What can you do with a Master's in Public Health?

Careers in public health

10 considerations to prepare for a successful public health career

Public health professionals continue to have one of the most promising career outlooks. In fact, careers in public health are expected to grow by 18% over the next several years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s good news if you’re wondering what jobs you can get with a master’s in public health.

Communities need innovative leaders who understand the changes and challenges today’s communities are facing and how to create solutions for them. The public health field also applies new knowledge and emerging technologies to solve health disparities facing communities at local, state, national and global levels.

So, if you're asking yourself "What can I do with a master’s in public health degree?", here are answers to ten questions you might be thinking about if you’re considering a career in public health.

  1. What is an M.P.H.?
  2. Why is public health important?
  3. What can I do with a Master's in Public Health?
  4. What industries have opportunities for careers in public health?
  5. What jobs can you get with a Master's in Public Health?
  6. What traits do public health professionals need to succeed professionally?
  7. How much do public health professionals make?
  8. How much does an M.P.H. degree cost?
  9. What will you learn in a public health program?
  10. Why should I choose the Des Moines University public health program?

What is an M.P.H. degree?

An M.P.H. degree–or master’s in public health–will provide you with the knowledge and skills to protect and enhance the health of everyone. You will learn how to tackle the challenges and issues that communities face, work with people in other industries and educate the greater public about how to best create healthy communities and environments where people can thrive.

With an M.P.H. degree, you can analyze data, impact public policy, research and monitor public health threats and much more.

Why is public health important?

Public health is what we do collectively to elevate the health of people and communities. Public health matters to everyone, every day. While the COVID-19 pandemic increased awareness and appreciation of the public health system, it also created opportunities to reinvest in population health work that prioritizes health equity. In fact, the recent relaunch of the Ten Essential Public Health Services holds equity at the core of public health’s core functions.

Public health is focused on the root causes of health issues at the community and population levels. While health care providers are important partners in population health, public health also works with other sectors such as housing, transportation, planning, education and food systems to address the structural determinants of health.

What can I do with a Master's in Public Health?

Over 400,000 public health professionals work nationwide and are responsible for promoting public health through community programs, policy and research in nearly every industry. That said, when thinking about “what can you do with an M.P.H. degree?”, consider more than just public health career outlooks. You will want to:

  • Discover jobs in public health that meet your personal goals and expectations.
  • Be prepared to analyze and visualize data, plan programming, impact public policy, research and monitor health threats and much more.
  • Consider an online M.P.H. degree, which can work around your schedule and provide you with the flexibility to complete a graduate-level degree on your schedule.

If you want to improve society and help others, a career in public health may be right for you.

What Industries Have Opportunities for Careers in Public Health?

Graduates with an M.P.H. degree can work in a variety of fields and industries throughout their careers in public health. Here are a few examples.

  • Academic Institutions—Many M.P.H. graduates pursue teaching or research careers in public health with public and private universities. Some of them use their expertise to prepare a new generation of public health practitioners for their own successful careers in public health. Others apply their expertise in biostatistics, epidemiology, health sciences and social and behavioral sciences to advance research in the field.
  • Consulting—If you want to work in various industries and help multiple companies or clients, using your M.P.H. degree to work as a public health consultant may be a good fit. Consultants work with businesses, communities, government agencies and nonprofits to enhance public health program effectiveness and delivery.
  • Local, State and Federal Governments—What jobs you can get with a master’s in public health include opportunities in data analysis, disaster management and emergency preparedness, program planning, research—just to name a few. For instance, local health departments, public schools or state boards of health often fill jobs with master’s in public health graduates. At the federal level, you can also build a career in public health with the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes for Health and other government agencies, departments and offices.
  • Health Care—Probably the most common answer to “What can you do with an M.P.H. degree?” is work in health care. Health care employs more MPH graduates than any other industry, according to a study from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Your options for public health career paths are seemingly endless in health care. You can help tackle crises as an administrator, communications professional, educator or researcher, or you may decide to continue your education and become a public health physician.
  • Nonprofits—Nonprofits also offer a wide range of opportunities for jobs and careers in public health. You might find yourself wanting to work for nonprofit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Public Health Institute and United Way in program development and planning, outreach services and other areas.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Master’s in Public Health?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in public health, ample options and job paths are available for using your M.P.H. degree to create healthier lives for everyone. Because of the variety of jobs and demand in the field, you will also find room for advancement as you gain experience in your public health career.

While some of these jobs may require additional education or training, here are just a few job titles that show what can you do with a master’s in public health.

  • Clinical Trials Analyst
  • Director of Rural Health
  • Disaster Preparedness Researcher
  • Environmental Health Director
  • Health Care Administrator
  • Infectious Disease Prevention Analyst
  • Nutrition Advisor
  • Occupational Health Specialist
  • Public Health Analyst
  • Social Worker

What Traits Do Public Health Professionals Need to Succeed Professionally?

Public health leaders improve the overall health and well-being of our communities. Here are a few attributes that are valuable for jobs in public health:

  • Ability to adapt and be flexible
  • Problem-solving, teamwork and analytical skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal know-how
  • Vigorous work ethic

How Much Do Public Health Professionals Make?

Public health professionals who have the right credentials, knowledge and skills can find the field extremely rewarding—professionally, personally and financially. Public health salaries can vary greatly depending on your education, certifications, location and years of experience. Here are five examples of higher-paying careers in public health, according to ziprecruiter.com:

  • Infectious Disease Specialist — $176,063
  • Health Services Administrator — $88,255
  • Health Care Consultant — $70,430
  • Medical and Health Services Manager — $64,640

How Much Does an M.P.H. Degree Cost?

M.P.H. degree tuition varies—with some graduate programs costing as much as $35,000 a year for a two-year degree. Many colleges and universities have in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, which can make enrolling in an M.P.H. program expensive. If you also consider housing costs and living expenses, you’re adding another $10,000 to $20,000 a year to your overall cost of earning a master’s degree in public health.

At Des Moines University, students in the master’s of public health online program are charged a flat rate for tuition and do not pay graduate student fees. This means—as an online graduate student—you can pursue an M.P.H. degree at a potentially lower cost while taking advantage of the opportunity to maintain a schedule that works for you.

What will you learn in a public health program?

The science and application of public health knowledge is constantly evolving. As a public health student, you will receive training in foundational public health competencies and develop additional competencies in your chosen concentration area. You will be prepared to engage in evidence-based public health practice applying knowledge to develop and implement public health programs and engage in policy, systems, and environmental strategies to promote and protect population health. Completion of the M.P.H. degree is a significant career milestone and yet public health professionals must commit to lifelong learning and professional development to stay current in evolving public health practice.

Why should I choose the Des Moines University public health program?

Our students come from across the United States enriching the program experience of what public health looks like in their communities. Our curriculum is organized into three concentrations offering students the opportunity for a deeper dive into the content that most interests them. We are competitively-priced and students can move through the program at the pace that best suits their work-life balance.

At DMU, You Can Advance Your Career in Public Health on Your Terms

As jobs and careers in public health continue to grow and evolve, public health practitioners with advanced skills and knowledge are in high demand to solve complex problems facing communities around the globe.

Des Moines University’s master’s degree program in public health online will help you develop skills to break into the field and eventually move into a position of leadership as you advance throughout your career.

Explore what you can do with a master’s in public health from DMU and get started on your path to creating healthier futures for everyone.

DMU’s online public health master’s program is highly comprehensive, providing you:

  • Hands-on experiences in both applied practice and integrative learning environments through potential field work opportunities in the Des Moines area–or wherever you’re joining us from
  • Opportunities to learn from world-renowned leaders in public health
  • Personalized career-building opportunities
  • Specialization for your career path, whether it’s public health practice, public health administration and policy or health education and promotion.
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