If you’ve been considering earning your online master’s in public health from an Alabama institution, now is a great time to start! While many southern states suffer from high levels of obesity, tobacco use, and poor nutrition, the Alabama Department of Public Health has attacked these issues head-on through the development of numerous initiatives and outreach programs. Encompassing more than just disease prevention, these programs have driven demand for qualified individuals to fill public health roles across the state.

For health educators alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities in Alabama will grow 19% by 2024 — more than double the national average.

As Alabama continues to expand current programs and develop new public health proposals, colleges and universities have responded with cutting-edge research facilities and world-class graduate programs to meet this growing need.

In recent years, public health programs in Alabama have sought to address issues affecting certain demographics, in addition to state residents as a whole. Many efforts have centered upon advocacy for underserved populations, such as teens in low-income and urban environments, the disabled, and individuals living in rural areas. Other programs, such as the Healthy Wellness Initiative, seek to counter the state’s comparatively high rate of obesity by encouraging healthy eating habits and increased physical activity. Most recently, the Alabama Department of Public Health launched “Start Talking Alabama,” an HIV prevention campaign aimed at young men of color. Faced with the ever-changing needs of a diverse population, public health organizations in Alabama must adapt accordingly. This commitment to innovation strongly compels these organizations to hire skilled public health officials from diverse backgrounds and a range of specialized areas.

Internships and fellowships alike offer excellent opportunities to gain hands-on experience in public health. While both allow students to develop valuable knowledge and skills in the workplace, they aren’t quite the same. Internships are intended to provide an introduction to the working environment, and vary in length and duties assigned. Fellowships allow postsecondary students to complete their education through experiential learning, and unlike internships, are often paid. You may be interested in one of the following:

Child and Adolescent Health and Injury Prevention Undergraduate Internship

Offered through the University of Alabama at Birmingham, this paid research internship is open to undergraduates majoring in public health and related fields who intend to enter a graduate program.

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Synergy Enterprises Prevention Fellowship

Working alongside assigned mentors, participants will design and implement outreach programs and materials used to address the substance abuse and mental health issues encountered in tribal communities.

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Coverdell Fellowship

Available to undergraduate Peace Corps members residing in Alabama, this fellowship program prepares students to work in and develop health initiatives for underserved communities in the South.

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UAB Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Obesity Research

This fellowship is intended for students pursuing independent research careers with a focus on obesity. Fellows receive mentoring, training, and opportunities to perform research in clinical settings.

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ADPH Internships

The Alabama Department of Public Health offers numerous internships in various departments and institutions throughout the state. Placement varies according to departmental need and the intern’s area of study.

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Any public health official’s salary will be influenced by a few different factors, including professional experience, level of education attained, and employer policies. Geographical location can also strongly impact earnings. The demand for public health workers may be higher in some states and cities than in others, and urban employers generally offer higher wages as a result. The table below demonstrates how Alabama wages and employment rates compare to the national average. Keep in mind that the cost of living is relatively low in Alabama. If you’ve just earned an MPH, Alabama might be the place to start your career.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Alabama 340 $26.36 $54,815
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Alabama

Graduates from online MPH programs in Alabama seek employment in a variety of settings, but many find that large organizations and companies are more likely to hire candidates new to the field. The employers listed below hire the most public health officials in the state.

Employers Number of Employees
University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital 8,184
Huntsville Hospital 6,440
Alabama Department of Public Health 4,000

Public Health Research Centers in Alabama

Some students enter online MPH programs in Alabama with the goal of starting a career in public health research. If you’re interested taking a similar path, it doesn’t hurt to explore your options ahead of time. Alabama is home to several research centers that you may wish to investigate, including:

  • The Institute for Rural Health Research: This University of Alabama center is dedicated to improving the accessibility and quality of medical services in rural communities, through a combination of scientific research and public advocacy.
  • Alabama Research Institute on Aging: Collaborating across disciplines to tackle complex public health issues relating to the elderly, ARIA researchers come from numerous fields, including medicine, social science, psychology, and mathematics.
  • Center for the Study of Community Health: Located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, this center focuses on the health issues affecting nearby low-income communities. Primary research projects include HIV prevention methods among young adults.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Alabama

After earning their master’s in public health online, Alabama graduates often look to professional organizations for employment assistance, networking opportunities, and additional certifications. With members that include public health professionals, students, and recent graduates, these organizations offer resources ranging from annual conferences to members-only webinars and exclusive job boards. They can also be a great way to build statewide connections in the public health sector. Here are just a few professional organizations you might find useful:

  • Alabama Rural Health Association: Organization members, who include both professionals and students, have access to a large database of webinars and other resources. The group also hosts an annual conference for those working and studying in the field.
  • Alabama Public Health Association, Inc.: This advocacy group seeks to realize goals in public health and related fields through professional networking and community engagement. Members may attend board meetings and the organization’s annual conference.
  • Medical Association of the State of Alabama: One of the largest organizations of its kind in the state, this group offers its members a range of diverse benefits, including CME and other certification programs, seminars, and even personal health insurance.

A CPH is not required in Alabama, but it’s a credential that can help you stand out among candidates.

For prospective public health officials across the country, earning a Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential is crucial to landing the right position. While a CPH is not strictly required for officials in Alabama, it’s a credential that can help you stand out among candidates and show employers you’re serious about the field. Offered online, the CPH exam covers core public health concepts as well as cross-disciplinary topics.

Additionally, there are many other optional certifications that look great on a resume and help set applicants apart. Continuing education (CE) programs are short, intensive courses that focus on one aspect of public health or a related field. Typically offered through professional organizations, employers, and the Alabama Department of Health, many CE programs are self-paced, and most can be completed online. Nearly all CE courses confer educational credit, and many offer options for certification.

Choosing a program from an accredited school is more important than you might realize. Accredited institutions are those examined by quality control groups known as accrediting bodies, and are found to uphold the highest academic and ethical standards. The Alabama Commission on Higher Education recognizes accrediting bodies approved by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as legitimate. Depending on the organization that assesses a school, it may be regionally or nationally accredited. Does it matter which kind you choose?

Most nationally accredited institutions are for-profit vocational or training schools, while regionally accredited colleges are generally public, nonprofit schools, such as state universities. Credits earned at regionally accredited institutions transfer easily to other schools, while many colleges and universities won’t accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools. If you may wish to transfer schools or pursue a PhD program in the future, accreditation can directly impact your options.

Augusta University

The roots of UAB and its academic medical center began in 1859 with the founding of the Medical College of Alabama. In 1969, UAB became one of three independent campuses in the University of Alabama system. Today, with an enrollment of 19,535, UAB operates as a comprehensive urban, research university with a nationally-ranked medical school.

UAB offers seven online MPH programs in Alabama, each track focused on one or more of the field’s core disciplines: industrial hygiene, environmental health/toxicology, healthcare organization and policy, maternal and child health policy, epidemiology, health behavior, and occupational health and safety. Delivered entirely online and requiring 43-45 credits total, full-time students can complete the MPH program in 16 months. For example, the curriculum for the epidemiology track includes 21 hours in core coursework, nine hours in concentration courses, nine hours for electives, and three hours for the internship requirement. While an epidemiology student studies disease and prevention, the health-behavior student explores social, behavioral, and cultural factors impacting health disparities. Core courses focus on foundational public health knowledge and developing the practice-based skills needed to examine and address public health challenges.

MPH candidates must meet the admissions requirements of UAB’s School of Public Health, which includes evidence of an aptitude for biological sciences and math. Applications should include school transcripts, GRE test scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. The minimum GRE scores are 147 verbal and 150 quantitative. UAB admits students three times per academic year in the spring, summer, and fall.

United Daughters of the Confederacy Graduate Scholarship

The United Daughters of the Confederacy sponsor multiple scholarships for graduate students, including unrestricted awards and those intended for women, students majoring in certain fields, and students enrolled at particular institutions.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: June 15
Eligibility Requirements: Must be an Alabama resident descended from Confederate military personnel, and maintain a 3.0 GPA or better. Applicants must present proof of lineage, as well as a letter of endorsement from their institution.

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NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program

This scholarship is awarded to Alabama graduate students in select health, social science, and educational fields who intend to pursue careers working directly with children.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: February 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be U.S. citizens enrolled in a part- or full-time graduate program.

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University of Alabama-Birmingham Public Health Scholarships

The UAB School of Public Health offers multiple need- and merit-based scholarship opportunities for returning graduate students, including those pursuing careers in epidemiology, industrial hygiene, and biostatistics.

Amount Offered: Varies according to individual award
Scholarship Deadline: February 1
Eligibility Requirements: Most require at least a 3.0 GPA, although other criteria may differ considerably between scholarships.

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Baptist Foundation of Alabama Scholarships

The Baptist Foundation of Alabama annually awards multiple scholarships to eligible, full-time graduate students from any academic discipline or field. Award amounts vary from year to year.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Along with at least a 2.0 GPA and proof of Alabama residency, applicants must provide proof of membership in the Southern Baptist Church.

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Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship

This full-ride scholarship is extended to the children, stepchildren, and spouses of disabled veterans who are enrolled or intend to enroll at a state-supported Alabama institution of higher learning.

Amount Offered: $1,000 per semester
Scholarship Deadline: Applications accepted on a rolling basis
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be the dependent child, spouse, or unremarried widow of a qualified veteran who is rated 40% or more due to service-related disabilities. For other eligibility criteria, click the link above.

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Junior League of Birmingham Academic Scholarship

This women’s volunteer organization offers four scholarships annually to female graduate students residing in select Alabama counties. Full- or part-time students may apply.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: Open to female students residing in Birmingham, Shelby, or Jefferson counties enrolled in an accredited institution.

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Alabama Environmental Health Inc. Scholarship

Awarded to individuals pursuing studies in the field of environmental health, this scholarship may also be granted to students working at or alongside the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 30
Eligibility Requirements: Open to Alabama students who demonstrate exceptional commitment to improving communities through the study of environmental or public health.

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Redstone Federal Credit Union Scholarships

This Alabama credit union awards 14 scholarships each year to members in good standing who are pursuing degrees at one of numerous partner colleges and universities.

Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 2
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a Redstone Federal Credit Union member attending an accredited institution, with priority given to students enrolled at partner schools.

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