Earning a Master's in Public Health Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Public Health Online?

Self-directed professionals with an educational background in science or medicine and prior work experience in a health-related field make excellent candidates for online master's in public health (MPH) programs. Strong communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills remain critical for succeeding in this field.

Public health professionals work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, universities, research facilities, and government agencies. Specializations include public health administration, epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health policy. Earning your MPH online enables you to continue working while completing your degree. Many online MPH programs offer the flexibility to progress through coursework at your own pace and intern at a facility near you. For those with a passion for protecting and improving the health of a population, an online MPH can open the door to in-demand, well-paying careers in the public health field.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Public Health Graduates

Master's in Public Health Salary

As seen below, MPH graduates working as community health workers make an average of $42,340 per year in the United States. They can earn above-average salaries in the highest-paying states. California employers hire the most community health workers, and the state ranks among the top-paying. Community health workers can earn more than $60,000 annually in District of Columbia and San Francisco metropolitan areas. A master's degree also qualifies professionals to become public health directors, who earn average starting salaries of $70,000.

Top Paying States for Community Health Workers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 950 $66,290
New Jersey 1,230 $51,480
North Dakota 130 $48,110
California 5,890 $47,150
Connecticut 470 $47,100
United States 54,760 $42,340

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Public Health Directors

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $70,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $81,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $86,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $83,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Public Health Careers

Online MPH programs prepare degree holders for a variety of careers in government, social services, healthcare, and industry. Some public health professionals conduct research, while others focus on disease prevention and educating the public and policy-makers about health-related issues. Oriented toward problem-solving and public service, these professionals display an interest in science, health and wellness, and public policy. See below for sample career paths.

Epidemiologist

Annual Median Salary: $69,660
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Working in government, higher education, and hospitals, these researchers study and report on diseases. They examine the patterns of human disease and seek to prevent outbreaks and reduce the spread of illness. They may collect data in the field, analyze data, report to policymakers, or educate the public. This position frequently requires an MPH.

Health Educator or Community Health Worker

Annual Median Salary: $45,360
Projected Growth Rate: 16%

Health educators work in community agencies and for healthcare providers to educate the public on health-related topics and promote wellness. Community health workers gather health-related data and educate specific groups about health concerns. Health educator positions require at least a bachelor's degree, and some may require a graduate degree.

Biostatistician

Annual Median Salary: $75,555
Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Some biostatisticians work in health-related fields, such as public health, and analyze medical data. They design experiments and collect and analyze data to help medical professionals, scientists, and policymakers understand public health issues. Most biostatisticians hold a graduate degree.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Public Health Program?

The courses offered in online MPH programs vary by school, but they typically provide training in biostatistics and epidemiology, public health policy, and public health program design. They prepare public health professionals to assess community health needs and respond appropriately, and MPH programs typically include a capstone or internship. See below for some example MPH program courses.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Public Health

  1. Biostatistics: This course provides a foundation in the application of statistical methods to biological, medical, and public health data. Students learn how biostatisticians and other researchers design studies and collect and analyze data to solve public health issues.
  2. Epidemiology: This introductory course explores the patterns of disease in human populations, including causes and impact. Students learn basic epidemiological principles and methods, and how to apply them. Topics may include case studies and recent examples.
  3. Public Health Policy: Students explore the evolution of health policy and the development and implementation of current policies. They learn to analyze public policy and discover ways to advocate for effective policy at the local, state, national, and international levels.
  4. Determinants of Public Health: This course examines the social, cultural, and environmental factors that can influence public health. It explores current public health theories. Topics may include major environmental hazards and behavioral factors related to public health.
  5. Creating Public Health Programs: Students learn to assess community public health needs and the effectiveness of community programs. This course explores techniques for designing and implementing effective public health programs and interventions.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Public Health Prepares For

  • Certified in Public Health: Graduates of an accredited MPH program may choose to pursue certification through the National Board of Public Health Examiners. This 200-question CPH exam takes four hours to complete. While not required in any state, employers may prefer national certification.
  • Certified Public Health Administrator: Certification by the Public Health Practitioner Certification Board demonstrates competency in public health practice, policy, advocacy, program development, and administration. An MPH can satisfy educational requirements for this certification, though this credential also requires experience in public health administration.