According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the leading killer of state residents aged 45 and older is ischemic heart and vascular disease. The combination of the traditional Southern diet, narrow food options, and high poverty levels increase Georgia’s need for public health professionals.

…jobs for healthcare practitioners and social workers to increase 21% from 2014 to 2024.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for healthcare practitioners and social workers to increase 21% from 2014 to 2024. In response to community need, Georgia’s master’s programs in public health have expanded to include coursework in areas such as environmental health, healthcare management, applied epidemiology, and public health informatics. The quality and number of accredited programs in Georgia make the state an ideal location to begin a career in public health.

Long-term goals for the Georgia Department of Public Health include improving the quality of life and increasing the life expectancy of residents through initiatives to reduce tobacco use and improve residents’ diets. The Tobacco Free Georgia campaign implements tobacco-free policies in schools and public areas to reduce children’s and young adults’ exposure to smoking. Approximately one in ten Georgia adults struggle with diabetes; the Georgia Grown Feed My School program fights diabetes by bringing nutritional training into elementary schools across the state. These are two of many health initiatives in Georgia, which require qualified public health managers to orchestrate.

Internships and fellowships provide real-world training for students in online MPH programs in Georgia. Internships may be paid or unpaid, but fellowships are generally paid, full-time positions. Below are paid internships and fellowships in Georgia-based institutions, which address a variety of community health issues. For more internship and fellowship opportunities, visit the Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) websites.

DHPE Internship Program

DHPE interns work with minority communities in Georgia. During internships, future public health organizers learn about local communities in need.

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The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program

Interns in this Atlanta-based program address statewide mental health issues and improve access to mental health support.

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GDPH Dietetic Internship

GDPH interns promote quality nutrition and help prevent diabetes. Interns must be affiliated with the GDPH or the Women, Infants, and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program.

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CDC Public Health Informatics Fellowship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a fellowship that involves on-the-job training in the information sciences and in computer science. Fellows learn to manage and analyze public health information while working full-time for the CDC.

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Health Promotion Policy Fellowship

The DHPE offer this fellowship with the Georgia Department of Health and the CDC to train students to build and improve state health policies.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for community health workers to increase 18% by 2026. Though salaries depend on experience, credentials, and geographic location, the average salary for public health professionals in Georgia is higher than the nationwide average. The following table shows the wages and employment of public health workers in Georgia.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Georgia 3,470 $33.92 $70,540
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Georgia

Large institutions and companies offer the most employment opportunities for recent graduates of online MPH programs in Georgia. Job seekers find positions in areas such as epidemiology, health and safety engineering, management, and health informatics. The table below lists Georgia’s largest employers of public health professionals.

Employers Number of Employees
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 12,000
Wellstar Health System 20,000

Public Health Research Centers in Georgia

For those who’ve earned their master’s in public health online, Georgia research centers provide employment opportunities. Positions in research centers are ideal for individuals who are interested in working with scientists and doctors to pursue solutions to public health issues. Below are three of the many research institutions in Georgia, which need graduates of master’s in public health programs to fill positions in administration, epidemiology, and social work.

  • School of Public Health at Georgia State University: The School of Public Health conducts ongoing research in areas of public health such as chronic and infectious diseases, mental health, and environmental triggers.
  • Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University: Lab contributors at the Rollins School of Public Health use data and field research to increase the quality of life for local residents. Employees study infectious diseases, environmental toxicology, and molecular epidemiology.
  • Georgia Public Health Laboratory: Professionals at the Georgia Public Health Laboratory engage in clinical and nonclinical research related to issues in Georgia communities. Employees contribute to health programs, promote statewide screenings, and provide diagnostic statistics to inform residents and health professionals.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Georgia

Students earning a master’s in public health degree online benefit from joining a local professional organization. Below are a few of the many statewide organizations that support public health and help professionals create valuable contacts. Membership often includes access to annual conferences, informative newsletters, and career service centers that help students transition from school to the workforce.

  • Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance: The Georgia CTSA promotes quality clinical research and education and uses scientific discoveries as opportunities for community engagement. This alliance unites multiple institutions to foster statewide public health programs.
  • Georgia Public Health Association: Members of GPHA, a nonprofit organization, self-monitor their research to maintain standards of excellence in public health institutions across Georgia. This community advocates for new policies to improve public health and quality of life.
  • Georgia Family Connection Partnership: The Georgia Family Connection Partnership combines professional social work with grassroots community engagement to improve the lives of children and families. This advocacy group collaborates with community members and alerts the state government to community needs.

All public health professionals in the United States must pass the Certified in Public Health exam, administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). The exam consists of 200 questions with a four-hour time limit and should be taken after completing an online MPH program in Georgia. NBPHE offers practice questions and study resources to help candidates prepare.

NBPHE offers practice questions and study resources.

After passing the exam, professionals must maintain certification through continuing education regarding public health issues, including coursework, conferences, workshops, and online webinars. Current understanding of trends and issues in the field help professionals maintain high-quality performance and demonstrates dedication to the profession.

Before choosing a master’s program in public health in Georgia, ensure the institution is accredited. Accreditation indicates a program meets established standards of quality and rigor. Of the two most common types of accreditation — regional and national — regional is the most highly regarded. Attending a regionally accredited institution ensures your degree will be recognized by other institutions and by employers.

Public health programs should also hold field-specific accreditation; to take the required Certified in Public Health exam, candidates must have a degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Graduates from programs not accredited by CEPH must have at least five years of work experience in the field. Before enrolling, find your school in the list of CEPH-accredited schools.

Augusta University

Augusta is a public research university that specializes primarily in the health sciences. The school partners with the Augusta University Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in order to research new medical treatments and deliver expert care. The school’s master of public health program allows students to complete 90% of coursework online, with the remaining 10% available on campus. All online coursework is available in an asynchronous format, making this one of the most flexible public health programs in Georgia.

Students may choose a concentration in social and behavioral sciences, health informatics, environmental health, or health management. Students must complete an internship, an ethical conduct course, and a practicum experience in the field. Core courses include epidemiology, biostatistics, health management and policy, health promotion, and environmental health. Students complete 30 credits of core courses and 15-16 credits in their chosen concentration. Full-time students can graduate within two years, while part-time students can graduate in three or four.

Distance learners enrolled in the MPH program may also pursue a dual MD-MPH degree. Students who choose this option first enroll at the Medical College of Georgia and spend a year at Augusta to complete the MPH degree. This particular option requires five years to complete. Students who are not sure if they want to complete a full master’s program can apply for the university’s 15-credit graduate certificate in public health.

Prospective students may apply for admission for the fall or spring terms. Most applicants must submit GRE scores. Students who already hold an MD are exempt from the GRE requirement. As a public university, Augusta charges Georgia residents a lower tuition rate than out-of-state students.

Emory University

Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health is one of the nation’s most respected public health colleges and the school offers one of the best online MPH programs in Georgia. Emory offers many on-campus MPH options, but the only online program is the executive MPH. The executive program delivers coursework through a hybrid model, combining twice-a-semester, on-campus sessions with asynchronous, online coursework that is delivered through Canvas. Graduates are able to explain the behavioral, social, and cultural factors that contribute to the health of individuals and communities. They are also able to identify environmental factors such as chemical exposure and air pollution.

The 42-credit program features three concentration tracks: applied epidemiology, applied public health informatics, and prevention science. Students can choose between full-time and part-time formats. Students in each concentration also complete a 200-400 hour practicum in an arranged public health site in their own communities. Practicum sites include nonprofit organizations, government health departments, and hospitals. Core coursework includes biostatistics, epidemiology, social behavior, and environmental health.

The school uses adult learning theory, which assumes that all students in the program will be self-directed, self-starting, experienced learners who focus primarily on solving problems. The school also offers several dual degree options, although these tracks require extensive on-campus work.

Since the program is designed for experienced professionals, applicants to all tracks must have three years of full-time public health work experience. Applicants must also have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Students applying for the applied epidemiology track must submit GRE scores. Full-time students pay tuition per term and part-time students pay tuition per credit. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of location.

Mercer University

Mercer, located in Macon, was the first private college in Georgia. The school has offered its master of public health program since 1998. Distance learners can complete the 42-credit program online, and it does not have any on-campus requirements. The curriculum includes five terms and takes about two years to complete. Coursework includes minority health and health disparities, community health needs assessment, and public health management. Each student must also complete an internship and a capstone project. Graduates are prepared for many careers, including social worker, laboratory scientist, educator, epidemiologist, attorney, and biostatistician.

Mercer’s public health department has earned national accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. Like many other online MPH programs in Georgia, Mercer offers some dual degree options. Along with the MPH, students may pursue a doctor of physical therapy, a doctor of pharmacy, a master of medical science, and a doctor of psychology. Students interested in enrolling in the MPH program can attend online information sessions to determine if the program will be a good fit.

The program admits new students in the fall term. All applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.85 and submit either GRE or MCAT scores unless they already have a master’s degree. Prospective students must also have completed a minimum of 30 community service hours to apply. Students who do not have a GPA of 2.85 may receive conditional admission. These students must earn a GPA of at least 3.0 over their first nine credit hours at Mercer to maintain their place in the program. All students pay the same per-semester tuition. Online students may pay an additional fee for software that allows them to participate in distance learning.

Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Named for the first African American fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), this scholarship supports minority students in their final year of graduate studies in public health.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a U.S. citizen and a member of a minority group, must be enrolled full-time in an accredited public health program, and must demonstrate financial need.

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Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

Awarded by ACHE, this scholarship assists students in their final year of graduate studies in the field of public health. Up to 15 scholarships are awarded each year.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The recipient must be a U.S. citizen who is enrolled full-time in an accredited degree program in public health and must demonstrate financial need.

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Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship

The Alma S. Adams Scholarship was founded to decrease tobacco use nationwide by supporting innovative projects designed by undergraduate and graduate public health students.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must create a community service and activism proposal, must have at least a 2.0 GPA, and must demonstrate financial need.

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Georgia Health Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship for Georgia State University students supports individuals who plan to work in public health for the state of Georgia.

Amount Offered: $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a full-time student at Georgia State, must have a strong GPA and a history of volunteer work in the field, and must have lived in Georgia for at least one year prior to beginning the MPH program.

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J. Rhodes Haverty Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship supports Georgia State students who demonstrate financial need and intend to work in public health in Georgia after graduation.

Amount Offered: $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: The recipient must be a Georgia resident, must demonstrate financial need, must maintain a 3.0 GPA, and must show leadership and a passion for public health.

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Richard-Sargent Memorial Fund Grant

This scholarship is designed to improve medical practice management by supporting students of public health, business administration, and healthcare administration.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be certified through ACMPE, must be enrolled full-time in an accredited public health-related program in the U.S.

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Transamerica Retirement Solutions Leaders in Health Care Scholarship

This scholarship aids students interested in combatting retirement management issues. Transamerica coordinates financial advisors, healthcare administrators, and consultants to improve retirement plans.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: The student must be a U.S. citizen who demonstrates academic excellence, financial need, and a commitment to community service.

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Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

The Tylenol Corporation offers this scholarship to full-time undergraduate and graduate students pursuing healthcare careers.

Amount Offered: $10,000 to 10 recipients and $5,000 to 30 recipients
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a U.S. citizen who is enrolled full-time in a graduate program and must have at least one year of studies remaining. Applicants are evaluated based on GPA, academic achievement, volunteer record, and community involvement.

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David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship

This scholarship offers up to 30 awards each year to graduate students at AUPHA programs, ASPPH programs, or health policy programs.

Amount Offered: $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The recipient must be a U.S. citizen who is enrolled in or entering a graduate program in public health and must demonstrate commitment to public policy and community leadership.

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HIMSS Foundation Scholarships

For healthcare information and management students, the HIMSS Foundation offers $5,000 and the opportunity to participate in the HIMSS annual conference.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: Varies
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled full-time at an accredited institution and must be a current HIMSS member.

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