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  1. 1. George Washington University

    Washington, DC
    Stefani Reynolds—Bloomberg/Getty Images
    Submitting GRE scores is optional for applicants to George Washington University’s online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit two letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit an English proficiency test. Last year, the average student accepted to this program had a 3.27 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 81% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 45 credits to graduate.
    Stefani Reynolds—Bloomberg/Getty Images
    Submitting GRE scores is optional for applicants to George Washington University’s online master’s of public health program...

  2. 2. Johns Hopkins University (Bloomberg)

    Baltimore, MD
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    The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, the average student accepted to this program had a 3.4 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 70.5% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 80 credits to graduate.
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    The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  3. 3. University of California–Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA
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    The University of California–Berkeley School of Public Health does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.5 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 67% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    The University of California–Berkeley School of Public Health does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  4. 4. Louisiana State University Online

    Baton Rouge, LA
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    Louisiana State University Online does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation. Last year, the average undergraduate GPA for accepted students was 3.3. The acceptance rate for the program was 31% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    Louisiana State University Online does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  5. 5. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

    Little Rock, AR
    The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health, rural and global public health concentration program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores unless the applicant has an undergraduate degree from an accredited US institution. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.5 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 70% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
    The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health, rural and global public health concentration program...

  6. 6. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA
    Al Seib—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
    The University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, student accepted to this program on average had a 3.28 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 71% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
    Al Seib—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
    The University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  7. 7. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Gillings)

    Chapel Hill, NC
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    The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Gillings) does not require or recommend applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.28 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 72% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Gillings) does not require or recommend applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  8. 8. Baylor University

    Waco, TX
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    Baylor University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are not required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.23 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 75% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    Baylor University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  9. 9. University of Saint Joseph

    West Hartford, CT
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    The University of Saint Joseph does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit two letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.14 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 49% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    The University of Saint Joseph does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  10. 10. Oregon State University

    Corvallis, OR
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    Oregon State University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master of public health in public health practice program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.41 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 93% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 60 credits to graduate.
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    Oregon State University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master of public health in public health practice program...

  11. 11. New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM
    New Mexico State University does not require a GRE to apply to its master’s in public health program. Prospective students must submit three letters of recommendation in order to apply, and TOEFL scores are required from international students. Last year, students accepted to the program on average had a 3.38 undergraduate GPA. The program accepted 87.36% of students last year, and has a current enrollment of 73.
    New Mexico State University does not require a GRE to apply to its master’s in public health program...

  12. 12. Central Michigan University

    Mt. Pleasant, MI
    Photo by Rachel Woolf/Getty Images
    Central Michigan University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit two letters of recommendation or complete an interview and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 47% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 48 credits to graduate.
    Photo by Rachel Woolf/Getty Images
    Central Michigan University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  13. 13. Tulane University

    New Orleans, LA
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    Tulane University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s in public health program. Prospective students are required to submit two letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.06 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 92% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 45 credits to graduate.
    Getty Images
    Tulane University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s in public health program...

  14. 14. Kent State University

    Kent, OH
    Getty Images
    Kent State University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. The acceptance rate for the program was 87.6% for the 2020-2021 year and the retention rate was 81%. Students must complete 46 credits to graduate.
    Getty Images
    Kent State University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

  15. 15. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Getty Images
    Nova Southeastern University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program. Prospective students are required to submit two letters of recommendation and international applicants are required to submit TOEFL scores. Last year, students accepted to this program on average had a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The acceptance rate for the program was 80% for the 2020-2021 year, and students must complete 42 credits to graduate.
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    Nova Southeastern University does not require applicants to submit GRE scores for its online master’s of public health program...

What is a master’s in public health?

A master’s of public health, or MPH, is an interdisciplinary graduate-level degree that’s designed to educate students about a range of public health issues, including: epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health policy, and community health. Students in MPH programs will learn how to improve a community’s health and prevent disease and illness. Master’s degree programs in public health are offered both online and on-campus, though there’s no real difference beyond the format—rather, students can expect to be offered the same classes taught by the same professors.

General curriculum and skills taught

Because public health is such a wide-ranging topic, you can expect to take some general, foundational courses in a master’s degree program in public health—and then choose a concentration for specialization with the remainder of your time. At top-ranked George Washington University, for example, the core curriculum accounts for 29 credits of the 45-credit program. Core competencies in a program range from science-related aspects of public health and the fundamentals of health policy to those that teach students to improve their communication and leadership skills. In general, expect an MPH curriculum to cover:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health policy
  • Computer applications
  • Data analysis
  • Social and behavioral determinants of public health

Specializations and concentrations

In addition to completing the required curriculum, students in graduate-level public health programs will branch off into specific concentrations depending on their interest and career aspirations. The range of possible specializations and concentrations vary by program, though there are 48 separate areas of study, according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Some popular concentrations include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Nutrition
  • Health care management
  • Community health
  • Environmental health
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Tropical medicine

Admissions information

Admissions requirements for master’s degree programs in public health can vary by school, including the amount of relevant experience incoming students bring. The University of North Carolina, for example, attracts many students who don’t currently work in public health and are trying to enter the field—so it doesn’t require any specific level of undergraduate training among applicants. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University requires that applicants must have at least two years of post-undergrad experience working in a health-related field, as well as coursework in biology, math and a health-related science (or a second biology course). 

Online MPH programs generally require the following as part of the application process:

  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree, as demonstrated by an official transcript from a college or university
  • Demonstrate you have relevant academic or professional experience in a health-related field on your résumé
  • A compelling personal statement or essay that demonstrates your understanding of the MPH degree and connects your unique characteristics and background to your program and post-graduation career goals
  • Letters of recommendation from supervisors, professors or alumni of the program

GMAT, GRE and GPA

None of the online master’s degree programs in public health on Fortune’s 2022 ranking require applicants to submit a GRE score to be considered for admission. That said, you may wish to submit a test score if it will strengthen your candidacy. Similarly, MPH programs on Fortune’s ranking don’t require a minimum GPA for admission, though they generally reported that incoming students had an average GPA of at least 3.0.

Which factors drive acceptance?

Master’s degree programs in public health have seen huge growth in the number of applicants—even before a pandemic-fueled surge dubbed the “Fauci effect.” From 1992 to 2016, the number of applications to graduate public health programs grew more than fourfold, so your application must stand out from the crowd. While admissions officers strive to take a holistic approach when evaluating candidates, they are particularly interested in why you want to pursue the degree and what you’re hoping to do with it following graduation. Because you’ll be freed up from standardized testing requirements, you should focus on crafting a personal essay that tells a compelling story about your candidacy. 

The online master’s in public health program experience: What is it like to study online?

Online programs have more similarities in common with on-campus programs than differences. At many schools, the curriculum is identical, though how the material is taught may differ. At the University of North Carolina, for example, the online program uses a “flipped classroom model,” meaning students spend most of their week working on material asynchronously, then convene once a week for a live class.

Students in an online program can expect to participate in class discussions via video conferencing or using other technology. And because of the online format, many students who pursue a master’s degree in public health are working while attending school. Be it online or in-person, you can expect a graduate-level public health program to require at least 42 credits to complete—or about two years of full-time study.

Finally, even an online program may incorporate in-person elements. Some MPH programs include hands-on practicums or capstones, such as an internship at a health care facility, research or written assignments, or a community service project. 

How to choose the best online master’s degree program in public health for you: Factors to consider beyond rankings

Fortune’s ranking of online master’s degree programs in public health is a good way to compare various programs. Our ranking relies solely on selectivity and demand because the best programs have world-class professors, a top-notch curriculum, and they attract and graduate top students. Other factors that may be important include cost, a school’s prestige, its curriculum, and the years of work experience schools may require of applicants.

When choosing an MPH program, carefully consider how a particular program will help you achieve your career goals. For example, if you have a specific career path in mind—like becoming an epidemiologist—you may want to consider what concentrations a program offers. Furthermore, some students pursue a master’s in public health in-tandem with a medical degree in a MD-MPH program, so the availability of a dual degree program may be important.

Start times, schedule, and program length

One of the main appeals of an online program is that it offers flexibility. While these programs generally take about two years to complete, you may be able to set a faster or slower pace depending on your schedule. What’s more, you can choose from multiple start dates. Applicants to No. 1 ranked George Washington University can choose from four different start dates, while No. 2 ranked Johns Hopkins University offers three start dates.

Concentrations

Prior to applying to a MPH program, it’s important to carefully think about your goals post-graduation—even if they ultimately change—and the role that your selection of a concentration will play in qualifying you for various career opportunities. Carving out a speciality in public health could increase your earning potential. Consider this: Community health care workers earn an average salary of about $33,300, while the average pay for biostatisticians is more than three times as high, at about $120,000. 

Accreditation by CEPH

It’s important to check whether a program you’re considering has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an independent agency. In addition to accreditation, identifying a reputable program will help you with future job prospects. As the director of the executive MPH program at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health told Fortune: CEPH accreditation is “a really important thing” in the public health world.

Cost

The cost of a master’s degree program in public health is certainly an important factor to consider when applying to school and deciding if an MPH is worth it. Tuition varies widely, from about $30,000 to more than $80,000, and while scholarships and financial aid can help cover that cost, private loans are the most common way that students pay for their MPH. Because salaries also vary for MPH holders, consider your potential debt burden post-graduation and look for help paying for your degree—including scholarships, financial aid, and fellowships.

Network and access to alumni

One reason Fortune places so much emphasis on a program’s demand is that a larger student body means a larger alumni network—which is really valuable, especially if you’re switching careers and looking for jobs. You should consider this during your selection process because your cohort can be a defining characteristic of your grad school experience even if you’re attending classes online. 

Immersive experiences (on-campus visits)

If you’re hesitant about attending classes online, some MPH schools offer immersive experiences that incorporate on-campus elements in the program. This may be a factor to consider if you want the opportunity to network in-person or are in close proximity to the school you’re attending. What’s more, many programs include hands-on practicums or capstones such as an internship.

Careers for master’s in public health graduates

With respect to career opportunities for MPH graduates, “the sky is really the limit,” as a director at the Public Health Foundation told Fortune. While public health departments are a natural fit for people with a master’s degree, many graduates also go into epidemiology, data analytics, and biostatistics. What’s more, there’s been a surge in interest in MD-MPH programs, with a 434% growth in the number of students pursuing this dual degree between 2010 and 2018. Finally, an MPH degree has a wider application than strictly in the medical realm, as many graduates can land jobs in business and technology companies, as well. 

Financing and scholarships

Just as cost and the salary associated with your desired career path are important factors to consider, so too are the ways you plan to pay for your graduate degree. If you’re pursuing an MPH to advance your career within your current company, then your employer may help pay for the cost of the program. Otherwise, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available to students—including those offered by the schools, though additional essays may be required for consideration. George Washington’s MPH program, for example, guarantees a tuition scholarship of $10,000 to students who are accepted and enrolled.

You may also want to seek out a growing number of scholarship or fellowship opportunities from private organizations. Some examples that are available to master’s degree students include:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation awards scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to students pursuing an advanced degree in nutrition and dietetics or a related field who intend to practice within the field of dietetics.
  • The Society for Public Health Education awards three $2,5000 scholarships each year to SOPHE-member students who are committed to addressing the public’s health through a career in health education, and who have demonstrated financial need. Students must have completed at least one-third of the coursework for their major to qualify.
  • The David A. Winston Health Policy scholarship is specifically for students committed to a health policy-related master’s degree. For 2022, the organization planned to give out up to 20 awards of $10,000 each. 

Finally, current members of the military or veterans may want to consider covering the cost of your public health degree with Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits or the Yellow Ribbon Program, which can cover any tuition and fees not covered by those benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any one-year online MPH programs?

Yes, there are accelerated options for MPH programs that allow students to complete the degree in one year. For example, George Washington University’s offers an accelerated one-year program in addition to an 18-month and the traditional two-year program.

Do I need GRE to apply to an online master’s in public health program?

No, and in fact none of the schools on Fortune’s 2022 ranking of the best online master’s degree programs in public health require candidates to submit a GRE score with their application. That said, some schools, like George Washington University, make it optional to submit standardized test scores.

Do I need a bachelor’s in public health to apply for an MPH degree?

No, but some top-ranked programs are looking for applicants who have post-baccalaureate experience working in a health-related field, as well as coursework in biology, math and a health-related science.

Do I need work experience for MPH degree applications?

Some public health programs would like applicants to have some relevant experience, though that can be broadly defined, and the requirement isn’t strict. George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, for example, is looking for applicants who are primarily excited about public health.

Are MPH degrees worth it?

A master’s degree in public health can open more doors to career opportunities and higher salaries than simply an undergraduate degree. The average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in public health is $50,000 per year, and it’s $67,000 per year for someone with an MPH, according to data from Payscale.

What are the benefits of an MPH?

In addition to learning a specialized set of skills, which can command bigger salaries and potentially fetch more interest from employers, students in MPH programs may complete internships or experiential learning components. What’s more, there’s growing demand for health care industry workers.

Can you make a lot of money with an MPH?

Salaries for graduates of master’s degree programs in public health can vary widely, depending on a student’s chosen specialization and career path. While community health care workers earn an average salary of about $33,300, according to the latest available figures from Indeed, the average pay for biostatisticians is more than three times as high, at about $120,000.

Can MPH be done online?

Yes, there are numerous public health programs that offer online options which typically allow students to continue working full-time while pursuing the degree. These programs are growing in popularity; among the 15 online MPH programs in Fortune’s ranking, schools have seen their combined enrollments soar 39% over the past year.

How much does it cost to go to MPH?

Costs for online master’s degree programs in public health vary widely. At No. 1-ranked George Washington University, the tuition is $81,000 while that amount falls to about $32,000 at places like Central Michigan University or Louisiana State University. Scholarships are available, though most students obtain loans to cover the cost of the degree.

Is it hard to get into MPH?

Master’s degree programs in public health are rigorous, and students must complete foundational classes and may select from nearly 50 concentrations for specialization. In addition to coursework, students may need to juggle other school-related obligations, including internships or integrative learning experiences.

Is MPH good for medical school?

Some aspiring doctors are trying to get a leg up on their peers by first earning a master’s degree in public health to give themselves a competitive edge in the admissions process for medical school. These students may choose to pursue an MPH before, during, or even after their schooling or residency.