Florida is the third-most populous state in the U.S. and has the nation’s highest percentage of residents over the age of 65. The state’s location and climate, as well as the constant influx of tourists from around the world, also contribute to its unique public health needs. As a result, the number of workers in the public health sector is expected to increase over the next several years. Health educator positions in Florida, for example, are expected to grow by more than 24% in Florida.

Health educator positions in Florida, for example, are expected to grow by more than 24% in Florida

A variety of Florida schools offer master’s of public health (MPH) degree programs to care for the state’s aging population. As you research online MPH programs in Florida, know that this degree qualifies you for many careers in many different aspects of public health. Earning your online MPH in Florida can also help you make professional connections in the state to further launch your career upon graduation.

For graduates with an MPH, Florida holds numerous opportunities. The size and diversity of Florida’s population are reflected in the state’s top public health priorities, as is the state’s tropical climate. Florida’s State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) is updated every few years to address the most pressing public health issues, including prevention and control of infectious disease, chronic disease prevention (including efforts to help residents maintain a healthy weight), community partnerships to reach diverse population groups, improving access to care and maintenance of the state’s healthcare infrastructure.

Dedicated initiatives also target specific public health issues, such as Zika-Free Florida, which fights the spread of this serious mosquito-borne illness, efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, the Refugee Health Program, the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program, various programs to assist people with disabilities, and emergency preparedness, which prepares for the public health needs that can arise during and after natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Public health programs in Florida also include seasonal initiatives like Flu-Free Florida or an emphasis on food safety during the holiday season.

Internships and fellowships provide students with firsthand experience in a specific field, working with experienced professionals who can share their knowledge and observe the student’s progress. However, there are some notable differences. Internships may be either paid or unpaid and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, depending on the program, while giving students exposure to hands-on work in a professional environment. Fellowships, conversely, last anywhere from a few months to three years, and while they also provide hands-on experience, they are usually intensive, paid programs which can prepare a student for future leadership roles in their field.

Here are some examples of internships and fellowships available to students enrolled in online MPH programs in Florida. Keep in mind that these are hands-on programs that must be completed in-person, even if all other coursework is taken online.

FIU Internship Program in Dietetics

Based at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, this internship lasts two semesters and prepares graduates to become registered dietitians or nutritionists who can encourage healthy eating and lifestyle choices. To apply, the student must have completed a didactic program in dietetics that is approved or accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

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The Allan Rosenfield Internship and Fellowship Program at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research

This program provides full-time, paid internships and fellowships based in Washington, D.C. Students are trained in policy writing, research, and advocacy, with the goal of becoming effective leaders in public health. Undergraduate students may apply for three month internships, while graduate and post-graduate students may apply for six-month fellowships.

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Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service (FL EIS)

Based in Tallahassee at the Florida Department of Health, FL EIS is a fellowship for graduate students studying epidemiology. Fellows spend two years assigned to a county health department, and receive hands-on training in public health issue response. Applicants must have completed at least one course in epidemiology and one in biostatistics while earning a relevant master’s or doctoral degree, such as an MPH.

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APHL-CDC Infectious Diseases Laboratory Fellowship

The Association of Public Health Laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control sponsor this one-year paid fellowship for recent master’s degree recipients in sciences, such as public health. Fellows are placed in local or state public health labs where they are supervised by an experienced mentor as they train in laboratory methods for infectious disease testing, surveillance, and control measures.

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Applied Public Health Informatics Fellowship (APHIF)

The APHIF prepares the fellow for their career in public health informatics by providing one year of on-the-job training with experienced mentors at a state or local health agency. Applicants must be graduates with a master’s or doctoral degree in public health.

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A public health official’s salary depends upon their level of experience, professional credentials, where they live and work, and the nature of their job. The table below shows data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and compares the total number of people employed as epidemiologists and health educators alongside their mean wages in the state of Florida and the U.S. as a whole. Florida employs 5.2% of the nation’s total number of epidemiologists and health educators, and they earn a mean wage that is approximately 4% below the national average.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Florida 3,290 $31.42 $65,345
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Florida

As you search for an MPH career Florida, you should begin by looking at the state’s largest employers, as they are likely to have the most public health jobs available. State and local departments of health are an excellent source, as are large hospitals.

Employers Number of Employees
Florida Hospital 33,000+
Florida Department of Health 17,000+
Jackson Health System 12,000+

Public Health Research Centers in Florida

A large percentage of public health careers focus on research, policy-making, and education. Research centers offer valuable opportunities to gain real-world work experience, and though they vary in size, many are affiliated with colleges or universities. Gaining that work experience makes it easier for students to get jobs after graduating from online MPH programs in Florida.

  • Florida Institute for Health Innovation (FIHI): A non-profit, non-governmental organization located in West Palm Beach, FIHI researches how public health policy affects the community, identifies challenges to community health, and researches new methods for improving public health.
  • University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health Research Centers and Institutes: USF is located in Tampa and is home to a group of research centers. They focus on topics such as the health of mothers, infants, and young children; global health and infectious diseases; occupational health; statewide public health information collection and distribution; and more.
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Research Centers: The graduate programs in public health based at the Miller School of Medicine include more than 20 research centers. They conduct research into a variety of areas, such as drug abuse and treatment, health education outreach to the Hispanic community, epidemiology of ocular diseases, how humans and oceans affect each other in tropical and subtropical climates, and more.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Florida

Professional organizations in public health offer numerous benefits to current students and recent graduates of online MPH programs in Florida, and they are well worth their membership fees. Some offer career services or job boards, and may hold meetings in your area that provide valuable networking opportunities that can assist in the job search. They also offer continuing education programs that allow you to stay current in your field and earn CE credit to maintain any certifications you hold. Annual conferences are another excellent benefit of these organizations.

  • Florida Public Health Association (FPHA): The FPHA was established in 1931 and supports Florida’s public health professionals and students through advocacy, networking, and professional development opportunities. It includes a student interest group, with chapters at a number of Florida universities. The FPHA holds an annual conference in addition to numerous local meetups and continuing education programs.
  • American Public Health Association (APHA): The APHA is a national organization strengthening the public health profession and promoting scientific health policy while providing local and national networking and education opportunities for its membership. A number of member sections are focused on specific public health topics, so members with shared interests can network and collaborate on policy papers and scientific programs. The student assembly connects public health students and young professionals as well.
  • Florida Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE): SOPHE is an independent, national organization focused on health educators. It provides educational opportunities, resources, and professional networking through its regional chapters. The Florida chapter offers student memberships and resources, as well as standard professional memberships.

Dietitians, nutritionists, and nutrition counselors practicing in Florida must all be licensed by the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council.

Many public health careers, such as health educators, do not require licenses or certifications in Florida. Medical practitioners, however, must have proper licensure whether they work in public health or not. Dietitians, nutritionists, and nutrition counselors practicing in Florida must all be licensed by the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council. Although certification is not required for many positions, it still can be a distinct professional advantage in the job market. For example, you can earn a certification in public health (CPH) by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. Earning this certification shows potential employers that your education and experience allow you to meet a recognized national standard in public health. Some schools offer graduate certificates for specialized public health topics online, including community health management, environmental public health, epidemiology, infection control, biostatistics, food safety and more. Graduate certificates like these can be a valuable addendum to your master’s degree.

Accreditation is crucial for any program or institute of higher education. When a school or program is accredited, it has successfully passed an evaluation of its curriculum, and indicates to your prospective employers and others that you received a quality education. Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type; six agencies oversee six regions of states throughout the country, and usually accredit nonprofit private and public institutions. The regional body overseeing Florida schools is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). National accreditation is the less prestigious variety, and is generally granted to for-profit institutions and trade schools.

Certain fields, including public health, have accreditation bodies which oversee specific programs in that subject. When choosing online MPH programs in Florida, be sure that any program you consider is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). CEPH handles accreditation for schools of public health and standalone baccalaureate programs in Florida and throughout the United States. CEPH is a private, nonprofit organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA). A program accredited by CEPH is recognized as meeting the established standard for education in public health. This programmatic accreditation often is applied to a program at a school which holds regional accreditation.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Graduate Scholarships

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation provides scholarships, including some at the graduate level, to students studying dietetics and who intend to work in that field. The total number of scholarships awarded varies each year, as do the amounts awarded to individual scholarship recipients.

Amount Offered: $500-10,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 17
Eligibility Requirements: An applicant must be an academy member, U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is or plans to be enrolled in an accredited graduate program in dietetics in the given scholarship year.

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NEHA/AAS Scholarship

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and the American Academy of Sanitarians (AAS) Scholarship for graduate students encourages professional environmental health education.

Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a student or career professional who is enrolled in a graduate-level environmental health sciences program at a recognized school.

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ACMPE Scholarship

The American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) Scholarship Fund supports individuals who show potential for contributing to the medical practice management profession, including in the area of public health.

Amount Offered: $2,500-5,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be pursuing a graduate-level degree during the coming year that relates to a career in medical practice management, such as a public health master’s program.

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HIMSS Foundation Scholarships

As the charitable giving division of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the HIMSS Foundation awards scholarships to students enrolled in health information and management systems programs.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: TBA
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a master’s program related to the health information or management systems field.

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Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship

This scholarship is for graduate students who are national members of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) who have excelled academically, are committed to a career in health education, and demonstrate financial need.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: October 15
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a SOPHE member for at least three months and currently pursuing a health education degree.

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Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

The Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives offers scholarships for students in the last year of a graduate program in healthcare management, pursuing a degree such as an MHA, MPH, or MBA in healthcare administration.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: An applicant must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen who demonstrates financial need and is enrolled in a qualifying degree program. Preference is given to applicants who are student associates of the American College of Healthcare Executives, but it is not required.

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Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

This scholarship is offered by the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has the same intent and criteria as the McGaw Scholarship above, but is offered specifically to minority students in their last year of a healthcare administration-related master’s degree.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: An applicant must be a minority student who is a U.S. or Canadian citizen, must demonstrate financial need, and is enrolled in a qualifying degree program. Applicants are not required to be student associates of the American College of Healthcare Executives, but it is preferred.

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Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship

Truth Initiative® offers the Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship for Outreach and Health Communications to Reduce Tobacco Use Among Priority Populations. It is awarded to a graduate student who is “innovatively confronting tobacco use” through the creative arts and community service in support of an underserved population disproportionately affected by tobacco.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must provide evidence of their relevant community service, be a current graduate student, demonstrate financial need, and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher in the most recent academic year.

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TYLENOL® Future Care Scholarship

Tylenol Future Care Scholarships are given to students who are pursuing a degree for a career which will involve direct treatment of patients, are active in their community and dedicated to caring for people, and who have shown both strong leadership skills and academic performance.

Amount Offered: $5,000-10,000
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a U.S. resident enrolled in a graduate program in health education, medical school, public health, nursing, and/or a pharmacy degree program with one or more years of school remaining.

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David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship

David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarships support the education of promising students with the goal of increasing the number and quality of people trained in healthcare policy at the state and federal levels.

Amount Offered: Up to $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 2
Eligibility Requirements: An applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a first-year graduate student on target to finish their degree by December of the following year, and enrolled in a graduate or health policy program that is a member of the Association of University Programs in Healthcare Administration (AUPHA) or the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).

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