Are you passionate about helping others? Pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree can help you become a leader in this dynamic field and address your community’s top health issues.

But what is an MPH, and how can it prepare you for a career in public health?

An MPH degree is one of the most comprehensive courses of study for anyone who wants to play an active role in improving communities’ well-being. It touches on several public health trends, including globalization, climate change, and mental health to ensure you’re well-equipped to address these challenges head-on.

If you’re interested in learning more about this educational path, here’s an overview of what an MPH is and the benefits you can expect from earning this advanced degree.

Want to learn more about Public Health Careers? Download Our Free Guide!

Download Your Guide

What is an MPH?

A Master of Public Health degree helps you identify societal health risks and manage them using public health skills like data analysis, research, and advocacy. MPH degree programs also teach you how to develop strategies that promote healthy behavior, improve access to healthcare services, and reduce the spread of disease.

“When you get a master of public health degree, 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.”

Earning an MPH is a great opportunity to specialize in topics that interest you the most. For example, a prospective epidemiologist can learn about how to study, track, and analyze disease patterns, while a public health advocate’s education can focus on communication skills and public health policy.

Many public health professionals start with a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field, but the interdisciplinary nature of the industry allows career changers to make a difference with a master’s level education.

So if your goal is to pursue leadership positions or transition from another field, it’s crucial to earn an advanced degree to expand your public health skill set. In fact, according to our analysis of job posting data, 58 percent of public health graduates in 2022 had at least a master’s degree.

Educational Breakdown of Public Health Professional in Massachusetts

MPH vs. MSPH vs. MHA

Depending on your goals, it’s important to know what type of master’s-level education will be the most beneficial for your career.

To help you choose which educational path is right for you, here’s an overview of your options:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH): A more “practitioner-focused” degree that provides a comprehensive foundation in public health through practical application in epidemiology, health policy and management, and environmental health.
  • Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH): An advanced degree for professionals with a scientific background who want to deepen their expertise in biostatistics and epidemiology to prepare for research-oriented roles.
  • The Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA): A professional graduate degree that prepares students for leadership and strategic planning roles in healthcare settings, focusing on healthcare management, policy, and economics.

The right degree program should directly align with your career aspirations in public health.

As Beatty explains, the MSPH is “more focused on the science of public health instead of the practice of it. The master of science person may be working in a research lab for a university hospital or a university that does public health research.”

The MHA is best for professionals who want to become leaders in hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities.

An MPH is a popular choice among aspiring health advocates who want to actively address public health issues. Due to its versatility, even those who specialize in health administration can become leaders in public health facilities.

In addition, COVID-19 has contributed to a greater awareness of and desire for these programs. This is reflected in our analysis of academic program data showing a 43 percent growth in MPH programs since 2022.

Master's in Public Health programs have grown by 43% from 2018 to 2022

Whether you're drawn to hands-on public health practices, research, or healthcare administration, understanding these options can guide you toward a fulfilling career that matches your goals and contributes significantly to global health and wellness.

Three Things to Consider When Choosing an MPH Degree

Any accredited MPH degree program can give you a comprehensive foundation in public health principles, but your overall student experience will differ across schools. As you compare options, here are three things to look for in a reputable MPH program.

Program Format

MPH programs are available in various formats to accommodate diverse student needs.

Traditional graduate programs involve on-campus attendance and offer the benefits of in-person lectures, one-on-one peer interaction, and synchronous learning. Yet, traditional programs are typically the least flexible in terms of class schedules, making them best suited for learners who can commit to full-time attendance.

Hybrid and fully online MPH programs provide the most flexibility, allowing students to complete asynchronous or synchronous coursework remotely. Online programs are ideal for working professionals, parents or caregivers with familial obligations, and other learners who are unable to attend classes in person.

Whether virtual or in-person, part-time MPH programs are a convenient option for those who need to learn or pay for their education at a slower pace. Completing fewer credits per semester enables students to balance academic pursuits with other responsibilities and extend their duration of study as needed.

Private vs. Public

Another thing to consider is whether you prefer to attend a public or private institution.

Private institutions often stand out for their smaller class sizes and distinguished faculty, offering a more personalized and engaging learning experience. While they may come with higher tuition costs, almost 83 percent of MPH programs are offered at private colleges according to our analysis of academic program data.

Majority of Public Health Programs Are Offered At Private Institutions

In contrast, public institutions are often more affordable. However, private colleges excel in delivering a high-quality curriculum, expert faculty, and unique resources, making them an appealing choice for those seeking a comprehensive and immersive educational experience in public health.


Curriculum is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a program.

“In a master of public health program, students will learn the core principles of public health and how public health works in society,” Beatty says.

In a well-structured program, students can expect to learn more about the top issues affecting populations today, such as the opioid crisis, environmental pollution, and the rise in obesity.

The foundational courses for a master's in public health program include:

  • Biostatistics: The use of statistical methods to interpret biological and health-related data and make informed public health decisions.
  • Epidemiology: The study of health issues and disease transmission in different populations based on the analysis of trends and risk factors, such as environmental conditions and social determinants of health.
  • Environmental health: The study of environmental conditions, such as air, food, soil, and water quality, and their impact on community wellbeing.
  • Health policy: The evaluation and planning of policies and programs designed to improve healthcare outcomes, access, and education within populations.
  • Health administration: Efficient management of healthcare organizations or systems, ensuring effective healthcare delivery, staff coordination, resource allocation, and financial planning.
  • Social and behavioral health: The study of how social, cultural, economic, and behavioral factors influence health outcomes and disparities, with the goal of developing successful interventions.

An MPH curriculum often incorporates hands-on experiences such as internships, fieldwork, and research projects to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world public health challenges. Many programs also provide opportunities to specialize in more advanced knowledge and skills.

Benefits of an MPH Degree

Getting clarity on your professional goals is crucial before you make a financial or time commitment to a challenging graduate degree program. Ask yourself: Why is a master's degree in public health worth it?

Here are some of the potential benefits of pursuing this specialized public health education.

Career Opportunities

Public health has no shortage of career opportunities, and incoming professionals are creating more crossover disciplines. According to our analysis of job postings data the average growth of public health occupations has been 20 percent.

Average Growth of Public Health Occupations in the U.S.

“I don't know if there's a typical pathway,” Beatty notes. “Some students want to do research or work in the community. Some people want to do data analysis or specifically work with women and children. A couple of students want to be veterinarians. I think it depends on the student, but it's so many areas.”

Public health is an expansive field, with new career paths continually emerging as technology evolves. However, if you’re ready to enter the field as soon as possible, here are some of the top public health careers you can obtain with an MPH:

  • Epidemiologist: Investigates patterns and causes of diseases to reduce the risk of negative health outcomes affecting communities.
  • Biostatistician: Applies statistical principles and methodologies that can help in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data.
  • Public health researcher: Conducts studies to better understand health and diseases in populations.
  • Public health program manager: Oversees the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health-related programs and initiatives.

Within each of these fields, public health professionals can work in niche areas based on their interests.

For example, researchers might focus on women’s, children’s, or mental health. Epidemiologists may specialize in veterinary diseases, pharmaceuticals, or genetics. Program managers and educators support every subdiscipline, facilitating the spread of information between researchers, health providers, policymakers, and the public.

Skills Development

If you’re currently in public health or interested in starting a career, an MPH can accelerate skill development. Thriving in public health roles depends on the consolidation of diverse knowledge from multiple disciplines. Gaining well-rounded professional experience from one position to another takes time. MPH programs are designed to introduce learners to the complex topics and questions they can expect on the job, giving them the proficiency and confidence to take on higher roles.

A high-quality MPH program can help you develop skills such as:

  • Data analysis: Analytics involves the ability to collect, organize, and evaluate health-related data to draw actionable conclusions. This includes knowledge of statistical models, data visualization, and software applications used in decision-making processes.
  • Systems thinking: Systems thinking is a holistic method of examining the interconnected relationships, factors, and feedback loops involved in health outcomes. These skills involve identifying and addressing the root causes of health challenges in order to promote sustainable solutions.
  • Risk analysis: Risk analysis is the ability to identify potential health threats and vulnerabilities among populations and estimate the likelihood and impact of adverse events. Risk analysts come up with strategies to mitigate threats such as infectious diseases, environmental exposures, and harmful pharmaceuticals.
  • Biostatistics: Biostatistics is the use of statistical strategies to create health studies, assess findings, and apply the results to health disparities facing populations. Biostaticians also track and measure the effectiveness of interventions.

Community Impact

Public health professionals make significant contributions across numerous health disciplines, which offers an enriching opportunity to make a real impact in the community.

“I think the benefits are really incredible for a person who has a humanitarian spirit,” Beatty says. “And public health education allows you to tap into so many different areas of service. You can get into just about anything you want to that deals with people or animals.”

An MPH equips professionals with a versatile skill set and in-depth understanding of public health practices that enable them to advance or transition into adjacent fields. By applying skills in research, data analysis, epidemiology, program development, and policy advocacy, professionals in the field can come up with innovative ways to make an impact in the community.

Take the Next Step in Your Public Health Career

If you’re passionate about earning a master’s degree in public health, the next step is to compare individual programs to see how each institution can support your career growth. Choose an accredited program with an in-depth curriculum, experienced faculty, and a successful track record of educating qualified professionals.

Regis College’s Master of Public Health degree offers a multifaceted approach to public health education. Coursework combines real-world case studies with expert instruction from faculty who have contributed to health innovation in their respective disciplines. Students gain the core knowledge and critical thinking abilities to address complex health issues, collaborate on solutions, and apply their insights to emerging challenges.

To learn more about the program, contact an admissions counselor to find out how an education at Regis can serve your professional goals.

New call-to-action
Published Date