Public health professionals in Missouri must address several health issues in the state, from the aging population’s access to senior care to the many residents who live in poverty and without health insurance. Most Missouri residents are overweight or obese, and the state faces an opioid addiction epidemic that killed more than 900 people in 2016.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of epidemiologist jobs in Missouri will increase 5.1% by 2024, and health educator jobs in the state will increase by 10.1%.

Missouri needs trained public health professionals to alleviate these statewide health problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of epidemiologist jobs in Missouri will increase 5.1% by 2024, and health educator jobs in the state will increase by 10.1%.

Online MPH programs in Missouri prepare future public health professionals to address these challenges. The University of Missouri, the state’s largest educational institution, offers an affordable MPH program entirely online, and Missouri State offers a hybrid MPH program. Other respected online MPH programs in Missouri are offered through private universities.

Missouri officials recognize several public health challenges. According to the Census Bureau, 16.1% of Missourians are 65 or older, higher than the national average of 14.9%. Ensuring that the state’s aging population has access to senior care is a top priority.

The Census Bureau reports that 14% of Missouri residents live in poverty, compared to 12.7% nationwide, and 10.5% of the population under 65 lives without health insurance, compared to 8.8% nationally. Missouri health officials express concern that many residents cannot afford preventative health services, good nutrition, and opportunities for exercise.

Nearly 66% of Missouri residents are overweight or obese. The Missouri state government supports initiatives to foster better nutritional choices and exercise habits, including educational programs for children and adults. Opioid addiction is also widespread in Missouri. State health officials report that 908 people died from opioid overdoses in Missouri in 2016.

Internships and fellowships offer students and recent graduates opportunities to gain professional experience. Internships may be paid or unpaid and usually involve basic work. Fellowships, in contrast, are paid positions that require candidates to perform all job functions. Students in public health programs in Missouri can benefit from the internships and fellowships listed below.

Center for Public Health Policy Internship

This internship at the University of Missouri’s Center for Public Health Policy in Columbia focuses on health policy issues important to Missouri residents. Interns learn data-driven research techniques and lead focus groups. Interested students should contact the center by email.

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Jackson County Internship

This internship supports the Jackson County Health Department, based in Independence. Interns collaborate with staff to generate a report about the public health effects of climate change. Interested MPH students or graduates should email the health department.

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Mary Ellen Gibson Fellowship in Anti-Hunger Policy

Offered by the Missouri nonprofit Operation Food Search, this fellowship focuses on ending child hunger and improving food security for families in the St. Louis area. Candidates can request more information through Operation Food Search’s website.

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Obesity Prevention Program Internship

Interns with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in Jefferson City assist program personnel as they educate school officials, state workers, and the public about the dangers of obesity and the benefits of good nutrition and exercise. Interested students should contact the program director by phone or email.

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Although public health officials earn comfortable salaries, they typically work for government agencies and nonprofit institutions, which means they earn less than similarly qualified professionals working in the private health industry. A public health professional’s salary depends on several factors, including experience, position, and geographic location. Those with advanced degrees earn higher salaries, and professionals with years of experience in public health roles earn more than recent graduates.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Missouri1,260$24.99$51,970
United States63,260$32.60$67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in Missouri

Public health professionals address public safety issues; their expertise is valuable to state, county, and city governments. However, opportunities in public health are more limited than those in other fields. For the best chance of securing employment after graduation, students earning master’s degrees in public health online in Missouri should identify the largest public health employers in the state, such as those listed below.

EmployersNumber of Employees
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services1,545
St. Louis County Department of Public Health501
Kansas City Health Department193

Public Health Research Centers in Missouri

Public health officials depend on state research centers for the latest findings in the field. Research facilities are major employers of MPH graduates. Public health students should identify the most influential public health research institutions in the state to understand sources of health information and to find jobs after graduation.

  • The Center for Health Policy: The Center for Health Policy at the University of Missouri promotes the analysis and discussion of health policy issues with reference to new research findings. The center assesses and improves public health initiatives that benefit Missouri residents.
  • The Institute for Public Health: The Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis fosters interdisciplinary research in the public health field. The institute also educates health professionals and Missouri communities about new findings.
  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: This government agency engages in research efforts to gauge and improve public health in Missouri. The department publishes the Missouri Health Assessment, a comprehensive report about health issues in the state.

Public Health Professional Organizations in Missouri

Public health professionals rely on research to inform best practices. Due to the nature of health research, standards change over time. Public health professionals need to stay informed about the latest developments, and professional organizations provide opportunities to attend seminars and conferences covering the latest trends in the public health policy and practice. These events allow public health students and professionals chances to network and create professional relationships that can lead to job opportunities.

  • Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies: MoALPHA fosters communication among city, county, and state health department employees. This group provides health professionals opportunities to exchange information at annual conferences.
  • Master of Public Health Graduate Association: This student-run organization unites past and present University of Missouri graduate students and faculty. The association fosters mentoring relationships, provides networking opportunities, and helps direct the development of the MPH curriculum at Mizzou.
  • Missouri Public Health Association: This interdisciplinary association of public health students and workers improves health-related education, encourages discussion of trends in the field, and influences legislation relevant to public health. MPHA hosts annual meetings, arranges internships, and awards scholarships.

Public health positions often require professional licenses or certifications. However, the credentials required to hold public health jobs are not necessarily issued by the state government. For example, many hospitals and county health departments prefer health educators certified by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Similarly, organizations employing epidemiologists often prefer candidates certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.

In Missouri, public health professionals who work with sensitive populations or potentially harmful substances must hold state licenses and certifications.

In Missouri, public health professionals who work with sensitive populations or potentially harmful substances must hold state licenses and certifications. For example, leaders of organizations that provide care to children must maintain Director Certification through the Department of Health and Senior Services. Also, substance abuse clinic workers who handle controlled substances, such as methadone or suboxone, must register with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Accreditation is the process by which external agencies verify an academic program’s quality. Attending an accredited MPH program ensures future employers will recognize the value of your degree. Accreditation indicates graduates of the program have the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the field.

There are two primary forms of accreditation in the United States. Academically oriented institutions, including those that offer quality MPH degrees in Missouri, are usually regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is more prestigious, but vocational and online-only colleges often hold national accreditation. Public health students should also look for MPH degree programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). An independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, CEPH only accredits programs that maintain rigorous educational standards and base courses of study on the latest research.

A.T. Still University

A.T. Still University’s online master of public health degree equips the next generation of seasoned healthcare professionals with the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to make a real difference in the lives of people across the country. The program incorporates evolving practices and standards in the public health field.

Through this online MPH in Missouri, students get individualized attention, as class sizes average 16 students. Faculty are available to answer questions, encouraging program participants to take part in class discussions and assignments online. This enables students to form connections that can help them throughout their public health careers.

To apply to the program, prospective students must fill out an application form. They do not need to provide GRE or GMAT scores but must submit transcripts for any accredited colleges or universities previously attended. Classes begin at five different start dates throughout the academic year, including two in the fall and three in the spring.

Once enrolled, distance learners have access to key resources, including career services, a university writing center, technical assistance, and online tutoring. Both Missouri residents and non-residents pay the same tuition.

Graduates go on to embark on many different careers, serving as health educators, health department directors, health education consultants, and public health program managers. They may also work for nonprofits, insurance companies, clinics, hospitals, and government agencies.

ATSU’s campus is located in Kirksville, Missouri.

University of Missouri - Columbia

Part of the School of Health Professions, the University of Missouri-Columbia’s master of public health program focuses on the core areas of health services administration, environmental health, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, and biostatistics. The program involves two years of full-time coursework, along with a supervised practical internship. In all, students must complete 45 credits to graduate. They may choose to concentrate their studies in health promotion and policy or veterinary public health.

To be eligible for admission, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution and a minimum GPA of 3.0 over their last 60 undergraduate credits. They must also submit GRE scores, although the program often accepts LSAT, MCAT, and GMAT scores as alternatives. Non-native English speakers must take the TOEFL exam and score 500 or better. Additionally, all applicants must provide at least two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay.

MU’s dual degree options make it one of the top online public health programs in Missouri. This enables students to concurrently pursue a doctor of veterinary medicine or a master’s degree in public affairs, journalism, or social work.

The veterinary public health track focuses on preventing zoonotic diseases and promoting food safety for both animals and humans. The health promotion and policy concentration helps students understand how to develop, maintain, and evaluate strong community programs, along with the use of advocacy and policy to help ensure the success of programs.

All online MPH students pay the same tuition on a per-credit basis, regardless of their residency status.

The university’s main campus is located in central Missouri, about halfway between the major metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis.

Dr. Mary King Long Scholarship

This scholarship assists permanent residents of Taney County pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in the medical field.

Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 10
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be from Taney County, must be full-time students, and must demonstrate financial need.

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Edna Dell Weinel Scholarship

Offered through the Missouri Public Health Association, this scholarship helps public health professionals in Missouri seek higher or continued education in the public health field.

Amount Offered: $750
Scholarship Deadline: September 1
Eligibility Requirements: Candidates must live or work in Missouri, must demonstrate need, and must belong to the Missouri Public Health Association.

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Health Professional Scholarship Award

The Missouri Public Health Association offers this scholarship to undergraduate and graduate public health students in Missouri. Candidates must state how they intend to improve Missouri public health after graduating.

Amount Offered: $750
Scholarship Deadline: September 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate or graduate public health program and must be a member of the Missouri Public Health Association.

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Jackie Liesemeyer Nursing Scholarship

The Missouri Public Health Association presents this scholarship to outstanding candidates pursuing careers in public health nursing.

Amount Offered: $750
Scholarship Deadline: September 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate or graduate public health nursing programs and must be a MPHA member.

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Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program

This scholarship supports African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Pacific Islander students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees related to environmental research, protection, and safety.

Amount Offered: $3,045
Scholarship Deadline: June 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must belong to an underrepresented group, must be Missouri residents, and must have a GPA of at least 2.5.

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Missouri Outreach Graduate Opportunity Scholarship

This scholarship waives part of the nonresident fee for students from outside Missouri attending Missouri State University.

Amount Offered: $1,755
Scholarship Deadline: Ongoing
Eligibility Requirements: Recipient must be a nonresident, must demonstrate academic achievement, and must be enrolled as a full-time graduate student. Qualifying Missouri State students automatically receive this scholarship.

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Mizzou Public Health Alumni Society Scholarship for Current Students

Funded by Mizzou MPH alumni, this scholarship helps offset costs for current MPH students at the University of Missouri.

Amount Offered: $250
Scholarship Deadline: October 15
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in the MPH program at the University of Missouri, must have a 3.0 GPA, and must submit a statement describing their commitment to the public health field.

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Need-Based Scholarship for Graduate Students

Missouri State University offers this scholarship to graduate students who qualified for Pell Grant funding during the final year of their undergraduate studies.

Amount Offered: $1,000 per semester (up to $3,000 per year)
Scholarship Deadline: June 1, November 15, April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must attend Missouri State and demonstrate financial need.

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Sickles Scholarship

This scholarship supports nontraditional and returning students pursuing degrees in health-related or social science fields.

Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 10
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be from southwestern Missouri, must be enrolled in a health-related or social science program, and must have at least a 2.5 GPA. Preference is given to residents of Lawrence County.

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