In 2016, a United Health Foundation study found that Oregon ranked 21st out of all 50 states in terms of population health. As such, ample opportunities exist for students who aspire to enter the public health field. Oregon State University—one of the state’s two flagship universities—operates the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, which includes both undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition, Oregon Health and Sciences University and Portland State University have joined forces to operate their own OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11.2% growth rate in health education positions in Oregon over the next three years.
After completing their education, Oregon students can find plenty of opportunities in the public health field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11.2% growth rate in health education positions in Oregon over the next three years. Increasing educational and professional opportunities make it an ideal time to consider public health programs in Oregon.
The state of Oregon is currently engaged in a variety of public health initiatives each year. Currently, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Public Health Division provides programs and services in areas such as environmental health, disease prevention, and preparedness. One of the division’s more salient initiatives is its climate and health program, which includes a climate and health resilience plan. The division also operates Oregon Drinking Water Services, which creates and enforces safe drinking water regulations statewide. OHA’s foodborne illness prevention program is offered in collaboration with the food service industry, local health departments, and the public. The program’s goal is to combat the root causes of foodborne illness.
While the terms “internship” and “fellowship” are often used interchangeably, they are actually different. Fellows usually have already completed their undergraduate education and always receive a salary or stipend. Fellowships are more prestigious than internships, and in general, work with more autonomy and independence. Internships are short periods of professional work for an organization. Interns are able to network in major companies and earn valuable experience. They are generally unpaid, but some may be paid. Internships are easier to come by than fellowships. Fortunately, both fellowships and internships are available to students in online MPH programs in Oregon.
- OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences Graduate Fellowship
This fellowship takes place at the Oregon State University in Corvallis. Students in the fellowship take 12 credits per term at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Fellowship awards range from $250 to $6,000.
- Health Care for ALL Oregon Internship
HCAO offers several internships, including database/website development, policy work, and social media. Interested students should fill out the form on the OHSU-PSU website.
- OHSU School of Medicine Infectious Diseases Fellowship
This is a two-year fellowship program in which students can prepare themselves for careers in public health, private practice, or academia. Admission is competitive, as there are only three fellowships each year. The fellowship is located in Portland on OHSU’s campus.
- OHSU Department of Emergency Medicine Fellowships
Located on OHSU’s campus in Portland, this particular fellowship offers concentrations in hospital administration, toxicology, research, ultrasound, education, and pediatric emergency medicine.
- Oregon Health Authority Volunteer Internships
The OHA offers internships in public health, communications, education, and policy. Students work on-site in Portland.
Just as in any profession, the annual salary for public health officials depends on a number of factors, including experience, credentials, demand, and location. The table below shows employment data for health educators in Oregon when compared with health educators nationwide. Students enrolled in online MPH programs in Oregon can only expect opportunities to grow; the BLS projects the health education field will grow by 11.2% over the next three years in Oregon.
|Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
Public Health Employers in Oregon
Students thinking about enrolling in online MPH programs in Oregon should investigate future employment opportunities. Fortunately, there are many organizations in the state who are often hiring in the public health field. Below are a few options for public health graduates.
|Employer||Number of Employees|
|Oregon Health Authority||1,000-5,000|
|Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences||Over 75 tenured and dozens of un-tenured|
|Oregon Health & Science University||5,000|
Public Health Research Centers in Oregon
Many public health students enter research after graduation. As such, students looking to pursue an online MPH program in Oregon should investigate public health research centers. Below are a few of the many public health centers in the state.
- Oregon State College of Public Health and Human Sciences: Utilizing the university’s research facilities, OSU’s public health department specializes in nutrition and physical activity, health systems reform and policy, and environmental and occupational hazards.
- Oregon Prevention Research Center: Located in Portland, the Oregon PRC is funded by the Center for Disease Control. The PRC partners with Native and other communities to investigate health inequalities and research potential ways to address health issues.
- Oregon Health Authority Evaluation and Research: The research wing of the state’s department of health, the OHA operates a number of research and data-driven studies that aim to increase the health of all of Oregon’s citizens.
Public Health Professional Organizations in Oregon
Membership in a professional organization is important in any field, but especially so in a specialized area like public health. Many of these organizations offer networking events, job boards, or resources that can help public health professionals and recent graduates find their next job. Public health graduates should choose what occupation they are interested in—environmental health, public health, nursing—and join the most relevant professional organization in Oregon.
- Oregon Nurses Association: ONA offers networking events, training, professional development, and other resources that can help both practicing and future nurses.
- Oregon Public Health Association: OPHA primarily focuses on advocacy and policy. The organization stands on its belief that healthy living is a human right.
- Oregon Environmental Health Association: Focusing specifically on environmental health, OEHA provides a space for environmental health professionals to pool their resources and collaborate. The organization also provides resources for continuing education opportunities.
There are a number of licenses and certifications—both in Oregon and nationwide—that can help advance your career as a public health official. One of the most common industry-wide certificates is the Certified in Public Health credential, provided by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.
The Oregon Environmental Health Specialist license, provided by the Oregon Health Authority, is one of the most noteworthy and prevalent public health licensure options in the state.
Given that environmental health is such a large component of Oregon’s public health department, the Oregon Environmental Health Specialist license, provided by the Oregon Health Authority, is one of the most noteworthy and prevalent public health licensure options in the state. To earn the license, candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree with at least 45 quarter credits of environmental sanitation coursework. Alternatively, they may also have earned a graduate degree in the field and have completed a year of relevant work experience. After meeting those prerequisites, candidates must pass the National Environmental Health Association exam, in addition to an exam on Oregon-specific laws and rules.
It is important to choose an accredited program because it shows that a third party has vetted the program and verified its quality. If a program is not accredited, it is either accountable to no one except itself or an accrediting body has revoked its seal of approval for some transgression.
There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. National accrediting bodies generally focus on a specific type of education, such as business or teacher education. Regional accreditation is more prestigious, since regionally accredited schools are held to higher standards. Each accreditation body is responsible for a particular geographic region of the U.S. In Oregon, students should check for regional accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. In terms of national accreditation, students should look for approval by the Council on Education for Public Health. In addition, the Public Health Accreditation Board provides accreditation for public health departments in states and cities across the country.
- Oregon Health and Science University - Portland State University
Oregon Health and Science University partners with Portland State University to train future public health professionals and find sustainable solutions to problems in healthcare. The school facilitates innovative research projects and provides opportunities for student involvement. Ongoing public health research topics include addiction, health equity, and the developmental origins of health and disease.
OHSU-PSU offers one of the top public health programs in Oregon; the MPH in primary health care and health disparities program is ideal for professionals who are seeking a career change or advancement in the field. The fully online MPH program prepares students for careers in clinical practice, health education, and program management. The curriculum emphasizes the promotion of health services for disadvantaged populations and features coursework in community assessment, public health policy, and program evaluation.
The curriculum includes 17 core credits that explore principles of environmental health, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Students learn to identify at-risk populations and develop culturally appropriate interventions. The program requires 26 credits of concentration coursework in topics including communication, informatics, and professionalism and ethics.
Students learn to enhance health practices through interdisciplinary collaboration. Through nine elective credits, students develop skills in areas such as global program development, population tracking, and chronic disease in elderly populations. Students complete a six-credit field experience comprising 200 onsite hours.
Scholarships for Public Health Master’s Degrees in Oregon
- Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion Scholarships
Oregon’s Office of Student Access and Completion offers more than $18 million in scholarships to students in Oregon. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission oversees the office and the scholarships.
Amount Offered: $1,000-$10,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 15 (Early Bird) or March 1 (Regular)
Eligibility Requirements: Open to Oregon students.
- Korean American Scholarship Foundation Scholarship
Open to Korean students, the KASF scholarship takes into account financial need, extracurricular activities, academic success, and community service.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: July 16
Eligibility Requirements: Must have Korean heritage and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Oregon State University Ecampus Need-Based Grants
Offered exclusively to students at OSU’s Ecampus, these grants are provided after students complete their FAFSA applications and enroll in an online program.
Amount Offered: Up to $1,000/year
Scholarship Deadline: Due with FAFSA
Eligibility Requirements: Must be enrolled in Oregon State’s Ecampus and demonstrate need
- National Science Foundation Grant Research Fellowship Program
The National Science Foundation offers several prestigious fellowships to outstanding students in engineering and science. These fellowships are available to students nationwide. OSU further supports recipients by providing a full tuition scholarship and subsidized health insurance.
Amount Offered: Full tuition
Scholarship Deadline: October 23
Eligibility Requirements: Must be enrolled in a science-related master’s or doctoral program.
- Medical Group Management Association Western Section Scholarship
Students who are MGMA members and pursuing medical management at the undergraduate or graduate level can apply for these scholarships.
Amount Offered: $1,000-$5,000
Scholarship Deadline: N/A
Eligibility Requirements: Must be an MGMA member in an undergraduate or graduate program that involves medical practice management (i.e. public health or healthcare administration).
- OHSU-PSU Dean’s Scholarship Fund
Designed for students who work full-time jobs, pay their own way through college, or have parents who never went to college, the Dean’s Scholarship Fund aims to remove some of the barriers that face less privileged students.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: Students receive consideration for the scholarship when they submit their application.
Eligibility Requirements: Must demonstrate need.
- Portland State University General Graduate Scholarships
Portland State University offers general scholarships for students who apply to enter graduate programs. Students must fill out a separate application to earn consideration for scholarships.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: February 1
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a future graduate student at Portland State University.
- Mike Johnson Scholarship
The Mike Johnson Scholarship is an option for public health students interested in environmental health. All applicants must be studying a field related to the environment.
Amount Offered: $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: December 31
Eligibility Requirements: Must be attending an accredited master’s or Ph.D program in Oregon or Virginia that is related to the environment. Must be committed to physical fitness.
- Oregon Public Health Institute Foster Memorial Scholarships
OPHI has awarded $185,200 in Foster scholarships since 2000. OPHI grants these scholarships to students with outstanding academic records who have shown they are committed to pursuing public health as a career.
Amount Offered: $1,000-$10,000
Scholarship Deadline: N/A
Eligibility Requirements: Commitment to a career in public health.