Public Health

2022 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.

A Spike in Public Health Degrees

#27 Most Popular Major
35.4k Degrees Awarded
3.3% Increase in Graduates

Public Health was the 27th most popular major in the 2019-2020 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 35,375 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 1,183 over the prior year, a growth of 3.3%.

The United States has 695 different schools where you can get a degree in public health. Our 2022 Best Public Health Schools ranking analyzes 547 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for public health students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of public health programs later in this article.

Requirements for Getting 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

public health degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. In addition to these basic public health program qualifications, to serve in some public health careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Public Health Degree Types

Public Health degree levels vary. You can get anything from a in public health to the highest public health degree, a . Public Health programs can take anywhere between one to four or more years for a full-time student to complete.

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
Bachelor’s Degree 42.4%
Master’s Degree 27.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 10.9%
Doctoral Degree 9.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 5.2%

About 84.8% of workers in careers related to public health obtain at least bachelor's degrees. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in public health have obtained.

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The education level required is different depending on the public health career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for Public Health Majors

Average Number of Jobs
$41.7k Average Starting Salary
19% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

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%

How Much Money Do Public Health Grads Make?

Recently graduated public health students earned an average of $41,740 in 2017-2018. 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.

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High Paying Careers for Public Health Majors

Salaries for public health graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers public health grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Physicists $125,280
Health Specialties Professors $122,320
Medical and Health Services Managers $113,730
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $77,580
Epidemiologists $75,690

Getting Your Public Health Degree

With over 1,562 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.

One of 30 majors within the Health Professions area of study, Public Health has other similar majors worth exploring.

Public Health Focus Areas

Major Annual Graduates
General Public Health 19,852
Public Health Education and Promotion 4,247
Health Services Administration 2,855
Other Public Health 2,780
Community Health and Preventive Medicine 2,139

View All Public Health Concentrations >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Nursing 305,208
Allied Health Professions 49,265
Health & Medical Administrative Services 48,523
Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions 28,237
Medicine 27,562

View All Public Health Related Majors >

References

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