Iowa is the 19th healthiest state in the nation, according to the 2016 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The state’s doctors, nurses, and public health professionals work together to further improve residents’ health. Iowa’s government, universities, and private organizations research the state’s most pressing health challenges, such as cancer and heart disease, and promote public health initiatives.

The BLS projects a 12% long-term growth in the number of health educators in Iowa and a 20% increase in the number of health specialty teachers.

Because of Iowa’s focus on health, the state is the ideal place for students to earn a master’s degree in public health. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 12% long-term growth in the number of health educators in Iowa and a 20% increase in the number of health specialty teachers. Earning a master’s in public health prepares students for careers and allows them to network with current public health professionals, which leads to employment opportunities after graduation.

The Iowa Department of Public Health works to combat disease and improve Iowans’ health. Current foci include protecting residents against the flu, fighting the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing the number of sexually transmitted diseases. Throughout Iowa’s rural areas, community reinvestment led to improved hospitals in smaller cities and towns.

In the private sector, the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative works to improve Iowa’s standing in the list of healthiest states. This nonprofit organization promotes walking and eating locally grown food. The initiative’s efforts target individuals, schools, and communities.

Internships and fellowships are two popular ways to launch a career in public health. During public health programs in Iowa, students often complete internships to gain experience and on-the-job training. Some universities require an internship. Many recent public health graduates pursue paid fellowships, which provide experience and may be a stepping stone to a full-time position with the company or organization. Internships and fellowships typically last a few months to two years.

Iowa Department of Public Health Internship

The IDHP offers Des Moines-based internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Students may apply through the department’s website to work in one of 21 public health fields.
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MHIRT International Research Internships Program

During this internship program, undergraduate and graduate public health students at the University of Iowa study international public health issues. During the summer, interns travel to one of three countries, where they design and implement a public health initiative. Students may apply through the university website.
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Polk County Health Department Internship

Polk County is home to Des Moines and the largest concentration of Iowans. Interns in this program work with county officials to create a capstone experience matching the student’s strengths to the county’s public health initiatives. Students may apply through the Polk County government website.
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Population Council Fellowship

This one-year fellowship allows recent graduates to address public health issues involving contraception and disease. The New York City-based program accepts fellows from across the nation. The types of fellowships offered rotate each year. Students may apply through the Population Council website.
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IIPHRP Policy Fellowship

During this one-year fellowship at the University of Iowa, recent graduates use public health research to create practical applications. Fellows develop and implement an action project that addresses a healthcare issue in Iowa. Individuals may apply in August for fellowships beginning in September.

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Americans may associate Iowa with its sprawling cornfields and small towns, but the state also provides a variety of opportunities for public health professionals. Potential salaries depend on employer, location, and experience. For example, an experienced public health professional working in Des Moines would earn a higher salary than a recent graduate working in a small town. The table below shows the mean hourly and annual wages for public health professionals. Although recent graduates typically earn less at their first jobs, the potential salary for experienced public health professionals easily exceeds these figures.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Iowa550$30.44$63,320
United States63,260$32.60$67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Iowa

Recent graduates of online MPH programs in Iowa can shorten their job search by researching the state’s largest employers of public health professionals. Large employers use their resources to find new talent throughout the year. These employers may also have mentoring programs, which can jumpstart your career in public health. Below are the top public health employers in Iowa.

EmployersNumber of Employees
Iowa Department of Public Health200
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics13,000
Polk County Government and Des Moines City Government6,500

Public Health Research Centers in Iowa

For students earning their MPH, Iowa’s research centers offer some of the most exciting career opportunities in the field. Research is the foundation of public health; it
provides the latest recommendations and best practices to guide the public and health professionals. A career in research allows opportunities to inform public health policy.

  • University of Iowa College of Public Health: At the University of Iowa, students and faculty work together to research the latest public health challenges through extensive studies. Research extends beyond Iowa’s borders; the university also works with global public health initiatives.
  • Iowa Department of Public Health: The state agency for public health, IDPH publishes material on public health issues such as flu prevention and domestic violence. Employees work closely with local public health agencies and apply the findings of research studies conducted by other organizations and academic institutions.
  • Health Research Institute: From Fairfield, Iowa, HRI conducts public health research and laboratory testing of food, agricultural products, and environmental samples. HRI partners with companies and government agencies to complete custom research projects that benefit Iowans’ health.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Iowa

Students earning a master’s in public health online in Iowa should join a professional organization to improve future career opportunities. The organizations below, along with others throughout the state, provide networking opportunities such as conferences and message boards. Most also offer professional opportunities such as private job boards and continuing education to help graduates secure employment.

  • Iowa Public Health Association: IPHA has advocated for Iowa’s public health professionals for more than 90 years. Membership includes opportunities to network and secure grants to fund special projects.
  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: For graduates of online MPH programs in Iowa, careers in healthcare administration offer high earning potential and multiple opportunities for advancement. AAHAM membership allows professionals to network with experts in the field.
  • Association of Public Health Laboratories: Efficient and accurate laboratory services are a crucial component of public health. APHL works with independent laboratories and federal agencies to improve public health throughout the nation. Membership includes professional development opportunities to help public health professionals become experts.

Public health is a large field with many unique professions. From athletic training to speech pathology, Iowa offers 19 licenses to ensure public health professionals follow all state laws and regulations.

Iowa offers 19 licenses to ensure public health professionals follow all state laws and regulations.

Not all public health professions in Iowa require a license, but earning licensure makes you competitive in the job market and helps advance your career. For example, professionals who aspire to improve children’s health may pursue a license in social work.

When researching online MPH programs in Iowa, look for regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditation is awarded by six accreditation agencies; Iowa schools are regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. National accreditation is typically reserved for specialized educational programs, including distance and online education. Online programs accredited by the Distance Education & Training Council offer high-quality programs.

Independent accreditation agencies review programs in their respective fields. Excellent public health programs receive accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The CEPH search tool offers prospective students an easy way to assess the quality of online MPH programs in Iowa.

MGMA Midwest Selection Scholarships

The Medical Group Management Association offers multiple scholarships to students entering the medical field. The scholarships do not renew.

Amount Offered: $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate or graduate program related to medicine or public health.

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Public Health Community Scholarship

MPH Programs List.com awards this scholarship to public health students who have displayed academic excellence.

Amount Offered: $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: January 5
Eligibility Requirements: The students must be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate program related to medicine, public health, or social work. Applicants submit a 500- to 800-word essay.

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Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

This scholarship for minority students is offered in honor of Albert W. Dent, the first African American fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a minority student in the final year of graduate study.

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Cathy L. Brock Scholarship

The Institute for Diversity in Health Management awards this scholarship to a single recipient each year. The scholarship supports minority students pursuing graduate studies in healthcare administration or a related field.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: January 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a minority student with at least a 3.0 GPA.

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Elliott C. Roberts Scholarship

Offered by the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, this scholarship supports minority students beginning studies in healthcare management or public health.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: January 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a minority student with at least a 3.0 GPA who is within the first or second year of graduate studies.

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Erma Byrd Scholarship Program

This scholarship program supports students specializing in industrial health. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the scholarship’s availability changes each year.

Amount Offered: $2,500–10,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 25
Eligibility Requirements: The recipient must graduate within two years of receiving the scholarship.

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HIMSS Foundation Scholarships

Healthcare Information Management Systems Scholarship funds undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D students in the healthcare management and information field.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: September 25
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation and a résumé.

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Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship

The Society for Public Health and Education awards this scholarship to students entering health education. The scholarship does not automatically renew.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: October 15
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must have been a member of the Society for Public Health and Education for at least three months and must demonstrate financial need.

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Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

Offered by ACHE, the Foster G. McGaw scholarship provides financial aid to students preparing for a career in healthcare administration.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must not be in the final year of their graduate program. Preference is given to students who join ACHE before applying.

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Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

Now in its 24th year, the Tylenol Future Care Scholarship has awarded tens of thousands of dollars to undergraduate and graduate healthcare students. Tylenol awards 40 scholarships each year.

Amount Offered: $5,000–10,000
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must demonstrate a history of volunteer work or community service involvement. Recipients must stay in school for at least one year after receiving the scholarship.

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