How to Get a Degree in Public Health

Five Methods:Bachelor of Science in Public HealthMaster of Public HealthMaster of Science in Public HealthDoctor of Public HealthDoctor of Philosophy in Public Health

Public health professionals include hospital administrators, health care analysts, pharmaceutical company leaders, biostatisticians, and university professors. Working in a wide variety of fields and settings, they share in common a concern with the health care system and the access of patients to medical care. Although it's possible to work in the public health sector without a specialized degree, most positions require at least a Master of Public Health (MPH), the most common degree in the field. Other degrees include the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (B.S.), the Master of Science in Public Health (MsPH), the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD). The more advanced your degree, the greater your earning potential. In 2011, the average cost for in-state tuition at a state-funded public health program was $18,000 a year and $26,000 a year for out-of-state tuition.

Method 1
Bachelor of Science in Public Health

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    Graduate from high school.
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    Consult the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) for a list of accredited B.S. programs in public health.
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    Apply to B.S. programs.
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    Specialize in a field such as administration, nutrition, or statistics.
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    Accept admission to a B.S. program.
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    Earn your degree in 4 years.

Method 2
Master of Public Health

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    Graduate with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
    • MPH programs offer specializations in a wide variety of areas, so you will have to prepare for a specific field. Study social science or business if you are interested in administration; study biology or chemistry if you are interested in environmental health; study math or physics if you are interested in biostatistics.
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    Take the Graduate Record Exam.
    • The GRE is required for admission to graduate school and is offered several times a year in many different locations by Educational Testing Services.
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    Apply to MPH programs.
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    Accept admission to an MPH program.
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    Earn your degree in 2 years.

Method 3
Master of Science in Public Health

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    Graduate with a bachelor's degree.
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    Take the Graduate Record Exam.
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    Apply to MSPH programs.
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    Indicate in your application your intention to pursue a PhD.
    • The MsPH, unlike the MPH, is not a terminal degree. The MsPH is designed for students planning on earning a doctorate in public health but who are not prepared to enter such programs directly after college. In this way, people who did not study science or math at the college level can prepare themselves for health-related research.
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    Accept admission to an MsPH program.
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    Earn your degree in 1 to 2 years.

Method 4
Doctor of Public Health

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    Graduate with a master's degree in public health or a related field.
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    Gain experience in the public health world.
    • Unlike master's degrees in public health, the DrPH is designed for those who already have substantial education and professional preparation in the field. Upon graduation, Doctors of Public Health usually take prominent positions in administration.
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    Apply to DrPH programs.
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    Accept admission to a DrPH program.
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    Earn your degree in 3 to 4 years.

Method 5
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health

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    Earn a bachelor's degree in a related field.
    • The PhD in Public Health is a research-oriented degree that prepares graduates for academic careers usually involving biostatistics or epidemiology. Because of its research focus, the PhD requires students to be very well prepared academically for whatever topic they are pursuing; typical bachelor's degrees include math, physics, biology, or chemistry.
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    Gain significant research experience.
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    Take the Graduate Record Exam.
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    Apply to PhD programs.
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    Accept admission to a PhD program.
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    Earn your degree in 5 to 7 years.

Tips

  • The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the best resource for finding public health degree programs. CEPH gives accreditation to schools that meet high academic standards, including coursework in the core areas of health services administration, health education, environmental health, biostatistics, and epidemiology.
  • The MPH is the most common public health degree and is available in many different specialties. Graduates work in a wide variety of fields, the most common of which is hospital administration. The BSPH will qualify you for many public health jobs, though you may need to gain several years of work experience to bolster your resume. The MsPH is designed for those intending to pursue a PhD. The DrPH is best for people with years of experience who plan on working at the highest levels in public health administration or analysis. The PhD is for those pursuing an academic career.

Article Info

Categories: College University and Postgraduate