Top 10 Best Online MPH Programs

Top Master's in Healthcare Administration - Best Online Programs 2015By Iris Stone

This ranking highlights the top 10 best online MPH programs.

A master’s in public health degree is a popular choice for students and professionals who have an interest in biology and epidemiology but have chosen not to attend medical school. Unlike traditional medical programs, MPH degrees focus on the administrative, communications, analytical, behavioral, and social aspects of community health. Students often have the opportunity to pick a concentration in an area like Biostatistics or Global Health, which they can leverage to earn top positions as consultants, nonprofit managers, government workers, researchers, or hospital administrators.

Importantly, many MPH degrees are available online and are structured to meet the needs of full-time working adults. Because so many MPH applicants already have demanding careers as healthcare practitioners, these “executive” programs can help them earn their advanced degree with minimal complications.

Methodology for Ranking the Top 10 Best Online MPH Programs for 2015

What makes a top graduate degree in public health? Everyone has their own opinion and values certain features in their education more than others, so it can be hard to formulate a generic ranking. However, we did our best to determine the very best programs available from a selection of fairly standard academic criteria.

Accreditation: Approval from a subject-specific accrediting body is one of the best characteristics a school can claim, as it is a clear indication that the curriculum is rigorous, challenging, and relevant. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the primary accrediting agency for MPH programs, although the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) also approves coursework that meets their requirements for medical administration programs. We scored schools based on their accreditation from both of these agencies, weighting each score as 20% of the total (40% together).

Related Programs: This category considers the total number of graduate, online degrees available at the school that are related to public health or administration. The idea behind this category was that schools with more comprehensive departments tend to offer students more academic opportunities in the form of electives, concentration options, certificates, and dual degrees. The more relevant programs a school offered, the more points we gave it (weighted 30% of total).

U.S. News Ranking: We didn’t want to rely too heavily on another publication’s assessment of quality, but we do recognize that U.S. News put a heavy focus on peer assessments and academic reputation in their rankings. As such, we gave schools points for holding a high ranking from U.S. News as an indication that their programs are well respected (18% of total score).

Tuition: Of course, almost all students have to consider tuition costs when applying to graduate schools. Therefore, we gave universities a little extra boost for keeping costs low. We gathered this information from College Navigator (a component of the National Center for Education Statistics) based on the most recent data they have available. While we understand that price is important, we also didn’t want it to dominate the outcome of our ranking and so we only weighted this category 12%.

Starting from nearly 70 different online MPH options, we used this methodology to narrow the list down to the following top 10 schools. We scored schools and weighted the categories very stringently in order to distinguish the true top performers in a very obvious way. As such, none of these colleges approach the maximum possible score (100 points) but nonetheless drastically outperform most candidates. For example, our #1 university only received 72 points in total, but that’s a far cry from the worst schools we assessed – some of which received scores in the single digits!

University of South Carolina Online Master's Public Health

10. University of South Carolina

Online Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior

The University of South Carolina’s online MPH program holds accreditation from both the Council on Education for Public Health and the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Core classes include Introduction to Epidemiology, Approaches and Concepts for Health Administration, and Health Promotion Research Methods, among others. Students also complete upper-level seminar and field experience practicums before they graduate, working beside experienced professionals and top industry experts. U.S. News ranks USC’s program 23rd on its list of best programs thanks to its nationally recognized faculty, substantial research funding, and widespread community engagement.
Tuition: $23,440/yr (In-state) $29,020/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 55.75

Tulane University Online Master's Public Health

9. Tulane University

Online Master of Public Health in Occupational Health and Safety Management

The Center for Applied Environmental Public Health at Tulane offers an online MPH degree that can help mid-career professionals gain the skills they need to break into leadership positions in the field. Classes in biostatistics, environmental health, disaster preparedness, and global health give students a broad base of relevant information. Students have the flexibility to apply to jobs in research, government work, nonprofits, or health clinics after graduation. Tulane aptly prepares near graduates for the most challenging employment opportunities through a “culminating experience,” which consists of either a final manuscript or comprehensive examination.
Tuition: $46,326/yr
Score: 56.46

University of Colorado Online Masters Public Health

8. University of Colorado Denver

Online Master of Public Health

Students who need 24/7 access to coursework for maximum flexibility in their studies should consider the University of Colorado’s online master’s in public health. The fully accredited program (both CEPH and CAHME stand behind the school’s top notch curriculum) includes 42 credit hours in public health, leadership and management, and concentration electives. UC also requires students to complete multiple on-campus leadership classes and residencies in order to best prepare them for demanding positions in healthcare. These courses generally take place in early and late summer (May and August) in order to accommodate as many students’ schedules as possible.
Tuition: $6,588/yr (In-state) $20,556/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 56.46

University of Massachusetts Amherst Online Masters Public Health

7. University of Massachusetts Amherst

Online Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice

UMass Online features an extensive selection of degrees through distance education, giving students all across the country the opportunity to pursue courses in in business, information technology, and the health sciences. In addition to an online MPH degree in Public Health Practice, students might also consider an MPH in Nutrition or an MS in Health Informatics. Graduate certificates cover everything from Global Health to Clinical Pathology to Laboratory Sciences, allowing master’s students to further strengthen their resumes with highly specialized skills. All courses hold CEPH and CAHME accreditation and include capstone, practicum, and research opportunities.
Tuition: $14,051/yr (In-state) $21,348/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 61.72

University of Washington Online Masters Public Health

6. University of Washington

Online Executive Master of Public Health

The University of Washington has one of the best online MPH programs in the country, and U.S. News ranks it 6th out of all public health graduate degrees. Students enjoy engaging coursework that meets the rigorous standards of both CEPH and CAHME agencies. The program paints with a broad brush, offering online learners relevant training in environmental health, values and ethics, data analysis, program design, and health policy. Highly qualified professors lead students through a team-based approach to learning, which allows classmates to benefit from each other’s diverse experiences and professional backgrounds. In order to graduate from this two year program, students must complete a culminating capstone course and write a master’s thesis based on original research.
Tuition: $15,207/yr (In-state) $27,255/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 62.37

University of South Florida Online Masters Public Health

5. University of South Florida

Online Master of Public Health

The College of Public Health at the University of South Florida offers an impressively comprehensive selection of medical and community health degrees, including an MPH online. Within the master’s in public health, students can specialize in Public Health Practice, Social Marketing, Health Administration, Global Disaster Management, Safety and the Environment, Epidemiology, or Infection Control. USF online learners can also apply to the DrPH program or tack on a graduate certificate in Humanitarian Assistance, Public Health Policy, Applied Biostatistics, Toxicology, or Social Change, among others. In addition, an “executive” version of the program offers a customized schedule to current healthcare practitioners who already have a wealth of experience and are too busy to attend class regularly.
Tuition: $8,350/yr (In-state) $19,047/yr (Out-of-state)
Score: 66.20

Johns Hopkins University Online Masters Public Health

4. Johns Hopkins University

Online Master of Public Health

Johns Hopkins University is well known as one of the best medical colleges in the nation, and in fact many of its health science programs boast top rankings. U.S. News ranks JHU’s graduate program in public health #1 due to its impressive faculty, challenging academics, and unparalleled reputation. Johns Hopkins is committed to its students’ success and thus requires all program members to complete a “goal analysis plan” within their first two terms. Prior to graduation all students must also participate in a capstone course and field practicum, and many also choose to customize their academic experience with one of ten specializations. MPH students can concentrate in Women’s and Reproductive Health, Global Environmental Sustainability, or Child and Adolescent Health, among many other options.
Tuition: $47,060/yr
Score: 67.23

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Online Masters Public Health

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Online Executive Master of Public Health

The University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health encompasses numerous degree programs that will appeal to students interested in medicine and leadership. Majors include biostatistics, nutrition, environmental sciences and engineering, and of course public health. Even within the public health department, students have myriad choices. Online and residential programs in Healthcare and Prevention, Leadership, and Occupational Health Nursing help applicants narrow down their potential career interests, while graduate certificates in such areas as Field Epidemiology and Global Health let ambitious students explore additional options. All programs hold CEPH and CAHME accreditation, and U.S. News places UNC 2nd on its list of top schools.
Tuition: $8,693/yr (In-state) $25,094/yr
Score: 68.90

University of Alabama at Birmingham Online Masters Public Health

2. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Online Master of Public Health

The University of Alabama doesn’t offer just one MPH online – the university’s School of Public Health includes a selection of five distinct online options. Graduate programs in Health and Toxicology, Health Care Organization, Maternal and Child Health Policy, Occupational Health and Safety, and Health Policy and Leadership cover nearly the entire spectrum of community health interests. U.S. News ranks UAB in the top 20 of its overall list of the best MPH degrees, undoubtedly due to its comprehensive approach to public health education. CEPH and CAHME accredited coursework includes classes in Biostatistics, Public Health Systems, Emergency Management, Global Health, and Environmental Justice, as well as opportunities for internships and self-directed study.
Tuition: $7,090/yr (In-state) $16,072/yr
Score: 69.96

University of Southern California Online Masters Public Health

1. University of Southern California

Online Master of Public Health

Health science students at the University of Southern California can pick from one of three main online degree programs: Academic Medicine, Public Health, and Health Administration. The innovative major can accommodate both new and experienced health professionals who want to bump up their careers to a new level. Students enjoy 24/7 access to classes anywhere they have an internet connection and can choose to concentrate in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Global Health Leadership, Geohealth, or Health Education and Promotion. Online MPH degree learners have the opportunity to enroll part- or full-time and can take classes year round (summer included) to expedite their time to graduation.
Tuition: $38,448/yr
Score: 72.15

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 best online MPH programs for 2015.

College Navigator
Public Health Online
Council on Education of Public Health
Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
U.S. News Top Public Health Schools

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