California has a low prevalence of smoking and low rates of infant mortality and preventable hospitalizations. However, residents in California experience high levels of air pollution, a high incidence of pertussis, and a sizeable disparity in health status based on their level of education. To improve health outcomes, multiple colleges and universities in California offer postsecondary degrees in the field of public health, which can be earned online and on campus. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 25.6% increase in the number of health technologist and technician jobs in California between 2014 and 2024. This is just one of many positions in the field of public health that is projected to add jobs in the coming years.

BLS projects a 25.6% increase in the number of health technologist and technician jobs in California between 2014 and 2024.

Students interested in earning degrees that prepare them to enter this growing field should consider pursuing a master’s in public health online in California.

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Public Health Initiatives in California

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) hopes to make California the healthiest state in the country by 2022. Toward this end, the CDPH operates numerous programs to promote public health. Champions for Change is a network of nutrition and obesity-prevention programs that works in conjunction with the WIC (a nutrition program for women, infants, and children) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). There are also many resources available for pregnancy and reproductive health needs, such as prenatal screening, perinatal substance abuse screening, a prevention of substance-exposed pregnancies collaborative, and the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, which promotes healthy pregnancies for women with diabetes. Other programming includes services for emergency preparedness, vaccinations, cannabis safety, disease and injury control, gambling addiction support, genetic disease screening, communicable disease control, refugee health, and a healthcare-associated infections program. Recent efforts have also focused on public health and safety with respect to wildfires in California.

Public Health Internships & Fellowships in California

Internships and fellowships typically involve brief work commitments where individuals gain experience in their field. However, fellowships are often restricted to graduate or postgraduate students, while internships are usually available to undergraduate students. Internships may be paid or unpaid, while fellowships are usually paid. Additionally, fellows are generally considered senior to interns. The following internships and fellowships are available to students in online MPH programs in California.

California Epidemiologic Investigation Service Fellowship

Offered by the California Department of Public Health, this fellowship places epidemiologists who have recently graduated from master’s programs into local or state health departments to gain hands-on experience for one to two years. Applicants must complete an application form and submit a statement of purpose and a curriculum vitae.
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FUSE Fellowship

The FUSE fellowship is offered by the California Healthcare Foundation. FUSE fellows enter executive levels of local government to develop and implement programs to address community needs. Applicants must have at least 15 years of experience in the field, ideally in the private sector.
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Health Career Connection Internship

This internship is provided by Health Career Connection, which is a nonprofit organization that places underrepresented or disadvantaged college students or recent graduates as paid interns in hospitals, healthcare centers, and government agencies.
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P.D. Soros Fellowship

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans is available to immigrants or children of immigrants attending graduate school in the U.S. Fellows must attend a conference where they can meet and network with their peers. Awards are merit-based and fellows must remain in good academic standing throughout their two years of active fellowship.
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SAMHSA/CSAP Prevention Fellowship

This fellowship is offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Fellows work in state agencies and receive training in behavioral health.
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Public Health Careers in California

Public health officials work in many different fields and specialties across California. The industry and position held by a public health professional affects their salary. A worker’s level of education and credentials can also impact their income. As public health workers gain more experience, they can expect to see an accompanying increase in their wages. Public health officials employed by private or public employers may also be compensated differently. Finally, a worker’s geographic location likely impacts their salary; the cost of living varies widely throughout California.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
United States63,260$32.60$67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in California

Graduates from online MPH programs in California have many career options available to them upon graduation. Applying to one of the largest public health employers in the state can increase their chances of securing a position in their field of choice. The following table lists the top three employers for public health in the state of California.

EmployersNumber of Employees
UCLA Health System35,543
Cedar-Sinai Medical Center 11,246
Scripps Clinic10,000

Public Health Research Centers in California

Students in online MPH programs in California may opt to pursue research-oriented careers in the field of public health. These students should be aware of the prominent research centers located in the state. Students earning their MPH in California may want to tailor their studies to increase their chances of finding employment at these institutions.

  • Berkeley School of Public Health: The Berkeley School of Public Health conducts research in the field of public health in areas that can be easily translated into action that directly benefits society.
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research: The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research hosts the California Health Interview Survey and is affiliated with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. This center focuses on research areas that include healthcare reform, health economics, health insurance, health disparities, and chronic disease.
  • San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health: Four GSPH-affiliated research centers in the San Diego area conduct community-based clinical research and support the education and training of public health students and professionals.

Public Health Professional Organizations in California

Earning a master’s in public health online in California is an excellent step toward a fulfilling and lucrative career in the public health field. Membership in a professional organization may also net valuable benefits. These institutions endeavor to promote the public health industry and the success of their members. Organizations may offer networking opportunities, continuing education programs, annual conferences, career services, and job boards. The following is a selection of professional organizations to which public health workers in California can apply as well as a brief description of their member benefits.

  • American Public Health Association: The APHA works to influence public policy, support the field of public health, and promote good health for all people. Members gain access to educational and training materials, networking opportunities, and continuing education seminars.
  • Association of Public Health Laboratories: The APHL represents state and local governmental health laboratories and facilitates their role in promoting public health and emergency response. APHL members have access to online resources and job postings, conferences, and collaboration tools.
  • California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators: The CAADE is involved in creating accreditation standards for the addiction studies programs of higher learning institutions and the licensure standards for addiction services professionals. It promotes public awareness and contributes to policy changes. Members benefit from continuing education and professional development opportunities.
  • California Hospice and Palliative Care Association: The CHPCA gives members technical and administrative support, patient referrals, discounts on educational materials, and legislative advocacy and representation. Members may also take advantage of an annual conference and continuing education credits.

Public Health Certifications and Licenses in California

Many public health positions in California require a license or certification.

Many public health positions in California require a license or certification. These requirements ensure that professionals in the healthcare field have the proper education and training and adhere to health and safety codes. Some jobs that require licensure or certification include home health aides, certified hemodialysis technicians, nursing home administrators, doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, marriage and family therapists, and physical therapists.

Patients and the general public should seek out healthcare practitioners who hold a license and/or certificate to obtain peace of mind and ensure that they are receiving high-
quality medical care. For the practitioners themselves, earning a license or certificate can lead to advancement within their field and a higher salary. These designations also signify to an employer that the license or certificate holder has participated in specific forms of education and training, accumulating the experience that qualifies them to hold more senior positions in an organization.

Accreditation for Online Public Health Master’s Programs in California

Accreditation means that a school or program has met certain educational standards and passed inspection by an approved agency. There are two types of accreditation: national and regional. National accreditation agencies typically work with trade and vocational schools and may utilize less rigorous standards than regional accreditation bodies. Employers often look for regional accreditation when evaluating a prospective employee’s education. Additionally, professional licensure in many fields lists a degree from an accredited institution among the requirements. Students should also favor regional accreditation status when choosing a college or university to avoid potential difficulties when transferring credits or applying for jobs.

Students who wish to attend a regionally-accredited online college in California should verify that their school has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. Public health majors should also look for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health.

Directory of Online Master’s in Public Health Programs in California

California State University – Northridge

Based in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, CSUN’s Department Of Health Sciences offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, including one of the best online MPH programs in California.

Most students complete the 41-credit online master’s of public health in two years. The synchronous program follows a cohort model and requires no campus visits. Cohorts meet online one evening per week. Because cohorts progress through the program together, CSUN never cancels courses for lack of enrollment. A dedicated distance learning staff supports online students throughout the program.

The curriculum includes courses such as current issues in health education, environmental health, and curriculum development in health education. Students take a comprehensive exam and complete a 300-hour, supervised, field-training experience. During their field training, students work in a local nonprofit, hospital, or health organization.

New cohorts begin the program each fall. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better do not have to submit GRE scores. CSUN holds online information sessions for prospective students. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency.

Loma Linda University

LLU is a health sciences university affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The university incorporates cutting-edge research into its GIS-related programs and offers the master’s of public health in lifestyle management entirely online.

Students take hands-on courses in tobacco cessation, nutrition and exercise counseling, and techniques to change health-related behaviors. The curriculum also covers topics such as stress management, the health benefits of vegetarian eating, and motivational interviewing. Students practice interventions and proven behavioral techniques. The program culminates in a public health practicum, which students complete at a local site. MPH students develop a professional portfolio by compiling a CV, creating a professional social media presence, earning membership in a professional organization, or writing for the school’s public health blog.

LLU delivers online coursework asynchronously to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. The curriculum comprises 58 quarter credits. Most students graduate in seven quarters, or two years. Part-time students typically graduate in three years.

Applicants must have earned a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and must have completed undergraduate coursework in anatomy and physiology. Applicants must submit GRE or MCAT scores. All online students pay the same per-semester tuition rate.

San Jose State University

SJSU was the first public university in California and is the flagship institution for the California State University system. Located in Silicon Valley, the university seeks diversity among its students, faculty, and practices. The university offers one of the strongest public health programs in California. The master’s of public health is available completely online. SJSU awards a scholarship for MPH students who have done outstanding work in the promotion of LGBT equality or HIV prevention.

Most students complete the 42-unit program in two years. SJSU delivers online coursework in a synchronous format, using state-of-the-art video conferencing software that features two-way audio, desktop and app sharing, a live whiteboard, and virtual breakout rooms for small group discussions. Students attend a four to five-day residency on campus each year.

Courses last five to seven weeks. The curriculum includes a 22-unit public health core, which includes courses in epidemiology and environmental health, and a 16-unit health education core, which requires courses in health promotion and data analysis. The program culminates in a four-unit practicum and a comprehensive exam.

SJSU’s online MPH program follows a cohort model and accepts new students for the fall term. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credits and must demonstrate strong writing and quantitative skills.

University of California – Berkeley

The flagship university of the University of California system, Berkeley offers one of the most respected online MPH programs in California. Because Berkeley’s school of public health is not housed in a hospital, students earning the online master’s of public health can pursue interdisciplinary opportunities in areas such as data science and social work.

Berkeley’s public health degree consists of 42 semester units. The program is designed for public health professionals who want to advance their careers, and all coursework is completed on a part-time basis. Learners typically graduate within 27 months. Students visit the Bay Area campus for two weeklong intensives.

Students can concentrate in global health or health policy and management. Both concentrations require students to complete coursework in core public health areas such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental health. The program culminates in a practicum, which students complete at a local organization.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their final two years of undergraduate coursework. Applicants must have completed a math or statistics course, must demonstrate science or social science aptitude, and must submit GRE scores. Berkeley accepts up to four transfer units earned with at least a 3.3 GPA. Though Berkeley is a state university, all online students pay the same base tuition rate. The online MPH program is not available to Maryland residents.

University of San Francisco

USF is a Jesuit Catholic university located near the Golden Gate Bridge. The university offers an online master’s of public health with a liberal arts foundation. Students in the online MPH program take coursework in areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health. USF’s public health degree is one of the most diverse online MPH programs in California. Optional areas of study include food agriculture and nutrition, sexual health, mental health, and health economics.

Online MPH students complete a generalist concentration that emphasizes practical skills and prepares students for doctoral studies. Students complete 45 credits over six semesters. The program culminates in a public health capstone course and a 300-hour field internship, which students can complete in the Bay Area, locally, or abroad. USF delivers online coursework asynchronously. Graduates can pursue positions such as community health director, epidemiologist, and municipal health educator.

USF evaluates applications holistically; however, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The MPH program accepts students for the fall term. Applicants must submit unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, and a resume. The program does not require course prerequisites or GRE scores. As a private university, USF charges all students the same base tuition and offers a variety of scholarship opportunities.

University of Southern California

USC was California’s first private research university and has produced business and technology leaders who have founded Los Angeles companies. USC’s Keck School of Medicine, founded in 1885, was the first medical school in the region, and today, offers one of the best online MPH programs in California.

The online MPH program includes five specialization options: biostatistics and epidemiology, health education and promotion, global health leadership, geohealth, and health services and policy. Each specialization requires about 47 units and includes a 300-hour practicum, which students complete locally. While finding a practicum site, students can take advantage of USC’s relationships with more than 200 locations. Students often choose to complete practicum experiences in developing countries, such as Samoa, Mongolia, and Panama.

Students complete 20 units in their chosen track. Coursework covers topics such as program design and evaluation, remote sensing for GIS, and data analysis. Core coursework includes classes in foundational areas such as public health policy. Students can complete the accelerated program within one year.

The online program requires no campus visits. However, students have a variety of travel opportunities; the program’s faculty members have led trips to Uganda, Costa Rica, Geneva, and Panama. Applicants must submit GRE scores and must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.

Scholarships for Public Health Master’s Degrees in California

CANFIT Scholarship

CANFIT offers scholarships to minority students in California who demonstrate financial and are pursuing careers that promote the nutrition and fitness of adolescents.

Amount Offered: Amount varies
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited university in California in an approved master’s or doctoral graduate program in nutrition, public health, or physical education. Applicants must also be of African-American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, or Latino/Hispanic descent.

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Lynn Adamson Memorial Scholarship

This is a merit-based award given to a female graduate student pursuing a health-related career. The winner also receives a one-year complimentary membership to Women Health Care Executives.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: TBD
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at a university in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship

The Chicana/Latina Foundation awards scholarships to help Chicana/Latina students complete their education.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a woman of Chicana/Latina heritage enrolled in or accepted to an accredited graduate studies program in one of several counties in Northern California. Students must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

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Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

This scholarship provides aid to graduate students in healthcare management programs to help offset tuition costs, student loans, and other expenses.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in the final year of a healthcare management graduate program and demonstrate financial need.

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Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program

This is a need-based grant program awarded to spouses and dependent children of law enforcement and firefighting personnel who have been killed or totally disabled in the line of duty.

Amount Offered: $100-$12,192 for up to four years
Scholarship Deadline: Applications accepted throughout the academic year
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be the spouse or dependent child of a law enforcement officer or firefighter in California who was killed or totally disabled in the line of duty.

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Nisaburo Aibara Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is sponsored by the Japanese American Citizens League and provides financial aid to students of Japanese descent.

Amount Offered: $1,000 – $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a graduate student and a member of the Japanese American Citizens League.

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Western Regional Graduate Program

The WRGP helps students in master’s, graduate certificate, and PhD programs attend member schools in other states and pay in-state tuition.

Amount Offered: Amount varies
Scholarship Deadline: N/A
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must live in one of the 16 states that participate in the program. Students must meet all eligibility requirements for the school to which they are applying and must specify on their applications that they are WRGP applicants.

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JVS Scholarship Program

The JVS scholarship program awards financial support to qualifying Jewish students living in Los Angeles who demonstrate financial need.

Amount Offered: $500 – $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must live in one of the 16 states that participate in the program. Students must meet all eligibility requirements for the school to which they are applying and must specify on their applications that they are WRGP applicants.

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Sally Casanova Scholarship

The Sally Casanova scholarship was created to encourage economically and educationally disadvantaged students at California State University to pursue doctorate-level education at a school in the University of California system.

Amount Offered: $3,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 24
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a junior, senior, or graduate student at any California State University campus in a degree-seeking program and planning to pursue doctoral studies.

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Allied Healthcare Scholarship

This scholarship is sponsored by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to incentivize healthcare professionals to work in underserved communities in California.

Amount Offered: Up to $8,000
Scholarship Deadline: Application period not yet open
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled or accepted into one of several specified healthcare degree programs, have a GPA of 2.5 or greater, and be willing to work in an underserved area for 12 months at a qualified facility in California.

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Dr. James L. Hutchinson and Evelyn Ribbs Hutchinson Medical School Scholarship

This scholarship was established to assist students with demonstrated financial need who are enrolled in or planning to enroll in medical school.

Amount Offered: Up to $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 9
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be graduates of high school in either San Mateo County or Santa Clara County in California. Students must be a college senior and accepted to medical school or enrolled full-time in an accredited medical school program. Applicants must also submit evidence of financial need.

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