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What is a Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree?

Public health is a broad and collaborative discipline that interweaves research, policy, education, advocacy, and community engagement, but what is a Masters of Public Health degree?

A Masters of Public Health is a graduate degree for students interested in protecting the health of communities by studying the links between our society and our health and learning how to translate science into action.

MPH programs incorporate practical experience into the academic curriculum. These experiences provide an opportunity to gain and apply real-world skills to pressing public health issues.

An MPH degree is a perfect fit for curious, innovative, data driven, community-focused professionals who wish to research current and continuously evolving public health issues and design ways to improve conditions and behaviors that affect population health.

MPH vs. MS and MHA Degrees

Master of Public Health (MPH) programs provide strong interdisciplinary training in population health sciences, including community health and prevention, health care management and policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health. MPH students develop a broad set of skills aimed at understanding the systems that drive population health; gathering and interpreting data; and translating knowledge into action. MPH programs include an Applied Practical Experience as part of the curriculum.

Master of Science (MS) programs provide a targeted focus on the science and data that are used to understand public health problems. MS students develop a fundamental understanding of research methods, strong computational skills, and data analysis strategies. Drexel Dornsife offers Public Health MS degrees in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Global Health, and Population Health Science.

Master of Health Administration (MHA) programs prepare students for a management role within the health care industry. MHA students develop expertise in the business of health management, healthcare policy and healthcare systems. Drexel University offers an online MHA degree through the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Masters of Public Health?

The Dornsife School of Public Health offers multiple MPH plans of study ranging from an accelerated one-year timeline to an extended three-year timeline.

Dornsife has on-campus or online MPH options to fit your career goals and financial needs. The school offers MPH degrees on several timelines, including 12-month, 18-month, 21-month timeline, and 33-month tracks.

On average, students complete our MPH program in less than 2 years.

Types of MPH Degrees

There are numerous types of MPH degrees that students can pursue if they are interested in a career in public health. These degree options include:

  • Community Health and Prevention
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Management and Policy
  • Global Health
  • Urban Health

Community Health and Prevention

An MPH degree in Community Health and Prevention teaches students to understand health behavior, promote the health of communities, and sustain community health. It involves designing, implementing, managing, and evaluating health programs and policies in domestic and global settings.

Environmental and Occupational Health

An Environmental and Occupational Health MPH degree involves studying environmental and occupational health threats and working to develop policies to prevent or reduce harm. Core science disciplines include epidemiology, toxicology, exposure assessment, and risk analysis—as well as policy development and risk communication.


An Epidemiology major focuses on investigating the complex causes of major public health problems and developing effective strategies to prevent them. Epidemiologists support the prevention of diseases in large populations.

Health Management and Policy

Health Management and Policy MPH majors explore the relationship between health care systems and public health and how their integration and dependence shape the health of populations. This MPH degree aims to improve the health of individuals and populations and reduce health inequities through a focus on institutions, systems, and policies that affect health.

Global Health

A Global Health MPH degree focuses current and emerging public health challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and globally. Students learn to think critically and creatively about global health challenges, with a special focus on the health of underserved populations.

Urban Health

An MPH degree in Urban Health teaches students to understand the unique challenges of populations and communities that live in urban areas. This MPH degree teaches students to identify the determinants of health and to develop solutions that address urban health problems

MPH programs at Drexel Dornsife include:

What Jobs Can You Get with an MPH Degree?

Masters of Public Health graduates have potential public health career paths they can pursue. Dornsife alumni find employment at government organizations, hospitals, universities, nonprofits, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, among other growing industries.

Examples of MPH career opportunities include:

  • Community program officer/director
  • Program director in local or state health department
  • Data scientist
  • Emergency management coordinator
  • Health communication specialist
  • Health policy analyst/advisor
  • Research assistant

Is an MPH Degree Worth It?

There are numerous benefits of pursuing an MPH degree that make it worthwhile for students. The employment outlook for MPH degree holders is positive, with a need for public health professionals in federal, state, and local government, and growing opportunities in the private sector.

Job postings “show considerable but changing demand for [public health graduates] in the U.S.,” according to a comparative study of labor market competition before and during COVID, published in May 2021 by Krasna et. al.

Epidemiologist jobs, for example, are expected to have a 27% increase in job availability in the next 10 years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And there is a demand for infection preventionists as many in the field near retirement.

MPH students at Dornsife are set up for career success through experiential learning, professional development opportunities, and scholarships and funding. Students gain resume-boosting experience beyond the classroom through a ~120-hour practicum and integrative learning experience.

Many students choose to specialize further with a graduate minor in public health that develops marketable skills or advanced knowledge of a vulnerable population. “I was instantly drawn to Dornsife because of the wide array of minors offered, particularly health economics and the emphasis on practical skills,” said MPH student and Dornsife Ambassador Ifunanya Nwabueze.

Pursue a Masters of Public Health with Drexel Dornsife

Unique advantages of the Drexel Dornsife MPH include:

  • Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as #1 in the Philadelphia region
  • Progressive and evolving MPH curriculum based on actual public health challenges
  • Strong network of partnerships that create opportunities to make an impact studying public health in Philadelphia
  • Student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 offering more occasions for personal mentorship
  • Dedication to understanding and improving health in cities through research and centers like Dornsife’s Urban Health Collaborative
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion and to training a public health workforce that is a representation of all communities

“I chose Dornsife because it is the perfect combination of academics, research, and first-hand exposure to truly understanding and solving public health issues. With Dornsife's connections to public health research and programs in the city of Philadelphia, l knew that attending this program would challenge me to think outside the box,” said MPH student and Dornsife Ambassador Josiane Tsobgny.

Review our frequently asked questions for general information on the application process.

To learn more about the Master's in Public Health, request more information and reach out to our enrollment team today.