Public Health

10 Reasons to Consider a Master’s in Public Health

10 Reasons to Consider a Master’s in Public Health
If you are interested in understanding, analyzing, and influencing health care practice on a systemic level, a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is worth your consideration. Image from Unsplash
Katherine Gustafson profile
Katherine Gustafson March 7, 2019

An MPH will teach you how to think critically about the social and cultural influences that impact health.

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In 1966 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the Medical Committee for Human Rights: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane.” Over 50 years later, the weight of his words remains true. We still haven’t discovered how to provide equal footing in health and health care for all.

In the United States, health care spending exceeded $4 trillion in 2021. It’s projected to comprise nearly 20 percent of GDP by 2030. As a sector, health care currently employs over 21 million Americans, making it the nation’s second-largest job category (professional and business services is about 4 percent larger).

The industry’s growth is due in part to new technologies and efforts to improve access to (and quality of) health care. An aging population also contributes. All of which is precisely why the pursuit of careers and education in health care are booming just as quickly.

The study of public health focuses on addressing these trends. If you are interested in understanding, analyzing, and influencing health care, a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is worth consideration.

A master’s degree in public health teaches how to measure and analyze the spread of diseases (epidemiology), how to administer health services and health care planning, and how to think critically about the social and cultural influences that impact health.

Need more reasons to earn an MPH? We have ten.

Top 10 reasons to pursue an MPH

1. You’ll make a difference

Studying public health can put you in place to help people in concrete ways. You’ll be in a position to increase life expectancy, reduce infant mortality, and ward off the spread of disease. With a master’s degree in public health, you’ll almost certainly save lives.

2. You’ll learn to look at the social context of health

One of the major values of the MPH degree is its sociological perspective. Unlike medical and nursing degrees or graduate degrees in health care administration or health care management, an MPH focuses on the bigger societal picture of health and health care.

3. You’ll have lots of career options

An MPH prepares students for various jobs in health care and beyond. MPHs go on to become health care administrators, biostatisticians, epidemiologists, public health project managers, health and safety engineers, disaster management specialists, public health planners, global infectious disease specialists, and directors of population health.

4. You won’t get bored

MPH graduates can apply their expertise in many different ways. With a master’s in public health, you can become a medical journalist, grant writer, environmental inspector, policy analyst, lobbyist, or political scientist. While an MPH is designed to be a terminal degree, some graduates continue their studies to earn a PhD in public health to become professors.

5. You’ll be able to pursue public service

Many MPH graduates make a difference by working in the public sector, whether in policy or as providers of direct service. Those who lean toward public service careers can find many satisfying avenues in the field of public health.

6. You can work for various institutions

Graduates of MPH programs are hired for critical roles in hospitals, universities, government agencies, NGOs, health tech start-ups, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and businesses of all kinds. Their expertise can be applied in a numerous ways, from shaping government policy to designing new health-promoting products and services.

7. You can earn a good salary

Earning potential for those with an MPH degree varies widely because there are so many types of jobs one can do with this degree. If a high salary is important to you, you can do it with a master’s in public health. For example, health care policy analysts and biostatisticians can work their way up to around $170,000 in annual compensation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers earn over $100,000 on average.

8. You’ll be qualified for research opportunities

Research into how particular communities are affected by specific health problems and how best to manage health threats at a population level are essential to the field of public health. An MPH degree prepares graduates to join this important research community.

9. You can dive into advocacy

MPH graduates have valuable perspectives on how to improve health outcomes through systemic change. MPH graduates can put their skills to use promoting and lobbying for health-promoting legislation.

10. You’ll find opportunities abroad

In our globalized world, health concerns don’t stop at borders. The field of public health encompasses global health, which applies the same sociological and epidemiological lens to health trends around the world. While a specialized degree in global health is the best way to prepare for these opportunities, an MPH offers the appropriate training and skills to allow graduates to succeed in international assignments.

An MPH degree is best suited to those interested in looking at health in a community or population context. Graduates have wide-ranging choices regarding their career path and have the opportunity to do good in the world, potentially even saving lives without ever stepping into a hospital.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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