There is a strong need for public health professionals in West Virginia. West Virginia has the fourth highest obesity rate in the nation at 35.6%. The state also has the second highest rate for diabetes and the highest rate for arthritis.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that job opportunities for health educators in West Virginia will grow 8.5% from 2014 to 2024.

Additionally, West Virginia experienced an almost 3% increase in population over the age of 65 between 2010 and 2016. With increased attention on West Virginia’s overweight and aging population in the state’s public health initiatives, public health professionals will be in greater demand over the coming years. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that job opportunities for health educators in West Virginia will grow 8.5% from 2014 to 2024, while opportunities will grow 13.3% for healthcare social workers and 11.6% for community health workers.

Public health programs in West Virginia emphasize healthy living, environmental health, emergency preparedness, and disease management. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health provides information about nutrition and physical activity and promotes initiatives related to breastfeeding, workplace health, and active community environments. The state also offers support to West Virginians who have been affected by a threat or disaster and provides learning resources to the public.

With the high level of obesity in West Virginia, the Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease has created a strategic plan aimed at combating the affliction and diseases related to it. The Bureau for Public Health runs a diabetes task force to help prevent and manage diabetes among the population of West Virginia. The state also operates a West Virginia cancer plan to inform West Virginians about types of cancers and provide resources to those at risk.

Internships can be paid or unpaid and can also count for coursework credit. Internships are available to both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in public health in West Virginia, while fellowships are reserved for graduate and postgraduate learners. Students enrolled in on-campus and online MPH programs in West Virginia are eligible for national and state fellowships. Fellowships are paid and can be part of a student’s academic program. They usually involve research and field work in a particular area. There are several internships and fellowships available to students enrolled in online MPH programs in West Virginia.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services Summer (DHHS) Internship

The West Virginia DHHS summer internship program is open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a public health degree in West VIrginia. Interns should be interested in data, social service, and healthcare policy. The internship is paid and provides students with a chance to interact with DHHS and government officials. Interested candidates should contact the DHHS for more information.
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Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Infectious Disease Laboratory Fellowship

The infectious disease laboratory fellowship trains scientists in public health laboratories and promotes public health initiatives related to infectious disease research. Students can apply at the APHL website.
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Centers For Disease Control (CDC) Summer Graduate Environmental Health Internship

The CDC offers a nine-week summer internship for graduate students studying environmental health as part of their master of public health degree. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to receive this paid Atlanta-based internship.
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National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP) Internship

The NBBTP offers two internships annually. Both take place at the NIH facility in Maryland, where interns learn about the science, regulations, safety, and management of biosafety and biocontainment events. Internships last for one year, but may be extended.
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Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Internship in Public Health

The ASPPH internship in public health is available to any student enrolled in a master’s degree or doctoral degree in public health in the United States. Students will be compensated and must submit a resume, two references, official transcripts, and an essay explaining their public health interests.
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The earning potential of public health professionals varies depending upon degree level and work experience. With more credentials, public health workers can earn more and advance into management positions. Epidemiologists must have an MPH and can earn an annual mean wage of $56,650. Health educators can work with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in public health and earn a mean wage of $42,400 annually.

Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
West Virginia 470 $20.38 $42,400
United States 63,260 $32.60 $67,810

Source: BLS

Public Health Employers in West Virginia

Public health careers in West Virginia include opportunities with local health departments, state hospitals, and community-based health organizations. The Department of Health and Human Services provides a workforce development website with funding data and standards for local health departments. Hospitals in West Virginia are located in major urban centers as well as rural communities, providing a variety of experiences depending on one’s interests.

Employers Number of Employees
West Virginia University Children’s Hospital 7,000
Charleston Area Medical Center 6,071
CAMC Memorial Hospital 5,000

Public Health Research Centers in West Virginia

Public health research centers provide research and laboratory experience to students. These centers protect the state population from health risks through experimentation, research, and testing. Research centers are an excellent resource for students seeking information on the latest healthcare developments. They sometimes offer internships, fellowships, and scholarship opportunities.

  • West Virginia Office Of Laboratory Services: The West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services provides diagnostic testing, data-based research, and efficient environmental laboratories for professionals working to promote the overall public health of West Virginia. There are labs designated for microbiology, HIV/AIDS, virology, tuberculosis, and other public health topics.
  • Marshall University Health Promotion Center and Public Health Research Laboratory: Located in Gillickson Hall on the campus of Marshall University, the Health Promotion Center includes classrooms, laboratory space, and exam rooms. The Public Health Research Laboratory is part of the Byrd Biotechnology Science Center and includes facilities for bio-storage, testing, and research as well as environmental health and biocontainment resources.
  • West Virginia University School of Public Health: The School of Public Health at West Virginia University in Morgantown offers laboratory facilities in the areas of environmental and occupational health. The school also provides resources through the Health Research Center, the Prevention Research Center, and the Offices of Health Sciences.

Public Health Professional Organizations in West Virginia

Professional organizations for public health workers offer support and a sense of community to professionals in the field. Students are often able to join professional organizations while they are enrolled in a degree program. Members receive benefits such as networking, meeting scholars, and gaining access to educational and employment opportunities. Students that seek postgraduate opportunities can gain valuable experience and insights into that process as well. Public health organizations hold conferences, usually annually, where research is presented to the larger public health professional community. Professional public health organizations also offer continuing education, job postings, and recent state and national news to members.

  • American Public Health Association (APHA): APHA offers webinars, job boards, continuing education opportunities, and news on the latest public health research from around the country. Membership benefits include discounts on professional development sessions, career service assistance, and discounts on APHA events.
  • West Virginia Public Health Association (WVPHA): WVPHA provides information and resources to public health professionals in the state of West Virginia. Membership is required to attend the WVPHA annual conference as well as to receive many of the awards the association offers.
  • Student Association of Public Health: Located on the campus of West Virginia University, the Student Association of Public Health acts as an intermediary between students and the university’s School of Public Health.

Public health licensure in West Virginia depends upon the type of career… Laboratory, sanitation, hazardous waste, and environmental health workers must apply based on the criteria put forth by individual state organizations.

Public health licensure in West Virginia depends upon the type of career a professional wishes to pursue. Laboratory, sanitation, hazardous waste, and environmental health workers must apply based on the criteria put forth by individual state organizations. Application for licensure to work in a behavior health facility, for example, can be done through the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification or through the Bureau of Children in Family. To work with hazardous materials, applicants must apply through the Offices of Environmental Health Services. Licensure requires submission of a state application in all instances.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accrediting body, recognizes the institutions of higher education in West Virginia. Approved by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the HLC oversees, assures, and advances education in nineteen states. These values emphasize student learning, technology and diversity in the classroom, and continuous improvement. Member institutions work with the HLC and each other to create a better educational environment. Regional accreditation is necessary for students to obtain further education, licensure, and career opportunities after graduation.

National accreditation is less prestigious and less recognized by the CHEA and the Department of Education. Some national accreditation bodies, however, are professionally organized and career-based in focus. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredits schools that provide programs in public health and epidemiology. CEPH recognizes West Virginia University and American Public University. While national and programmatic accreditation is not necessary, it can be helpful.

American Public University System

The American Public University System was founded in 1991 as the American Military University. Initially, the school focused on providing distance education options for military personnel and veterans. In 2002, the school became APUS when AMU and American Public University merged to provide online educational opportunities for nontraditional students. Based in Charles Town, APUS offers more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates to distance learners.

Professionals interested in public health programs in West Virginia can enroll in APUS’ master of public health track. This interdisciplinary degree prepares students to deal with complex health issues in the U.S. and around the world. The 47-credit program explores the five core areas of public health, and learners complete 14 classes and a culminating capstone experience. Asynchronous courses explore topics such as public health in America, the ethical practice of public health, and quarantine. For the capstone project, which takes 16 weeks to complete, students choose to prepare either a major research paper or thesis related to public health.

Admitted students may transfer up to 15 credits into this program. Full-time learners take an average of two years to complete all degree requirements, and courses begin each month. MPH graduates leave with the skills necessary to conduct community-based learning and research. They also learn how to apply evidence-based principles and gain a solid understanding of the moral and ethical precepts that underlie goals and actions in the field.

Minimum admissions requirements include a four-year degree from an accredited institution, three character references, a resume, and a statement of purpose that explains the applicant’s interest in the MPH program. This statement should describe a prospective student’s academic and career goals in the arena of public health.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University, a research-intensive school in Morgantown with an R1 Carnegie classification, has an enrollment of about 31,500 students. Established in 2012, the university’s public health school is the first and only of its kind in the state. The public health school contributes to WVU’s research reputation with more than 165 research projects currently in progress across 44 counties.

WVU offers numerous master’s programs in public health, including an online MPH in social and behavioral sciences. This 44-credit program prepares graduates to assist in the development, administration, and evaluation of public health programs meant to sustain healthy environments for individuals and the community at large. Students earning this MPH in West Virginia complete a curriculum that explores health disparities and the behavioral, social, and environmental factors that lead to these imbalances. The public health epidemiology course examines mortality and morbidity trends and explores how professionals in the field interpret data, measure frequency and association, and screen from an epidemiological perspective.

Graduates can recommend public health interventions, appraise qualitative and quantitative data, and understand and use social behavioral theories. Distance learners can choose from a non-thesis or thesis path, with the former culminating in a practice-based experience. Full-time students can complete all program requirements in two years. Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; individuals with a GPA of 3.0 or better receive preference. Applicants should have minimum GRE scores of 146 verbal, 144 quantitative, and 3.0 writing.

West Virginia Public Health Association Education Scholarship

This scholarship is available to any undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in a health-related field. Applicants must be West Virginia residents enrolled at a college or university in West Virginia.
Amount Offered: $500 (2 available)

Scholarship Deadline: July 15
Eligibility Requirements: Undergraduate students must maintain a C average. Graduate students must maintain a B average.
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National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Available to public health workers who are also primary care professionals. Students may be enrolled in a doctoral, physician assistant, or nursing program. Recipients may receive a partial or full scholarship.

Amount Offered: Tuition, fees, stipend
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: Must be in pursuit of a primary care degree (MD, RN, DDS, CNA, NP, DO). Partial scholarship requires a one year commitment. A full scholarship requires a two year service commitment.
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Avashia Scholarship

West Virginia University offers this scholarship to to students enrolled in the MPH program that have meritorious standing. Students must demonstrate financial need and a dedication to the values of the College of Public Health.

Amount Offered: Need-based
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: Must be enrolled in a master’s degree program at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health.
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Robert W. Gunn Book Scholarship

These funds are to be used exclusively for the purchase of textbooks. The scholarship is available to students enrolled in a public health degree at West Virginia University.

Amount Offered: Need-based, covers one year
Scholarship Deadline: March 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled at WVU in a public health program.
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William M. Murray Public Health Education Scholarship

This scholarship is available to West Virginia residents enrolled in a master’s degree in public health at West Virginia University. Students must be in good academic standing and may receive the award more than once.

Amount Offered: Unavailable
Scholarship Deadline: Unavailable
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a West Virginia resident enrolled in a public health program at WVU.
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School of Public Health Dean’s Scholarship Award

West Virginia University provides this scholarship to newly admitted students enrolled in a master’s of public health degree. Students who have faced significant hardships are given special consideration.

Amount Offered: Need-based
Scholarship Deadline: Submitted with FAFSA
Eligibility Requirements: Must demonstrate financial need and explain any obstacles to obtaining an education.
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