Published May 2016
Welcome to our ranking of the best online Master’s in Public Health Degree Programs.
To help you decide if an online MPH is a good choice for you, consider the following questions:
- Do you enjoy helping others?
- Do you have an interest in biology, medicine, and human health?
- Would you enjoy a career in an interdisciplinary field, for example a job that requires scientific knowledge but also communication and managerial skills?
- Are you worried about the time commitment, cost, and/or technical skills that would be necessary to become a healthcare practitioner (i.e. medical doctor, surgeon, chiropractor, nurse practitioner)?
Yes? If so, an online public health master’s degree might be right up your alley.
Public health professionals – such as epidemiologists, health educators, environmental scientists, and healthcare managers – enjoy careers that are integral to the very survival of the medical field, while avoiding the stress and incredible time commitment that doctors and other practitioners face.
The rise of online education has made earning an MPH degree even more convenient. Plus, the nature of public health programs, which include coursework in topics like administration, biostatistics, and disease prevention rather than hands-on labs or residencies, is easily transferable to the distance education format.
After making the decision to earn your public health master’s degree online, the next step is to decide on a program. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to see our ranking of the top 20 online MPH degrees in the United States for 2016.
Online MPH Degree Ranking Methodology
To determine the best online master’s degrees in public health, we looked at all of the colleges in the United States that have graduate programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and judged them within the following categories. These categories all received equal weight in the final calculation of this ranking. To qualify as “online,” a degree must deliver the vast majority of its courses in a distance format, although internships, practicums, and campus visits are sometimes required.
Concentration/Degree Options: MPH degrees are unique among health programs in that the subject matter is unusually broad, versatile, and dynamic. This means that schools of public health enjoy significant flexibility to mold the curriculum into all manner of shapes and sizes, which often manifest in different concentrations. It is not uncommon for a master’s degree in public health to incorporate three or more separate tracks based on their students’ career interests. At the same time, this quality also makes the MPH curriculum ideal for joint programs with MBA, MPA, and MHA degrees. A dynamic, interdisciplinary degree is a marketable one, and schools that support this approach are setting their students up for professional success. To quantify this metric, we looked at the number of concentrations, specialties, and joint degree options that each university offers.
Related Programs: In rankings of online master of public health degrees, it’s easy to take a microscopic approach to the task, looking solely at resources solely available within the MPH program. But public health professionals often work with experts across a wide range of medical fields – even outside the medical industry – and thus need to possess skills across a breadth of subject areas. The colleges and universities that are best positioned to provide such knowledge have robust health programs that extend far beyond the realm of public health, allowing their students to pull from related degree options in management, epidemiology, nursing, and others. To quantify this metric, we looked at the number of distinct health-related programs that each university offers.
Peer Assessment: For years, U.S. News has been ranking all manner of colleges and programs based on one primary factor: peer assessment. In fact, the publication’s “Best Health Schools” ranking relies exclusively on surveys collected from higher education administrators and faculty. The surveys, which divide health schools into nine disciplines (including public health) utilize a 1 to 5 rating scale to assess academic quality in each discipline. These survey results are useful as part of a broader strategy. Therefore, we included the schools’ U.S. News ranking (specifically in the public health discipline) as one of our metrics.
Affordability: If a school earns first place for quality but no one can afford to attend it, does it deserve a ranking at all? As tuition rates continue to climb, accessibility is a more important consideration than ever before. Programs can dazzle students with fancy promises on the admissions side, but if they don’t provide effective money-saving solutions and affordable tuition rates, no one will make it to graduation! We incorporated this metric by collecting data on the schools’ graduate tuition rates and fees for the 2015-16 school year, assigning an average cost to public universities based on both their in-state and out-of-state rates. The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool provided this data.
Each eligible program received a final point total based on its performance in the above categories. The school with the most points automatically earned a score of 100 out of a total possible 100, and we scaled the remaining point totals proportionally. You can find the final score for each program beneath its description in the list below.
20. University of Alaska Anchorage
Online Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice
The University of Alaska Anchorage offers an affordable online MPH degree with a unique focus on Alaskan and Native population health. In support of this focus on the local community, the program requires all students visit the capital city at least once to attend the Alaska Public Health Summit. The University of Alaska stresses that the school’s location provides distinct advantages for students interested in circumpolar health issues, including the chance to learn from esteemed faculty who both live and work in Alaska. Although this accredited online master’s degree in public health does not provide any official specializations, students can build a personalized schedule of classes as a part of their required capstone project.
Tuition and Fees: $15,393/yr
19. West Virginia University
Online MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences
West Virginia University’s top online master of public health degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences is ideal for students who want a solid foundation in public health plus a basic introduction to the study of human behavior and social interactions. Although the core coursework includes only a single required Social and Behavioral Theory class, students can choose from a number of social science courses that are specifically tailored to the interests of public health professionals. One example is Foundations of Wellness, which examines the nature of wellness and how to improve quality of life across populations.
Tuition and Fees: $15,354/yr
18. University of Arizona
Master of Public Health Online
If you’re worried that obtaining your accredited MPH degree online will mean you’ll miss out on face-to-face learning experiences, check out the University of Arizona. This program requires all students to take part in a face-to-face internship with a local community organization in order to build their social and communication skills. The rest of the degree is available entirely online, and students can choose from specializations in Applied Epidemiology, Health Services Administration, or Health Promotion. And these concentrations are anything but an afterthought; a solid 50% of the coursework is concentration-based, ensuring that students gain a deep understanding of their chosen field alongside a broad foundation in public health topics.
Tuition and Fees: $21,209/yr
17. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Master of Public Health Online Option
Although Nova Southeastern University’s affordable online master of public health degree doesn’t offer any specialties, the unusually wide variety of electives should provide plenty of depth for most students. In addition to foundational public health courses in health policy, biostatistics, and epidemiology, students at NSU can choose from electives covering everything from genomics to elder issues to vaccines. All of these courses are available online, but distance learners will still have to spend two weekends in close quarters with their classmates – once when they travel to NSU’s campus in Fort Lauderdale for a mandatory orientation, and once for a hands-on seminar at the end of the program.
Tuition and Fees: $17,454/yr
16. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
USC MPH Online Program
The University of Southern California has worked hard to simulate an on-campus environment for students pursuing its top master of public health degree online. The program offers self-paced course content but facilitates regular live online sessions and virtual office hours with faculty. Students also join their classmates in digital forums for study sessions, group projects, and even socializing. USC also understands the importance of applying the knowledge you gain in the classroom, and advisors in this accredited online MPH degree program will work with you to find practicum sites close to your home. This collaborative approach ensures that you acquire the same real-world experience as on-campus students for all the convenience of off-campus learning.
Tuition and Fees: $40,670/yr
15. University of South Carolina
Online Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior – Professional Online Program
Working professionals will appreciate the University of South Carolina’s career-focused public health degree, which the department has designed specifically with full-time professionals in mind. Students can earn this top master of public health degree online without ever stepping foot on campus; unlike many of the other programs on this accredited online MPH degree ranking, there is no requirement to attend orientation or other in-person components. But the flexibility doesn’t end there — whether you choose the Public Health Core concentration or one in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, the coursework is entirely asynchronous so you can truly pursue this degree at your own pace.
Tuition and Fees: $19,858/yr
14. The George Washington University
Online Master of Public Health
If you can’t wait to graduate with an accredited online master’s degree in public health, check out The George Washington University, which a full-time, one-year MPH program complete with optional concentrations in Health Communication, Health Policy, Program Planning and Evaluation, and Global Health. The program’s accelerated format doesn’t permit students to work while pursuing their degrees, but for those hoping to keep at least a part-time job, GW provides an 18-month alternative with a more accommodating course schedule. Either way, GWU’s top online MPH degree is flexible enough to suit the needs of most students without compromising the school’s rigorous academics.
Tuition and Fees: $27,851/yr
13. Idaho State University
Online Master of Public Health
One strength of the affordable online master of public health degree at Idaho State is the school’s Public Health Student Association (PHSA), a student group that provides a setting for discussion and debate about current issues in public health. The PHSA also sponsors visits to state and national conferences, providing invaluable networking and learning opportunities. The school’s academics are strong as well; along with a broad set of core requirements that cover all of the standard public health competencies (33 credits in total), public health students can choose from a wide variety of electives within more specific subject areas.
Tuition and Fees: $14,819/yr
12. Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center
Des Moines, IA
Online Master of Public Health
As the least expensive program on this affordable online MPH degree ranking, you might think that Des Moines University’s Online Master of Public Health wouldn’t be as robust as some of the other options on this list. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive program with a substantial curriculum, this accredited online MPH degree offers exactly that. Students can choose from three concentrations — General Public Health, Health Service Management, and Health Promotion – or pursue one of two dual-degree programs that combine MPH studies with a medical or pharmaceutical degree. Des Moines doesn’t skimp on electives, either, providing courses in both practical (such as Grant Writing) and theoretical (like Foundations of Global Health) fields.
Tuition and Fees: $10,410/yr
11. University of Nebraska Medical Center
Online Master of Public Health
The University of Nebraska Medical Center offers three of its best MPH degrees online — Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Public Health Practice. The school’s Environmental and Occupational Health specialization is particularly strong, as UNMC is home to the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CSCASH). This research and advocacy group, which is affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, promotes health and safety for agricultural workers across seven states. Students interested in this particular sub-field of public health will find fertile ground for new ideas at the CSCASH, which operates a number of innovative pilot projects.
Tuition and Fees: $17,669/yr
10. East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN
Online Master of Public Health (MPH)
As a student in East Tennessee State University’s affordable online master of public health degree program, you’ll be able to take advantage of several different concentration options ( Community Health, Epidemiology, and Public Health Administration) as well as multiple certificate programs (in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Care Management). Few other schools on this best online MPH degree ranking provide students with the opportunity to concentrate in a particular field while earning a certificate in another, so overachievers should look closely at ETSU. And if you need an extra semester or two to complete that certificate program, you’ll appreciate that the school gives students up to six years to graduate.
Tuition and Fees: $16,128/yr
9. Tulane University of Louisiana
New Orleans, LA
Online MPH Degrees
All of the online courses at Tulane University are synchronous, which means that you’ll need to log onto your computer during class time (usually in the evening) to participate in interactive virtual learning sessions. While this format presents a little less flexibility than some other schools, Tulane has pointed out that past students have successfully completed their degree from some pretty unusual locations – including an oil rig off the African coast! Tulane’s top online master’s degree in public health includes just 18 credits of core requirements, while the majority of the coursework is organized around one of three concentrations — Disaster Management, Occupational Health and Safety Management, or Occupational and Environmental Health.
Tuition and Fees: $49,638/yr
8. University of Illinois-Chicago
The University of Illinois-Chicago is the only school on this accredited online MPH degree ranking to provide a fully online Public Health Informatics degree. The school also offers a concentration in Health Policy and Administration that it describes as a Professional Enhancement Program for mid-career professionals who are looking to move into advanced positions in their fields. None of UIC’s public health degree programs require any campus visits, and the school provides plenty of time for working professionals to complete their degree — full-time students usually graduate in three years, while part-time students can take up to five.
Tuition and Fees: $20,957/yr
7. University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
Online General MPH Degree
The University of Iowa designed its accredited master of public health degree online program for medical professionals from a wide range of fields, including physicians, veterinarians, and dentists, to help them obtain primary certification from the American Board of Preventive Medicine. So as you might expect, UI’s program is flexible enough to accommodate any schedule, with asynchronous online classes and plenty of involvement from advisors to build customized plans of study for every student. And because the school offers sub-tracks in Community and Behavioral Health, Epidemiology, Health Communication, Occupational and Environmental Health, and Policy, students can choose from a diverse set of electives with which to fill out their coursework.
Tuition and Fees: $18,282/yr
6. Emory University
Online Executive MPH (EMPH)
Its designation as an “executive MPH” is a big part of what makes Emory’s one of the best MPH degrees online. Designed specifically for working professionals, this rigorous program requires three years of relevant experience just to apply and features a tightly planned schedule that aims to graduate students in a quick seven semesters. If you’re looking for more face-to-face contact than a traditional online program offers, you’ll appreciate Emory’s requirement that every student attend classes on campus in Atlanta for a weekend at the beginning and end of every semester. The school sees this interactive time as an important part of what makes it one of the best programs in this top online MPH degree ranking.
Tuition and Fees: $41,940/yr
5. Augusta University
Online Master of Public Health Program
As at Emory, Augusta University’s affordable online master of public health degree involves a significant amount of on-campus time compared to other distance ed. degrees, so expect to complete as much as 10% of your coursework on campus in Augusta, Georgia. Four concentrations — in Health Informatics, Health Management, Environmental Health, and Social and Behavioral Sciences — provide a range of specializations for students to explore, and the Health Informatics specialty is a particularly uncommon one that also imparts valuable industry skills. This particular course of study is useful for both clinicians and non-clinical professionals who want to learn how to leverage data and information systems to improve health delivery.
Tuition and Fees: $13,034/yr
4. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Global Online Master of Public Health (GO MPH™)
The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s unique online MPH is actually an academic track administered by the school’s Public Health Leadership Program, an interdisciplinary department that aims to educate future global health leaders. This fully online GO MPH™ degree is one of the only accredited MPH degree online programs to put such an emphasis on leadership, with courses like Issues in Public Health Leadership providing an invaluable perspective for students hoping to become thought leaders in their chosen fields. This innovative program also includes two unique concentrations — Applied Implementation Science and Water and Population Health — that aren’t available at any other schools on this ranking.
Tuition and Fees: $19,680/yr
3. University of South Florida
Online MPH – Master of Public Health
To put it simply, technology is what makes the University of South Florida’s one of the best online master’s degrees in public health. The school’s Office of Educational Technology and Assessment has crafted a state-of-the-art digital curriculum that includes blogs, wikis, podcasts, and web conferencing, all of which support the school’s unusually broad range of concentrations (seven in all). Many of these concentrations require an in-person field experience, which provides online students with the opportunity to travel internationally to places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Cuba as a part of their capstone work.
Tuition and Fees: $15,777/yr
2. University of Alabama-Birmingham
The University of Alabama Birmingham offers a similarly impressive range of concentrations — a total of seven — designed for students of all stripes. For example, the Environmental Health and Toxicology specialty is aimed at professionals who want to keep working full-time, while the Health Care Organization track is designed for students who want management-focused careers in public health (whether or not they’re already working in the field). This diverse set of specialties means the school can also support several robust student organizations, including a Public Health Student Organization, School of Public Health Alumni Association, and Delta Omega National Public Health Honorary Society chapter.
Tuition and Fees: $11,984/yr
1. Johns Hopkins University
Part of what makes Johns Hopkins University’s the best master of public health degree online program is its sheer size — with over 100 online public health courses, the Hopkins degree offers more fully online classes than many competing on-campus programs. The school’s size also enables it to offer over two dozen institutes, certificates, and focus areas in fields ranging from Tropical Medicine to Global Tobacco Control. Although Hopkins does require students to complete least 20% of their coursework on-campus in Baltimore, the trade-off may be worth it for students looking to take advantage of the impressive depth of JHU’s catalog.
Tuition and Fees: $50,510/yr
This concludes our ranking of the online Master’s in Public Health Degree Programs.
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