A master of public health (MPH) offers a versatile education tailored to a unique career path, with courses covering the intersection of disease, social and behavioral science, biostatistics, community education, and health policy.

The degree typically takes about two years to complete, though programs might offer accelerated formats for professionals already in the field. Students completing their coursework part-time might need longer to graduate. Earning an MPH degree can help professionals land a variety of roles within the public health field. Many graduates become epidemiologists, conducting work as experts in the spread of diseases.

In addition to interesting work, the epidemiology career path offers lucrative compensation and promising career growth. Epidemiologists earn a median annual salary of $70,990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects the number of jobs for epidemiologists to increase by 5% between 2019 and 2029.

MPH students who specialize in education often become community health educators. The BLS reports that these professionals make median earnings of nearly $47,000, and the projected job growth from 2019 to 2029 could reach 13%, much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Students juggling multiple responsibilities, including jobs and family obligations, may prefer to pursue a master's in public health online. Online MPH programs, which often feature an asynchronous class delivery format, give degree-seekers the flexibility to study at their own convenience. Plus, by cutting out the commute to campus, distance learners can save significant time and money.

To help you select the right online MPH program for you, we've used our ranking methodology to select the top online MPH programs.

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Best Online MPH Programs for 2020

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill opened its doors in 1795, becoming the first public higher education institution in the country. Today, the school continues to educate students on its Chapel Hill campus and through distance learning. The school's master of public health allows enrollees to pursue their degrees online with one field placement.

The program comprises 42 credits, and distance learners can complete the program in 20-28 months, depending on their concentration and whether they enroll full or part time. The curriculum allows master's candidates to choose between emphasis areas of leadership in practice, health policy, and nutrition. Enrollees can also opt to pursue a joint online MPH and registered dietician (RD) program, which consists of 49 credits and takes 28-36 months to complete.

The MPH program focuses on understanding public health issues, analyzing public health data, and developing solutions. Each learner participates in 200 hours of applied field experience. An individual who pursues the online MPH/RD program must fulfill 1,000 hours of field experience in public health nutrition management, clinical nutrition, food service/systems management, and advanced nutrition.

The public health program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). UNC-Chapel Hill holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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University of Florida

The Gainesville-based UF offers over 200 programs that students can pursue entirely online. This includes a master of public health program, which allows distance learners to graduate without any campus visits. This degree requires 48 credits of coursework. All students take five core courses that focus on statistics, epidemiology, and the U.S. healthcare system. Learners must also choose between public health practice or social and behavioral sciences for concentrations.

Each distance learner must fulfill a five-credit internship within the public health field. During this internship, enrollees conduct one large special project, which they then submit and present before a committee of three faculty members. Finally, students must enroll in a one-credit seminar, which serves as a culminating experience for the degree.

This online MPH holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins began as the country's first research university in 1876. Today, the school educates students on its Baltimore campus and through online learning. The university's Bloomberg School of Public Health offers a master of public health that students may complete on a part-time, online basis.

Enrollees can finish the 80-credit program in 2-3 years. Courses last eight weeks, and distance learners may enroll in 1-3 courses each term. John Hopkins offers several electives, but core courses concentrate on foundational principles of public health and statistics.

Learners can choose to participate in intensive summer institutes, which occur on campus. During these sessions, students may pursue specific areas of interest, such as American Indian health or bioethics. Johns Hopkins offers many certificates that students can obtain to supplement their degrees, including tropical medicine, maternal and child health, and public health informatics.

All online MPH enrollees qualify for the Welch Scholarship, which disperses incrementally for each credit. Johns Hopkins holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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Harvard University

Consistently ranked among the best universities in the world, Harvard University boasts a reputation of worldwide renown. In addition to its rigorous on-campus programs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard runs several distance learning degrees, including a master of public health.

Harvard offers two options for its public health program: a 45-credit degree and a 65-credit degree. Individuals who already hold a graduate degree or at least five years of experience working in public health qualify for the 45-credit program, while candidates who possess at least two years of public health work experience can pursue the 65-credit program.

Each learner needs to decide on a specialization. These emphasis areas include epidemiology, nutrition, and health policy, among others. An enrollee must also complete an applied practice experience and an integrative learning experience.

Harvard holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and its online MPH programs are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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Simmons University

While Boston-based Simmons University only enrolls women in its undergraduate courses, this private institution runs its graduate programs in a coeducational format. Simmons' online master of public health allows students to graduate in 21 months.

The 45-credit program includes 12 core courses, two health equity change project courses, two electives, and two in-person immersion experiences. As part of the health equity change curriculum, each student must complete a project addressing health inequity in their local community. Courses like health advocacy and community organizing guide master's candidates in developing their projects.

Additionally, distance learners must participate in two hands-on immersion experiences. One of these experiences occurs on Simmons' Boston campus, and students can choose to travel to Ecuador or southern Arizona for their second experience. The Ecuador trip lasts 10 days, and students stay in the Amazon to study global health and development. Learners who visit Arizona investigate issues of border health and sustainability for six days.

Simmons is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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University of Southern California

As one of the largest private higher education institutions in the U.S., USC enrolls nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students both on its Los Angeles campus and through online learning.

The university's online master of public health offers concentrations in biostatistics and epidemiology, community health promotion, global health, geohealth, and health services and policy, along with a general concentration. The full degree requires 42 credits of coursework, and students can enroll in 1-2 courses at a time. Full-time students may graduate in two years, while part-time students can complete the program in 4-5 years. In addition, USC offers a fast-track program for students who would rather finish in one year.

Enrollees complete all coursework online, but they must also participate in a practicum. This allows each learner to work at a public health agency and gain supervised experience in the field.

USC holds accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. The public health program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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New York University

NYU operates as a large, private institution in Manhattan, New York. With over 50,000 students, NYU offers many undergraduate and graduate degrees, both online and on campus.

The university's 42-credit master of public health in sustainable development goals focuses on exploring solutions to complicated issues in disease control and prevention. Students can take three electives, choosing from options like perspectives on migrant health and human rights and a systems approach to food access.

Distance learners must also participate in two culminating experiences, including an applied practice experience seminar and an integrative learning experience seminar. Students who enroll full time can complete the program in two years, while those enrolled part time may take 2.5 years or more to graduate.

NYU holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and the School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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Samford University

Samford University operates as a private, Christian-affiliated institution in Birmingham, Alabama. Graduate students interested in public health can pursue a master's degree in the subject through distance learning.

The degree consists of 42 credits and lasts five semesters. Students who enroll in the summer term can finish their degrees within two years. The curriculum focuses on using epidemiologic methods to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, calculating statistics to interpret population health, and analyzing how environmental contaminants can harm humans. The program also includes an integrative learning experience, where learners can participate in internships with local public health departments.

Each applicant must supply three recommendation letters, in addition to an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. However, individuals with lower GPAs can still apply if they submit GRE or MAT scores. Samford is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Michigan State University

East Lansing-based MSU began as an agricultural college in 1855 but now offers many diverse undergraduate and graduate programs. Its online master of public health allows students to progress through the program without visiting campus.

Distance learners must complete 43 credits of coursework and choose from five concentrations: public health policy and administration; global and cultural public health; public health epidemiology, biostatistics, and surveillance; infectious diseases and public health; and public health nutrition. Full-time students can graduate in less than two years, and part-time learners often take up to 4.5 years to complete the program.

Online courses do not follow a self-paced format, and students can expect to dedicate about 12 hours each week to studying for one course. Additionally, master's candidates must fulfill two culminating experiences. This includes a professional practicum and a capstone course.

MSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Florida International University

FIU educates a student body of almost 60,000 learners. Many of those students enroll in distance learning programs, including the online master of public health.

The 45-credit program takes an interdisciplinary approach, with courses in health demography and environmental risk assessment. Students can also choose from electives, such as AIDS epidemiology and environmental disaster and human health. Each distance learner finishes their degree by completing a three-credit practicum and three-credit integrative seminar. The full degree lasts 21 months.

FIU runs an online branch with several resources for students. Success coaches help distance learners with navigating graduate school. Plus, online tutoring services guide students who need an extra hand with coursework, such as statistics needed for public health.

The online MPH program holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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University of South Florida

Tampa-based USF opened its doors in 1956 and has evolved to offer both on-campus and online degrees. One of those distance learning programs includes the master of public health.

Students can choose between several tracks for this degree, including global disaster management and humanitarian relief; epidemiology; public health practice; health, safety, and the environment; and infection control.

Degree requirements depend on each concentration, but distance learners typically must complete 42-48 credits of coursework. Students can generally finish the program in under three years. They must also fulfill different culminating experiences. Specializations may require a master's candidate to pass a comprehensive exam, complete a special project, participate in a field experience, or enroll in a practicum.

In addition to this public health program's accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the university also possesses regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley offers more than 350 undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a master of public health designed for working professionals.

Learners can choose concentrations in health policy and management, community health sciences, epidemiology and biostatistics, spatial data science, and global health. Curriculum requirements depend on the concentration, but students typically finish the program in 2.5 years. Berkeley holds agreements with public health sites all over the country and the world, where distance learners can complete their field experience.

Online courses include synchronous components, in which students need to log on at specific times for lectures or discussions. The program also includes two campus visits in June. The first visit lasts 5-6 days, while the second occurs the following summer and lasts 10 days as part of a seminar.

Berkeley holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission, while the master of public health degree is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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University of South Dakota

USD began in the 1880s, enrolling 69 students at its College of Arts and Sciences. The university now runs several schools and offers many degrees, including an online master of public health.

At USD, the curriculum consists of five core areas of public health: biostatistics, epidemiology, health services administration, social and behavioral sciences, and environmental health. Students learn about changes to hospital administration as healthcare facilities adjust to healthcare reform. The 42-credit curriculum also explores how to improve the health of South Dakota's local populations.

The program requires each learner to complete an applied public health practice experience over three semesters. Through this sequence, master's candidates gain community-based supervised experience and develop a final capstone project. USD holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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University of Missouri

As the state's flagship public university, Mizzou enrolls about 30,000 students in on-campus, hybrid, and online programs. The online MPH program at Mizzou allows students to choose between concentrations in health promotion and policy or veterinary public health.

The health promotion and policy specialization focuses on evaluating public policy and global health programs. The veterinary public health concentration explores topics like zoonotic disease prevention and food safety. A student pursuing both emphasis areas must complete a public health internship and a capstone project.

The degree requires 45 credits of coursework, and learners can enroll full or part time. While full-time students can graduate within two years, part-time students can take 3.5 years to complete their degrees. Although most distance learning allows students to study at their own convenience, Mizzou's online courses may include select synchronous sessions.

Mizzou is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The university's public health programs hold accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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East Carolina University

Based in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU offers public education to nearly 29,000 learners from all over the world. ECU offers a hybrid master's degree in public health, which includes online and on-campus courses.

Students complete this 45-credit program in 2-4 years, depending on whether they enroll full or part time. Incoming students can transfer up to 12 credits. All distance learners take core courses in rural and environmental health. They must also choose one of three concentrations: health policy, leadership, and administration; epidemiology; and community health and health behavior. The curriculum also requires a field placement, but students can bypass this requirement if they already possess significant work experience in the public health field.

ECU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its Department of Public Health is also accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University has educated students on its main campus in Stillwater since 1891. While it began as an agricultural college, OSU now offers several on-campus and online programs, including a master of public health degree.

This distance learning degree focuses on training professionals to improve the health of rural and underserved populations. In addition to foundational courses like biostatistics and ecological perspectives, students can also choose electives, such as nutrition and health disparities, ethics and aging, and health and sexuality.

The program consists of 42 credits. Each student can choose between a practicum or a thesis track. Learners who choose to participate in a practicum work through field placements at sites like United Way or the Oklahoma Department of Health. For the thesis track, master's candidates must carry out research and defend their dissertations in front of a committee.

OSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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University of South Carolina

Based in the state capital, the UofSC educates about 35,000 students. The university offers two online options for graduate students pursuing a master of public health: an MPH in health promotion, education, and behavior; and an MPH in health services policy and management.

The degrees consist of 45 credits, and working professionals who enroll in the programs can graduate in 24-26 months. The curriculum follows an online, asynchronous format, which allows enrollees to work at their own pace. Students can supplement their degrees with graduate certificates in aging, global health, and health communication.

Graduates can find jobs as health educators, consultants, health program managers. They also can work at nonprofit organizations and local health departments, focusing on health policy.

The program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and UofSC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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George Washington University

GW, a private research institution in the nation's capital, has educated students since 1821. Its Milken Institute School of Public Health offers a 45-credit master of public health that students can complete online.

Distance learners can pursue their degrees on a few different timelines. The one-year accelerated program allows students to enroll full time in 11.5 credits each term, while the 18-month program cuts those credits down to 7.5 per term. Students can also choose to customize their degrees on a slower scale, graduating in 2-5 years.

Master's candidates must choose between six concentrations: global health, health policy, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology and public health research methods, health communication, and program planning and evaluation. At the end of the program, each enrollee must also complete a hands-on practicum at one of 700 sites across the United States.

GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and its School of Public Health holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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University of Maryland - College Park

UMD operates as the state's flagship university and educates more than 41,000 students. Its master of public health program allows students to pursue their degrees in a hybrid format.

Students must complete 45 credits as part of the public health curriculum. While students can fulfill most of their coursework online, they must also travel to campus for six residency weekends throughout the program. Each distance learner must also participate in a four-credit internship toward the end of their degree. UMD designed the program for enrollees with full-time employment to graduate in 18 months. On top of foundational courses in health law, economics, and ethics, each learner must also complete a capstone project.

Its School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and the university itself holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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Mercer University

This private institution located in Macon, Georgia, began in 1833 as a male preparatory school with tuition at $35 per year. While Mercer no longer charges double-digit tuition rates, the school has expanded to offer coeducational degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The university's public health program focuses on teaching students how to improve health for minority, rural, and older populations. The full program comprises 42 credits, which distance learners can take over two years. Required courses include environmental health and health equity, among others. Students can also take electives like geographic information systems and maternal and child health. Finally, each master's candidate must complete an internship.

Students can also choose to pair their master of public health with several other programs. Mercer offers joint degree programs with a doctor of physical therapy, doctor of pharmacy, master of medical science, or doctor of psychology degree.

Mercer holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), while the public health program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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University of North Dakota

Grand Forks-based UND opened its doors in 1883, six years before the territory of North Dakota became a state. Today, the university enrolls about 13,500 students in numerous degrees, including the master of public health.

This 42-credit program allows students to choose from three concentrations: indigenous health, population health research and analytics, and health management and policy. While the indigenous health and health management concentrations operate in a completely online format, students pursuing the population health research specialization need to take some courses on campus.

To graduate, each learner must complete a practicum and an integrative learning experience. The practicum involves supervised and evaluated work, while the integrative learning experience requires each student to complete a project that synthesizes the program curriculum. Enrollees can also opt to participate in additional internships. Finally, a one-credit culminating seminar includes discussions and presentations concerning modern challenges in public health.

UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the school's MPH program holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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Saint Louis University

SLU operates as a private, Catholic-affiliated school in the Missouri city known as the Gateway to the West. At SLU, the College for Public Health and Social Justice offers a master's in public health.

While the degree offers eight different concentrations, the specialization in biosecurity and disaster preparedness is the only track with a fully online format. This emphasis area focuses on public health ecology, managing disasters, and exploring how to prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

The full degree comprises 45-52 credits. In addition to foundational and concentration courses, each enrollee must also complete an internship in the field and a capstone public health practice. Full-time students take six semesters of coursework, or two years if they enroll in summer semesters. Part-time learners may need three full years to finish their degrees.

The SLU College for Public Health and Social Justice is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), while SLU itself possesses Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation.

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University of Washington

As a public research institution, UW educates a large student body of about 54,000 learners. The university offers an executive master in public health degree to prepare students for leadership positions within the field.

This 63-credit degree follows a blended format, in which learners complete online and on-campus components. The program follows a two-year, seven-quarter schedule. Courses explore vital topics related to public health, like social determinants of population health, health promotion, and behavior change communication. The curriculum also requires a three-credit practicum and nine credits of a capstone project or thesis. The practicum allows students to gain work experience, while the capstone project and thesis involve researching potential solutions to public health problems.

UW holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Its School of Public Health also is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

As the state's flagship higher education institution, UMN offers several master's degrees in public health. Online and hybrid options include the maternal and child health MPH, the executive MPH in health practice, and the executive public health administration and policy master's.

Students can complete the maternal and child health MPH entirely online. The program consists of 48 credits of coursework, or 42 credits for those with a graduate degree and at least three years of experience.

For the executive public health administration and policy master's degree, distance learners can finish most of their coursework online. However, they must complete seven of the program's 42 credits on campus. These five campus visits last 3-4 days. UMN designed the degree for working professionals, allowing students to graduate in 25 months.

Finally, the executive MPH in public health practice operates in a hybrid format, with master's students taking both online and on-campus courses. Professionals can enroll full or part time in this program, and most enrollees graduate in about 3.5 years.

The university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the public health program holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

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Emory University

Emory University operates as a private research university in Atlanta, Georgia. The university's Rollins School of Public Health offers a hybrid master of public health with flexible options for graduate students.

The program allows learners to choose between three different tracks: applied public health informatics, prevention science, and applied epidemiology. Each concentration requires 42 credits of coursework. Students complete the majority of their studies online, but they must attend two on-campus sessions each semester. The Rollins School runs these sessions like conferences, which generally last three days.

Master's candidates must complete an applied practice experience. This requires each enrollee to fulfill 200 hours of supervised work experience at two different public health agencies, along with a practicum or 200-400 hours of additional work experience.

The public health program holds accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Additionally, Emory possesses regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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Applying to an Online MPH Program

Each school selects their own admission requirements for public health master's programs. Generally speaking, prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree. They must typically apply by submitting their undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Schools do not always require applicants to hold their degree in public health or a related field, but they usually set minimum GPA requirements ranging from 2.5-3.2. Many, but not all, schools require applicants to send in GRE or GMAT scores. Some programs require 1-2 years of work experience within the public health or healthcare field.

Schools may also impose requirements based on an applicant's chosen specialization. Biostatistics students, for example, may need to show a passing grade in calculus on their undergraduate transcript to demonstrate their readiness for the graduate-level coursework.

Frequently Asked Questions

What public health specializations are available for master's degrees?

MPH students can often choose a concentration to specialize their expertise in a certain area. Common specializations include epidemiology, biostatistics, health services administration, disaster management and emergency preparedness, environmental health science, health policy, global health, and community health education.

What is accreditation, and why is it important?

Through the accreditation system, colleges and academic programs receive evaluations intended to ensure the quality of their degrees. Accredited programs demonstrate that students have received a valuable education, giving students and their employers confidence in their degrees. Public health students should look for programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Is a master's in public health a good degree?

A well-respected degree within the field of public health, an MPH gives access to interesting, well-paid career options. For those considering a career in the public health field, whether through research, education, or advocacy, an MPH is a great choice.

What can I do with a MPH degree?

MPH graduates go into many different fields. Public health professionals might become epidemiologists and researchers, studying how diseases and other ailments spread through societies. Others might devote their careers to public health education, or they could become faculty members at colleges. MPH holders might prefer to shape policies and laws relating to public health, becoming policy advisors or congressional staffers.