Wondering if an online Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree program can prepare you for an exciting new career?

Online degrees offer a personalized learning experience with a wide range of courses that can align with specific career goals. These online degree options are reputable pathways in the field, ensuring industry expertise is accessible to a broader student base. This explains why 30 percent of U.S. postsecondary students in 2021 were enrolled in fully online programs.

Online degrees can prepare students for public health challenges, offering relevant curriculum, industry expert faculty, and collaborative opportunities in a flexible format. If you're considering this degree path, here's a brief overview of an online MPH program and the top reasons to choose it.

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What is an Online Master of Public Health?

An online Master of Public Health degree program trains professionals to develop strategies and programs that promote healthy behavior, improve access to healthcare services, and reduce the spread of disease.

“When you go and get a Master of Public Health, you're going to get the foundations of every area of public health,” says Dr. Frazier Beatty, director of the Online Master of Public Health program at Regis College. “You're going to get the foundations in epidemiology, biostatistics, social behavior, health education, environmental health, and research.”

These concepts are taught in a remote setting, allowing students to learn with a cohort of their peers where they can explore their individual interests and passions.

Online MPH Admission Requirements

There are several admission requirements for online MPH programs, but the most common are a completed bachelor’s degree, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Bachelor’s degree

All applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. While some programs prefer a public health-related undergraduate degree, many accept candidates from diverse academic backgrounds.

Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation from faculty and colleagues are meant to showcase your professional and academic dedication to the field. They provide insight into your character, work ethic, and potential for success in an online MPH program, offering admission committees a holistic view of your qualifications.

Personal Statement

Competitive online MPH programs, in particular, want candidates with the academic and professional maturity to thrive in a remote learning environment. These traits are often communicated to the admission committee through the personal statement. It is an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate how the program aligns with their aspirations and how their topical interests will enrich discussions and research.

Online MPH Financing

Since money is a big deciding factor for many students, it’s important to research and budget for your online education.

On average, tuition can range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year, but this can vary based on:

  • The institution
  • Program format
  • Residency status
  • Required credits

One of the biggest things that can affect your overall cost is whether you attend a public or private institution. However, there are several financial factors to consider before choosing which one is right for you.

Private institutions often charge higher initial tuition, but evaluating ongoing educational expenses is really important. Additional costs like registration, student services, and campus resource access may not be included in public school fees. Whereas private programs often offer online educational resources without extra charges.

For example, Regis College’s Online Master of Public Health program intentionally developed one of the most affordable online MPH degrees to improve accessibility and attract professionals who are passionate about public health. In fact, Regis’ online MPH is the least expensive graduate degree the university offers.

No matter where you plan to enroll, scholarships, grants, or financial aid opportunities can offset these expenses. By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students can identify funding sources that cover college expenses without requiring repayment.

For students who cannot cover costs out of pocket, federal and private loans can also help with any remaining expenses after other financial aid options are exhausted. Federal loans come with subsidized interest rates to reduce long-term educational costs, while private loans are more costly and have less flexible repayment terms.

If you plan to work while enrolled, it’s worthwhile to find out if your employer has a reimbursement program before applying for loans. Many businesses are willing to invest in workforce education, which is a mutually beneficial option if your degree program is applicable to the job.

Five Reasons to Enroll in an Online MPH Program

For many working adults, the decision to pursue a graduate degree often comes down to attainability though. While an advanced education may seem out of reach, remote learning enables people to envision how graduate school can realistically fit within their busy lives.

Here are five reasons to consider getting an online MPH degree.

1. Flexibility

Online programs allow learners to study from anywhere at any time, which supports a better work-life balance.

“One of the things we’ve seen in recent years is that students are unable to go to class full-time and get a master's degree,” Beatty says.

With more flexibility in how and when you attend classes, online education makes it easier to manage your career, personal commitments, and educational goals. Part-time online MPH programs offer even more flexibility if you need to study at a slower pace to ensure you don’t burnout or delay your education, which could become permanent.

“Many students we attract just cannot afford to leave work and go to school,” Beatty continues. “But they can afford to go to school by continuing to work.”

2. Accessibility

Online education improves accessibility by removing geographical barriers to some of the top MPH programs in the country.

“We attract people from all over,” Beatty says. “They’re from all different walks of life, and different undergraduate degrees.”

By creating a more equitable education framework, professionals from any background can advance their education and public health career opportunities. Without the limitations of local colleges or challenging relocation, public health professionals are able to choose the right program that aligns with their personal and professional interests.

3. Accelerated Paths

Just as some students prefer a slower pace, professionals who want to achieve their goals quickly can do so in accelerated online MPH programs. This pathway could shorten the degree to as little as one year, making it ideal for people who can study at a full-time pace.

Eligibility for these fast-track programs can vary, they are typically tailored for professionals who already have a related degree and years of work experience in public health. If you’re a career changer, this is important to keep in mind.

However, earning a degree online can often result in a shorter completion time regardless of the type of program. In the case of Regis College’s online MPH program, students can earn their degree in as few as seven semesters.

4. Networking Opportunities

While online programs don’t take place in person, they still bring students together. This exposes students to a diverse student body, which can help broaden the perspectives of everyone in the program.

“All of our assignments are designed to facilitate collaboration,” Beatty says. “Our faculty tends to put a strong emphasis on connecting and sharing information.”

In an online program this is often shared through:

  • Discussion forums
  • Group projects
  • Peer reviews>

“I tell students to always read everybody's posts,” Beatty continues. “This is best practice. You'll benefit more if you read everybody's posts because you’ll know what they're talking about and you’re more likely to stay engaged in the coursework.”

Virtual events also provide opportunities to network globally and learn from guest experts which can lead to relationships that could be beneficial down the road.

5. Practical Experience

Getting practical experience in public health settings is important to understanding the complexities of the field. Similar to traditional courses, online programs help students through internships, capstone projects, case studies, and field practicum for more hands-on industry experience.

In Regis’ MPH program, case studies used in each course are constantly updated to reflect the latest trends and issues in public health.

“What I like to give students is a perspective of what's happening—what happened in the past, so we won't repeat it—but also what's present,” Beatty explains.

In collaboration with peers and instructors, students are able to sharpen their critical thinking skills by developing potential solutions for these real-world challenges.

Regis graduates also complete a 16-week capstone project and a practicum to tie together all the knowledge and public health skills they’ve cultivated throughout their education.

“At the end of the program, you do a real live placement,” Beatty says. “During that practical experience, you get real work experience in a particular area.”

Choosing the Right Online MPH Program for You

Defining your personal and professional goals is the first step to finding a graduate program that aligns with your needs. While there are several credible schools that can offer you a degree, some options won’t be a good fit academically, financially, or professionally.

The best online MPH programs for you will offer a curriculum, format, and cost structure that allow you to learn at a good pace, balance work and family life, and manage the financial commitment. It should also open the door to a more diverse network of peers and world-class instructors with years of relevant on-the-job experience.

No matter where you live, you can tap into the knowledge and experiences of industry leaders around the world and gain insight from their professional projects. The online Master of Public Health program at Regis offers all of these benefits at an affordable rate that makes a career in public health attainable to more people.

If you want to know more about getting an online master’s degree, contact the admissions department to discover if studying public health at Regis College is right for you.

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