Students interested in online MPH programs in Kentucky pursue public health bachelor’s, master’s, and certification programs offered through public and private schools. Kentucky is ranked 45th in the United States for overall public health. The state’s residents suffer from high rates of obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, nicotine addiction, and physical inactivity. These issues increase the demand for public health professionals in Kentucky. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of public health educators in Kentucky to increase 17.2% in the coming years — a rate much higher than the national average. The state’s emphasis on improving the next generation’s health means individuals trained to work in children’s healthcare will find even more job opportunities in Kentucky.

The BLS projects the number of public health educators in Kentucky to increase 17.2% in the coming years — a rate much higher than the national average.

Kentucky is suffering from an obesity epidemic, with 34.6% of residents currently categorized as obese or morbidly obese. To combat obesity, the Kentucky Department of Public Health offers free nutritional counseling, diet plans, and exercise regimens through its website. The department also mandates that schools provide healthier lunch options to help decrease the rate of childhood obesity.

With high levels of poverty in Kentucky, public health officials work to increase accessibility to affordable healthcare. Widespread initiatives and campaigns increase the number of smoke-free jurisdictions in Kentucky, and professionals are working to create more counseling groups to address alcohol addiction in Kentucky. For graduates who have earned a master’s in public health online, Kentucky presents opportunities to help struggling communities.

Although different, internships and fellowships provide similar experiences. Internships are offered to students of all levels and involve the exchange of work for experience. Internships are usually unpaid, and students enrolled in online MPH programs in Kentucky often earn university credit for internship hours.

Fellowships are typically offered to graduate and postgraduate students, and the work more closely resembles work professionals in the field complete daily. Fellowships are almost always paid and often lead to full-time positions. Many public health programs in Kentucky maintain relationships with companies and organizations to help students secure internships and fellowships, such as those below.

Dietetic Intern - Community Rotation

Interns in this position gain experience in public health nutrition. They provide nutrition services to the community and observe additional health department services, such as clinical services and environmental inspections. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in public health, preferably with a concentration in nutrition.
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Communicable Disease Intern - Barren River Health

Interns enter data of reportable diseases and develop educational programs and tools to address these diseases — especially tuberculosis. Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students majoring in public health. Submit applications and transcripts to Barren River’s head of human resources by email.
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Dental Services Intern - Barren River Health

Interns are responsible for clerical work, such as managing of charts and tracking patient information, and they learn the fundamentals of dental equipment. Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students of public health or dental studies. Submit applications and transcripts to Barren River’s head of human resources by email.
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Dietetic Intern - National Healthcare Corporatio

This program prepares students to work as generalized dieticians with an emphasis in geriatric care. The program involves clinical rotations in long-term care centers and hospitals. Applicants must be graduate students in public health or a related field.
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Physical Activity Internship - Community Health Promotion

This internship involves promoting physical activities for all age groups. Interns design programs and present public health and nutrition information to the public. Applicants must be undergraduate students in exercise science or graduate students in exercise physiology.
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As with most careers, the salary of a public health professional depends on position, experience, and geographic location. Entry-level positions generally offer lower salaries than positions requiring experience. Professionals who work in densely populated regions also earn higher salaries. Public health is a broad field with many career opportunities and varied earning potentials, but the table below shows mean wages for public health professionals in Kentucky and the United States.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Kentucky 21,200 $47.58 $98,950
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Kentucky

Recent graduates searching for positions in public health should consider large facilities, such as hospitals and the state health department. Applying to facilities with a large number of employees maximizes the chance of being hired, as these large employers accept more applicants and are often looking for fresh talent.

Employers Number of Employees
Norton Healthcare 13,000
Western State Hospital 650
Baptist Hospital East 3,000

Public Health Research Centers in Kentucky

Along with hospitals and the health department, recent graduates may apply to work in local research centers. Research centers hire a large number of public health professionals, creating ample opportunities for recent graduates. Earning experience in a research center allows professionals to apply for more competitive positions with larger employers.

  • Systems for Action National Coordinating Center: This research center focuses on the economic value of providing healthcare and healthy living situations with the goal of proving that healthier populations spend less on healthcare.
  • Public Health Systems and Services Research: This research center focuses on providing healthcare to people who struggle to pay rising health premiums. The organization provides research grants and links prospective employees with hiring medical establishments.
  • Rural and Underserved Health Research Center: This research center believes that healthcare research focused in metropolitan areas does not translate well for rural populations. The organization provides grants for specialized research in rural healthcare to alleviate the health crises facing underserved areas.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Kentucky

Professional organizations provide opportunities for both established professionals and recent graduates of online MPH programs in Kentucky. Joining a professional organization connects students with professionals in the field. In addition to networking and potential career and internship opportunities, membership often includes discounted attendance to conferences and lectures and current industry news. Below are the top public health professional organizations in Kentucky.

  • Kentucky Health Department Association: KHDA was formed in 1984 with the mission to protect the health of all citizens through public and individual healthcare. Members have access to national public health conferences, research materials and resources, and networking opportunities.
  • Kentucky Mental Health Counselors Association: This association improves the quality of mental healthcare in Kentucky by creating a network of professionals with a standard of values, quality care, and ethics. Members of the KMHCA receive access to educational programs and networking opportunities. KMHCA members are influential in establishing relevant public policies.
  • Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities: Established in 1954, KAHCF represents proprietary and nonproprietary long-term care providers throughout the state. KAHCF notifies members to changes in legislature and public policy that impact long-term care providers.

Graduates of public health programs in Kentucky do not need additional certifications or licensure to secure employment.

Graduates of public health programs in Kentucky do not need additional certifications or licensure to secure employment. However, those pursuing careers in specific fields may need additional testing and education. For example, graduates interested in food safety must be licensed by the Kentucky Health Department. Other fields that require licensure include childcare and environmental health. Earning a license may be as simple as taking an examination through the Kentucky Department of Licensing. However, some areas require specialized education through local universities, community colleges, and community learning centers.

Educational accreditation proves to future employers that the applicant’s education meets an established standard. A degree from an accredited school guarantees graduates can perform the duties required of a public health professional. There are two main forms of accreditation: regional and national.
Regional accreditation is more prestigious; regionally accredited schools in Kentucky are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. National accreditation is typically reserved for vocational schools and community colleges. Public health programs may also hold field-specific accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.

Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University moved to its present hilltop location four years after the school’s first classes began in 1907. Today, WKU serves a student body of more than 20,000 and offers over 300 academic programs. For more than 50 years, the university has provided education to students beyond Bowling Green through online learning and regional campuses in Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Glasgow, and Owensboro.

At WKU, there are more than 100 graduate degrees and certificate programs, including the master’s in public health, the first and only fully online CEPH-accredited MPH in Kentucky. The 42-credit hour degree is competency-based and focuses on applied and integrative learning in the public health field. The curriculum splits into 30 credit hours of required core courses and 12 credit hours for electives. The program serves as both an introduction and pathway toward leadership roles for public health professionals. Topics include health disparities, health behavior, and principles of environmental health, which inspects both traditional and emerging issues in the field and present-day threats to the world.

The MPH requires students to participate in an applied practice experience: 100 clocked hours working with or in a practice setting. During the final semester, students complete an integrative learning experience to demonstrate mastery of foundational and program competencies. Candidates must complete CITI training, a web-based course about ethics and research. Students are responsible for all course sequencing, as not all courses are available each term.

Applicants must hold a four-year degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.2. If the GPA is under 3.2, minimum GRE test scores of 145 verbal, 148 quantitative, and 3.5 analytical writing are required. All applications should include a resume, two letters of reference, a personal statement explaining student interest in the MPH program, and documentation of experience in public health.

The Truman Scholarship

The Truman Scholarship was created by Congress in 1975 to invest in the country’s future. The scholarship provides funds to help students to pursue higher education and research opportunities.

Amount Offered: $30,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 6
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an undergraduate student with junior-level standing and must plan to pursue a master’s degree.

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Morris K. Udall Scholarship Program

This scholarship is available to Native American students who are interested in earning a master’s in public health and pursuing a career in tribal policy and healthcare.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: Rolling
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be of Native American descent, must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in public health, must intend to pursue a career in tribal policy or native healthcare, and must demonstrate financial need.

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National Environmental Health Association Scholarship

This scholarship is granted to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students earning a public health degree with a concentration in environmental health.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student of public or environmental health at an accredited institution.

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Ellen M. Buchart Scholarship

This scholarship helps health students at all levels pursue further education. Preference is given to students pursuing a degree in public health.

Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 28
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student in a health-related program and must submit transcripts and a personal statement.

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Gerald Luttrell Honorary Scholarship

Provided by a donor who has been personally assisted by public health work, this scholarship is awarded to a high school graduate pursuing a degree in public health and awards scholarship money for the duration of his or her education.

Amount Offered: $1,000 per semester
Scholarship Deadline: February 28
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a high school senior intending to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in public health and must graduate high school with at least a 2.5 GPA.

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Theodore Hanekamp Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to full-time graduate students of public health at the University of Kentucky.

Amount Offered: Up to $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: The recipient must be a full-time graduate student at the University of Kentucky. The applicant must submit transcripts and a personal statement detailing career goals and public service history.

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Kentucky Safety and Health Network Foundation Inc. Scholarship

This scholarship awards funds to full-time public health graduate students or undergraduate students who intend to pursue a graduate degree.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: February 28
Eligibility Requirements: Graduate students must be pursuing a degree in public health, must be enrolled full-time, and must have a minimum 3.5 GPA.

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Norton Healthcare Scholars Program

This program’s scholarship amount depends on the student’s specific degree. The recipient must agree to work for Norton Healthcare upon graduation.

Amount Offered: Up to $24,000
Scholarship Deadline: October 1/June 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in public health in Kentucky.

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Baptist Health Corbin Medical Staff Academic Scholarship

This scholarship was created to assist graduate students pursuing higher education in public health and healthcare.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a public health or healthcare student at an accredited institution and must be a resident of Knox, Laurel, or Whitley County.

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