2021 Public Health Degree Guide
Although the medical field has made large advancements over the last century, there are still many people who lack necessary medical care. If you would like to work in a field that allows you to help others reach a state of well-being, consider majoring in Public Health.
With a degree in public health, students learn how government programs, education and awareness, communication, and funding play a role in the lack of medical services. You will take classes in biology, human physiology, nutrition, infectious diseases, health policy, and government policy to learn how to improve access to health services, decrease the spread of diseases, reduce substance abuse, and spread information to the general public about health concerns.
Some students choose to major in general Public Health, while others decide to narrow their focus to specific areas such as Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene, Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Maternal and Child Health, International Public Health, and Behavioral Aspects of Health, among others.
Rapid Growth in Public Health Degrees Awarded
Approximately 396 colleges in the U.S. offer a public health degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for Public Health ranking compares 105 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Explore this or one of our many other custom public health rankings further below.
What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Public Health
Students who major in Public Health should have a passion for helping others. You will devote your time to trying to change government policy, improve available medical resources, and encourage the overall health of communities both within the U.S. and abroad. Strong communication and interpersonal skills will help as you work with community leaders or the general public to spread information and aid in improving healthcare.
Public Health graduates work in fulltime positions improving the health and safety of people around the world. You may work in an office or travel spreading information or raising funds. Since this is an interdisciplinary field, there are many work environments available to you.
A degree in Public Health is usually a graduate degree; however some schools do offer this as a bachelor's program. A graduate degree will provide students with more training in the field and may increase job prospects.
Getting Accepted Into a Public Health Program
New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Once you obtain your degree, additional public health certifications required to pursue a career in this field.
Types of Public Health Degrees
There are many different public health degree levels. Public Health programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a professional practice doctorate, which is the highest public health degree you can get. How long it takes to complete some common public health degree levels is shown below.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to public health, with approximately 40.4% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for public health workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||10.9%|
This of course varies depending on which public health career you choose.
Public Health Careers
A degree in Public Health leads to numerous career opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad. Some graduates have gone into health communications, nutrition, health education, biostatistics, and epidemiology at organizations such as the Peace Corps, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. You will be equipped with the skills to work with any business or organization spreading information and improving the physical, mental, and social well-being of people around the world.
High Growth Projected for Public Health Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your public health degree? Public Health careers are expected to grow 19.2% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to public health.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||424,300||20.5%|
|Health Specialties Professors||294,000||25.9%|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||99,400||11.1%|
|Occupational Health and Safety Specialists||90,500||8.1%|
|Community Health Workers||67,800||17.9%|
Public Health Degree Salary Potential
Public Health graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $41,740 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $18,900 to as high as $104,300. As you might expect, salaries for public health graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
Highest Paid Public Health Careers
Salaries for public health graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers public health grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Health Specialties Professors||$122,320|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$113,730|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$77,580|
Getting Your Public Health Degree
With over 1,786 different public health degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased public health school rankings to help you with this.
Top Ranking Lists for Public Health
Highest Paid Graduates
Most Popular Colleges
Best for Non-Traditional Students
Best for Veterans
Study Areas in Public Health
One of 34 majors within the Health Professions area of study, Public Health has other similar majors worth exploring.
Most Popular Majors Related to Public Health
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services||99,641|
|Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants||93,192|
|Allied Health Professions||86,697|
|Health & Medical Administrative Services||82,868|