Public health professionals promote individual and collective wellness. Individuals with a heart for service, a head for data, and a personality for community relations often thrive in this field.

In the 19th century, modern public health began as an effort to control infectious diseases in urban areas. Today, public health practitioners continue this work. They also educate communities about chronic illness, address mental health needs, and explore the relationship between environmental issues and human well-being.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects community health worker and educator jobs to increase by 13% from 2019-2029. These jobs pay a median annual salary of $48,140. Our guide spotlights the top five schools for a bachelor's in public health and provides detailed information on how to prepare for careers in the field.

2021's Top Five Online Public Health Programs
Rank School Location
1 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
2 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
3 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA
4 Delaware State University Dover, DE
5 Youngstown State University Youngstown, OH

Why Get an Online Public Health Bachelor's Degree?

A pioneering public health organization founded in 1872, the American Public Health Association embraced a mission to control diseases such as tuberculosis. Today, more than 127,000 public health practitioners combat contagious disease and improve quality of life for at-risk populations. These professionals work in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools, international non-governmental organizations, and universities.

For individuals who enjoy collecting data and working with people, a bachelor of science in public health is the first step toward many rewarding career options.

Featured Online Programs

Globalization, the rise in telemedicine, and an aging population have all contributed to growing interest in public health. On the heels of the 2020 pandemic, public health concerns appear likely to continue to increase in importance.

For individuals who enjoy collecting data and working with people, a bachelor of science in public health is the first step toward many rewarding career options. Earning this degree online allows students to maintain work and family obligations while pursuing a public health career.

    • Sense of Purpose

      Public health offers an array of meaningful career options. Professionals in the field help others live healthier and more satisfying lives. The field incorporates diverse activities and job environments.

    • Problem-solving Skills

      Public health experts find solutions for complex problems. These professionals leverage their knowledge of statistics, health interventions, and ethics to meet real community needs. They may help curb infectious disease spread or mitigate chronic illness effects.

    • Job Security

      The BLS projects that the number of community health workers and educators will grow by 13% between 2019 and 2029. This high growth projection indicates a robust job market with emerging opportunities and low unemployment.

What To Expect From Bachelor's in Public Health Programs

Public health programs prepare students to make an impact on community health. Graduates develop the skills to coordinate efforts such as infant care programs, diabetes management initiatives, or aging in place operations.

The first public health agency opened in New York City in 1866. Today, public health forms a major component of global development. Tomorrow's public health leaders can jumpstart their careers by earning a public health bachelor's degree online. Typically, this four-year degree requires 120 credits comprising general education requirements, a public health core, specialization courses, and electives. Most programs also require an internship.

Specializations may include health education, community health, environmental health, and global health. Curricular content often draws from law, policy, ethics, leadership theory, statistics, social sciences, and epidemiology.

Scholarships, federal grants, and employee tuition reimbursement programs can help learners finance their bachelor's studies. Students may also lower their educational costs by attending school in state.

Read More About Public Health Programs

Admission Requirements

Bachelor's applicants typically need a GED certificate or high school diploma. Many schools also maintain minimum GPA requirements. Students must often submit ACT or SAT scores, so preparing for these tests can help rising college freshmen enter the school of their choice.

Universities may set different requirements for degree-seekers who have been out of school for two years or more, military service members, or homeschooled students. For instance, schools may waive GPA requirements for applicants with professional public health experience.

Prospective students must fill out an application form and pay a fee of $50-$100. As of 2021, over 900 colleges accept applications through the Common App. This site guides users through the application process and provides a one-stop shop for learners to submit required materials.

Read More in our Undergrad Application and Transfer Guide

Degree Options

Students can earn one of several bachelor's degrees in public health, including the bachelor's in public health (BPH), bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of health science (BHS), and bachelor of science in environmental health (BSEH). While these options vary in emphasis, all four provide a robust public health education.

The BPH prepares students for public health careers and master's programs. The BS in public health emphasizes natural sciences. BS graduates often work in laboratory settings or conduct research. In contrast, the BHS focuses on health-related professions. BHES curricula primarily explore the relationship between human health and environmental factors. For instance, BHES candidates might examine how climate change or disaster preparedness affect public health.

In general, BPH, BHS, and BHES programs cater to students pursuing public health administration work while the BS emphasizes preparation for science-based health careers.

Popular Public Health Courses

The curriculum for a bachelor of science in public health degree varies by school. However, public health programs typically incorporate a general education component and a public health core. They may also include electives in the major, free electives, and real-world learning experiences.

Pathogens, Prevention, and Controversy

Vaccines have prevented millions of cases of disease, yet their use remains controversial. This course covers topics such as the history and development of vaccines, vaccine safety, and current vaccination laws. Learners explore controversies and arguments surrounding vaccinations and discover how to dispel myth with science.

Introduction to Public Health Law and Ethics

Governments pass laws to address community health needs. Water fluoridation, vaccine mandates, and quarantines are examples of public health law. In this course, students learn about governmental authority, specific health-related laws, and public health legislation's collateral consequences.

Infections and Epidemics

How do infectious diseases affect human populations? This question shapes global public health policy and non-governmental organizations' agendas. In this multidisciplinary course, learners study epidemiological concepts to better understand how infections and epidemics shape public health worldwide.

Social Determinants of Health

Learners examine social components of medicine, illness, and health. They seek to answer some of these essential questions: How does social context shape individual health? Who will likely avoid premature death? Who gets sick and why? Course content blends biology, medicine, economics, epidemiology, public policy, and social science.

Internship or Capstone

Real-world experience forms a vital component of a bachelor of science in public health. Students can secure this experience through internships in public health departments and programs. Learners may also gain exposure to big-picture health concepts through research-based or project-based capstones.

How Much Will a Bachelor's in Public Health Cost?

The cost of a bachelor's degree varies by institution, major, and student. For example, public schools typically cost less than private institutions. Unsurprisingly, prestigious colleges and universities often command higher tuition rates than lesser-known schools. Additionally, students should budget for fees, technology costs, transportation expenditures, and living expenses.

Online public health students often benefit from in-state tuition rates even if they live out of state. Some employers also help cover college-related expenses. Government grants and private scholarships can supply additional funding. The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health maintains a list of relevant scholarships for students in this major. The links below provide more information about financial aid options.

Jobs for BPH Graduates

Public health professionals promote community wellbeing and help people live longer, better lives. Earning a bachelor of public health online can lead civic-minded graduates into a variety of impactful occupations. A master's or doctorate in public health can help bachelor's graduates further advance their careers in this growing field.

According to BLS data, some public health practitioners, such as physicians, earn nearly five times the national median salary. Others, like health educators, garner more modest wages. Data-focused professions like biostatistics may see rapid growth in the near future.

Health Educators

Public health educators often teach health education courses in K-12 schools. These professionals also research community health trends, collect and analyze data, and create community health education initiatives. They may advocate for public health and health education initiatives at the local, state, or federal level.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2019-29): +13%
Median Annual Salary: $46,910

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses specializing in public health may provide medical care but focus on community health outreach. These professionals educate community members about illness and health promotion. Public health nurses conduct research, analyze community healthcare trends, and design interventions to prevent disease and foster wellness.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%
Median Annual Salary: $75,330

Physician

Public health physicians devote their time and expertise to community-oriented campaigns and initiatives. They provide clinical care, often to patients from underserved communities. They also perform health policy, epidemiology, and biostatistics research. These physicians frequently hold both a medical degree and a Ph.D. in a related field.

Required Education: Doctorate
Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
Median Annual Salary: $208,000

Explore Public Health Careers

Choosing the Right Public Health Bachelor's Program

Prospective students should carefully analyze their options when selecting their top choices for a bachelor of public health online program. A ranking like ours offers a great starting place, but degree-seekers should look deeper at what they want from a degree and what schools offer.

Any university under consideration should hold schoolwide accreditation. U.S. accreditation comes in three types: national, programmatic, and regional. Regional and national accrediting bodies assess entire institutions, with regional accreditation representing the gold standard. Many of the best public health programs and departments also hold programmatic accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.

Additionally, prospective students should consider factors such as cost, program culture, staff credentials and diversity, alumni network, and prestige. A standout school should offer positive graduate career placement stats alongside affordable tuition and robust financial aid. Students must also consider whether they meet a program's fundamental admission requirements.

Why You Should Get Your Bachelor of Public Health Online

Easily adaptable to a distance learning format, online public health programs allow degree-seekers already working in the field to implement their new knowledge at their workplaces. Many students welcome the opportunity to earn a degree without compromising work, family, or household responsibilities.

During the COVID pandemic, online learning sent nearly every American student to the kitchen table for an education — from kindergarteners to doctoral candidates. Each learner must decide for themselves whether online learning is right for them. Some students enjoy a traditional classroom's face-to-face interaction while others prefer an online environment's flexibility and convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a bachelor's degree in public health worth it?

Yes. A bachelor's degree in public health can lead to many stable, rewarding occupations. Bachelor's programs also prepare graduates for a master's degree or doctorate in public health and a subsequent research career.

Can I get a public health degree online?

Yes. Many colleges and universities offer a public health bachelor's degree online. Select degrees allow students to take courses both online and on campus. Some online programs emphasize social science coursework while others focus on applied public health or hard science.

What jobs can I get with a bachelor's in public health?

Bachelor's in public health graduates can serve as health educators, community organization leaders, and disease prevention specialists. Registered nurses who add a public health bachelor's may transition into public health nursing.

Is public health a good career?

Yes. An in-demand field, public health offers practitioners the impact and rewards of a career dedicated to service. Additionally, many professions in the field provide high salaries and secure jobs.

The 5 Best Online Bachelor's in Public Health Schools for 2021

Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 offers many opportunities in health education and promotion. Aspiring healthcare leaders can jump-start their careers with a bachelor of public health online. Our list of the top five accredited schools below can help prospective students search for the right program.

Accreditation ensures that higher education institutions meet certain standards of quality. Each school on our list holds regional accreditation, which is the gold standard of institutional accreditation. Some programs also hold industry-specific accreditation in public health. Relevant accrediting bodies include the following:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Our Ranking Methodology

University of Missouri

Home of the Tigers, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) started a college tradition when it hosted the world's first homecoming game in 1911. Today, the school continues this custom at its main campus located near the growing downtown of Columbia, Missouri.

Bachelor of Health Science in Public Health

Mizzou's online bachelor's in public health prepares students for careers in epidemiology, health policy, health education, and environmental health. Courses cover topics in global health, healthcare management, public health ethics, and social and behavioral health.

In addition to core courses and general education requirements, the curriculum includes diversity electives and general electives. Students conclude their online education with a capstone course in digital storytelling or emerging issues in public health. Mizzou students take courses on a semester-based calendar system.

Applying to Mizzou

Aspiring undergraduate students can apply as first-year students, military applicants, or transfer students. Mizzou offers a test-optional admissions process for entering freshmen. To maximize scholarship opportunities, prospective students should apply before Nov. 15.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: HLC, CEPH
Tuition: $380/credit (first-years); $373/credit (transfers)
Required Credits: 120 credits (first-years); 60 credits (transfers)
Delivery Format: 100% online

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona (UofA) is a land-grant university with nearly 47,000 graduate and undergraduate students. UofA also supports 600-plus student organizations and offers more than 300 academic majors.

Bachelor of Science in Public Health

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health offers an online bachelor's in public health with seven concentrations. Courses include fundamentals of evaluation, strategic planning, and introduction to public health law and ethics.

Students learn to communicate with diverse audiences using a variety of media. They also discover how to find and synthesize epidemiological information. Graduates may pursue roles in healthcare leadership, government, nonprofit management, or health education.

Applying to UofA

Aspiring public health students should hold a UofA GPA of 2.5 or better and a "C" or higher grade in all prerequisite classes to apply to the college of public health. New enrollees can begin classes in the spring, fall, or summer semester.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: HLC, CEPH
Tuition: $12,600/year (in state); $36,600/year (out of state)
Required Credits: 120 credits
Program Length: 4 years
Delivery Format: 100% online

Central Washington University

From its campus in Ellensburg, Washington, Central Washington University (CWU) provides 135 undergraduate and 32 graduate degree options. The university produces more K-12 teachers for Washington state than any other institution of higher education.

Bachelor of Science Public Health Major — Population Health Specialization

CWU's online bachelor's in public health combines an academic foundation in public health with an array of courses in specific areas of interest. For example, public health students can tailor their curriculum to explore policy, advocacy, sexual health, mental health, drugs and health, environmental health, health administration, or child and maternal health.

In the population health specialization, learners complete courses such as sexual health, consumer health, public health communication, and principles of nutrition and stress management. The program concludes with a 400-hour internship experience.

Applying to CWU

Degree-seekers must first meet CWU's general education courses either through the university or by transferring in an associate degree. Qualifying prospective students can apply for the major on the program's website.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: NWCCU
Tuition: $6,475/year (in state); $22,551/year (out of state); $10,779/year (Western Undergraduate Exchange participants)
Required Credits: 136-145 credits
Delivery Format: 100% online

Delaware State University

Located in Dover, Delaware, Delaware State University (DSU) serves more than 5,000 students in 44 undergraduate, 18 graduate, and five doctoral programs. The school maintains campuses in Georgetown and Wilmington along with a robust online presence.

Bachelor of Science in Public Health

DSU's online bachelor's degree in public health prepares students for careers in public policy and community health settings.

This 122-credit program blends coursework in program administration and assessment with studies in health science. The curriculum includes courses such as health disparities, health administration and policy, and infectious diseases and injury prevention.

The degree concludes with a 12-credit health practicum. Before graduating, students write a report, display their work, and make an oral presentation. DSU public health graduates can pursue jobs as diabetes program managers, employee wellness coordinators, or state immunization program coordinators.

Applying to DSU

DSU welcomes applications from first-year students, transfer students, international students, and learners from the military. The school holds different requirements for each student type, so prospective learners should visit the university website for specific application information.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: MSCHE
Tuition: $7,038/year (in state); $16,960/year (out of state)
Required Credits: 122 credits
Program Length: 4 years
Delivery Format: 100% online

Youngstown State University

Founded in 1908 by the YMCA, Youngstown State University (YSU) sits in Youngstown, Ohio, a midsize city located between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Today, the school offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs to more than 12,500 students.

Bachelor of Science in Applied Science Public Health Major

YSU's Bitonte College of Health and Human Services offers a 127-credit public health major online. Students in YSU's program can choose from one of two concentrations — environmental health and safety or health education and promotion. Courses cover topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, and health services administration.

Students also complete a 350-hour internship. Interns must receive an 85% score from their supervisor to pass. This program prepares students to take the sanitarian exam and conduct health inspections or become certified health education specialists.

Applying to YSU

Prospective students should submit an application and high school transcripts. If applicants have not been out of school at least two years, they should also send ACT or SAT scores. Different requirements may apply to transfer, military, or homeschooled applicants.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: HLC
Tuition: $9,588/year (Penguin Tuition Promise, in state); $15,588/year (Penguin Tuition Promise, out of state); $8,414/year (non-tuition promise, in state); $14,414/year (non-tuition promise, out of state)
Required Credits: 127 credits
Program Length: 2-4 years
Delivery Format: 100% online

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