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Distance Learning for a Master's in Public Health

by Carissa Lawrence

A career in public health is a good fit for people who want to be involved in the medical field, but don't particularly want to be a nurse or doctor. While a bachelor's degree in public health allows you to gain entry-level employment in the field, people seeking positions of greater responsibility in public health should consider obtaining a master's degree. Designed with the working professional in mind, a number of colleges and universities offer Master of Public Health degree programs online.

Admission Requirements

While specific admission requirements may vary, there are a number of common requirements across schools. Along with an online application and fee, M.P.H. applicants must submit official transcripts from all academic institutions attended since high school. Students are also asked to supply two to three professional or academic letters of recommendation. Since the M.P.H. program is a graduate level program, students must also submit GRE, MCAT, GMAT or LSAT scores. Some schools also ask students to write a statement of purpose detailing their reasons for pursuing a public health career as well as the contributions they'd like to make to the field.

Areas of Study

Master of Public Health students learn essential skills needed in planning, implementing and evaluating collaborative heath promotion and disease prevention interventions. Students take classes that teach about communication theories and effective methods used in preventing disease and promoting health. Course work focuses on different views of public health including policy and management, social and behavioral approaches. M.P.H. students also study topics involving biostatistics, epidemiology and biological concepts as they relate to public health. Some schools offer specialized tracks within the Master of Public Health program where students can focus on one area of public health, such as leadership or health education and promotion. Other schools allow students to customize the curriculum to meet their individual goals and interests.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of public health education related workers is expected to grow by over 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. This growth rate is a lot higher than the average for other occupations. Public health may be a profitable career to consider, as rising health care costs are causing the government, insurance companies and employers to turning to professionals to teach people how to live healthier in attempts to avoid costly diseases. Students who complete Master of Public Health programs will be qualified for work in settings including hospitals, doctors' offices, non-profit organizations, private businesses and colleges.

Some Schools

The University of Southern California offers students a Master of Public Health distance learning program through the Keck School of Medicine. Students can also complete an online program through George Washington University over a two or three year period. Johns Hopkins University also offers on online M.P.H. program, but students are required to complete at least 20 percent of their course work on-campus and attend a campus orientation prior to starting the program. This requirement can be met by spreading out a total of four weeks on campus over two to three years.

About the Author

Based in Gainesville, Carissa Lawrence is an experienced teacher who has been writing education related articles since 2013. Lawrence holds a master's degree in early childhood education from the University of Florida.

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