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Top Online MPH Programs in California for 2024

This guide is a roundup of the best online MPH programs in California to help you choose the right program for your professional interests, career goals, timeframe, and budget.

Author: Angela Myers

Editor: Kari Scare

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A master’s in public health (MPH) sets students up for lucrative and meaningful careers. A study by the National Library of Medicine found nearly 97% of MPH graduates were either employed or in another education program shortly after graduating. Pair that with the high salaries for healthcare workers in California — ranging from $74,700 to $158,130, on average — and it’s easy to see why getting an MPH is an attractive option.

Sitting in California traffic to commute to class, however, is less appealing. Fortunately, there are several high-quality online MPH programs in California that allow you to take classes from the comfort of your own home. Earning your MPH online also makes it easier to balance coursework with your job and other obligations and eliminate transportation costs and some student fees.

If an online MPH sounds ideal, you’re in the right place. This guide covers the different types of programs and the best online MPH programs in California. Make sure to read until the end for tuition costs and California-specific scholarships.

Spotlighting Three Online MPH Programs in CA

According to the Healthforce Center at the University of California, San Francisco, there are 16 accredited MPH programs in the state. While many of those programs are great, some stand out in terms of academics, affordability, and program flexibility. The three high-quality online MPH programs in California spotlighted below can help jumpstart your search.

San Diego State University

One of the best MPH programs in California and possibly the country is the one at San Diego State University. What sets this degree apart from other online MPH programs is that all courses are delivered in an asynchronous format, so students watch prerecorded lectures and complete class activities whenever suits their schedule. This format makes this online MPH great for those juggling school with a full-time job and other responsibilities.

Along with a flexible format, San Diego State University offers specialized knowledge in behavioral science and health promotion. It’s important to note this is the program’s only concentration, meaning this degree might not be a good fit for those interested in other areas of public health, like epidemiology or environmental health.

In addition to general public health classes and concentration-specific coursework, students also complete a field practicum. Students work with community partners during this hands-on learning experience to solve real public health problems, boosting their resume and allowing them to network with professionals in their field.

University of Southern California

When looking at online MPH programs in California, consider the degree offered by the University of Southern California. Along with a flexible format, this program offers five concentrations, allowing students to customize the degree to their professional interests. Specialization options include epidemiology, biostatistics, community and global health, health services, and a generalist concentration.

If a student chooses the generalist route, they can customize their electives to specific career interests. Along with concentration-specific courses, students take a few general education courses and have the opportunity to work on class projects with leading health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Another unique benefit of the University of Southern California is its large alumni network. The campus regularly organizes online networking events for current MPH students and alumni. Along with virtual networking events, all courses are offered online in live class sessions. This format provides the flexibility of virtual learning with the personalized touch of attending discussion-based classes.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University offers a robust and accelerated MPH program. While most MPHs take two years to complete, the average degree completion time at California Baptist University is sixteen months. The curriculum is flexible, and students can take courses over the summer to graduate in as little as a year.

While accelerated, the program’s curriculum covers the essentials. Students take classes in epidemiology, behavioral science, environmental science, biostatistics, occupational health, and strategic management. Because most students work full-time, the entire degree is offered online in an asynchronous format. Classes also start every eight weeks, making it easier to adjust a student’s courseload more often, depending on other obligations in their life.

To make the program more affordable, California Baptist offers scholarships to almost all MPH students and offers many paid fellowships with community partners. Students also learn from faculty who are connected to public health organizations at the local and national levels, providing an abundance of career and networking opportunities.

Types of Online MPH Programs for California Students

Not all MPH programs are created equal. There are five different degree types, outlined below, to pay attention to. Some of these categories, like accreditation, are essential while others may work better for some students than others. It’s also possible for some online MPH programs to fall into multiple categories.

Accelerated Online MPH Programs in CA

Most MPH programs take two years to complete. If you can’t commit that much time, consider an accelerated program. Students graduate quicker, usually within one year, in an accelerated MPH program. These programs are often designed for working professionals who already have some experience in the field. As a result, they are usually in an online format with flexible class times.

While flexible, accelerated programs can also be demanding, making them better suited for those who can devote significant time to their coursework. For a better idea of what a flexible, accelerated MPH program looks like, explore this program at California Baptist University.

Accredited Online MPH Programs in CA

Accreditation is the most important quality an MPH program can possess. Without it, other academic institutions and employers won’t accept your degree as valid. There are two types of accreditations an MPH program must possess. First, the university itself must be accredited. Regional accreditations are the best, though national accreditations are also recognized. Along with institution-wide accreditation, you also want to attend a program accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Affordable Online MPH Programs in CA

Cost is an important factor when looking at MPH programs. If you have a smaller graduate school budget, consider applying to the more affordable online MPH programs in California. These are often programs at public institutions with a low in-state rate. The University of San Francisco, for example, offers one of the most affordable MPH programs in California. Along with tuition and fees, you should also assess how much financial aid a school offers. California Baptist University, for example, offers many scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships, including some that cover the entire cost of an MPH.

Dual-Degree Online MPH Programs in CA

While healthcare is a broad field, many career paths are highly specialized. To be a nursing manager, for example, you often need the broad knowledge offered in an MPH program in addition to the specialized training nursing school provides. To prepare students for these more specific roles, many universities offer dual-degree MPHs. Popular dual degrees include an MSN/MPH for nurses, an MBA/MPH for those looking to enter the business side of healthcare, and an MSW/MPH for social workers with a focus on healthcare. The University of California Berkeley, for example, offers an MPH/MBA dual degree.

No-GRE Online MPH Programs in CA

The GRE is a standardized test that graduate schools can ask for as part of their admissions requirements. For those who experience test-taking anxiety or don’t have the time to study for the GRE, no-GRE online MPH programs are good options. No-GRE MPHs can vary quite a bit, though all share a similar admissions process. This process doesn’t ask for applicants’ GRE scores. Instead, no-GRE programs place more emphasis on professional interest, previous education, and letters of recommendation. California State University Northridge, for example, doesn’t require applicants with at least a 3.0 GPA to submit their GRE scores when applying to its program.

Growing Public Health Careers in California

MPH degrees offer above-average salaries and job availability across the U.S. And graduates in California can expect higher salaries and the ability to enter multiple fast-growing industries; in fact, ZipRecruiter shows six of the 10 highest paying cities for MPH graduates are located in California.

Three of the most lucrative career fields for MPH graduates are spotlighted below.

Healthcare

Healthcare is the most obvious industry for MPH graduates for good reason. This field is growing quickly and easily offers some of the highest salaries in California. Plus, healthcare offers a variety of career paths from managerial roles to health education specialists. Some jobs in the field, such as nursing manager roles, require a medical license or an additional degree on top of an MPH. Because of this, check that any MPH programs you apply to meet the requirements for your ideal healthcare career.

Job Title CA Median Salary
(2023)
CA Projected Growth
(2023-25)
CA Projected Annual
Jobs (2023-25)
Health Informatics Specialist $124,370

1.9%

4,030

Medical and Health Services Manager $110,680

8.3%

6,450
Health Educators $72,280

4.5%

1,070

Health Informatics Specialist
CA Median Salary (2023) $124,370
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 1.9%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 4,030
Medical and Health Services Manager
CA Median Salary (2023) $110,680
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 8.3%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 6,450
Health Educators
CA Median Salary (2023) $72,280
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 4.5%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 1,070

Sources: O*NET OnLine, 2023; Projections Central, 2023

Environmental Science

Environmental science is a fast-growing field in California, with MPH graduates poised to take on important roles as liaisons between health and the environment. Some graduates in this industry work to prevent climate change through positions as health experts on climate change mitigation teams. Others work to ensure workplaces or other public environments are safe. Jobs in environmental science are ideal for those who specialized or took courses in environmental health. They’re also great for anyone who wants to spend their days brainstorming solutions to environmental and health problems instead of providing direct care.

Job Title CA Median Salary
(2023)
CA Projected Growth
(2023-25)
CA Projected Annual
Jobs (2023-25)
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists $102,580

4.5%

1,690

Environmental Health Specialists $95,890

3.2%

1,170
Health and Safety Engineers $127,990

4.5%

150

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
CA Median Salary (2023) $102,580
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 4.5%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 1,690
Environmental Health Specialists
CA Median Salary (2023) $95,890
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 3.2%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 1,170
Health and Safety Engineers
CA Median Salary (2023) $127,990
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 4.5%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 150

Sources: O*NET OnLine, 2023; Projections Central, 2023

Epidemiology

Epidemiology, the study of diseases, has been a fast-growing career since 2020. Unlike other fields MPH graduates enter, this one is science-heavy, making it a great fit for those who enjoyed their biostatistics and science courses. To enter epidemiology as an epidemiologist, medical scientist, or biostatistician, you typically need an MPH with a concentration in epidemiology or a related field. It’s also a great choice for those who want to work in a lab or research setting instead of providing direct care or working on the administrative side of healthcare.

Job Title CA Median Salary
(2023)
CA Projected Growth
(2023-25)
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25)
Epidemiologists $99,340

8.3%

100

Medical Scientists $128,320

3.2%

1,290
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians $66,610

3.7%

2,460

Epidemiologists
CA Median Salary (2023) $99,340
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 8.3%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 100
Medical Scientists
CA Median Salary (2023) $128,320
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 3.2%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 1,290
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
CA Median Salary (2023) $66,610
CA Projected Growth (2023-25) 3.7%
CA Projected Annual Jobs (2023-25) 2,460

Sources: O*NET OnLine, 2023; Projections Central, 2023

California Tuition Costs for an Online MPH

An MPH isn’t just a time commitment — it’s also a commitment for your wallet. California MPH tuition varies by program, though keep in mind your online MPH will likely be more cost effective than a traditional degree because you’ll save on relocation expenses, commuting costs, and parking expenses. If you are eligible for in-state tuition at large state school systems in California, such as any University of California school, you’ll likely save over private institutions. To give you an idea of the costs you can expect, the table below provides tuition details for three MPH programs in California.

School Program No. of Credits Est. Resident Tuition
San Diego State University

Master of Public Health

51

$30,804

California State University Northridge

MPH: Community Health Education

42

$32,634
University of San Francisco

Master of Public Health

42

$29,610

San Diego State University
Program Master of Public Health
No. of Credits 51
Est. Resident Tuition $30,804
California State University Northridge
Program MPH: Community Health Education
No. of Credits 42
Est. Resident Tuition $32,634
University of San Francisco
Program Master of Public Health
No. of Credits 42
Est. Resident Tuition $29,610

Along with tuition, also budget for expenses like student fees, distance learning fees, and living expenses. Online students may not have as many student fees, and their transportation costs are lower than their in-person counterparts. This makes your degree more affordable, though the fees you are responsible for can be a significant investment. When you decide to apply for MPH programs, set aside some money each month. Also evaluate where you could cut expenses, such as a Netflix subscription, and consider other budget-friendly changes you can make to your lifestyle.

Financial Aid for Public Health Students in CA

While an MPH can be expensive, there are financial aid options to help manage the cost. When most think of financial aid, student loans often come to mind. While this can be a viable path, it’s not the only one. Many MPH students are also eligible for scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate research assistantships. Depending on your work status and employer, your workplace may have a tuition reimbursement program that covers all or part of your degree.

As you apply to MPH programs, also explore and apply to different financial aid opportunities. It’s typically best to cast a wide net and apply for whatever you can, though if you’re short on time, focus on more niche scholarships. Often, many of the best scholarships are state-specific ones. Three scholarships MPH applicants and students in California should check out include: