Types of Programs

A graduate degree in public health trains allows students the opportunity to build upon the foundational elements of public health and develop skills in a particular area or issue in the academic or professional fields. There are multiple options for students interested in obtaining a graduate degree in public health or field related to public health. An overview of graduate degrees, including masters, doctoral, dual, and medical and health related degrees are provided below. 


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Master of Public Health (MPH)

As the most common graduate-level degree in public heath, the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is likely something you have heard of regarding graduate education options in the field of public health. Traditionally known as a professional or practice-based degree in public health, the MPH is geared for indidviduals interested in obtaining foundational public health knowledge toward pursuing a health-oriented professional career. Work environments may include hospitals, consulting firms, international agencies, state and federal agencies, health departments, managed care organizations, community-based organizations, among others.  

Depending on the program or school, an MPH degree can be specialized into a particular area of study, or be offered as a general concentration. Common areas of study within an MPH (also known as concentrations, specializations, or tracks) include:

  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental and/or Occupational Health
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Health Promotion and Communication
However, each program is unique in the type and variety of MPH specializations offered. 

The Master of Public Health degree typically takes 2-3 years to complete, and may include a thesis, capstone, or project requirement depending on the program. An undergraduate degree in public health is not typically required for applying to MPH program, though completion of particular coursework may by required for particular specializations (e.g. Biostatistics and Environmental Health).

Listed below are MPH programs and schools previously or currently attended by BSPH alumni.

Sample of MPH Programs Attended by BSPH Alumni 

Master of Science (MS), Master of Health Science (MHS)

Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) and Master of Health Sciences (MHS) degrees are typically oriented toward indviduals interested in pursuing an academic career in teaching or research at a college or university setting. Programs may also offer a Master of Science (MS) in a specific concentration of Public Health, such as Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Policy, Community Health, and Environmental and Occupational Health.

It is important to note that, depending on the program, MPH degrees can also have an emphasis in research. Similarly, many MSPH/MS/MHS programs touch on the core disciplines of an MPH degree. The chart below outlines some of the general differences between the degree types. These differences may vary depending on the specific MPH/MSPH/MS/MHS program. 

Source: Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health. Degrees in Public Health. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.aspph.org/study/#degrees 


Sample of MSPH, MS, MHS Programs 

Master of Health Administration (MHA)

A Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree is intended for individuals interested in careers in healthcare management. Healthcare administrators manage different aspects of medical and healthcare services. Typical MHA program include curriculum such as organizational leadership, economics, finance, marketing, ethics, and strategic planning; internships are also typically expected. Most programs culminate in a capstone experience.  MHA programs usually take 2-3 years to complete.

MHA programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.

Sample of MHA Programs

Doctor of Philosophy, Public Health (PhD)

This research-focused doctoral degree prepares students for academic and research careers in Public Health.  PhD programs focus on training students in research theories and methodologies in preparation for advanced research activity in Public Health.  PhD students will typically specialize within their Core concentration of Public Health.

For differences between PhD and DrPH degrees, see below.


Other Doctoral Degrees Related to Public Health include:

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Biological Sciences (Phd)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Environmental Sciences (Phd) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology (PhD) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Sociology (PhD)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Anthropology (PhD)

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

This applied degree is more practice-focused than the PhD and requires more fieldwork experience and less research.  DrPH graduates are expected to go on to hold leadership positions in Public Health.

The chart below outlines some of the differences between PhD and DrPH degrees.

Differences between PhD and DrPH degrees

Source: Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health. Degrees in Public Health. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.aspph.org/study/#degrees 

Dual Degree Programs

Some universities offer the option of completing a dual degree.  The list below includes just some of the options you might see for earning a dual degree in Public Health.
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Social Work (MPH/MSW)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Business Administration (MPH/MBA)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Public Policy (MPH/MPP)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MPH/MFT)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Arts, Master of Science (MPH/MA, MS)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Science, Nursing (MPH/MSN)
  • Master of Public Health-Master of Science, Nursing (MPH/MSN)
  • Master of Public Health-Juris Doctor Degree (MPH/JD)
  • Master of Public Health-Doctor of Physical Therapy (MPH/DPT)

Doctor of Medicine (MD)

Comparison chart including MD, PhD, and dual degree MD programs

For detailed information about Medicine and Medical School, please see the HealthBeat website.


Other Medical and Health Degrees