Exploring the Best Online MPH Programs in Epidemiology

Earning your epidemiology master’s online can help you prepare for advanced work in the world of infectious diseases. This guide highlights the best programs and gives the cost and career information needed to make an informed decision when choosing the right online epidemiology MPH for you.

Epidemiology is a cornerstone of public health. Epidemiologists study the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in society. They influence public policy and improve preventative healthcare. A master’s in epidemiology online program teaches the skills necessary to plan and direct the study of public health problems and find solutions to prevent and treat disease.

An MPH in epidemiology online offers the flexibility working professionals need to advance their careers while balancing other responsibilities. The many quality programs available make it possible for you to find one that not only fits your budget but also allows you to venture deeper into this in-demand field.

This guide spotlights the best master’s in epidemiology online programs available and discusses the advantages of earning your degree online. It also delves into popular courses, and provides information on accreditation, financial aid, admissions requirements, and potential careers after graduation.

College Spotlights: Best MPH in Epidemiology Online Programs in 2021

The best MPH in epidemiology online programs stand out because they balance quality classroom learning with practical experience and offer affordable programs with flexible timelines. They are also Council on Education for Public Health-accredited in addition to having regional accreditation. The three top-rated schools spotlighted below illustrate the depth and breadth of online MPH in epidemiology programs available. This list previews our full ranking arriving later in 2021. Be sure to check back for the full list later this year.

Drexel University

An online MPH in Epidemiology from Drexel University prepares you for tackling pressing urban, global, and public health issues. It combines biostatistics, a public health foundation, and practical experience to develop expert researchers and public health workers who can investigate complex health challenges and develop preventative strategies.

The MPH program at Drexel requires 120 hours of hands-on, practical experience that can be obtained through your current employer or another organization and either online or in person. A 3-credit integrative learning experience (ILE) is also required during your final quarter. This ILE involves writing a high-quality paper illustrating mastery of core public health and epidemiology competencies.

Drexel’s MPH in epidemiology online program involves 56 quarter credits and can be completed in as few as 12 months for full-time students who won’t be working outside the program. Longer and more flexible time frame options are also available. The program is completely online and does not require a GRE for admittance.

Harvard University

The Master of Public Health in epidemiology program at Harvard University combines online, in-person, and field learning and takes two years to complete. It provides the advanced research and epidemiological skills needed for pursuing senior positions in a variety of settings. Two intensive on-campus sessions are required, one at the beginning and one in the middle of the program, and about two-thirds of credits are earned online. The program culminates with a year-long practicum that involves an integrative learning project and presentation.

Harvard’s MPH in epidemiology program is designed for those who want specialization in advanced quantitative methods of epidemiology and want to apply what they learn to clinical and population health research, policy, and programs. It also provides a public health framework for current epidemiologists.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a related field. Though the 2021 application cycle does not require GRE scores, Harvard plans to reinstate this requirement for the next cycle.

University of Southern Florida

The University of Southern Florida intends its MPH with a concentration in epidemiology for those wanting a broad understanding of public health alongside an emphasis on epidemiologic principles and methods. This program gives you the knowledge and skills to evaluate the health status of communities, consider related research, and develop strategies for health-related interventions and preventions.

USF’s online MPH with a concentration in epidemiology requires a minimum of 42 credits. Applied practical experience and an integrated learning experience are also required in addition to core and concentration courses. Epidemiology concentration courses depend upon your concentration focus. Concentration options are epidemiology, epidemiology and global communicable disease, epidemiology and global health, epidemiology, and maternal and child health. Students must also pass a comprehensive exam to graduate.

Ideally, applicants possess an undergraduate degree in science, math, or a health-related field. The ability to communicate well and think abstractly are also important.

Key Benefits of Earning Your Master’s in Epidemiology Online

Epidemiology is a high-demand career, and earning an MPH in epidemiology online can set you apart and make you more marketable because it shows you are serious about the field. The benefits of earning an online master’s in public health concentrated in epidemiology also include flexibility and convenience.

  1. Marketability

    An online MPH in epidemiology could qualify you for higher-paying positions that give you more authority. It shows you are developing your expertise and want to make a significant impact in the field. It also gives you access to positions that require a master’s degree.

  2. Flexibility

    Most programs offer flexible timelines for individuals who must work full time while obtaining their MPH. The variety of flexible options include MPH programs that allow you to pick a high-accelerated timeline, a flexible one, or somewhere in between. Flexibility also exists in most field experience requirements, with some allowing it completely online.

  3. Convenience

    The many quality MPH in epidemiology programs available means you can find one that is most convenient for you. Whether you need to work full-time and take classes or you want to finish as quickly as possible, a program exists to fit your unique needs. You can also find programs that are 100% online and ones with in-person practicums.

What You’ll Learn in an Online MPH in Epidemiology Program

An MPH in epidemiology online program develops skills in research, analysis, and big-picture thinking. This degree teaches you to analyze health conditions and develop strategies for preventing and managing disease spread. All online epidemiology master’s programs teach essential skills in public health, but each program provides a unique approach to epidemiology. One program might emphasize understanding the role epidemiology plays within the broad context of public health, while another is intended for public health professionals interested in developing quantitative and analytical skills in epidemiology and biostatistics. Several popular courses in online MPH epidemiology programs are profiled below to give you a general sense of what you may study.

Popular Courses

  • Practicum

    Sometimes called applied practical experience, a practicum is a capstone course involving field training in a public health agency like a health department or community-based organization. This capstone course provides a hands-on experience to apply the competencies learned in your MPH in epidemiology program. Some programs allow students to complete practicums with their current employers.

  • Environmental Health

    Many MPH in epidemiology programs have multiple courses focused on different areas of environmental health. Overview courses look at fundamental topics like air pollution, water pollution, solid and hazardous waste, and ethics. They identify issues in assessing the effects of exposure and look at interventions for reducing adverse health risks.

  • Data Analysis

    Though found within many MPH in epidemiology courses, most programs also have one course focused only on data analysis. Data analysis courses cover the computer packages and the statistical tools used in biomedical research and teach fitting data with linear and nonlinear regression models. Emphasis is on problems arising in epidemiology, public health, and medicine.

  • Biostatistics

    Biostatistics courses teach simple and multiple linear regression, ANOVA (Analysis of Variance), and ANCOVA (Analysis of Covariance). They also emphasize basic statistical theory, parametric statistics, and other quantitative methods. Biostatistical courses also often use hands-on experience in statistical analysis and interpretation of data.

  • Infectious Disease

    Infectious disease courses survey the history of infectious disease and discuss disease control and outbreak investigation. They look at infectious disease from a global perspective, consider its dynamics within different transmission routes, and analyze modeling approaches. They also use case studies to discuss theory and emphasize practical application.

Accreditation for Online Epidemiology MPH Programs

Any quality MPH in epidemiology online program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs outside of public health. CEPH accreditation is important because some employers are only open to graduates of CEPH-accredited programs, and some fellowships are only available to those attending CEPH-accredited schools and programs. Attending a CEPH-accredited program tells employers your degree has met a multi-level review and meets nationally-agreed-upon standards developed by public health academics and practitioners.

Schools should also have regional accreditation through one of seven agencies. A searchable listing of regional accreditations can be found at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Epidemiology

An MPH in epidemiology gives you the skills and knowledge for work in hospitals, government health agencies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, and insurance companies. Common areas of focus include infectious disease, mental health, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Epidemiologists must have solid communication skills, be critical thinkers and detail-oriented, and be skilled in math and statistics. Since many positions require educating the public, teaching skills are also important.

Potential careers for graduates with an MPH in epidemiology are profiled below to give a sense of the skills needed and this degree’s potential.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes. They do research, educate the community, and develop health policy. Epidemiologists must have at least a master’s degree, and most have an MPH.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$44,000

$70,990

$119,290

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Clinical Data Analyst

Clinical data analysts manage and examine clinical data. They coordinate with relevant departments to determine areas needing analysis and the best approach for doing so. These analysts also perform data validation and handle data reconciliation. Some employers require or prefer an MPH along with familiarity with common computer systems.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$49,000

$70,000

$89,000

Source: PayScale, 2019

Healthcare Risk Management Director

Healthcare risk management directors are responsible for protecting the institution they work for from possible loss by developing effective risk management programs. They implement and enforce loss prevention and develop and implement infrastructures and systems geared toward patient safety. This career usually requires a master’s degree.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$77,000

$106,000

$152,000

Source: PayScale, 2019

Public Health Analyst

A public health analyst analyzes public health matters and oversees public health professionals in charge of communicating health issues and developing solutions for public health problems. They create activities for the general public and guide policy creation.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$48,000

$65,000

$102,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Clinical Research Coordinator

A clinical research coordinator coordinates clinical and administrative tasks for research processes. They form, carry out, and organize the research process for clinical trials. They also perform administrative tasks for studies.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$39,000

$51,000

$68,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online MPH Programs in Epidemiology

Understanding the total financial commitments of earning an MPH in epidemiology online before enrolling is important. It helps in developing a plan to pay for your degree and for considering possible financial aid sources. Financial aid options include grants, scholarships, assistantships, associateships, and federal student aid. In addition to financial aid offered through a university’s graduate school, some individual schools of public health offer additional opportunities. Most schools also provide detailed funding tips, like those offered by the University of Arizona, that include internal and external financial aid opportunities. You can also find information on our financial aid page.

What Your Online MPH in Epidemiology Could Cost

The following table gives an idea of the cost of obtaining an online MPH in epidemiology. These top schools show how cost varies significantly.

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

Texas A&M

45

See estimated total cost, which includes all fees.

$30,120 (resident)

$38,550 (non-resident)

The University of Arizona

42

$950 (changes based on # of credits enrolled)

$39,900

University of Southern California

42

$1,995

$83,790

FAQs About Earning Your Master’s in Epidemiology Online

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

Most public health programs require application through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for public health. SOPHAS, which is powered by the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), allows you to apply to multiple institutions using one application. In general, application requirements include the following:

  • Minimum GPA in a bachelor’s program
  • English proficiency for international applicants
  • Personal statement
  • Recommendation letters
  • Essay or purpose statement discussing public health interest and career goals
  • Resume or CV

GRE scores are not always required, though some schools accept them for strengthening applications or those without math-related backgrounds. Also, some schools temporarily waive a standardized test requirement, but this requirement will likely be reinstated by some of them in the near future.

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

The length of time in your MPH in epidemiology online program depends on whether you are full or part-time. Johns Hopkins estimates two-three years for its MPH concentration in epidemiological and biostatistical methods for public health and clinical research. The University of Arizona estimates two years for working professionals in its MPH in applied epidemiology. The University of Alabama at Birmingham estimates 20 months of full-time coursework and at least six to eight semesters part-time for its MPH with a concentration in epidemiology. To graduate within two years from Texas A&M with an MPH in epidemiology, you must be a full-time student and follow a suggested schedule.

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

Some MPH master’s in public health programs are completely online. Others, like Harvard University’s Master of Public Health in epidemiology, have in-person requirements. Most programs also have practicum requirements, and those often must take place in person. Like Drexel’s online MPH in epidemiology, some programs allow for virtual practicums, which means its program could be 100% online. Additionally, like USC’s MPH, some programs allow for practicums to take place with your current employer. Since requirements vary among programs, investigate thoroughly before applying.