5 Specializations in a Master’s in Public Health Program

Earning a Master's degree in public health is a gateway to a variety of great jobs. In part, this wide field of opportunity results from the fact that "public health" is a broad subject. Because of this, public health degrees typically give you the opportunity to specialize your studies. Doing so may narrow down your opportunities, but it will make you better prepared to get a job in a field that interests you and better able to thrive in your new career. The following paragraphs describe just a few of these specialties.

Resource: Top 10 Best Online MPH Programs 2015


Epidemiologists seek to understand and prevent public health crises such as the spread of infectious diseases. They often work as researchers for governments, hospitals or universities. If you decide on a career in epidemiology, you'll be doing incredibly important work that can save many lives. Job prospects in this field are good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that career opportunities will grow at a steady rate through at least 2024.

Health Policy and Management

A degree in this field prepares you for a career that looks at the "big picture" of public health: what policies and programs will improve public health, and how should they be implemented? By taking an HPM specialty, you'll be qualified to work for employers such as government health departments, insurance companies or HMOs. You could also consider a career in hospital management. Healthcare administration in particular is a high-paying and rapidly growing field, and job opportunities are projected to increase at a brisk pace over the next decade.

Maternal and Child Health

This specialty allows you to identify the causes and explain the effects of the unique health problems facing children, adolescents and mothers at every stage of pregnancy. There are many career opportunities in both the public and private sectors available for those who hold such a valuable degree. You might end up working in a hospital, a university, a government agency or a private non-profit. This broad field offers many job opportunities and will continue to expand in the future.

Disaster Management

Whether caused by nature or human activity, disasters pose a significant problem for public health everywhere in the world. A specialization that teaches you how to evaluate, prepare for and respond to catastrophic events will most likely ready you for a career working either for the government or for humanitarian non-governmental organizations. Because disasters are an inevitable aspect of life, there will always be a demand for people who are well trained to respond to them. For example, the BLS expects that careers for emergency management directors will grow steadily in upcoming years.

Environmental Health

From ensuring the cleanliness of drinking water to monitoring levels of toxins such as dust and radioactive waste, environmental health specialists work to keep the public safe from unseen dangers. Some careers in this specialty will require you to do lots of fieldwork monitoring and analyzing local environmental conditions. Others will focus on community outreach or lobbying governments. Environmental science jobs will likely keep growing at an above-average pace for the foreseeable future.

Before embarking on a degree in public health, you should have a plan for what you want to do after graduation. If you determine which public health field you want to work in, you'll be able to look for programs that offer the appropriate specialty. That will make it easier to settle on a program, and it will ensure that your entire education will be tailored to helping you get the job you want.

Additional Resource: 50 Most Affordable Online MPH Programs 2015

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