"Master's programs in public health prepare students to enhance the overall wellness of a community by preventing disease, promoting healthy habits, and improving access to health education. MPH programs foster highly technical skills in biostatistics, data analysis, and epidemiology that public health professionals use to assess a community's needs. Plus, an online MPH program will equip you with the leadership, communication, and organizational abilities you will need to implement far-reaching, effective public health initiatives.
A master's degree in public health enables you to make an impact at the local, national, and global levels. Plus, the field is growing rapidly, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for health educators and community health workers will grow by 16% from 2016 to 2026.
Skim the profiles below to get a better sense of what the best affordable online MPH programs have to offer in terms of concentrations, capstones, and fieldwork requirements.
For this particular article, we started by initiating a thorough search for public health programs. We used College Navigator and Google to search, check, and confirm a list of all the public health master's degrees in the United States that are offered via distance education. To clarify, this means that we only considered full graduate programs (not certificates) that are available 90% or more online (a few campus visits for seminars or workshops were acceptable, but "hybrid" programs and ones with regular face-to-face sessions in the curriculum were not).
Lastly, we used College Navigator to collect each school's tuition rates for their graduate programs, as well as to determine the associated fees for attendance. For the purposes of creating a ranking, we averaged each public school's in-state and out-of-state rates to determine a single approximate cost – although if they made the cut, we included both rates for the benefit of our readers. The 50 most affordable schools are described below, listed alongside their projected annual cost. For simplicity's sake, we combined tuition and fees into a single value, but please note that in nearly all cases the fees account for only a small portion of the total price.
25. Kent State University
Master of Public Health: Health Policy and Management
Further information: Kent State University
Kent State University's graduate students can choose from more than 20 online programs, including two master of public health tracks. The online MPH in social and behavioral sciences explores the relationship between human behavior, the environment, and public health. The health policy and management concentration equips students with the organizational, leadership, and decision making skills they need to effect change.
To graduate, MPH students must take 14 courses, totalling to 46 credits. Online learners take five concentration-specific courses, two elective courses, and seven core courses. Students can finish the CEPH-accredited program in two years.
24. Monroe College
Master's in Public Health Degree (MPH): Health Administration and Leadership or Community Health
Further information: Monroe College
Monroe College introduced its first online class in 1998, and currently offers close to 20 online programs across business, criminal justice, management, information technology, and health. Master's in public health students can concentrate in community health for a deeper study of how disease, nutrition, and the environment impact wellness in different communities. While many of the best affordable online MPH programs cover some aspects of management, Monroe's program boasts a concentration in health administration and leadership. Students specializing in health administration may find employment as medical officers or public health directors, while those focusing on community health may work as health educators or nutritionists.
23. University of Memphis
Master of Public Health
Through its distance education department, UofM Global, the University of Memphis offers over 60 online degrees and certificates. UofM Global students can pursue a master of public health with a concentration in environmental health, epidemiology, or social and behavioral sciences. Though many of the best affordable online MPH programs require a practicum, the University of Memphis's program boasts more than 30 placement locations, and students may be able to complete fieldwork abroad.
Applicants must hold at least a 3.0 GPA, and must submit recent GRE scores. The University of Memphis reviews applications on a rolling basis.
22. San Jose State University
Master's in Public Health
Further information: San Jose State University
San Jose State University offers many online courses and nine online degrees. The school's online master of public health program boasts an accelerated course of study that students complete in 24 months. Among the best affordable online MPH programs for students who value interactive learning, SJSU's MPH delivers courses through web conferencing, desktop sharing, and other synchronous methods. Most courses require students to log on to Blackboard for a live lecture once per week. Students move through the 42-unit curriculum as a cohort, and meet once per year for a 4-5-day, on-campus session.
Tuition and Fees: $8,589/yr (In-state) $19,749/yr (Out-of-state)
21. Idaho State University
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Further information: Idaho State University
Idaho State University boasts the only CEPH-accredited master of public health program in the state. The program, one of the best affordable online MPH programs for those looking to enter the community healthcare field, emphasizes community health throughout the curriculum. Through a course on health program planning, students learn to create health education and disease prevention programs in various community scenarios. Another required course teaches students how cultural and social disparities affect community systems.
Applicants must score in at least the 40th percentile on the GRE, and must hold a 3.0 GPA or higher in the last 60 hours of undergraduate study.
20. University of North Dakota
Master of Public Health
Further information: University of North Dakota
One of the best affordable online MPH programs, the University of North Dakota's master of public health boasts a unique emphasis on big data analytics. As part of their core coursework, students learn to use data management softwares such as R and SAS to make data-informed decisions. In addition, students can delve deeper into big data through a nine-credit specialization in population health analytics. The MPH curriculum requires 42 credits, and students can finish the degree in 1.5 years.
The University of North Dakota's master of public health program boasts a 100% employment rate for health-oriented positions.
19. University of Illinois at Springfield
Further information: University of Illinois Springfield
The University of Illinois Springfield boasts several online degree options for its master of public health students. Online learners can pursue a general degree, an environmental health concentration, or a professional option for full-time physicians and residents. Each program requires 28 hours of core courses, including a four-hour internship.
In addition, the University of Illinois Springfield's program ranks among the best affordable online MPH programs for students looking to earn a dual degree. Distance students can combine their MPH with a master of public administration or a master's in human services by completing additional coursework.
18. Capella University
Master of Public Health: General Public Health
Capella University's professionally focused online MPH degree ranks among the best affordable online MPH programs for students looking to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Capella developed the online MPH curriculum according to recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Public Health Employers' Advisory Board, a group that reports on emerging trends and professional expectations in the field.
The program features 15 core courses, including an 80-hour supervised practicum. Plus, distance learners gain access to one-on-one leadership coaching sessions that help them develop a leadership style. Online learners can earn the degree independently and asynchronously, or in a more structured, guided format.
17. Walden University
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Graduate students at Walden University can choose from close to 50 online master's degrees, including a master of public health. The 64-quarter-credit program emphasizes professional development over academic research, and students must complete a practicum along with a career-focused capstone project. During the 200-hour field experience, students participate in professional development activities and compile a portfolio of public health initiatives they worked on. For the capstone project, students develop a grant proposal or design a public health program.
Among the best affordable online MPH programs for transfer students, Walden's program lets admitted students transfer in up to 32 credits.
16. University of Montana
Master of Public Health
Further information: University of Montana
One of the best affordable online MPH programs for students looking to work in rural communities, the University of Montana's master of public health emphasizes the health issues facing remote agricultural areas. The 33-credit curriculum includes a course in environmental and rural health, which examines the relationship between rural populations and their physical environments. Core coursework also explores rural health problems in a global context. MPH students complete a semester-long practicum, and write an original research paper.
Full-time MPH students can complete the coursework in two years, while part-time learners typically take around 3.5 years to earn the degree.
15. Western Kentucky University
Master of Public Health
Further information: Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University offers over 20 online master's programs, including one of the best affordable online MPH programs in the country. Through a 100% online, 42-credit curriculum, the program prepares public health professionals to improve quality of life at the local, national, and international levels. The program stresses proper research methods, and students must complete ethics training for researchers. In their last semesters of study, students must demonstrate deep knowledge of public health through a major paper and presentation.
Applicants with an undergraduate GPA under 3.2 must attain minimum GRE scores of 145 on verbal, 148 on the quantitative section, and 3.5 in analytical writing.
14. University of Alabama at Birmingham
Online MPH (Various Concentrations)
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Public Health offers a fully online master of public health with six concentration options including epidemiology, health care organization and policy, and environmental and occupational health. Students looking for a general public health education can choose the population health specialization, which teaches students to design and oversee public health programs. In addition, the University of Alabama offers an online dual degree option that combines master of public health and master of social work courses.
Students must complete a three-credit internship, and full-time learners can complete the degree in around two years.
13. South Dakota State University/University of South Dakota
Master of Public Health
Further information: South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University offers an online Master of Public Health degree in partnership with the University of South Dakota. The program features an asynchronous delivery that incorporates video lectures and presentations. Students must take 30 credits of core coursework, along with 12 elective credits. Core coursework includes applied experiences where students develop skills through community engagement projects. To satisfy the elective requirement, students can choose from more than a dozen courses offered by each school. SDSU offers unique elective options such as parasitology, public health nutrition, and child nutrition.
SDSU accepts students with an undergraduate degree in any field, and requires a 3.0 GPA.
12. National University
Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
National University, which has offered online programs for more than 20 years, currently offers over 90 fully online programs. The CEPH-accredited online master of public health program stresses communication skills, along with quantitative and qualitative problem solving techniques. Students can customize the 72-quarter-unit curriculum through a specialization in health promotion, healthcare administration, or mental health. MPH students must participate in an internship or a study abroad trip that introduces them to the healthcare system in a host country.
Applicants must have at least a 2.5 overall GPA, or a 2.75 in the last 90 quarter units of undergraduate study.
11. Indiana State University
Health Sciences: Public Health M.S.
Indiana State University's online MS in health sciences with a public health concentration prepares students for roles as epidemiologists, public health project managers, and health care administrators. The 39-credit curriculum readies students for management roles through advanced coursework in health program planning, coordination, and leadership. In addition, students can choose to complete a thesis or a major research project in health sciences.
Applicants to the MS in health sciences program must have completed two semesters of college-level physiology and anatomy, and one semester of college-level mathematics. Applicants without a health-related bachelor's degree must demonstrate two years of professional experience in the health field.
10. Indiana Wesleyan University
Online Master of Public Health
Indiana Wesleyan University's online master of public health program educates students on the five essential areas of public health — biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health services administration, and social sciences — from a Christian perspective. The program consists of 43 credit hours, including a capstone project and a 200-hour practicum experience in a public health environment.
Applicants must have a B or higher in a 200-level mathematics or statistics course. They must also hold a 3.0 GPA or higher, and must pass a formal interview. Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 must submit GRE scores to be considered.
9. Grand Canyon University
Master of Public Health
Grand Canyon University offers a master of public health that prepares students to address public health issues related to the environment, disease control, and healthcare systems. The 48-credit curriculum emphasizes the skills students need to plan, implement, and evaluate health programs. Coursework teaches students to interpret health data, lead public health initiatives, and advocate for legislation. In addition to traditional coursework, online learners must complete a 150-hour field experience that helps them identify their professional goals and strengths. At the end of the program, students submit a written capstone project.
Students may transfer up to 12 credits to the program.
8. University of North Texas Health Science Center
Master of Public Health Professional Option
The University of North Texas offers dozens of online programs, including several through its Health Sciences Center. The school offers two online MPH options. Students with three or more years of professional public health experience can opt for a 42-hour program. Recent graduates or those looking to switch careers can choose a 48-hour program, which includes additional core coursework in program planning and health policy.
Online courses boast five start times per year, and students may take 1-2 courses in each eight-week session. Full-time learners complete the curriculum in two years, while part-time students earn the degree in three years.
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6. New Mexico State University
New Mexico State University allows students in its master of public health program to specialize in either community health education or health management, administration, and policy. The university designed its program for working professionals, and the health management program is only available online. Both tracks require five core courses, six concentration courses, and a field experience that enables students to develop solutions to real-world public health problems. Community health students can choose a thesis option, while health management students must pass a comprehensive final examination instead.
Online students must attend a single on-campus orientation at the beginning of the first semester.
5. Concordia University-Nebraska
Master of Public Health Degree Online
Concordia University-Nebraska offers an online master of public health program with concentrations in community health education, and health policy and administration. Both tracks require 13 courses, totalling to 39 credits. Students can finish the program in just one year through an accelerated option, making it one of the best affordable online MPH programs for students looking to earn a degree quickly. The coursework includes hands-on learning experiences such as a three-credit practicum and an applied research course.
Concordia University does not require the GRE or GMAT, and students can apply up to nine transfer credits toward the MPH degree.
4. Liberty University
Master of Public Health – Nutrition
Liberty University's online MPH program readies students for a variety of public health professions through theoretical coursework and practical training. Through a 42-hour curriculum, the program prepares students to address local and world health issues from a Christian perspective. MPH students take 24 hours of core and elective courses, along with 18 hours in one of three concentration areas: global health, health promotion, or nutrition. On average, students earn their MPH degree in 1.5 years.
Applicants must hold a 2.5 GPA from an accredited university, and admitted students may transfer up to 50% of required credits to the MPH program.
3. Northeast Ohio Medical University/University of Akron
Master of Public Health
As a member of the Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health, Northeast Ohio Medical University offers a hybrid master of public health program. The program requires 42 semester credit hours, which the school delivers through a blend of videoconferences, online lectures, and in-person classes. The curriculum incorporates a useful course on grant writing in public health organizations, making it one of the best affordable online MPH programs for students looking to enter a career directly after graduation.
For the capstone project, students team up with a faculty member and a community preceptor to produce a paper, grant proposal, or evaluative report.
2. American Public University
Online MPH for Public Health Professionals
American Public University's interdisciplinary master of public health program helps future public health leaders understand the scientific, sociological, and psychological elements affecting the field. The 47-credit curriculum includes coursework on quarantining, disaster health management, and ethical issues in public health. In addition, students learn to analyze medical literature, apply an evidence-based approach to public health situations, and evaluate public health programs for their effectiveness.
Four credits come from a 180-200-hour supervised practicum that runs 16 weeks. At the end of the program, students must satisfy a capstone requirement through a major research project or thesis.
1. Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center
Master of Public Health
Des Moines University offers a fully online master of public health program that has received accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The program consists of 46 hours, which students can complete in two years. In addition to core and elective coursework, students must complete a 180-hour internship that helps them gain real-world career experience. MPH students also complete a capstone project where they apply their theoretical and practical knowledge to a professional scenario. Online learners can focus their MPH studies in public health practice, public health administration and policy, or health education and promotion.
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