Should I get an MPH?

February 8, 2014

What is an MPH?

MPH stands for Master of Public Health.  This interdisciplinary graduate-level degree engages students in problem-solving and statistical analyses related to public health around the globe.  Students pursuing an MPH typically have several years of healthcare experience and are interested in obtaining a degree that will open leadership and decision-making opportunities in the medical field at a wide-scale, global level.  While your undergraduate degree does not matter for admission to an MPH program, it is important that you have taken several pre-requisite courses to qualify for acceptance, including calculus, statistics, biology, and anatomy and physiology.  In addition, you’ll need to score well on one of the major graduate school exams, either the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT. MPH programs typically last one to two years, and classes can be taken both in-person and on-line, depending on the program.             

What will I study during my MPH degree?

MPH students often combine this degree with another graduate degree.  Traditional combined degree programs include MD/MPH, MBA/MPH, JD/MPH, and MSN/MPH. By combining an MPH with another graduate-level degree, you’ll gain specialized experience with a global healthcare perspective.  The core curriculum of an MPH program challenges students to embrace data and problem-solving skills to make decisions about healthcare solutions for populations across the globe.  As an MPH student, expect to take coursework in:



-Environmental Health



-Public Health Biology

-Social and Behavioral Sciences

You’ll gain an expertise in infectious diseases, AIDS/HIV, malaria, water-borne diseases, vaccines, nutrition, parasites, STDs, tuberculosis, and reproductive health. As an advanced MPH student, you will participate in a supervised practicum in order to learn how to apply the concepts and skills learned about public health policy, advocacy, and education. The practicum requires at least 100 hours of work in addition to the courses you’ll be taking to complete your degree program. As with most Master’s degree programs, expect to complete a capstone project in which you synthesize your coursework into a well-planned, well-written research paper.

Observing abcess removal surgery in the operating roomWhat kinds of jobs can I get with an MPH? If you are pursuing an MPH degree, you’ve already gained experience in the medical field.  However, the MPH degree will qualify you for a new range of employment opportunities, including:

-NGO Director

-Health Communications Specialist

-Public Health Information Officer

-Medical Writer

-Health and Wellness Manager

-Public Health Attorney

-Health Center Administrator

-Legislative Policy Advisor


-Public Health Planner

In any of these roles, you’ll utilize the skills and knowledge gained during the course of your MPH studies to create preventative healthcare policies and initiatives that save lives across the globe. Additionally, you’ll respond to public health crises as they arise, working with disenfranchised and dispossessed populations around the world to build healthier and safer communities.  The job of the MPH graduate is to help people thrive and grow through healthy lifestyle choices and proactive personal hygiene and care. If making a worldwide impact is your calling, the MPH degree is your ticket to achieving that noble goal. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.