Before you invest time and money in a graduate degree, you want to make sure your studies will help you achieve your goals. If you’re interested in a Master’s in Public Health degree, you’re already passionate about helping others as an experienced professional. Public Health offers many avenues for giving back to the world, whether you want to stay in your hometown or travel to the other side of the globe.
What is a Typical MPH Degree Program Like?
Public Health is a broad field. One MPH graduate might spend her entire career crunching health data in an office while her classmate spends decades traveling the world and fighting exotic diseases. The best MPH graduate programs have students take a core curriculum to gain exposure to the many different types of Public Health. While you might enter grad school with a specific MPH sub-specialty in mind, your introductory courses might help you realize that you’re truly passionate about a different aspect of Public Health. After you complete your core classes, you can choose to specialize in a field like Biostatistics, Epidemiology or Global Health and complete advanced courses in your specialty topic.
Health Services Manager
An MPH with a concentration in healthcare administration can lead to a high-paying job as a health services manager. You’ll study a combination of business administration and Public Health to prepare for your role as a leader at a non-profit or community-minded hospital, clinic or nursing home. An MPH will give you the flexibility to switch between many different roles in healthcare administration. You might find a career managing an organ bank, creating an outreach program for a hospital or training nurses in community-based models of care. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers earned a median salary of just under $100,000 in 2018.
Global Health Expert
If you have a desire to help others, consider specializing in Global Health. With this concentration, you’ll take courses like Maternal and Child Health, International Biostatistics and Neglected Tropical Diseases. After graduation, you can work for organizations like Doctors without Borders or the World Health Organization as an international health educator, emergency logistics supervisor or humanitarian worker. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can join the Peace Corps and get two years of paid experience working overseas. After that, you can write your own ticket to any humanitarian efforts across the globe.
For biostatisticians, data is everything. Biostatisticians use their expertise to design research studies, advise medical professionals and analyze experimental results. As one of the highest-paid Public Health specialties, biostatisticians typically work consistent hours with no late nights or long trips. However, some biostatisticians work with global non-profits to provide research assistance in the field.
Health Information Specialist
The Affordable Care Act, sometimes known as “ObamaCare,” mandated that all medical providers switch to electronic medical records. This legislation created a new, in-demand Public Health job for IT professionals. Hospitals, health organizations, and medical offices need to understand the new regulations for electronic records, convert paper records into electronic formats and explain the changes to patients. Common job titles for this role include Medical Records Expert, Health Information Technologist, and EMR Specialist.
A master’s in Public Health degree does not make you a clinical provider, but it does give you the knowledge to be a successful nurse manager, community health nurse specialist or Public Health nurse. It’s common to combine an MPH with a master’s of science degree in nursing (called an MSN). A dual degree program lets you save time and money while building your knowledge between two different fields. These programs are often designed for working students and offer flexible schedules and online courses.
According to the BLS, epidemiologists earned a median annual wage of about $70,000 in 2018. These disease-fighting professionals enjoy more than just a good salary. If you’re looking for exciting, hands-on Public Health work, epidemiology is the specialty for you. You’ll track the spread of disease, looking for patterns between patients and helping medical providers educate the public. You can find exciting work tracking down emerging diseases in far-off countries or settle into a comfortable role at your local health department. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers many paid internships and entry-level roles to help Public Health graduates develop their epidemiology skills.
Dual Degree Options
Because Public Health is a community-minded discipline, it’s common to see Public Health students pursue dual degree programs in fields like social work (MPH/MSW), family or civil rights law (MPH/JD) or public administration (MPH/MPA). With a dual degree, you can work in a highly specialized and highly paid occupation. For example, with a dual MPH/MSW, you could be a social worker for a hospital, a licensed clinical social worker at a health center for refugees or an international crisis worker with a non-profit organization. Because you’ll graduate with specialized knowledge in two complementary fields, you’ll be prepared for jobs that would typically require years of experience.
A master’s degree in Public Health is a professional degree. Like a JD (for attorneys) or an MD (for doctors), the MPH is designed to get you ready to enter the workplace. Many programs require an internship, which gives you valuable job experience for your resume and the opportunity to network with working Public Health professionals. Many schools also partner with local Public Health agencies for volunteer and career development opportunities for students. There are also scholarship opportunities specific to students in Public Health. For those who pursue online Public Health degrees, there are also scholarships that are only for online degree seekers.
How does an MPH Prepare You for a Career?
There’s a need for Public Health everywhere – even at the state, local, and county levels. The number of government and non-profit positions available to Public Health workers makes this field a great way to get help paying off student loans. Many Public Health graduates take advantage of the loan-forgiveness options the federal government makes available to people who give back in this way.
These are just a handful of the jobs that will be available to you with a Public Health degree. With the rapidly changing nature of the healthcare industry, each year brings new opportunities for your MPH.