Public Health Degree Guide for 2018 & Beyond
Learn about public health degrees and how they relate to public administration education (they are close relatives). Understand the difference and specific coursework, career application, and see which programs may work for you.

What is Public Health?

Public health is the sector of public administration that is concerned with the conservation of human health. Whether it be through public organizations, physicians, or health awareness programs, businesses that specialize in public health are responsible for providing citizens with the tools required to lead healthy and informed lifestyles.

Public health degrees are closely related to public administration, especially with different government jobs that focus on the health and well-being of the entire population nationally or internationally, or environmental health.

Public Health Degree Guide for 2018 & Beyond

There are numerous channels for contributing to this field, including research, which is important to understanding the underlying basis of dangerous diseases and illnesses. Other applications of public health are found in areas such as public education, which provides the community with information and educational resources about how to avoid the spread of disease and illness as well as good hygiene habits and environmental protection agencies.

The government is another great contributor to areas of public health, providing public health awareness programs and regulatory programs that are set forth to protect the public as a whole.

Online public health degrees

Public health degrees are often found in online format, providing the availability of learning to individuals from any walk of life. If you are concerned about working educational programs into your schedule, online degree formats could be the best option for you. Due to the research-based nature of this degree path, the online format is convenient in that it promotes self-learning and individual encouragement, while still allowing students access to instructor communication and helpful online resources. Depending on which path you are interested in taking, there are different options for an online degree program. Our experts have listed a few of the most popular online degree programs below.

Online BS in Public Health

The bachelors program is the most standard level of online degree available to students at this time. There are multiple specializations available for students to choose from, including environmental research, epidemiology, behavior science, and disaster management. Depending on your interests, you may find that different applications of public health may be more fitting for you. Most online bachelor’s programs require 120 credit hours for graduation, which includes a varying general education requirement. The entire program can be completed in 4 years at standard enrollment, with some special programs available for students that wish to complete their degree program at a faster rate. If you are interested in pursuing a degree that provides research or application of public health related programs to citizens, than a bachelors program may be the right option for you.

Online MS in Public Health

The online masters degree in public health program is a graduate-level education program that includes an average 45 credit hour requirement for graduation. Some online colleges claim that this entire program can be completed in around 1.5 years, but can vary depending on full-time or part-time enrollment status. Students are also permitted to choose various specializations at the masters level, including nutrition, health policy, and biostatistics. The masters level educational programs available throughout the country provide students with advanced knowledge into public health as a primary discipline, with focus into their chosen specialty. Graduates of this program are free to find employment in the field at this point or move further into doctoral level degree programs.

Online Doctor of Public Health

As the top-tier of public health education, the online doctor of public health degree is an excellent choice for public health specialists that are seeking the most from their degree program. One online program offering this degree states that students that have already completed a masters in public health can complete the doctor of public health transition with 43 additional credit hours. If a masters degree has already been acquired, students may complete this program in under 2 years at standard enrollment. Specialties are available as well, depending on the university, and can provide a more focused track throughout the degree program.

What can you do with a public health degree?

Once you have obtained a degree in public health, you can pursue careers in some truly fascinating fields working with the community or even on a larger scale. Basically any organization that has business with the public can use the expertise of a public health graduate. These graduates have better insight into how people are subjected to illness, injury, and disease, as well as what happens when the public is exposed to various toxins or hazards. For most companies, public health professionals can be a preventative measure in the case of disaster. Public health professionals are useful in many domains other than business. Research into better policies, providing education to society, and maintaining safety of food and the environment are also some responsibilities of professionals in this field. If you have chosen a specialty, you may need to filter out your opportunities based on the education you have received. Generally, public health specialists are called upon due to their knowledge of the effects of disaster, illness, injury, and disease on the public domain as well as their skills in the prevention of widespread exposure to such catastrophies. Take a look below at some of the common jobs obtained by public health specialists.

Public Health Administration

Public health administration is a field that is dedicated to providing helpful public health policy and awareness. If you decide to be a part of this influential field, you may rally against harmful public exposure to toxins or dangers found within public areas. Organization of public health awareness programs is also conducted by professionals in this field, helping citizens learn about health promotion as well as methods to prevent the spread of disease and illness.


Research into public health is a major component in successfully contributing to a healthier society. Professionals such as epidemiologists and biostatisticians are responsible for determining the origination of certain disease and illnesses as well as populations that are most effected by them. Working in research-oriented fields provides data for applied fields to draw from, making it increasingly important to the conservation of public health. If you decide to choose a research-oriented field for your studies, you can potentially find careers working for the government, health care agencies, or even medicinal manufacturing companies.


Education is probably one of the more influential fields within public health. Public health educators provide services to schools, business, and even government agencies that are interested in learning more about good health. In schools, public health professionals can bring awareness to communicable diseases and better practices for prevention. In businesses and other agencies, knowledgeable public health workers can assist with providing safer working environments and management of wastes. Public health educators and community health service providers are prominent across the country, providing advice and nutritional information to people from all walks of life.


Public health officials are extremely important in the protection of citizens and the environment from hazards. Environmental health service workers, business-related health inspectors, and air/water quality specialists are some of the agents that work to protect people and animals from various harmful environments and hazards. If you chose a career in this field, you could play a huge role in the overall safety of the area in which you live.

Top online schools for public health

George Washington University – Online Master of Public Health

UC Berkley – Online Master of Public Health

Northern Illinois University – Online Master of Public Health

University of Missouri – Online Bachelor of Public Health

University of Arizona – Online Bachelor of Public Health

Coursework to expect

When you enroll in an online public health program, you will be exposed to various courses that focus on specific aspects of public health. Most undergraduate degree programs require 120 credit hours, which includes general education requirements and core courses for the major. In graduate programs, students will take courses that are specific to their major, as well as any courses that are required for their specialization. After researching some of the available public health programs online, our team has discovered a few of the more common courses for this degree program and provided them below for you to review.

Principles of Health Education

Students in this course will learn the ethical, theoretical, and practical applications of health education in schools, medical centers, professional environments, and the community. This course is designed to give students the knowledge necessary to come to their own conclusions about health education and apply them in a professional setting.

Minority Health

Minority health is a topic that includes the disparities associated with health outcomes for minority groups throughout the country. Race/ethnicity, sex, nationality, migration status, and sexuality are some of the groups of focus in this course. The effects of society, institutions, and environmental factors will be compared throughout the duration of this course.


This course seeks to provide students with knowledge into the nutrients relevant to human health. Nutritional requirements for medical conditions, chronic diseases, and lifestyles are discussed, as well as the topic of nutrition from a global perspective.

Global Health and Wellness

This course teaches students how to play a role in the growing global health crisis. Infectious disease, family health, and the relationships between different cultures and their health will be investigated. Students in this course should gain the skills necessary to provide insight in to the health problems that are present in different countries from a proactive standpoint.

Environmental and Occupational Health

Students in this course will explore the wide range of health hazards that are present within the environment and within professional settings. Students will also learn to properly identify these hazards in an effort to protect people from harm. From a biological standpoint, students will learn how toxins affect the human body, as well as the rules and regulations that are associated with environmental and occupational hazards.

Masters in Public Health

Obtaining a Masters in Public Health can set the stage for an exciting career that can truly make a difference. If you are interested in pursuing this excellent degree program, you should consider some of the requirements and expectations that are associated with it. For students that are looking for applied careers, concentrations that focus on the instruction or implementation of public health policies may be appropriate. Students that seek more exploratory career fields may be more interested in research-based careers or those in policy development. Take a look at some of the degree requirements and concentrations below.

Length – 1-2 years on average

Credit Hours – 45 on average

Admissions Requirements

In order to be accepted into the program, schools require that students have a relevant bachelors degree from an accredited university, copies of official transcripts from all attended colleges, and a minimum GPA of 2.8-3.0. The GRE requirement also varies between universities, so be sure to research the school of your choice prior to enrolling.



Community Health Research


Global Health

Environmental Health

Career Outlook

Public health is a field that holds the key to great health for society as a whole. As you move into the next stage of your life, it is comforting to know that you have not only chosen a career that has a positive effect on people, but also has the ability to withstand the test of time. Public health is something that is currently very important to the thriving of society and will likely remain just as important as the years progress. Society is constantly looking for ways to prevent disease and provide an environment that is more suitable for their children. With this being said, it is easy to assume that this is a degree field that may constantly see growth. Specific fields within this discipline have shown a remarkable increase over the years, making more professionals necessary. Professionals that choose careers as public health educators or community health workers may see around a 13% growth over the next 10 years, which is high in comparison to other public health fields (BLS; 2015). Specialty fields such as epidemiology may see a 6% growth in the next decade, which is still a huge growth over time (BLS; 2015). If this is the field that you are considering for your degree program, you should be prepared to see years of change in innovations within the public health domain, providing career opportunities for public health professionals for years to come.

All Programs

See below for the list of programs. You can filter down by state, accrediting board, or program to find the best program for you.
Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants