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Guide To Online Masters in Public Health and specializations

Public Health

Guide To Online Masters in Public Health and specializations

Public health is the capstone of a career in the field of science with respect to protection, safety and improving the health of people and communities through education, policy making and research for disease and injury prevention. Also, the definition of the term “Public Health” varies from person to person. Moreover, different specializations in public health help to achieve a healthy lifestyle, advances in research for diseases, injury prevention, detection and responding to infectious diseases. 

Globally, people who are trained in the public health domain carry high responsibilities since its main focus is directly at the population/community level. Public health professionals help to prevent the outbreak of several diseases, develop a plan of action in case of outbreaks and work at national and international level in policy making and implementation. Generally public health professionals are a part of large healthcare organisations both for profit and non-profit, and public or private. 

Furthermore, there are various streams available that will help prospective students interested in gaining master’s degrees within the public health field. The most common being is master’s in public health (MPH). An MPH degree is the combination of various sub disciplines like biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy & administration and social & behavioral sciences. This helps students to potentiate for more advanced knowledge in this particular specialization. 

With advancement in healthcare as a potential career growth for healthcare professionals, many universities are now offering hybrid as well as online MPH programs where students can learn from the comfort of their home and still receive in-field experience through internships and capstone projects. Apart from this, the basic and essential foundation courses are structured in such a way that all the major core competencies are intended to build up from the beginning itself. These courses will equip students with the skills needed for community health need assessments, conducting research as well as professional writing skills for seeking grants. Additionally, these courses will help students gain an understanding of how behavior and environmental factors affect health and health policies. After completion of the core courses an individual can opt to take elective courses and focus based on their preferences. Once the required courses are completed, MPH candidates carrying the learned skills apply them directly in the real-world experiences through lead projects and internships. For most of the programs, lead projects and internships are required for graduation and are conducted during the final semesters of the MPH program. 

Below you will find descriptions of a few required core courses:

  • Foundations of Epidemiology 
  • Health Policy and Management 
  • Program Planning and Research

However, other common public health concentrations include Community Health and Health Promotion, Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition

Also, the program length can vary depending upon the full time/part-time course pursued by the students. By taking online course, the students can have multiple options in terms of working and studying together and that will enable them to simultaneously learn and implement the learnings in their day-to-day life.

Additionally, some MPH programs will offer extended or shortened timeframes for individuals to complete their degree depending upon the mode chosen for education and training. Being a professional degree, it’s geared more towards practitioners which puts the prospective students to an added advantage in terms of marketing the degree.

Moreover, the diamond ring in the degree of MPH program is complemented with other graduate degrees. Dual degree programs provide an avenue for students to concurrently enroll in double degree programs so that duplication in course content is minimized, academic interaction is more efficient and the time and costs incurred are reduced compared to earning the degrees independently.

Due to the increased need for public health professionals, more universities are now launching MPH programs and extending the opportunity for students to gain their MPH degree online. Depending upon one’s personal and work preferences and corresponding schedule, enrolling in an online MPH program may be the best option.

Different opinions categorize classroom experience as the greatest differentiating factor between an online degree and an in-person one. Many people assume that an online degree is an impersonal approach to education, featuring less interaction with peers and professors but this is not always the case. In many ways, a comprehensive online experience can feel a lot like a traditional one. With some basic access to technology and the know-how to use it, anyone can become a successful online student. Some example elements of an online education experience are virtual live classes using a webcam, a learning management system for discussions and assignment access, interactive course content designed by university faculty and access to technical support to assist the student.

Taking into considerations the MPH career opportunities when choosing a degree, students should take the time to consider which career paths and work environments they are interested in. Professionals holding master’s degree in public health typically work in government and public health agencies, community-based service organizations, academic and research institutions, private organizations, hospitals, health insurance companies, medical groups. Due to various types of work environments, salaries and job roles can significantly vary from conducting health assessments to developing health policies. Some common career options include occupational and environmental health specialists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, health program administrators and educators, health economists, planners and health policy analysts. 

One of the most captivating point in pursuing any master’s degree is the pre-requisite graduate degree from a regionally accredited university or college but need not to be necessarily in public health.

In short, MPH is a master’s-level degree in public health with a versatile domain in terms of career opportunities; however, depending on the job role, a public health professional can be viewed as a public health practitioner providing information and best health services to individuals.

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