Pursue a Career in Public Health

With a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, you can choose from a variety of careers that empower you to solve urgent public health challenges on a local and global scale and improve well-being across diverse populations and communities.

The public health field is in need of talented and passionate professionals who are committed to working in partnership with communities and organizations to promote the health of all.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can accomplish with an MPH degree.

Advance Your Career in Public Health

Earn your MPH online from UNC’s top-ranked Gillings School.1

Steps for a Career in Public Health

For most careers in public health, there are requirements you need to fulfill to demonstrate your preparedness for the responsibility that comes with working in the field. The following steps can serve as a guide to obtaining a job in public health, but may vary depending on the career path you pursue.

1. Determine which area of public health interests you.

As a public health professional, you can make a difference in diverse areas of health. The public health field is vast and overlaps with many other disciplines.

Here are several areas in which qualified public health professionals can specialize:

  • Environmental Health — Identify and analyze the many ways in which environmental factors, such as those related to climate change, affect human health and the health of specific populations.
  • Global Health — Leverage research, education, partnerships and other resources to advance the health and well-being of populations and communities in diverse global settings.
  • Health Behavior — Use social and behavioral science to design and implement programs that promote health, prevent disease and injury and eliminate inequity.
  • Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights — Develop a deep understanding of the social determinants of health and apply strategies, methods and interventions to advance social justice and human rights.
  • Health Policy — Lead change by advocating for programs and policies that improve health outcomes at local, state and federal levels.
  • Leadership — Learn how leadership principles apply in a public health context, and empower teams, projects and organizations to eliminate health inequities.
  • Maternal, Child and Family Health — Focus on the determinants and systems that impact the health of women, children and families.
  • Nutrition and Dietetics — Evaluate dietary guidelines and the effects of social determinants on nutrition-related health outcomes, and help individuals and populations lead healthier lives through better nutrition.
  • Population Health — Develop a strong understanding of both public health and population science, and advocate for evidence-based policies to improve health care systems and patient care.
  • Public Health Data Science — Use cutting-edge data science solutions to analyze large sets of data, make inferences and predictions, model phenomena and help communities respond to public health crises.

2. Choose an MPH program that meets your goals.

Once you decide which area of public health you are interested in, you are ready to research different Master of Public Health degrees. MPH programs vary depending on concentrations, content delivery style and fieldwork opportunities. Some degrees have a general focus and some emphasize a particular area of public health.

It is also important to assess the school from which you are receiving your degree. Factors to consider include the school’s ranking in public health education and whether it is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

The CEPH-accredited UNC Gillings School is the No. 1-ranked public school of public health — and the No. 2-ranked school of public health overall — in the nation.2 MPH@UNC, the Gillings School’s online Master of Public Health program, offers both full- and part-time degree program options to ensure that students can balance their educational goals with existing personal and professional commitments.

3. Enroll in an MPH program and earn your degree.

To earn your MPH degree with UNC, you will need to complete 42 credit hours of coursework, a practicum experience and a culminating assignment that demonstrates what you have learned.

The practicum experience is an exciting opportunity for you to apply what you study in your MPH courses to a real-world health-related setting. MPH@UNC requires you to complete approximately 200 hours of fieldwork and provides you with the option to complete your practicum at your place of employment.

Earn Your MPH Online From UNC's Gillings School

Take the next step toward becoming a leader in public health.

Areas Within the Public Health Field

Given the breadth of the public health field, you can tailor your career to match your passions and interests while making a difference in the lives of others.

The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) categorizes public health by the impact you can make in the following areas:3

  • Improving global health
  • Advancing environmental health
  • Creating healthier communities
  • Reducing the impact of natural disasters and global epidemics
  • Addressing health disparities

When you earn your degree with MPH@UNC, you will focus your studies by choosing one of the following four MPH concentrations: Leadership in Practice, Health Policy, Nutrition or our fully accredited Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian (MPH/RD) program.

Online MPH in Leadership in Practice — Become a leader of teams, projects and organizations to drive change in the public health sector.

Online MPH in Health Policy — Become an advocate for evidence-based policy that improves health, shaping effective policy solutions at local, state and federal levels.

Online MPH in Nutrition — Become an expert in communicating nutritional information to the public, benefitting the health of communities.

Online MPH/RD — Become a registered dietitian who provides personalized nutritional care, helping individuals live healthier lives.

Embark on a Rewarding Public Health Career

Earn your MPH online from UNC and choose a concentration that inspires you.

Job Opportunities With a Master’s in Public Health

Public health professionals are dedicated and passionate about helping local, national and global communities. No matter which area of public health interests you, an MPH degree will prepare you to pursue a variety of job opportunities.

Depending on the focus of your MPH degree, you may be qualified for a range of public- and private-sector positions, including:

  • Dietitian
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health Educator
  • Health Services Manager
  • Health Care Administrator
  • Public Health Engineer
  • Public Health Officer

Public Health Career Outlook

Promoting public health is imperative for communities to thrive. As the nation faces a slew of emerging and established public health crises — from opioid addiction to chronic disease — the need for talented, educated professionals is growing.

Projected Growth Rate for Common Public Health Careers (2016–2026)

  • Dietitians and nutritionists: 15 percent4
  • Health educators and community health workers: 16 percent5
  • Epidemiologists: 9 percent6
  • Medical and health services managers: 20 percent7

When you earn your MPH from UNC’s top-ranked Gillings School, you invest in a rewarding career. You will graduate as a competitive job candidate with the skills required to be a leader in public health.

Take the Next Step

Earn your MPH online from UNC’s top-ranked Gillings School.

6Epidemiologists. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019) Return to footnote reference