America’s Health Rankings lists North Carolina as the 32nd healthiest state in the country. With a high rate of smoking, an obesity rate north of 30%, and relatively poor clinical resources, the state needs public health professionals to help address a variety of communal health care issues.
For graduates with an MPH, North Carolina offers ample employment opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs in epidemiology will grow 6.3% and that positions in health education will increase by 12.2% between 2016 and 2026. A position in public health is rewarding and provides opportunities for career advancement.
North Carolina’s Division of Public Health began as a campaign to address public health issues including tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and substance abuse. In June of 2017, Governor Cooper initiated the Opioid Misuse and Overdose Summit in response to the national opioid crisis. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers services for low-income residents, individuals with hearing or vision loss, and other populations requiring health services.
Students in online MPH programs in North Carolina benefit from internships, which may be paid or unpaid and provide professional training. Fellowships are paid positions generally offered to graduate or postgraduate students. Public health programs in North Carolina often arrange internships and fellowships to help students gain practical experience.
- North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows Program
Based in Davidson, this independent fellowship lasts one year and awards $1,000. Fellows complete an interdisciplinary, health-related community service project.
- Alzheimer's Association Western Carolina Internship
Students in this unpaid internship, based in Charlotte, increase public education through community outreach. Interns organize health fairs and education programs to increase Alzheimer’s awareness.
- Healthy Start Foundation Internship
This nonprofit foundation reduces infant mortality in North Carolina through public policy changes and public health campaigns. Interested students should email their résumé and graduate program information.
- Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship Program
- Poe Center for Health Education Internship
Located in Raleigh, this unpaid, semester-long internship provides experience in public health outreach programs through administrative work. Applicants should email the intern coordinator.
North Carolina health educators earn an average of $53,000 per year, though salaries for individual employees will vary considerably depending on their credentials, experience, and location. Health educators implement public health programs and teach individuals and communities behaviors that promote wellness. Through community health outreach, health educators gather and analyze data to identify health problems and improve policy. The BLS projects employment for health educators to grow 16% between 2016 and 2026.
|Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
Public Health Employers in North Carolina
Recent graduates from online MPH programs in North Carolina find the most employment opportunities with large companies. Large employers also offer more benefits, such as healthcare and paid vacation time, and big companies typically have more funding for public health research.
|Employers||Number of Employees|
|Carolinas Healthcare System||60,000|
|NC Department of Health and Human Services||19,000|
|Wake Forest Medical Center||14,200|
Public Health Research Centers in North Carolina
Along with hospitals, research centers employ large numbers of public health professionals. For professionals with an MPH, North Carolina research centers offer opportunities to incorporate statistics and health research skills. Graduates who are interested in research careers should investigate public health research centers across the state.
- University of North Carolina Nutritional Research Institute: This Kannapolis research center studies how individual requirements and responses to diet affect nutritional needs. The institute’s facilities include wet laboratories, biotechnology equipment, and clinical laboratories.
- Wake County Public Health Center: This center gathers public health data for the county, including information on chronic diseases, communicable diseases, and injuries. The center also assesses the overall health of the county using medical clinics and public health education clinics.
- North Carolina Public Health Department of Epidemiology: This NCDPH division studies the rate of communicable diseases, environmental and occupational hazards, child fatality prevention, and community disaster response. Its facilities include medical and environmental laboratory services.
Public Health Professional Organizations in North Carolina
Membership with professional organizations helps public health professionals advance their careers. Many organizations offer job boards, organize annual conferences, and provide continuing education opportunities. The National Health Service Corps provides scholarships and loan repayments in exchange for public health service.
- North Carolina Alliance of Public Health Agencies: This organization provides staffing for large healthcare organizations. The alliance connects healthcare companies with job seekers pursuing positions as nurses, interpreters, dentists, nutritionists, and administrative assistants.
- North Carolina Public Health Association: This association improves public health through political advocacy, professional development, and public awareness. The association advocates for public health professionals and connects research and practice. Members have access to a job board.
- North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors: This Raleigh-based organization promotes public health policies. Members attend monthly meetings, access the association’s podcast, and attend public health leadership conferences.
Most public health positions do not require state licensure or certification. However, two certification boards offer epidemiology certification exams: the Board for Infection Control and Epidemiology and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The American Medical Association also offers certification and licensing for epidemiologists. Earning these credentials distinguishes job seekers from the competition.
Though not required, these certifications give job seekers an advantage over other MPH graduates.
Although graduates of public health programs in North Carolina do not need a license to secure employment, the National Board of Public Health Examiners offers a Certified in Public Health credential that increases a professional’s marketability. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers the nationally recognized Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam to evaluate health educators. The CHES exam is available to MPH graduates pursuing careers in community health promotion. Though not required, these certifications give job seekers an advantage over other MPH graduates.
Students pursuing a master’s of public health online in North Carolina should choose an accredited institution to ensure the program meets rigorous academic standards. Accreditation is awarded by regional and national accrediting agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Most regionally accredited institutions are academically oriented, nonprofit schools. Regional accreditation is older and more highly respected than national accreditation. Nationally accredited schools are generally for-profit or vocational schools and adhere to less stringent regulations.
Students considering online MPH programs in North Carolina should look for institutions regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Public health programs often hold field-specific accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. This ED-recognized, independent agency accredits public health schools and programs. You can find a list of all CEPH-accredited schools and programs on the organization’s website.
- Lenoir-Rhyne University
Lenoir-Rhyne’s online master of public health program allows students to complete all their course requirements without ever stepping foot on the school’s Hickory or Asheville campuses. Through their studies, students examine public health theory and research, engage in research of their own, and take part in service learning opportunities. This multifaceted approach results in graduates who are well prepared to advance in the field.
This master of public health online in North Carolina consists of 42 credits. Coursework covers topics in biostatistics, environmental health, health services administration, epidemiology, and behavioral science. Other key topics include program planning and evaluation, policy implementation, and health communications. Once core classes are finished, students focus in on major issues, theories, and strategies in public health. Learners choose from a variety of elective classes, including marketing strategy, nutrition concepts, and drug use and abuse. Students who complete the university’s dietetic internship may apply up to nine credits toward the MPH program requirements.
The program meets standards set by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). As such, students complete applied learning experiences in biostatistics, health program planning, environmental health, administration, informatics, health communications, diversity, and epidemiology.
To apply to this online MPH in North Carolina, prospective students must provide an updated resume, a personal essay, their GRE or GMAT scores, and official transcripts from any colleges and universities they previously attended. The program only accepts students who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution. Once enrolled, all students pay the same tuition, regardless of their official state of residency. The school charges tuition on a per-credit basis using a straightforward fee schedule.
Lenoir-Rhyne is a private institution founded in 1891. Currently, the school serves more than 2,500 students.
- University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
A well regarded research institution, UNC Chapel Hill offers one of the best online MPH programs in North Carolina. The program is designed for established professionals with two or more years of practical experience. Coursework focuses on developing students’ leadership skills. The fully online program features webcam-based classes and rich interactions with instructors, classmates, and public health experts. Full-time students can complete the program in 24 months, while part-time students can finish degree requirements in 32 months.
The 42-credit program covers subjects such as methods and measures, understanding public health issues, conceptualizing public health solutions, and public health data analysis. Students then transition into more leadership-focused courses, including those related to system transformation, healthy policy, and quality improvement. Students also must complete a practicum, during which they work alongside established professionals in a healthcare or public health setting. The practicum typically involves about 200 hours of hands-on experience.
To qualify for admission to the online MPH program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Potential students should have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA throughout their undergraduate coursework. Candidates also must take the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT exam and submit their scores to the university. Additionally, the school requires applicants to submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a resume.
The Gillings School of Global Public Health is consistently ranked as one of the top public health schools in the nation. In 2016, the school was recognized as the top public health school in the U.S., and the second best public health school overall. The school boasts a 75-year history of health education and innovative research. UNC Chapel Hill’s MPH program is accredited through the Council on Education for Public Health. Both in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.
- Robert S. Parker Leadership Scholarship
The NCPHA awards this scholarship to an individual who has worked in the field of public health for at least five years and who is pursuing graduate-level public training for a leadership position.
Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: July 7
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must have been an NCPHA member for two years and must have five years of public health experience.
- Dr. Lois E Frazier Scholarship
Business and Professional Women of Raleigh offer this scholarship to career-focused students who demonstrate leadership and who want to give back to their communities, especially to women.
Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 5
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must demonstrate academic achievement and must be a North Carolina resident.
- Mary Edith Fox Scholarship
Business and Professional Women of Raleigh award this scholarship to a career-focused student who demonstrates financial need. This scholarship honors the memory of Mary Edith Fox, the organization’s former president.
Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 5
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must demonstrate leadership and financial need.
- GSK Opportunity Scholarship
This scholarship from the Triangle Community Foundation supports students who have overcome significant adversity, such as homelessness, drug addiction, child abuse, or bankruptcy.
Amount Offered: Up to $20,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, must be a resident of Wake, Durham, or Orange County, and must show potential to succeed despite exceptional obstacles.
- Local Government Federal Credit Union Scholarship
LGFCU awards 120 scholarships to students selected by the Committee of Carolinas Credit Union Foundation. The award may be applied to tuition, fees, computers, or textbooks.
Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must have an account with LGFCU and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- Shaver-Hitchings Scholarship
This scholarship supports students who are committed to helping others overcome drug abuse, alcoholism, and addiction disorders.
Amount Offered: $1,500
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must reside in Orange, Durham, Wake, or Chatham County and must be enrolled or planning to enroll in medical school, graduate school, or a physician assistant program.
- The NC Safewater Fund Scholarship
This scholarship supports students pursuing public health degrees that emphasize the protection of drinking water quality and/or a water environment.
Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 23
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must have a 3.0 GPA and must not be related to any board members.
- North Carolina Pest Control Scholarship
The North Carolina Pest Management Association Educational Foundation offers this scholarship to support employees and family members of employees.
Amount Offered: Up to $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an owner, employee, or family member of an employee of the NCPMA company.
- NC Recreation and Parks Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to qualified students with experience with local and state parks who are pursuing higher education.
Amount Offered: Up to $11,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a current NCRPA member.
- Senah C. and C.A. Kent Foundation Scholarship
The Center for Scholarship Administration offers this scholarship to students with a high caliber of character and leadership qualities.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: March 22nd
Eligibility Requirements: The student must be enrolled in a higher education institution in Forsyth County, North Carolina, and must demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.