Online Public Health Degree Programs

Public health is an essential field that focuses on the general health of all communities. Online public health degree programs provide a strong educational foundation on how health problems affect public populations and prepare students to become public health advocates. Students are prepared for a variety of public health occupations dealing with a variety of populations and issues. They learn to evaluate and regulate the health needs of the public in specific areas and deal with a variety of issues. Read more about online public health degree programs.

Some Stats

In 2006, there were 451 bachelor degrees, 4,620 master degrees, and 244 doctorate degrees conferred in general public health. There were 236 bachelor, 317 master, and 61 doctorate degrees in environmental health; 952 bachelor, 444 master, and 47 doctorate degrees in public health education and promotion; and 282 bachelor, 897 master, and 112 doctorate degrees in other public health (1). In 2006, health educators held 62,000 jobs with 53% working in the health care and social assistance industries. Medical and public health social workers held 124,000 jobs (2). According to Payscale.com, individuals with a Master of Public Health degree earned average annual salaries from about $42,000 to $67,000 depending on field and position (3).

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook for public health jobs varies depending on degree and position. Employment of health educators is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016, increasing 26% and adding 16,000 new jobs. Medical and public health social workers are expected to experience much faster than average job growth, increasing 24% and adding 30,000 new jobs (2).

Specialties

Public health is a large field that focuses on a wide variety of areas. Students can choose from many different specialties including health administration, health education, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, public health nursing, international public health, behavioral sciences, biomedical and laboratory practices, health policy and management, maternal and child health, occupational safety and health, and nutrition. Students interested in a particular area should select schools that offer strong programs in that specific specialty.

What to Expect

Public health degree programs focus on the relationships between health and culture. Undergraduate degree programs require general education courses in English, mathematics, composition, history, science, and electives. The core coursework varies by program, but many public health programs requires in chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, statistics, environmental health, healthcare trends, health promotion, and health administration. Many programs also include lab coursework and field research to enable students to gain practical experience. Graduate degree programs focus more on in-depth study and prepare students for more advanced positions.

The End Result

Public health degrees provide students with a wide variety of career options. Public health professionals often work in hospitals, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Graduate degrees prepare students for upper-level positions in research and academia. Careers for public health graduates include:

Public Health Social Worker
Epidemiologist
Health Educator
Public Health Consultant
Public Health Manager
Public Health Director
Public Health Researcher
Public Health Administrator
Public Health Specialist
Public Health Nurse
Public Health Program Coordinator
Disease Prevention Specialist

A public health career will be rewarding for individuals interested in the healthcare needs of the public. Public health professionals work to promote healthy behaviors at all levels and often monitor the environment and administer public health programs. They use their knowledge and expertise and apply it to a variety of public health situations.

(1) SOURCE: U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics
(2) SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009 Edition
(3) SOURCE: Payscale.com, Salary Survey for Degree: Master of Public Health

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