Online Public Health Master's Degree


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The cost of health care is soaring, due in no small part to unhealthy lifestyles (see: smoking, obesity), which can lead to costly ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Public health professionals are leading the charge to reverse that trend, and an online master’s in public health can give students the necessary tools by preparing them to take active roles in research and policy development, as well as education and prevention efforts.

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Course Work

Potential specializations
Reproductive health
Infectious disease
Environmental health
Public health management and policy
Clinical research
Health policy and law

The core curriculum for most online master’s in public health programs blends research with practical application and includes courses such as environmental health, occupational safety, biostatistics and epidemiology, which studies the transmission and control of epidemics and infectious diseases. Due to the nature of the course work, some programs require that students have prior work experience in a health-related field.

Since public health is a broad field of study, most master’s programs offer degree concentration areas to allow students to narrow their focus. Common concentrations include infectious diseases, health in crisis and humanitarian assistance, reproductive health, epidemiology, and public health management and policy.

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Health educator, nonprofit $40,400
Nutritionist $53,250
Health educator, hospital $58,500
Environmental scientist $61,700
Epidemiologist, college or university $62,000
Biostatistician $69,900
Medical scientist $76,700
Epidemiologist, pharmaceuticals $93,000

*per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Graduates with a master’s degree in public health can travel down a variety of different career paths, including research, teaching, advocacy and even politics, and work anywhere from a high school classroom to a government agency or third-world country.

Students who go on to work as health educators at a civic or nonprofit organization can expect to see a median salary of roughly $40,400, while those who do so in a hospital setting earn a median salary of nearly $58,500. The median salary for graduates who work as epidemiologists at a college or university is nearly $62,000. That figure climbs to nearly $93,000 if they work for a pharmaceutical company, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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