Master’s level public health degree programs. One is their MPH in Maternal and Child Health. This program is offered fully online. It is also regarded as one of the oldest and most highly maternal and child health programs in the nation. UMN’s MHP in Maternal and Child Health is designed for students with 3 years of professional experience and focuses on reproductive, infant, and adolescent health, as well as social disparities and family systems. Students also have the option to complete the program in 2 years or take longer if they need to enroll part time. Another only Master’s in Public Health program offered by UMN is their Executive MPH in Public Health Administration and Policy. This MPH degree requires minimal interaction with your cohort on campus, but primarily relies on online and experiential learning.

  • Master’s of Public Health
  • Avg. Out-of-State Tuition per credit hour: $961
  • Flexible Components: 2 degrees; full time or part time enrollment

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With its first enrolled students coming in 1795, UNC is only of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Today, the university offers over 71 bachelor’s, 107 master’s, and 74 doctoral programs across 15 colleges. That means it’s nearly 30,000 students have a lot of options to choose from. Students can also be confident in the quality of education they receive at UNC. The university constantly ranks in the top 5 public universities in the nation and is considered to be one of the nation’s Public Ivies.

UNC also offers a number of programs in 100% online formats. One program is their online Public Health Leadership program. This online MPH program is designed for working professionals with 2 or more years of work experience who are looking to strengthen their skills in public health leadership. Through a combination of work experience, live, webcam-based online classes, and multimedia coursework, UNC’s master’s of public health program has a lot of build in flexibility components. That means students get the same great education that UNC is known for while having the flexible options of online coursework that more readily fits into their busy lives.

8. University of Southern California

Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California is a private research university located in Los Angeles. USC’s 42,000 students can choose between 94 undergraduate and 134 graduate degrees. That’s a lot of options for students to explore. USC is also considered to be one of the most selective academic institutions in the country. It’s also a site of innovation, with the fourth largest number of billionaire alumni, and maintaining the world’s largest quantum computer. In other words, students can be sure that they are receiving a high quality education, surrounded by some of the nation’s best students.

One of USC’s renowned programs is its fully online Master’s of Public Health. Students in this online program choose between 5 concentrations: biostatistics and epidemiology, health education and promotion, global health leadership, geohealth, and health services and policy. Students in each concentration must also complete a practicum that gives them hands-on experience in their field. One of the great flexibility enhancing components of USC’s online MPH program is that a student’s practicum can be completed anywhere in the world, wherever best suits the students needs. Online MPH students also get to choose between 3 start dates, which further allows for the program to better fit the needs of busy students.

  • Master of Public Health
  • Avg. Out-of-State Tuition per credit hour: $1666
  • Flexible Components: 5 concentrations; 3 start dates

9. Emory University

Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, Georgia. Emory is the second-oldest private institution in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the nation. Emory’s 15,000 students can choose from majors across 9 academic divisions. Most notably, Emory Healthcare is the largest healthcare system in Georgia and includes the internationally known Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown. Emory’s many medical divisions are known for being leaders in research and innovation. For instance, the International Association of National Public Health Institutes is headquartered at Emory.

One of Emory’s many health programs includes an Executive Master’s of Public Health. The fully online program is designed for public health professionals looking to advance their careers through a graduate level degree. The program typically takes 2 years, but can take three years for students who need part-time enrollment to fit their busy schedules. Online Executive MPH students also get to choose between multiple concentrations, including: applied epidemiology, applied public health informatics, and prevention science. Students must also complete a practicum that ensures students get experience in public health before they finish their degree.

10. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, also known as USF, is a public research university in Tampa, Florida. Founded in 1956, USF is the fourth largest public university in Florida with over 48,000 students. Those students can choose between 80 undergraduate majors and over 130 graduate and professional degree programs. USF is considered to be a top tier research university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. That excellence is demonstrated by the amount of research innovation at USF, with the school ranking in the top 50 for dollars spent on research among all public and private schools.

One of the many degree programs offered by USF is a Master’s of Public Health. In this fully online degree program, students can choose between 7 concentrations including: epidemiology, public health practice, global disaster management, infection control, social marketing, nutrition and dietetics, and health and safety. The online MPH time-to-degree varies depending on concentration and full or part-time enrollment, but typically takes between 2 to 5 years. Certain concentrations, like infection control, require field experience either in the student’s city of residence or abroad. Through a combination of flexible online coursework and hands-on experience, students leave USF’s Master’s of Public Health program ready to jump start their careers.