Massachusetts’ history with public health dates back to the 1700s when Paul Revere chaired the Boston Board of Health and the state developed both food legislation and smallpox vaccinations. Today, healthcare remains the largest industry in Massachusetts.

Today, healthcare remains the largest industry in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is home to several healthcare systems, hospitals, and universities that study the population’s health needs. Experts from the Department of Public Health voiced their concerns in a 2010 report that the growing number of retiring Baby Boomers in Massachusetts would inevitably lead to greater healthcare needs from that demographic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also projects that jobs in epidemiology will grow 6.3% over the next decade, as the state’s aging population leaves the workforce. Because of this generational transition, students enrolled in online MPH programs in Massachusetts will likely enter a healthy job market after graduation.

Massachusetts offers multiple health goals, programs, and initiatives through its Department of Public Health. The Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, for example, supplies mothers who earn a meager income and struggle to feed their children under the age of five. Similarly, the Massachusetts Food Trust Program provides food retailers in low-income communities with loans and grants. Initiatives like Mass in Motion and Massachusetts Children at Play work with schools and childcare centers to create programs that help kids eat more nutritiously and get more exercise.

The state’s Department of Public Health offers many other programs designed to keep Massachusetts’ residents healthy. Students pursuing a master’s of public health online in Massachusetts should look into these programs as a starting point for their careers.

Internships and fellowships share several similarities and both allow students to gain practical work experience as students. Fellowships generally offer paid work for students at the graduate and post-graduate level, whereas internships, often unpaid, are usually targeted toward undergraduates. Internship and fellowship experiences give students an edge over fellow job-seekers when entering the workforce. The following list outlines five internship and fellowship options for students currently enrolled in online MPH programs in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Medical Society Internship

This internship, specifically designed for students pursuing a graduate degree in health policy or public health, allows students to work in the public health department of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Interns aid in violence prevention, elder care, and environmental health.
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Local Health Internship Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Local Health Internship Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: The Massachusetts Department of Health, a state government agency, hosts an internship for up to 35 graduate students per year in the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization.
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Global Medicine Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital

This opportunity focuses on training students to care for underserved and underprivileged populations around the world. Every year, two fellows participate in teaching, research, and clinical work to fulfill the fellowship program’s requirements.
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Dana-Farber Administrative Fellowship

The Boston-based Dana Farber Cancer Institute offers a one-year program for graduate students of healthcare administration, public health, and related fields. The fellowship includes two-month rotation and shadow experience at the institute.
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Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

This fellowship allows graduate and professional degree students to complete a one-year mentored fellowship in Boston or the nearby area focused on health-related community service and leadership development. Members develop and complete a service project to help the Boston community.
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Career trajectories in any industry, including public health, depend on several factors: past experience, education level, your credentials, and location. Fortunately, the number of positions in public health care are growing steadily. . Public health professionals in Massachusetts earn more than their counterparts in the rest of the country: the hourly mean salary in Massachusetts is about $2 greater than the national hourly rate.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Massachusetts2,100$34.26$71,245
United States63,260$32.60$67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Massachusetts

When you search for your first job, consider applying to work at one of Massachusetts’ largest employers. A list of the five largest companies in Massachusetts includes two healthcare systems and two universities. Consider this list as a starting point for your post-grad job search.

EmployersNumber of Employees
Partners Healthcare System58,004
University of Massachusetts24,086
Steward Health Care System18,000

Public Health Research Centers in Massachusetts

In order to set yourself apart from other job seekers, you might consider conducting research in a laboratory. Universities and nonprofit organizations host laboratories and research centers that provide research experience for students in public health. Working in a lab will supplement your degree in public health and help build your résumé for future job prospects.

  • Optum Labs at Boston University School of Public Health: This lab, operated out of Boston University, specializes in public health. The lab uses big data to conduct research on the quality of healthcare, clinical epidemiology, risk assessment, clinical genetics, and several other areas.
  • Slone Epidemiology Center: Also operated by Boston University, the Slone Epidemiology Center targets the health effects of medications used on human beings. Lab specialists work within adult and pediatric medicine, nursing, biostatistics, and computer science.
  • Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC): This research center focuses on the health of military veterans. It includes four different methods and areas of research: epidemiology, clinical trials, the core laboratory, and biomedical informatics.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Massachusetts

Professional organizations offer opportunities for networking and professional development in public health. If you’re a student in a public health program in Massachusetts, consider joining one of these associations, even if you haven’t started working yet. The opportunities to connect with professionals at conferences may help you land internships, fellowships, and scholarships to start your career on the right foot.

  • Massachusetts Public Health Organization: This private, non-profit association of professionals works within the field of public health in Massachusetts. The organization hosts networking events and educational opportunities, and its members participate in political advocacy for public health.
  • Western Massachusetts Public Health Association: This professional organization provides people working in public health in western Massachusetts an opportunity to connect beyond the healthcare hub of Boston. The association provides educational opportunities, technical assistance, and resource development.
  • Massachusetts Environmental Health Association: A professional organization in a field related to public health, the Massachusetts Environmental Health Association prioritizes charity and education. This organization advocates for a higher standard in healthy living.
  • Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses: Nurses specializing in public health might consider joining the Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses. The organization advocates for nursing politically and provides continuing educational opportunities for nurses.

The state does not require public health officials to gain certification through the community health board as it does the health officer board.

Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health offers different types of public health licenses and certifications. The Board of Certification of Health Officers, for example, requires professionals to pass an exam to practice their profession in Massachusetts. Another board, the state’s Board of Certification of Community Health Workers, examines candidates on several core competencies, including outreach methods and strategies, individual and community assessment, and cultural responsiveness.

The state does not require public health officials to gain certification through the community health board as it does the health officer board. But certification can give you a leg up on the competition when searching for jobs. Massachusetts also offers other certifications within healthcare and social work not directly related to public health.

Students researching online MPH programs in Massachusetts should consider accredited programs first. Accreditation agencies review schools and programs to ensure they meet strict academic standards.

Accreditation agencies fall into two categories: national and regional. Typically, regional accreditation holds more esteem than national accreditation. Regional accreditation agencies divide the U.S. into six different regions for higher education. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges covers Massachusetts, along with five other states. National accreditation agencies generally address specific types of professions, such as nursing or accounting. In public health, students should seek schools and programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, an independent agency recognized by the federal Department of Education.

University of Massachusetts

Based in Amherst, the University of Massachusetts school of health offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition, communication disorders, kinesiology, and five different public health disciplines. The school’s online master of public health program is designed for professionals already working in the field. The MPH features concentrations in public health practice or nutrition.

These two MPH programs are among the most flexible online MPH programs in Massachusetts, since they require no on-campus components. All coursework is available in an asynchronous format, so students can choose their own schedules. Students can also opt for part-time or full-time study, taking anywhere from one to three courses each term.

Students join the online MPH program as part of a cohort. The nutrition curriculum requires 42 credits, while the public health practice curriculum requires 44 credits. Students in both concentrations must complete a 200-hour practicum and a capstone project. The programs cover courses in five public health areas: epidemiology, environmental health science, biostatistics, health policy and management, and community health education. Students choose electives that best align with their personal and career interests.

Students who want to try the program without formally enrolling can complete up to four courses as non-degree seeking students. Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, but most accepted students have a 3.0. Applicants must have at least two to three years of full-time health care or public health work experience. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores unless they have five years of work experience or an advanced degree. The school admits students for the fall and spring terms. All students in the program pay the same per-credit base tuition. Distance learners are eligible for scholarships.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University’s college of health sciences places a strong emphasis on research and interdisciplinary programs. The school’s online master of public health in urban health addresses numerous public health issues plaguing American cities, including health disparities based on race and ethnicity. Coursework is delivered in an asynchronous format, and online students are not required to visit campus. Students gain real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge in topics such as poverty, immigration, substance abuse, and violence.

The urban health program differentiates itself from other public health programs in Massachusetts by providing constant opportunities for hands-on learning. Each course uses case studies to make the material as experiential as possible. The 42-credit curriculum features coursework in health and human rights, social epidemiology, and evaluating healthcare quality. All students must complete a 200-hour practicum in an urban public health setting. Distance learners also complete a capstone project that can include research, policy, and service delivery.

The program admits students in the fall and spring terms. Since students can choose between part-time and full-time study, completion times range between two and five years. After graduating, students are prepared to sit for the Certification in Public Health Exam. Graduates have gone on to work for federal and state departments of health, the Cambridge Health Alliance, and the Institute for Community Health.

Since graduates will serve diverse communities, the program seeks diverse applicants. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students must submit either GRE or MCAT scores. The admissions committee frequently interviews applicants. All online students pay the same tuition regardless of location. Approximately 45% of students in the program receive financial aid, and the average institutional award for the program exceeds $8,000.

The Catherine E. Philbin Scholarship in Public Health

This scholarship, provided by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in Massachusetts, offers either graduate or undergraduate students $500 to pursue degrees in public health.

Amount Offered: $500
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must maintain legal residency in Massachusetts.

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Charles River District Medical Society Scholarship

This scholarship is for residents of the Charles River District in Massachusetts enrolled in an accredited program related to the medical field.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: December 31
Eligibility Requirements: In order to apply for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in medical school and be a legal resident of one of the following towns in Massachusetts: Needham, Newton, Waltham, Wellesley, and Weston.

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Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts Scholarship Program

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts provides a long list of scholarships for students from the western part of the state. Several of these scholarships aid students pursuing a degree in the medical field; others support more general criteria.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The eligibility requirements depend on the scholarship. some only offer help to students from certain towns, high schools, or counties.

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Franklin District Medical Society -- Percy W. Wadman, PhD Scholarship

This scholarship provides funding for students from Franklin County in Massachusetts enrolled in a program related to medicine.

Amount Offered: $1,000 to $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: April 30
Eligibility Requirements: Students or their families should reside in Franklin County, Massachusetts. Applicants must be members of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

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Essex South District Medical Society Medical Student Scholarship Program

This scholarship aids students in South Essex, Massachusetts who have the intention of returning to the area after graduating from the medical field.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: January 2
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants should be residents in the Essex South community for at least five years prior to their college education and have a desire to return to the area after graduation.

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Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Section Community Grants

Students who supplement their medical-related education with community service projects can apply for this grant twice per year (once in the spring semester, once in the fall semester).

Amount Offered: $250 per project
Scholarship Deadline: Varies per semester
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be students and members of the Massachusetts Medical Society who propose projects meeting objectives in community, social service, and public health activism.

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Massachusetts Medical Society International Health Studies Grant Program

This scholarship provides funding for students who want to study abroad and pursue a career related to medicine and serving underprivileged populations. The scholarship goes directly to study abroad costs.

Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: September 15
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be students and members of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

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Thomas P. and Edwina H. Devlin Medical Scholarship Fund

Created in 1962, this scholarship funds tuition, books, and equipment for medical students in specific Massachusetts cities. (See eligibility requirements below.)

Amount Offered: Varies between $100 and $4,000
Scholarship Deadline: June 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in medical school and reside in either Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester, or Woburn, MA.

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Worcester District Medical Society

The Worcester District Medical Society offers a competitive scholarship for students living in central Massachusetts and pursuing a medical discipline, including those studying public health.

Amount Offered: Varies each year
Scholarship Deadline: June 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must reside in central Massachusetts at time of application and provide proof of high academic standing, community service activities, and financial need.

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The Yablonski Fellowship Fund

This scholarship benefits master’s students at the University of Massachusetts within the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, such as Environmental Health Sciences, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Health Promotion and Policy.

Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: August 25
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be in good academic standing, show leadership ability, and provide proof of volunteer experience. Applicants write a 500-word essay to apply. Children of firefighters, police officers, and teachers receive preference.

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