Public health programs prepare graduates for careers in government health departments, education and research, private healthcare and insurance companies, or nonprofit organizations. In Hawaii, a state with particularly high rates of chronic diseases, public health programs offer an opportunity to improve people’s lives.

…the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that positions in health education will grow 16% by 2026.

Online MPH programs in Hawaii cover all major areas of public health — from behavioral health to epidemiology to biostatics — and the competencies and experiential learning needed to excel in these fields. Some also offer valuable concentrations at the local level, like indigenous health, or at an international level, such as global environmental sustainability. With rapid growth in the industry, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that positions in health education will grow 16% by 2026.

Now is an opportune time to pursue public health careers in Hawaii. The state’s Department of Health (DOH) works on several challenging initiatives focused on urgent, statewide issues — particularly in obesity and chronic disease epidemics — and improving health for all residents. These include:

  • Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Division (CDPHPD): Also known as the Tobacco Settlement Project, the CDPHPD works to control tobacco and prevent, detect, and manage diseases such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and stroke.
  • The Healthy Hawaii Initiative (HHI): Launched in 2000, the HHI responds to weight gain affecting more than half of Hawaiians. It promotes disease prevention, healthy living, and sustainability. Its Prevention Programs seek to increase healthy eating and physical activity while reducing rates of smoking and sedentary time.
  • HHI Partnerships: Through partnerships with the University of Hawaii, the Department of Public Health Sciences, and the HHI, the DOH makes environmental and systems changes aiming to develop ways for residents to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Both internships and fellowships can supplement your education. An internship provides temporary job placement, paid or unpaid, with an emphasis on hands-on training. Fellowships entail merit-based scholarships designed to enhance your education. Fellowships require specific eligibility, sometimes including an internship to give you the opportunity to take advantage of both.

The following examples show internships and fellowships available to students in public health programs in Hawaii:

SAMHSA/CSAP Prevention Fellowship Program

Offered by government substance abuse agencies, this fellowship requires interns to work full-time with pay, supporting the integration of local behavioral health prevention services. Participating locations change annually, so check for Hawaii placements and apply online at the program’s website.

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University of Hawaii (UH) Fellowship in Family Planning

The UH Division of Family Planning’s fellowship has offered MPH students the opportunity to participate in learning, research, and work placements since 2012. You can apply online here.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC offers full-time fellowship and short-term internship opportunities for master’s degree students with regular openings. Visit the CDC’s website to search for specific experiences in Hawaii and apply online.

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Department of Native Hawaiian Health Summer Research Internship

This paid, 10-week program focuses on clinical, community-based, and translational research study into health disparities that impact Native Hawaiians. A call for applications will be listed around December on the Department of Native Hawaiian Health and/or the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research websites.

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Hawaii Pacific Health Summer Internship

Offered at Hawaii Pacific Health and its network of medical centers, this six-week, paid program provides students with hands-on experience in the healthcare industry. Complete an application online when available.

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Several factors influence a public health official’s salary. There are several types of positions available, and your previous experience, credentials, location, occupational level, and sector of employment will all matter. The Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines state and national salary expectations for specific roles. According to these statistics, public health professionals in Hawaii earn a salary slightly lower than the national average, though online MPH programs in Hawaii provide greater potential for advancement and opportunity for higher paying roles. Here are the median wages in Hawaii for health educators compared with the national average:

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Hawaii 330 $26.88 $55,900
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Hawaii

Public health provides more opportunities than ever for MPH Hawaii graduates with jobs at larger employers. For a career in public health, top employers include the government, educational institutions, and medical centers.

Employers Number of Employees
Hawaii State Department of Health 5,001-10,000
UH Office of Public Health Studies 1,001-5,000
Hilo Medical Center 1,000-4,999

Public Health Research Centers in Hawaii

If you prefer a career in research, Hawaii is home to several large, public health research institutions, in addition to universities that offer research on health-related issues. Here are three worth investigating:

  • UH Office of Public Health Studies: Every UH faculty member collaborates with public and private organizations on a variety of public health research topics, including infectious and chronic diseases, health policy and management, and social/behavioral sciences.
  • Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research-Hawaii: With divisions in Oregon and Hawaii, KPH supports government-funded research programs and develops projects of its own. CHR-Hawaii focuses on research issues uniquely suited to its ethnically diverse population.
  • Pacific Health Research & Education Institute (PHREI): PHREI, a private, nonprofit research organization, focuses on epidemiological research on veterans and their unique health concerns.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Hawaii

Professional organizations give students and recent grads the chance to stay informed on current issues, events, collaborate with industry peers at networking events and conferences, and learn beyond graduation through continuing education (CE) programs. Joining as a student may give you access to cheaper memberships, but it’s important to remain a member beyond graduation for continued support and opportunities to hone your skills.

  • Hawaii Public Health Association (HPHA): A community of professionals and organizations and an affiliate of the American Public Health Association, HPHA improves public health and provides education and training opportunities on today’s issues. Members receive information on local public health efforts, important legislative updates, and invitations to HPHA networking events.
  • Hawaii State Rural Health Association (HSRHA): HSRHA caters to rural health needs in Hawaii while also participating in national health initiatives. As a member, you get free access to HSRHA events, opportunities to attend HSRHA-sponsored training sessions and workshops, and eligibility to serve on the association’s board.
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians (NCAPIP): Comprised of over 8,000 advocates nationwide, NCAPIP works to advance Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander health. The organization encourages members to become active advocates for underrepresented communities.

To become a registered dietician, you must pass an exam and fulfill strict licensing and certification requirements.

In some cases, public health practices require licensure. Dietetics strongly favors graduates of online MPH programs in Hawaii and requires licensure. To become a registered dietician, you must pass an exam and fulfill strict licensing and certification requirements. Working for the Department of Health’s Public Health & Environmental Laboratories consists of passing certification exams to obtain a laboratory license as another example. Check BLS information for qualifications regarding licensure and certification.

Accreditation assures prospective students that the program successfully meets rigorous educational, experiential, and financial standards An accredited graduate program also assists with further educational opportunities, whether transferring credits (schools are more likely to accept credits from other institutions if accredited) or moving on to doctorate level education.

Accreditation can be regional, national, or programmatic. Employers and advanced degree programs are typically accredited regionally, and online MPH programs may also be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the only programmatic designation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Because CEPH-accredited programs meet the highest possible standards in the field, many employers do not consider credentials without it.

UH Office of Graduate Education Achievement Scholarship

This is a merit and service-based award available to graduate students at UH Manoa. Awards help cover tuition costs.

Amount Offered: Amounts vary, minimum $500
Scholarship Deadline: The application deadline for corresponding graduate program.
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 3.5 GPA.
  • Register for at least one credit of public health coursework.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the mission of the Office of Public Health Studies.

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Cora Aguda Manayan Fund

Funded by prominent doctor and activist Dr. Cora Manayan, this fund benefits students pursuing a health-related career.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: January 31
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA.
  • Attend an accredited, four-year, nonprofit institution full-time in Hawaii.
  • Major in a health-related field.

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Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu

This scholarship was established to inspire academic achievement among Hawaiians at post-secondary schools. Hawaiian Civic Club members receive priority.

Amount Offered: Amounts vary depending on quality of application.
Scholarship Deadline: April 30
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA.
  • Be a full-time student and resident of Hawaii.
  • Submit an essay, maximum 750 words.

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Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program

This is a merit-based scholarship for students dedicated to improving primary health services. Awards apply to books, tuition, and other educational costs, and include a monthly stipend.

Amount Offered: Amount varies according to tuition/living expenses.
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Serve in medically underserved areas in Hawaii for two to four years.
  • Be of Native Hawaiian ancestry.
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited health professions program, including an MPH.

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Second Century Scholarship

This need-based grant supports Native Hawaiian students across the UH system. Students must apply through their school’s financial aid office.

Amount Offered: Amount varies depending on financial need.
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be enrolled at least half-time.
  • Be Native Hawaiian.
  • Complete a FAFSA application.

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UH Office of Public Health Studies Joseph E. Alicata Memorial Award

Awarded to master’s and doctorate level students, this fund may be applied to tuition at UH Manoa or international travel for field training.

Amount Offered: Up to $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be a full-time student with outstanding academic achievement.
  • Submit a three-page essay on a current public health issue in Hawaii.
  • Submit an application detailing how you plan to use the award and any publications, presentations, or awards you earn.

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Hokuli'a Foundation Scholarship Fund

This fund provides aid for residents of North or South Kona pursuing graduate study in healthcare, education, and social work. Students with proven dedication to advancing Native Hawaiian culture are preferred.

Amount Offered: $500-5,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 15
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 2.7 GPA.
  • Attend a two- or four-year, nonprofit, U.S. institution as a full-time student.
  • Intend to remain in/return to Hawaii after graduation.
  • Submit an essay describing your community service and how your future career will benefit the Hawaiian public.

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Ida M. Pope Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship aids female students of Hawaiian descent who demonstrate character, financial need, and scholastic achievement. Funding supports students pursuing graduate studies in health, science, mathematics, and education.

Amount Offered: $500-5,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 15
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 3.5 GPA.
  • Be a full-time student at a nonprofit institution in the U.S.
  • Submit a copy of your Kamehameha Schools Ho’oulu Hawaiian Data Center Ancestry Verification Letter.

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Ambassador Minerva Jean Falcon Hawaii Scholarship

This scholarship benefits qualifying graduate or undergraduate student of Filipino descent. Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.

Amount Offered: $750
Scholarship Deadline: January 31
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be a graduate of a Hawaii high school.
  • Be a full-time student at a two- or four-year college in Hawaii.
  • Maintain a 2.7 GPA.

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Safeway Foundation Hawaii Scholarship Fund

Offered by the Safeway Foundation, this scholarship program gives preference to current or past employees (or their dependents) of the organization pursuing undergraduate or graduate study.

Amount Offered: Amount varies
Scholarship Deadline: February 15
Eligibility Requirements:

  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA.
  • Be a full-time student at an accredited Hawaiian institution.
  • Be a resident of Hawaii.

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It can take time to find the right program in public health. The following database simplifies the process by offering details of all accredited, online MPH programs in Hawaii that provide future public health professionals with the most well-rounded education.

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