While much of the medical field treats sick people, public health workers focus on prevention and education to help individuals avoid injury or illness. Public health workers often work in rural communities, educating residents about healthcare resources or the dangers of smoking and physical inactivity. They may also study statistics related to early and preventable death or help communities develop policies to address public health emergencies.

…students enrolled in public health programs in Louisiana do not need to complete clinical experiences.

Careers in public health usually require at least a master’s degree, and students can specialize in areas that interest them. Social scientists research how socioeconomic factors impact community health measurements, while environmental health or communicable disease specialists focus on how natural disasters or risky behavior allow diseases to spread. Public health professionals may also engage in outreach and education efforts. Learners interested in pursuing a master’s of public health (MPH) must have already completed a bachelor’s degree; however, a variety of degrees provide a good foundation for online MPH programs in Louisiana. Additionally, students enrolled in public health programs in Louisiana do not need to complete clinical experiences.

The 2015 Louisiana Health Report Card identified several areas where the state hopes education and prevention can improve the lives of its residents. The state ranks 47th in the nation in deaths from cancer, 46th in death from heart disease and stroke, 45th in the percentage of obese adults, and 45th in the percentage of adults with diabetes. Recent initiatives include addressing tobacco use (24% of residents reported that they currently smoke) and encouraging healthy living and simple lifestyle changes to combat obesity and diabetes.

Well Ahead Louisiana brings together businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to promote public policy changes, such as establishing tobacco-free zones and encourage physical activity. Additionally, Healthy Louisiana provides access to preventative care services to about 350,000 low-income residents through an expanded Medicaid program. Portions of Louisiana experience tropical climate and weather, bringing additional challenges to health workers in the state, such as disaster response and controlling mosquito-borne illnesses.

Internships may be available to undergraduate or graduate students; these opportunities allow students to perform tasks and gain experience in a real work environment. Internship positions may be paid or unpaid. Depending on your program, they can also be completed for school credit. Fellowships usually go to students at the master’s or doctorate level and are awarded based on merit and academic performance, although some fellowships also target recent graduates. Fellowships typically offer a financial award or stipend to participants.

Bureau of Family Health

This Louisiana Office of Public Health internship lets students work with the communications, innovation, and action team of the bureau to provide outreach services to targeted populations. Interns strengthen partnerships with community health networks.

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Ochsner Health System (OHS) Fellowship

This administrative fellowship program provides opportunities for mentoring and career development in the areas of nursing, finance, operations, supply chain, and/or revenue cycle. Fellowships last 12 to 24 months and include salary and benefits. Applications may be submitted through the OHS website.

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Health Promotion Policy Fellowship

This program works to address challenges in health equity and public health while offering leadership and career development opportunities for recent graduates or graduate students. The one-year fellowship comes with an annual stipend that is based on a student’s education level and an allowance for benefits.

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Louisiana Health Policy Fellowship

AmeriHealth Caritas and LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health and School of Medicine partnered to provide fellowship opportunities to undertake health policy research and advocacy. Fellowships include appointments to congressional committees, congressional offices, the American Public Health Association, and the National Academy for State Health Policy.

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New Orleans Department of Health

The New Orleans Department of Health offers a variety of internship opportunities that focus on physical activity, tobacco prevention, violence prevention, communicable diseases, and pregnant women and newborn children.

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The field of public health offers an array of specializations and career paths. While a bachelor’s degree may be the minimum requirement to work as a health educator or community health worker, epidemiologists must have at least a master’s degree. Additional education can provide more job opportunities and allows candidates to command a higher salary. Students who earn a master’s in public health online in Louisiana typically receive higher wages than those with less education. Additionally, the cost of living in a location can affect the salaries of public health workers. Because Louisiana’s cost of living is below the national average, wages tend to also be lower. Nonetheless, employment opportunities remain strong throughout the state.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Louisiana630$29.33$61,010
United States63,260$32.60$67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Louisiana

Graduates of online MPH programs in Louisiana should identify potential employers in the state. Hospitals often hire public health workers, particularly those from the field of health education and community outreach. Public health professionals can assist in the development of community health needs assessments and implement action plans, which are requirements for nonprofit hospitals. Identifying possible employers allows individuals to meet with mentors and pursue internships, which can give students an advantage while they search for jobs.

EmployersNumber of Employees
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals13,010
Local Government6,130
Outpatient Care Centers5,040

Public Health Research Centers in Louisiana

Epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and other public health researchers should familiarize themselves with the opportunities available at research centers throughout the state. Identifying the research focus of a nearby center can help a student choose their capstone project while completing an MPH in Louisiana. Public health programs in Louisiana often focus on the health initiatives identified by research centers or by the state’s department of health and hospitals.

  • Tulane Prevention Research Center: Housed in Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, this center works to address obesity in New Orleans and the surrounding region. Activities include studying access to healthy foods and identifying barriers to physical activity through the Movin’ for LIFE (Lasting Improvements for Fitness and Energy) program.
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center: This center includes five departments with 10 research areas including obesity, diabetes, epidemiology and prevention, and cancer. Located in Baton Rouge, the center is part of the Louisiana State University system and has more than 54 faculty members overseeing research projects. It has helped develop all obesity medications currently available in the U.S. and conducts in-depth research on nutrition for soldiers, retirees, and their families.
  • Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium: The LCRC formed in 2002 to promote education and research the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Tulane University’s Health Sciences Center joined with Xavier University and the Ochsner Health System to support more than 200 researchers, with several projects devoted to minority health and health disparities. The consortium also launched a tobacco-free living program, which collaborates with various agencies throughout the state.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Louisiana

Professional organizations offer opportunities to stay up-to-date on the latest news and research and form professional networks that can lead to collaborative projects and new career opportunities. Additionally, many employers require employees to complete a minimum number of continuing education hours each year; professional organizations can provide these opportunities in the form of conferences and workshops.

  • Louisiana Public Health Association: The LPHA works to promote the health of residents in Louisiana through education, policy development, and collaboration. This nonprofit brings public health professionals together for networking and learning opportunities. The organization is affiliated with the American Public Health Association and sponsors Public Health Week in Louisiana each year.
  • Louisiana Water Environment Association: An affiliate of the Water Environment Association, the LWEA offers professional development opportunities for environmental professionals and advocates. The LWEA works to protect the unique environment of Louisiana’s rivers, bayous, and marshes, especially in relation to municipal water supply and wastewater treatment.
  • Louisiana Public Health Institute: This nonprofit organization promotes collaboration and partnerships among healthcare researchers, providers, and advocates. To effect positive change in people’s health, the LPHI focuses on behavioral health, family health, tobacco prevention, and more. Researchers evaluate and analyze data while consultants help providers improve patient care.

Health educators and other public health specialists usually do not need licensure to perform their duties. However, the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) offers voluntary certification, which may be preferred by potential employers. The NBPHE was formed by five national organizations focused on issues of preventative and public health. This certification offers assurance to prospective employers that a candidate has mastered the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the field.

The NBPHE was formed by five national organizations focused on issues of preventative and public health.

To qualify for the NBPHE exam, students must be attending or a graduate of a Council on Education for Public Health-accredited MPH program. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field may also take the exam if they have at least five year’s experience in public health. The 200-question test covers the 10 “essential public health services” identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Initial certification lasts for two years. Public health professionals must earn continuing education credits to maintain their certification.

Accreditation indicates that a school’s curriculum and resources meet a specific standard of quality. Regional accrediting bodies, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, grant schools an overall accreditation. These organizations are the oldest accrediting bodies in the nation. Newer national accrediting agencies have also formed in recent years. It is essential that students verify a school’s accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the college credits they earn can be transferred to other schools and that employers and licensing agencies will accept their degrees.

In addition to general accreditation, online MPH programs in Louisiana can earn specialized accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). This independent agency works with colleges to ensure that curricula provide the foundational knowledge necessary to enter the field. The CEPH evaluates programs at the bachelor’s and graduate degree levels and oversees distance education and online programs.

Tulane University

With roots dating back to 1834, New Orleans-based Tulane University emerged in 1884 from a reorganization of the University of Louisiana. Today, Tulane is among the most recognized research universities in the U.S. as a member of the Association of American Universities. Each year, Tulane sees to the educational needs of more than 13,500 students.

Tulane offers five public health programs in Louisiana, including an MPH in nine tracks. For the core curriculum, the 45-credit master’s program examines population health and unpacks the five disciplines of public health: epidemiology, environmental health, behavioral science, biostatistics, and management. Each concentration requires practicum hours; however, the total may vary. For example, while the epidemiology track requires students complete 200 hours, the health policy track requires 250. All tracks conclude with a culminating experience where MPH degree candidates conduct a public health analysis. Certain tracks, like the community health sciences, best suit public health professionals interested in a joint degree like the MD/MPH. To graduate, students must prove mastery of all MPH program competencies.

In addition to the nine MPH tracks, Tulane also offers a closer look at the health-related concerns originating from the world’s tropical or subtropical regions. Founded in 1912 with a global commitment to public health, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has provided educational and community support for over 100 years with a presence in 76 countries.

To apply, prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, have earned a 3.0 GPA or better, and scored in the upper percentiles for all three GRE sections. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a statement of academic purpose with career objectives.

Louisiana Public Health Association

LPHA members and dependents studying public health at a Louisiana school may apply for these annual awards, which are presented each spring. Scholarship decisions consider financial need.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: Feb. 15
Eligibility Requirements: Graduate students must have scored 1,000 on the GRE and have a first semester GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also submit two personal references.

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Frederick G. Deiler Memorial Scholarship

The Louisiana Water Environment Association offers this memorial scholarship to students seeking a career in an environmental field. In addition to the scholarship award, recipients also receive membership to the national Water Environment Federation and LWEA.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be attending a Louisiana college or university at the bachelor’s or master’s level and have at least a B average. In addition to the scholarship application, students must submit a resume, short essay, and personal reference.

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Kenneth L. Keffer Memorial Scholarship

This Louisiana Water Environment Association scholarship supports students in an environmental field, including public health, at any Louisiana college or university. Awarded in June, the scholarship can be used to pay for the cost of tuition, fees, books, or other school supplies.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Students must have at least a B average and be no higher than a master’s level candidate. Recipients must have at least two semesters remaining in their studies. Applicants must also submit a short essay and a personal academic reference.

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Harold Norman Memorial Scholarship

Offered by the Louisiana Water Environment Association, this memorial award helps students planning to enter an environmental field. Students may be studying in the areas of environmental engineering, physical or natural science, or public health.

Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Louisiana residents must have at least a B average and provide a reference from a professor in their major. A short essay detailing their career objectives/goals and a resume complete the scholarship application.

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Dorothy LeBlanc Memorial Scholarship

Established in 1986, this scholarship was established in memory of Dorothy LeBlanc, who taught at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine for 27 years. Its fund supports graduate students in the field of epidemiology.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: TBA
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a graduate student at the Tulane University School of Public Health who is specializing in epidemiology.

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Jim and Sonia Miller Scholarship

This endowed scholarship fund supports students seeking a graduate degree from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine with a focus on global environmental health sciences.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: TBA
Eligibility Requirements: Students must apply for the scholarship through the graduate office of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

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Biostatistics Scholarship

Students seeking a master’s degree in biostatistics from the Tulane University School of Public health and Tropical Medicine may apply for this endowed scholarship to defray the cost of tuition, fees, and books.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: TBA
Eligibility Requirements: Students must apply for departmental scholarships through the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

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Return Peace Corps Volunteer Scholarship

The Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has partnered with the United States Peace Corps for more than 30 years, offering special scholarship funding to returned Peace Corps volunteers. Awards are merit-based.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: Oct. 16 and March 12
Eligibility Requirements: Returned Peace Corps volunteers must have completed at least two full-time academic semesters. Faculty score applications for this competitive award based on a personal statement, involvement in Peace Corps activities, and strength of academic and professional credentials.

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Dean Fontham Scholarship

Named after LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health’s founder Dean Elizabeth “Terry” Fontham, this endowed scholarship is given to students with an outstanding academic record. Students receive the award in four equal installments over the course of their graduate program.

Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: Oct. 16 and March 12
Eligibility Requirements: Incoming students must submit their application through the centralized public health school application program (SOPHAS.org).

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Master of Public Health Scholarship

Offered by the LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, this award supports two incoming graduate students. Students receive $1,000 each semester for a maximum of four semesters.

Amount Offered: $4,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health participates in the centralized application system at SOPHAS.org. Faculty base scholarship decisions on application information.

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