Exploring the Best Online Master’s in Public Health (MPH)

Discover how you can become a leader in public health by earning your MPH online through a top-rated, fully-accredited program from a respected university.

Now more than ever, public health professionals are playing critical roles in protecting the health and wellness of our communities. That’s why these professionals are currently–and expected to continue to be–in such high demand, particularly in the area of health services management.

Earning a master’s in public health degree from a top online college or university program may be just what you’re looking for, whether you’re currently working in public health or interested in launching a brand-new, challenging, and well-paying career. The best online MPH programs today combine world-class academics with plenty of flexibility, allowing students to obtain their degrees as conveniently and affordably as possible.

Below you’ll find lots of useful information and advice on the best master’s in public health online programs out there today including what’s available, what to look for in quality online MPH programs, what your program will cost, and the financial aid options available to help pay for it.

College Spotlights: Best Online MPH Programs in 2021

Below are descriptions of three of the best master’s in public health online programs to give you an idea of what you’ll be looking for during your program search. We’ve made our choices based on a survey of several important factors, such as curriculum comprehensiveness, course convenience and flexibility, faculty quality, available student support services, and, of course, affordability. These spotlights offer a preview of our full online MPH program rankings, which will arrive later this year. So, be sure to check back.

Purdue University Global

The curriculum of Purdue University Global’s online master’s degree in public health program focuses on a comprehensive set of core courses in subjects that include biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and behavioral and social sciences. While this program does not offer specific concentrations, students can tailor their studies through their choice of elective courses in special public health topics. The program culminates with a capstone project which can be personalized to meet the student’s specific public health interests and career goals. All coursework is completed 100% online. However, each student must complete a final in-person fieldwork experience at a program-approved facility in their local area.

This 56-credit-hour MPH program is designed to be completed with 18 months of full-time study. The current tuition price is $420 per credit. However, Purdue Global offers tuition reduction benefits to eligible international students, current service members and their spouses, veterans, and employees of Purdue Global partner organizations. Students with an M.D., D.O., D.C., N.D., or Pharm.D. degree are eligible to apply up to 28 previously earned credits toward their MPH credit requirements.

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is home to an exceptionally active online public health program, providing support to over 5,000 students enrolled in public health online courses. Among its exceptional offerings is the Master of Public Health online degree program. Seven MPH concentrations are available in either fully online or partially online formats, including: epidemiology, global disaster management, humanitarian relief & homeland security, health, safety, & environment, infection control, nutrition and dietetics, public health practice, and social marketing.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree, current resume or CV, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. Students with a bachelor’s degree that’s not in a science, math, or health-related major may be required to complete preprogram coursework to gain required competencies. A GRE test score is not required but may be submitted if the applicant feels it will strengthen their admission chances. The current per-credit tuition and fees for Florida residents is $430 and for out-of-state residents is $875.

Johns Hopkins University

johns-hopkins-university-logo

Johns Hopkins University offers students the opportunity to earn their Master of Public Health degree in an online, part-time format from one of the most prestigious schools of public health in the nation. Students in this highly customizable, 80-credit-hour program complete 45 to 50 credits of core curriculum courses along with elective credits that allow them to focus on a particular public health area of interest. With approval, students may opt to create their own concentration or attend the program’s in-person Summer Institute where they can focus their studies in one of 11 public health interest areas. They may also customize their degree by completing a certificate in one of 16 specializations.

On average, students complete their online MPH program in two to three years by taking one to three courses per term. However, students are allowed up to four years to complete all degree requirements. The current program cost for online/part-time students is $73,960 (for 80 credits).

Why Earn Your Master’s in Public Health Online?

You’ll gain lots of benefits by earning your MPH online degree. Here are three of the biggest:

  1. Expand your career opportunities

    Earning your MPH degree means higher pay and greater job opportunities. One of the most attractive aspects to earning a master’s in public health online degree is that you can apply what you learn in a wide variety of satisfying and challenging careers across this very diverse field.

  2. Keep your job while earning your degree

    Online MPH programs are designed with the working professional in mind, with online asynchronous coursework that can be accessed anywhere at any time. Generous program lengths mean that even the busiest student will have enough time to complete their courses of study. Of course, you don’t have to be employed as a full-time public health professional to earn an MPH online, but if you are, the flexible online MPH program is the way to go.

  3. Make a positive impact on the health and well-being of entire communities

    With the enhanced knowledge and skills you’ll gain in your master’s in public health online program, you’ll help reduce injury, illness, and disease and encourage healthier lifestyles for individuals as well as in communities of all sizes–from local to global.

What You’ll Learn in an Online MPH Program

The course of study for your master’s in public health online program will likely include three major components.

The first is a set of core curriculum courses that every student completes. Typical core subjects include epidemiology, biostatistics, leadership, research methods, healthcare systems, and public health principles.

The second component is coursework in a specific area of the larger public health field. This may take the form of a formal concentration option or a selection of elective courses in an area of particular interest to you. (For more on specializations in public health, see below.)

The third component involves participation in an in-person fieldwork experience, typically with a public health agency or private organization in the student’s local community. This applied practice experience may be part of a culminating capstone project.

Here are descriptions of five core curriculum courses similar to ones you’ll take in your online MPH program.

Common Online MPH Courses

  • Environmental Health

    This course is an overview of the basic principles of environmental and occupational health, including the relationship between chemical, biological, and physical hazards (in the workplace and beyond) and human health. Specific topics include air and water pollution; solid and hazardous waste; environmental health policy; environmental law and government regulation; and global health issues and the responsibilities of international health organizations.

  • Health Behavior

    An introduction to the fundamental concepts for promoting positive health behavior change, this course emphasizes identifying and applying models and theories employed in the design and implementation of effective health behavior interventions and programs. Additional topics include the history of health behavior and systems delivery, health behavior programs and policies, and behavioral health issues in specific at-risk populations.

  • Healthcare Communication

    Communication is essential to successful teamwork and in providing quality patient care. This course examines the fundamental skills for effectively communicating health and science information in scientific and nonscientific settings. Students learn to identify relevant communication strategies and develop comprehensive plans for both internal and external communications.

  • Program Evaluation and Research

    Students explore the key approaches employed in the evaluation of public health programs, along with the theories, principles, strategies, and methods used in applied public health research. Students learn to identify, analyze, and resolve real-world public health issues in various practice scenarios (substance abuse prevention, reproductive health and family planning, etc.)

  • Public Health Administration

    This course is an introduction to the principles and methods used in the successful leadership and management of public health organizations. Students learn about the processes and outcomes for public health administrative elements, including health services delivery, organizational hierarchy, financial structures and strategies, public relations, human resource management, law and regulations, and ethical decision-making.

Specialization Options for Your Online MPH

Virtually all master’s in public health online programs include a substantial specialization component that allows students to focus their studies in a particular area of interest in the larger public health field. This component often takes the form of specific concentration options, like the five highlighted below. Students in programs not offering concentration options, however, will instead tailor their studies through their elective course choices.

  • Biostatistics

    Biostatistics concerns the application of statistical principles and data analysis to a range of public health concerns, such as the causes and prevention of injuries and diseases and the identification of emerging community health trends. Students in this specialization gain a solid foundation in several important subjects, including probability theory, hypothesis testing, confidence interval testing, statistical power and sample size, and more.

  • Community Health

    This concentration is a good choice for students whose primary interest is in educating the public and in implementing specific evidence-based interventions to improve community health, clinical care, and individual patient outcomes. Course topics include program design and evaluation, organizing and mobilizing community outreach efforts, and communication in public health.

  • Epidemiology

    The epidemiology concentration is a great option for students seeking a research-oriented career in public health. Students gain a broad understanding of the public health field with an emphasis on topics such as assessment of public health data, identification and analysis of emerging public health trends, and public health observation and program evaluation. Learn more about top-ranked online MPH epidemiology programs.

  • Global Health

    The global health concentration provides students with a foundational understanding of public health issues and challenges in a global context. Graduates are prepared to assume leadership roles in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of environmental-health-related policies and programs on local, regional, and national levels in developing countries and resource-poor populations.

  • Public Health Policy

    The public health policy concentration is designed to prepare the next generation of leaders in the creation and implementation of innovative public health policy and health services delivery on local, national, and global levels. This specialization is a great choice for students interested in the big picture of public health and health systems improvement.

Accreditation for Master’s in Public Health Online Programs

Probably the single most important qualifying factor for any master’s in public health online program that you consider is proper accreditation. Accreditation is the process by which educational institutions and their degree programs are evaluated and verified to meet important standards of quality. Proper accreditation assures you that the online program you choose is worth your time, effort, and money. It’s also a requirement for federal student loan eligibility.

There are two basic types of accreditation related to postsecondary academics: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation concerns the vetting of the college or university as a whole. Institutional accreditation of U.S. colleges and universities is administered by a number of U.S. Department of Education-approved independent national and regional agencies. Programmatic accreditation concerns individual degree programs themselves. The primary programmatic accrediting agency of MPH degree programs is the Council on Education for Public Health. Most, but not all, online MPH programs in the U.S. are programmatically accredited by the CEPH.

Proper institutional accreditation is an absolute must for any online MPH program you consider. Most programs list their accreditation status on their specific program or school’s accreditation websites. You can also check accreditation status by using these Department of Education and CEPH search engines.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Public Health

One of the biggest benefits to earning a master’s in public health degree online is the exceptional range of job opportunities available to graduates. High-paying, in-demand administration and advanced-practice careers for MPH graduates can be found in a vast array of professional settings, including healthcare organizations and facilities, federal government agencies, state and local health departments, private consulting firms, colleges and universities, and many others. To help you get started, we’ve listed five of the most popular potential careers for MPH degree holders and the current estimated annual salaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.org.

Biostatisticians

Biostatisticians in the public health field collect data and conduct statistical analyses to determine how best to deploy resources to prevent and fight the spread of communicable diseases and protect public health. In addition, biostatisticians identify potential public health problems and participate in writing grant proposals to study those problems.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$58,000

$77,000

$117,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors are in charge of the preparations for responding to natural and man-made disasters and other emergency events. They meet with public safety officials and others to develop effective emergency response plans, oversee the hiring and training of staff and volunteer emergency responders, oversee the maintenance of emergency facilities and equipment, coordinate disaster response efforts, and analyze emergency responses and prepare post-event assessment reports.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$40,430

$74,590

$141,230

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Environmental Health Scientists and Specialists

Environmental health scientists and specialists employ their knowledge and skills in the natural sciences to protect the health and safety of individuals in the workplace, communities, and beyond. Common tasks include identifying, analyzing, and creating solutions for environmental hazards; developing policies and strategies to prevent potential environmental problems; and providing information and advice to government agencies, private business, and the public about potential environmental hazards and health risks.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$42,810

$71,360

$124,760

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists are scientists who study the causes of human injuries and communicable diseases and the cultures and patterns by which diseases are spread. Job duties include creating studies, conducting research, collecting and analyzing health information and data, and preparing and presenting reports based on their findings to government agencies and policy makers, private public health organizations and practitioners, and others.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$44,000

$70,990

$119,290

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers are in charge of directing and coordinating services in medical and healthcare facilities of all kinds. They may oversee all activities in a facility or the services in a specific department or clinical unit within a larger facility. Responsibilities typically include recruitment, training, and supervision of staff; management of facility budgets, payrolls, and patient billing; and coordinating services with facility administrators, department heads, and medical staffs.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$58,820

$100,980

$189,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online MPH Programs

We’ve listed below current tuition figures for three online MPH programs to give you an idea of what you may pay for your degree. As you can see, these costs can vary significantly. This is due to a number of factors, most notably whether the program is offered by a public or private institution. One thing is certain: Any program you choose will require a substantial financial commitment.

Fortunately, there are several funding resources available to help you pay for your education. They include scholarships (from both private providers and schools themselves), work-study programs, fellowships and assistantships, and employer tuition assistance programs. The most common source, however, is student loans. Student loans are available from a number of public and private lenders, the most popular being the federal government.

To learn about financial aid opportunities available for your MPH online degree, contact your program’s financial aid office. And be sure to check out our financial aid webpage.

What Your Online Master’s in Public Health Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

Southern New Hampshire University

42

$627

$26,334

University of Florida

48

$550

$26,400

University of Southern California

42

$1,995

$83,790

FAQs About Earning Your Master’s in Public Health Online

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in public health?

Admission and application requirements for online MPH programs vary from program to program, so it’s imperative that you carefully review the requirements for any program you’re considering. It’s best to do so early in your program search so you don’t waste time on programs that you don’t qualify for. Bearing that in mind, here are a number of admission requirements similar to those in most MPH online programs.

  • Bachelor’s degree: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any major from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum GPA (3.0 for most programs). Some programs will conditionally admit students with an undergraduate GPA below the stated minimum or waive the GPA requirement for students who meet other criteria. Official transcripts for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate coursework are usually required.
  • GMAT/GRE test scores: Most online MPH programs do not require GMAT or GRE test scores.
  • Statement of purpose: A personal written statement typically is around 500 words and outlines the applicant’s degree program objectives and career goals.
  • Additional requirements: Other common application requirements include a current CV or resume and letters of recommendation (two or three is typical) from professional or academic sources. International students are normally required to demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting TOEFL or IELTS test scores.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in public health online?

Most online MPH programs are designed to be completed in two to three years, although some schools (University of Southern California and The George Washington University, for example) offer accelerated options that can be completed in as few as 12 months. How long you’ll take to earn your MPH online, however, will depend on a number of factors, most prominently whether you choose full-time or part-time study. All programs mandate a maximum program completion time, which is sometimes as long as seven years.

Can I earn a master’s in public health 100% online, or do I need to visit campus?

The majority of online MPH programs feature coursework that is accessed and completed entirely online. In most cases, students will be able to earn their degrees without ever visiting the school’s physical campus. However, all students in CEPH-accredited MPH programs, including those online, must complete an in-person applied practical experience at a program-approved practice site, typically in the student’s local area. Therefore, it is crucial that you have a detailed understanding of your program’s applied practical experience in-person requirements prior to enrollment, even if the program describes itself as “100% online.”