Public Health

What Are the Most Affordable Online MPH Programs?

What Are the Most Affordable Online MPH Programs?
As you browse online MPH programs, make sure you think about your career aspirations, existing professional and personal commitments, and your capacity for work before choosing a program or format. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry December 20, 2019

Ready to make the leap into public health but worried about the high price of graduate school? We've compiled a guide to the most affordable online Master of Public Health programs in 2019—highlighting each degree type, tuition, core courses, elective course options (when available), and features.

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Public health is a vast discipline, which makes the Master of Public Health an unusually versatile degree. With an MPH, you can work as a health educator or in bioterrorism research. Your career focus might be maternal health or tropical diseases. It all depends on what you specialize in during and after your time in a graduate degree program.

Regardless of the specialization, everything encompassed by the umbrella term ‘public health’ can be summarized by ten essential services outlined by the CDC:

  • Monitor population health to identify and solve existing and emerging problems
  • Diagnose and investigate health hazards in a community or population
  • Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues
  • Mobilize communities, businesses, and groups to identify and solve health problems
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts
  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and safety
  • Link people to needed health services and help underserved populations access care
  • Assure a competent public and personal healthcare workforce
  • Evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of health services
  • Design and launch innovative solutions to health problems

The field of public health is rich in choices and opportunities. If public health is your calling, you shouldn’t let the price of a Master of Public Health or your work schedule prevent you from helping people and entire populations lead healthier, longer lives.

In this guide to the most affordable online MPH programs, we’ll cover:

  • Bachelor’s degree requirements and other prerequisites for MPH students
  • Why choose an online MPH degree program
  • Courses included in online MPH programs
  • How to get financial aid for online MPH programs
  • What are the cheapest online MPH programs?

Bachelor’s degree requirements and other prerequisites for MPH students

The prerequisites that Master of Public Health applicants must meet vary widely from school to school, but they typically fall into two categories: academic and professional. Some colleges and universities prefer that applicants have a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related discipline. Others accept applicants from all academic backgrounds, but only accept students who have significant professional experience in the public health sphere. And some MPH programs don’t require applicants to have chosen a specific major or to have a certain number of years of professional experience.

That isn’t to say that you can’t increase your chances of being accepted into an online MPH program by having a Bachelor of Science in Public Health or previously having worked in public health. You definitely can. However, if graduate school represents your first foray into public health, you shouldn’t have any issues finding a program that will accept you as long as you’ve taken biology, statistics, and calculus.

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Why choose an affordable online MPH degree program

Simply put, cost and convenience should be important considerations when you’re choosing a master’s degree program. Some students have the resources (and the grades) necessary to attend graduate degree programs full-time at high-profile universities. Most of us don’t, unfortunately.

Online MPH programs are often identical to traditional programs and confer the exact same degree, so you don’t need to worry about employers passing your résumé by because you studied online. Many online degrees are designed specifically for working professionals and have flexibility built in so students can keep working part-time or even full-time. And while online degrees typically aren’t less expensive, many colleges and universities known for their low tuition rates have good, reliable online programs for graduate students.

Courses included in online MPH programs

The coursework in most MPH programs touches on topics like:

  • Health policy
  • Environmental health
  • Bioethics
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Social issues in public health
  • Psychology and human behavior
  • Population dynamics
  • Infectious diseases
  • Health education
  • Health systems administration
  • Health sciences

Some, though not all, affordable online MPH degree programs let students choose concentrations or specialization tracks. If you already know you want to work in a specific area of public health, look for programs that offer concentrations related to your career aspirations.

How to get financial aid for online MPH programs

Many of the financial aid opportunities available to traditional students are also available to online learners. These include loans, grants, scholarships, work-study programs, tax credits, and tuition reimbursement. In most cases, the process for applying for them is the same as it is for on-campus students. When you enroll in an online MPH program, you will fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have opportunities to apply for other types of aid.

What are the cheapest online MPH programs?

For each of the online Master of Public Health programs in the list below, we’ve included a high level of the most relevant information to consider when choosing from among the available options: degree type, format, tuition, graduation requirements, core courses, electives, features, and concentrations. As you browse online MPH programs, make sure you think about your career aspirations, existing professional and personal commitments, and your capacity for work before choosing a program or format.

Concordia University – Nebraska

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $500 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 39 credit hours over two years and eight weeks
  • Core courses: Fundamentals of Public Health; Concepts of Environmental Health; Biostatistics; Applied Epidemiology; Health Policy and Management; Principles of Health Behaviors; Methods of Research in Public Health; Applied Research in Public Health. Community Health Education concentration: Public Health Ethics; Community Health; Programming & Evaluation in Public Health; Marketing in Public Health. Health Policy and Administration concentration: Leadership and Organizational Management in Health Care; Public Health Finance; Human Resource Management in Healthcare
  • Elective courses: Global Health
  • Concentration options: Community Health Education; Health Policy and Administration
  • Features: Has ranked in the top tier of US News and World Report’s Best Colleges Midwest Regional Universities; curriculum is grounded in the Christian faith; no GRE or GMAT scores are required to apply; Global Health elective includes international week-long mission trip.

Des Moines University – Osteopathic Medical Center

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Fully online
  • Tuition: $665 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 46 credit hours over as little as two years
  • Core courses: Varies by concentration, though all students take U.S. Health Care & Public Health Systems; Basic Statistics; Environmental and Occupational Health; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Epidemiology; Public Health Biology; and complete a capstone project (integrative learning experience) and a 180-hour internship (applied practice experience) in a public health setting
  • Elective courses: Grant Writing and Management; Global Health Service Trip; Special Topics Elective; Public Health Internship Continuation; Integrative Learning Exp II Continuation
  • Concentration options: Public Health Practice; Public Health Administration and Policy; Health Education and Promotion
  • Features: Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH); no GRE or GMAT required to apply; 94 percent employment rate after graduation; students can take one to three credits of independent study

Idaho State University

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online with asynchronous delivery
  • Tuition: $9,924 per year for residents; $26,221.96 for non-residents
  • Graduation requirements: 48 credit hours
  • Core courses: Applications in Epidemiology; Biostatistics; Social & Cultural Perspectives in Public Health; Leadership and Administration; Environmental & Occupational Health; US & Global Health Systems; Technological App. in Public Health; Seminar in Community/Public Health; Health Program Planning; Research and Writing; Health Behavior Change Theory and Application; plus an internship and a graduate thesis or project
  • Elective courses: None listed
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: The only MPH program in Idaho that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health; designed to meet the needs of working individuals as well as those in rural areas; program has a community health emphasis; research opportunities are available; scholarships are available

Indiana Wesleyan University – National & Global

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $595 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 43 credit hours
  • Core courses: Foundations in Public Health Practice; Epidemiology in Public Health; Biostatistics; Social and Behavioral Aspects of Health; Health Systems Administration and Management; Environmental Health; Research Methods I and II; Health Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation; Global Health; Healthcare to Diverse Populations; Bioethics: Theory, Application, and Decision-Making; Health Policy; plus a capstone project and a 200-hour public health practicum
  • Elective courses: None listed
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission; students take one course at a time; topics are presented within the context of a Christian worldview

Kent State University at Kent

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Fully online
  • Tuition: $655 per credit
  • Graduation requirements: 46 credits over 24 to 27 months
  • Core courses: Biostatistics in Public Health; Environmental Health Concepts in Public Health; Fundamentals of Public Health Epidemiology; Public Health Administration; Community Health Needs Assessment; Social Determinants of Health Behaviors. Health Policy Management concentration: Health Care Systems; Public Health Policy, Law and Ethics; Financial Management for Public Health Organizations; Cost-Benefit Analysis of Public Health Programs; Public Health Programs: Planning, Implementing and Evaluation. Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration: Quantitative Methods in Social and Behavioral Sciences; Seminar in Social and Behavioral Sciences; Grant Writing in Social and Behavioral Sciences; Public Health Programs: Planning, Implementation and Evaluation; Social and Behavioral Science Theory
  • Elective courses: National Health Reform; Foundations for Effective Public Health Leadership; Whole Systems Approaches to Leading Organizational Change in Public Health; Sex: A Wicked Public Health Problem; Emerging Issues in Public Health Policy and Management; Social and Behavioral Science Theory
  • Concentration options: Health Policy Management; Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Features: Council on Education for Public Health-accredited; scholarships available; GRE waivers are available; admission advisors help students craft a personalized degree plan

New Mexico State University – Main Campus

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online plus one on-campus orientation
  • Tuition: $399.50 per credit hour regardless of residency
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours
  • Core courses: Community and Psychosocial Aspects of Public Health; Biostatistical Applications in Public Health; Epidemiological Approaches to Disease Control and Prevention; Health Services System: Administration and Organization; Environmental Public Health Issues; Principles of Health Program Management; Health Services Organization and Delivery; Public Health Finance and Budget Management; Public Health Law and Ethics; Public Health Policy Analysis; Evaluative Approaches in Public Health; Foundations of Public Health Education; Techniques of Health Communication/Education; Community Organization in Public Health; Health Program Planning; Evaluative Approaches in Public Health; Research and Resources in Community Health
  • Elective courses: Students choose one course from the cultural foundations series numbered 560-569
  • Concentration options: Health Behavior and Health Promotion; Health Management, Administration, and Policy
  • Features: Same curriculum as the school’s traditional MPH; there is a dual MPH/MSW option; students can complete the program without a thesis

Northeast Ohio Medical University

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online or hybrid
  • Tuition: $598 per credit hour for Ohio residents; $610 per credit hour for non-residents
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over one to six years
  • Core courses: Public Health Concepts; Biostatistics in Public Health; Epidemiology in Public Health; Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health; Health Services Administration in Public Health; Policy and Environmental Sciences in Public Health
  • Elective courses: None listed; electives chosen from graduate-level courses with public-health relevance offered by any of the participating universities
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Designed for working professionals; offered in partnership with Cleveland State University, University of Akron Main Campus, and Youngstown State University; GRE scores are only required to apply if student undergrad GPA is less than 3.0; capstone project required

San Jose State University

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online plus one 5-day on-campus residency each year
  • Tuition: One to six credits per semester, $4,164; seven or more credits per semester, $7.176
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over two years
  • Core courses: Principles of Epidemiology; Health Services Organization; Principles and Skills of Health Administration; Environmental Health; Computational Public Health Statistics; Community Organization and Health Promotion; Multicultural Communication for Health Professionals; Research Design and Methodology; Contemporary Practice: Public Health, Health Promotion, and Community Health Education; Groups and Training: Theory and Practice; Theoretical Foundations of Public Health; Health Promotion Planning and Evaluation; Leadership for Health Professionals; Applied Data Analysis; plus a fieldwork practicum and a professional self-assessment
  • Elective courses: None listed
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Scholarships are available for LGBT students and students with HIV; accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health; format uses state-of-the-art synchronous web conferencing that includes two-way audio, multi-point video, interactive whiteboard, application and desktop sharing, virtual breakout rooms, and session recording

South Dakota State University

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $465.80 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over
  • Core courses: Biostatistics for Public Health; Public Health Theory and Practice; Epidemiology; Introduction to US Health Systems and Policy; Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health; Environmental Health; Program Planning and Evaluation; plus an applied practice experience and integrative learning experience
  • Elective courses: Parasitology; Advanced Concepts in Infectious Disease; Occupational Health; Advanced Epidemiology; Health Policy, Legislation, Economics, and Ethics; Maternal and Child Nutrition; Public Health Nutrition; Vitamins and Minerals in Human Nutrition; Nutrition and Aging; Public and Population Health; Drugs of Abuse and Addiction; Women and Children’s Health; Social Epidemiology; Cultural Perspectives in Public Health; Public Policy and Addiction; Experimental Design and Analysis; Advanced Statistics; Advanced Strategic Management of Health Care Orgs; Advanced Health Care Systems; Advanced Health Care Management; Public Health Immunology; Methods of Social Research; Diversity and Social Justice; Drugs and Behavior
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Offered in partnership with the University of South Dakota; this degree is highly customizable

The University of Alabama

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Fully online
  • Tuition: $420 per credit hour for residents
  • Graduation requirements: 42+ credit hours over two years for full-time students
  • Core courses: Techniques of Research in Health; Advanced Foundations of Public Health; Advanced Foundations of Health Promotion; Theories of Health Behavior; Basic Epidemiology; Biostatistics; Health Promotion Techniques; Planning Health Promotion Programs; Program Evaluation in Health Promotion; Environmental Health Promotion; Health Disparities
  • Elective courses: Worksite Health Promotion Programs; Sexuality Education: Theory and Practice; Women and Health; Certified Health Education Specialist Study
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: There are MPH/MSW, MPH/MBA, and other dual degree options; scholarships are available

University of Florida

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $550 per credit hour plus fees
  • Graduation requirements: 48 credit hours over two years
  • Core courses: Statistical Methods for Health Science; Introduction to Biostatistical Methods; Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health; Introduction to the U.S. Health Care System; Environmental Health Concepts in Public Health; Psychological, Behavioral, and Social Issues in Public Health; plus a public health internship and special project
  • Elective courses: Students choose up to six credits of electives relevant to their chosen concentrations and individual career goals
  • Concentration options: Public Health Practice; Social and Behavioral Sciences (with subspecialties in generalist behavioral sciences, geriatric care management, HIV/AIDS, or trauma and resiliency)
  • Features: Accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health; no thesis required to graduate; online students have access to networking opportunities

University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $362.25 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 32 credits
  • Core courses: Introduction to Public Health; Biostatistics; Research Methods in Public Health; Epidemiology; Introduction to Environmental Health; Public Health Policy; Public Health Education; Social Determinants of Health; Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases; Epidemiology of Chronic Diseases; Analytical Epidemiology; Program Evaluation for Public Health; Introduction to Health Services and Administration; Health Economics; Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems; Emerging Diseases; ECCE: Crisis in Environmental Health; Risk Management and Communication; plus an internship
  • Elective courses: One additional elective may be selected from any graduate course taught by the department or campus, in consultation with and approval by the academic advisor.
  • Concentration options: Environmental Health
  • Features: Online students can earn an MHA or master’s in human services along with an MPH; applications are accepted all year long; students in the online degree program pay e-tuition, which is below the rate for traditional students

University of Memphis

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $647 per credit hour
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over two years
  • Core courses: Health Policy and Organization of Health Services; Social and Behavioral Sciences Principles; Environmental Health; Biostatistical Methods; Epidemiology and Public Health; Foundations of Public Health; plus a practicum experience and a master’s thesis
  • Elective courses: None listed, though students are required to choose 15 credit hours of electives
  • Concentration options: Urban Health; Biostatistics; Epidemiology; Health Systems and Policy; Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Features: Applicants are accepted from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds; accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health

The University of Montana

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $315 per credit hour for resident; $517 for non-residents
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over two years for full-time students and three and a half years for part-time students
  • Core courses: Introduction to Epidemiology; Fundamentals of Biostatistics; Statistical Methods; Computer Data Analysis; Public Health Administration & Management; Health Policy; Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health; Program Evaluation & Research Methods; Environmental and Rural Health; Ethical Issues in Public Health; Rural Health Issues in a Global Context; plus a capstone project
  • Elective courses: History & Theory of Epidemiology; Public Health Genetics; Multicultural and Native American Public Health; Issues in Maternal & Child Health; plus an independent study option
  • Concentration options: None for the online degree
  • Features: The program emphasizes health issues facing remote and agricultural areas; students can opt to earn a dual MPH/MHA; one of the most affordable MPH programs for Montana residents

University of North Dakota

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Online, asynchronous/synchronous and asynchronous
  • Tuition: $780 per credit hour plus fees (online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency)
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over two years
  • Core courses: Planning & Management to Promote Health; Public Health & Health Care Systems; Environmental Health; Evidence-Based Approaches to Public Health – Biostatistics; Public Health Communication; Evidence-Based Approaches to Public Health – Epidemiology; Health Policy; plus a three-credit practicum or integrative learning experience
  • Elective courses: Students choose electives based on the concentration and plan of study chosen
  • Concentration options: Health Management & Policy; Indigenous Health; Population Health Research & Analytics
  • Features: Lectures are delivered via live broadcasts so distance learners can participate in real-time; program has a 100 percent graduate employment rate in health-related careers; students can opt for an accelerated five-year BS/MPH degree; accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health; the university has an exchange program with the University of Bergen in Norway

University of North Texas Health Science Center

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Fully online
  • Tuition: $13,500 (42 credits) or $16,000 (48 credits) in-state tuition; $34,500 or $39,000 out-of-state tuition
  • Graduation requirements: 42 or 48 credit hours over two years full-time or three years part-time
  • Core courses: Theoretical Foundations of Individual & Community Health; Principles of Biostatistics; Environmental Determinants of Health; Principles of Epidemiology; Introduction to Health Management & Policy; Health Services Management; Leadership for Public Health; Ethical Issues in Public Health; plus a capstone project
  • Elective courses: Program Planning & Evaluation; Topics in Global Security and Sustainability; Geographic Information Systems; Lean Concepts in Healthcare & Public Health; Maternal & Child Health Nutrition; Public Health Law; Diseases from Animals to Humans; Geographic Distribution of Health and Disease; Geographic Information Systems; Injury and Violence Prevention; Health Finance; Clinical Aspects of Reproductive Health; Water and Public Health; Race, Ethnicity, Culture and Health; Food Safety: Farm to Fork; Epidemiologic Surveillance; Health, Politics & Policy; Health Economics
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Five start times each year; practicum (app. 600 hours) is self-arranged, with advisement from faculty

Western Kentucky University

  • Degree: Master of Public Health
  • Format: Fully online
  • Tuition: $607 per credit hour for resident students; $917 for non-resident students; $415 for P-12 educators working in Kentucky
  • Graduation requirements: 42 credit hours over
  • Core courses: Introduction to Public Health; Biostatistics; Program Planning in Public Health Practice; Health Disparities; Applied Methods in Public Health Practice; Epidemiology; Public Health Administration; Principles of Environmental Health; Health Behavior; Health Program Evaluation; plus an applied practice experience, integrative learning experience, and the CITI web-based ethics training course
  • Elective courses: Students work in partnership with an adviser to select electives and tailor a program that meets their professional and academic goals
  • Concentration options: None listed
  • Features: Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health; designed to meet the needs of working professionals; students in this program can earn a wide variety of graduate certificates

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