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Earning a master’s degree in public health (MPH) can open the door to a career as a public health nurse, epidemiologist, health services administrator, and more. While many individuals with an MPH work in healthcare settings, this degree can also lead to jobs in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and consulting.

The employment outlook is strong for those with an MPH. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the next decade, there will be a 27% increase in the employment of epidemiologists, a common career path for individuals with this degree. The median annual salary for epidemiologists is $78,520. An MPH will also prepare graduates for roles such as health education specialist, health services manager, and emergency management director.

Most accelerated MPH degree programs are designed to be completed in one year of full-time study, although specific completion times vary by program. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition for graduate degree programs during the 2021-22 academic year was $12,596 at public institutions and $29,931 at private schools.

How to Choose the Fastest Master’s in Public Health Degree Program

Choose your area of study

The first thing to determine when searching for an accelerated MPH degree program is whether this is the right type of degree for you. Most accelerated MPH degrees require that students already have an advanced degree or professional experience in a healthcare-related field. Students who don’t meet eligibility criteria may want to explore traditional MPH programs.

Another consideration is areas of specialization within public health. While a specialization isn’t required, many programs give students the opportunity to concentrate on areas like biostatistics, epidemiology, population health management, or environmental health. If you have a particular area in mind to focus on, you can narrow your search to programs that offer that concentration.

Lastly, reflect on your logistical needs. The fastest MPH programs are rigorous and typically require students to complete 42-45 credits of coursework within one year. Ensure that you will be able to accommodate classes, homework, and field experiences in your schedule before committing to this type of program.

Research schools and programs

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for in an accelerated MPH program, you can begin researching your options.

As you evaluate programs, the following questions can help you determine which ones are a good fit:

  • What is the program’s curriculum? How does it align with your interests and goals?
  • Who are the faculty members? What are their qualifications?
  • Is there an experiential learning component, such as internships?
  • What is the program’s cost, and what financial aid resources are available?
  • What are the eligibility requirements for admission?
  • Are there networking opportunities available?
  • What is the accreditation status of the school and program?

This last question is particularly important. A school’s accreditation status impacts the quality of the education you’ll receive, as well as your eligibility for financial aid, further educational options, and employment opportunities. Institutions that have regional accreditation meet the highest quality standards for postsecondary education, and programs that are accredited by organizations like the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) meet industry standards for career preparation. You can confirm a program’s accreditation status via the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s database.

You can find much of this information by visiting a school’s website or speaking to an admissions counselor. If available, virtual or in-person open houses and information sessions are also good sources of information about programs.

Prepare for tests and applications

Before beginning your applications, confirm what the application requirements and eligibility criteria are for all schools you’re applying to, as they may vary from school to school. This information is usually available on the school’s website or by contacting the school’s admissions office directly.

Eligibility criteria for MPH programs may include an undergraduate degree or coursework in public health or a related field or a minimum undergraduate GPA.

To apply to an MPH program, applicants must generally submit the following:

  • Completed application and application fees
  • Official transcripts from all colleges previously attended
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume or CV
  • GRE scores

Select your program

After gathering information about various MPH degree programs, compare them based on the criteria you outlined in the first step. You may find that only one or two suit your needs or that there are many programs that appeal to you. Ultimately, the number of applications you submit is up to you.

If you apply to and are accepted by multiple MPH programs, visiting schools and talking to faculty and current students can help you decide which one is the right choice for you. You can also compare your options based on your initial criteria as well as any new information you have, such as financial aid awards.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

As you research programs, collect information about how much they cost, including tuition and fees, and what financial aid resources the school offers. This information may be available on the school’s website, or you can contact their financial aid office to speak to a financial aid counselor.

Submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a key step if you plan to use need-based financial aid, such as federal student loans, grants, and scholarships, to help pay for your MPH degree. Schools use the information from the FAFSA to determine how much and what type of need-based aid students are eligible for. Another option is merit-based scholarships and grants that aren’t dependent on financial need. Many schools offer this type of support, as do external organizations like nonprofits, professional associations, and religious and community groups.

Although most accelerated MPH degree programs advise students not to work while enrolled in the program due to the rigorous pace of study, students who are employed while earning their degree can inquire with their employer to see if they’re eligible for tuition assistance benefits. Active duty service members and veterans can ask about GI Bill benefits and military discounts.

Fastest 50 Master’s in Public Health Degree Programs

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Harvard University

University of California, Berkeley

Yale University

Columbia University in the City of New York

University of Florida

Dartmouth College

Emory University

Northwestern University

Tufts University

Johns Hopkins University

Boston University

Cornell University

University of California, Davis

The George Washington University

University of Miami

Florida International University

University of Virginia

Florida A&M University

Thomas Jefferson University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

This list features some of the fastest master’s in public health programs in the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the fastest master’s in public health programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From a Public Health Degree Program?

An accelerated MPH degree program involves rigorous coursework that introduces students to advanced and complex concepts related to public health on a domestic and global scale. Students will gain an understanding of what public health is and how healthcare systems work while developing the quantitative and analytical skills they need to evaluate and improve the efficacy of public healthcare systems.

As a multi-faceted field, there are a number of opportunities for specialization within public health. Many programs offer concentration options such as global health, epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational and environmental health, health policy, and more. Most programs start with a core curriculum of essential public health courses, with students pursuing their specialization through electives and special topics courses later in the program.

Students earning their MPH gain hands-on experience through a practicum, which they complete in addition to coursework. Programs may also require a thesis or capstone project.

Accelerated MPH programs are rigorous, with students completing 5-6 courses per term in addition to their practicum. Students should only consider enrolling in an accelerated MPH program if they can fully commit to the program for a year and have the organizational and self-motivation skills to keep up with the program’s demanding pace.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in public health degree program

  • Foundations of Public Health: Examines public health history, ethics, and health and human rights and serves as a stepping stone for understanding patterns of health disparities and domestic and international policy.
  • Research Methods and Applications: Provides an introduction to scientific inquiry and evidence, their relationships to public policy, and an integrated approach to the disciplines of biostatistics and epidemiology.
  • Determinants of Health Inequities: Explores the root causes of population health, including social, political, and economic inequities, and how they influence choices, behavior, and decision-making that lead to poor health outcomes, as well as evidence-based strategies for addressing health inequities.
  • Health Systems: Delves into the workings of the United States healthcare system, comparing and contrasting it to those of other nations, and reviews health economics and healthcare systems throughout the world.

Fastest Master’s in Public Health Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in public health degree program?

In most cases, you’ll apply to an MPH program online via the school’s admissions portal. You may also be able to submit all your supporting documents, including your transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, and GRE scores, through this portal. However, each school has its own application protocols, so it’s important to confirm the requirements with an admissions counselor before starting your application.

You should also review the school’s application deadlines and enrollment dates to ensure you’re submitting all your materials in time to be considered for your desired start term. Some programs only enroll new students once or twice per year, so missing deadlines can delay your entry into the program.

Lastly, confirm eligibility requirements, such as undergraduate degree and minimum GPA, to ensure you’re qualified for the program.

How much does a master's in public health degree program cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition for graduate programs during the 2021-22 academic year was $12,596 at public colleges and $29,931 at private schools. However, the cost of an MPH degree varies depending on what type of institution you attend and how much financial aid you receive.

Public institutions typically have lower tuition rates than private schools, particularly for students who reside in the state where the school is located. Out-of-state students will often pay a higher tuition rate at public colleges. Meanwhile, private universities charge all students the same tuition regardless of their state of residence. All schools also typically charge fees for on-campus activities and resources, which students should factor into their budgets.

Gift aid, such as scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement from employers, can help students reduce their out-of-pocket costs, making an MPH degree more affordable.

How long does it take to earn a master's in public health degree?

Most accelerated MPH programs require 42-45 credits and are designed to be completed in one academic year for full-time students. This translates to 5-6 classes per term, including the summer. Some programs offer a part-time enrollment option, which may add additional time to the program length.

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