Is it worth pursuing a graduate degree in public health …

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    Good Afternoon,

    This is a good question that I wished I would have asked before pursing an advanced degree in public health epidemiology. I have enjoyed reading all of the response to the given question thus far and I can actually agree with them in regards to public health theory and the job outlook for this career. Public health is a branch of medicine that uses a broader approach in preventing the prevalence of illness that can impact a community. However, other medical fields such as nursing, pharmacy, or therapy may use more of a practical approach to prevent illnesses due to their scope of practice i.e. medication administration, applying 5 grade manipulations, etc

    Public health again is broad and can apply to any field that emphasizes preventing injuries, illnesses, or epidemic/pandemics. Depending on the occupation, you may be employed as a outcomes analyst, epidemiologist (MPH/DPH), health educator, etc. To tell the truth, I would not advise anyone to major in public health unless they are planning to get a health occupation license, an OSHA certificate, or secured a job with the city/county/federal government/hospital. Some public health professional may even work for some non-profits such as American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or a community HIV/AIDS testing center as outreach coordinators. Like any degree you must know how to market your skills and your self worth to the prospective employer.

    I will add this, do not pursue a doctorate in this area unless you want to teach public health because you will be VERY over qualified to work anywhere. I hope that this message was not too informal but I wanted to level with you and the other readers that are considering pursing public health degrees. The field of public health may have it challenges but it can also pay off if you are employed in the right setting.

    I think this very much depends upon what other credential you may be bringing to this course, and what you want to do afterwards.

    If we look at the US picture, with the Centers for Disease Control budget limits and consequent lower investment in state or local public health department, there may be fewer opportunities for the traditional government public health jobs that had been available when I first completed graduate school.

    I generally recommend 3 or 4 things to students interested in public health graduate school.

    1. Consider obtaining, if you do not already have this, a clinical degree as well. In the US, often that will allow a hospital and/or university setting to bill for your services. These degrees, in addition to medicine, could include: Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, BSN level nurse, Social Worker (LCSW), Respiratory Therapist, Radiation Technologist, Clinical Lab Scientist, EMT and/or Paramedic. I have two of those credentials. It has helped working in disaster planning management and response.
    2. Get the best quantitative skills you can master — most programs will teach you SAS, Stata or SPSS. I would recommend learning or taking a course in “R,” and a Python course. My nephew wanted to study Python (he is 14) and my husband is a tech professional, but I did an on-line “Python” course. Any of this will help in getting jobs in big data.
    3. Learn the financial end of healthcare. Or, learn how to write grants, big grants. That was probably the best thing I took away from my graduate school experience. It has served me well.
    4. Be prepared to be a life-long learner. Take other post-grad certification courses once you are in the workforce, many available on-line. I have taken many of mine via the UK-based “Future Learn,” and that includes 5 courses at the highly regarded London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Many of those are low cost and some are free to qualified applicants from Commonwealth countries.

    Best of luck to you.

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    I think Public Health is a great field. Like another person said, it is a very broad field. And so I would try to figure out what it is you are interested in. Is it social justice? Jail health? Biostatistics & epidemiology? Public Health administration?

    The program I studied was Community Oriented Public Health and so while we did go over biostats (which you need to understand in order to understand population health) we did much work on community issues (including community organizing). This is a segment of public health where you could work in various fields: jails/prisons; community health; school health; farm to table, etc. etc. The salaries are not as good and honestly it would be better to get a less expensive degree with this than some of the other fields.

    Biostatistics and epidemiology will definitely offer more salary. It’s very interesting if you like numbers and statistics. (Infection control the same)

    Evaluation is where you apply evaluative processes to programs and I believe it is also a desired type of worker.

    Administration also offers a good salary.

    I agree that getting an undergrad in a different subject than public health would be more helpful. Mine was in horticulture and I feel it helps me in many ways when it comes to: farm to table/prison/school programs, food deserts, migrant worker health (speaking more specifically of agricultural workers).

    If you give some thought to what you can see yourself enjoying: a lab doing research, a computer doing statistics, an office doing admin, a small town health officer, a person running a homeless shelter program..etc. Then you might get more clear on the type of program you might want (or at least questions to ask) and how much your degree should cost you vs your eventual salary.

    Do it if you love it, but don’t go in debt for it! The public health job market is both bloated and highly volatile. It’s not the kind of degree you should get expecting a strong job market and decent return on investment.

    Work in this field is scarce and low paying. You’re pretty much getting a MPH or PhD degree to make half what you could make with a bachelor’s in accounting, engineering or even 2-year trade school programs.

    Most of the public health grad students I’ve met, got a career outside of public health. One went into school counseling, another opted to be underemployed in a low-paying healthcare administrative job. A third came back and enrolled in another graduate program after discovering there isn’t much you can do with an MPH. The few jobs out there may have hundreds of applicants. The competition is unreal!

    Once again, do it if you feel it’s what you were meant to study and are deeply passionate about it. At the same time, please do understand the job market is dismal and the pay is low.

    If you want a job that will enable you to work in a health-related field and have more opportunities for employment and career stability, opt for a physician’s assistant program, medical school or even a medical laboratory or biostatistics program.

    Consider carefully what you want out of your career. Public health is a broad field with many interesting career paths available, but definitely don’t go into it unless you’re passionate about the general field. As usual, the quantitative side of things (biostatistics, etc.) pays better than more policy-oriented positions, overall.

    An undergradute public health degree isn’t at all useful in the job market (essentially all good positions are master’s-level), nor is it necessary for grad school admissions; I advise against it. In my opinion, the best synergies would be BS Biology / MPH Epidemiology for government public health positions and the environmental health side of things; BS Statistics / MPH Biostatistics for data analysis and similar; BA Political Science / MPH Health Policy for nonprofits and advocacy – please note these are all super broad categories, there are many alternate paths to the endpoints (my undergraduate degree is in philosophy), and this all presupposes that you’re committed to getting an MPH.

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    If you’re keen to make a real variance in the world, studying a Masters in Public Health degree could be incredibly rewarding. If you’re committed to improving the health of people all over the world, you’ll find that studying public health can lead to a range of rewarding and important public health careers.

    Global health concerns such as AIDS, avian bird flu, SARS, malnutrition, global warming and the recent Ebola virus have significantly increased awareness and understanding of the critical importance of public health in today’s global society.

    Public health degrees offers you an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the complex and varied nature of public health issues affecting people today. This opens up opportunities to enter public health careers focused on making real differences to people’s quality – and length – of life.

    Thank you so much for asking…:)

    Public health, also known as Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM) or Community Medicine, is a field encompassing every field in Medicine.. It deals with every kind of infectious and non – infectious diseases, their prevention and control and also every aspect of life, starting from antenatal period to neonatology to geriatrics.. The possible complications that may occurring each period and how to prevent, expect and mitigate it.. Also for Maths lovers, there’s the statistical analysis and data collection involved here..

    According to me, yes it is worth pursuing a degree in Public Health.. It is a little tedious, and it is also very under appreciated.. However, I’d also recommend going for this if and only you are interested in it.. It also happens to be a pretty dry and boring subject..

    Hope this helps..:)

    As our health science is expanding its scope more and more, we are currently emphasizing more on Public Health.

    So what is Public Health? It can be defined as the branch of medical science that deals with health promotion and specific protection from diseases towards achieving the best ever possible healthy life of the whole population.

    It can be achievable by doing medical researches,proper planning and utilization of various resources and implementing them with bold policies.

    One can choose public health as her/his career among the following designations and serve the people for a better world.

    • Public health physicians
    • Epidemiologists
    • Research Scientists
    • Public health nurses
    • Nutritionists
    • Occupational health professionals
    • Community Health Worker
    • Environmental Scientist
    • Project Manager
    • Health educator

    If you want to know more regarding Public Health, you can check this blog at Publichealth Point.

    Please Upvote if found helpful.


    Public Health is very good choice and a academic pursuit, I believe, that a very strong potential for jobs with governmental agencies and NGO’S working that sphere. I also has a good potential for working in the international context.

    On what basis did you narrow down the choices? Did you have an interest health to start with? Those are important questions to ask because you cannot afford to start something and some ways into it find out it is not for you. I am not sure if your if you have come across some of those career aptitude tests, which based on your answers to a few questions suggests a career for you, but that may another way of narrowing down the choices.

    If you know of someone already working in that field (like this forum) so much the better. I am glad that you are researching it, before you embark on it. I am sure you have done this, but here it is anyway: do search the web for “careers in public health” (yes with the quotes) and it should also provide valuable information in affirming your choice.

    Here is wishing you the very best and a wonderful day ahead.



    I am assuming you are asking if it was worth it for me. Yes it was.

    • It enhanced my research and academic writing skills
    • It enhanced my knowledge of global health and other relevant topics like health inequalities and politics
    • It of course enhanced my resume as I undertook it at a time my career was rather unilateral
    • Alongside, I learnt time management skills and resourcefulness which you could probably learn in another endeavour
    • I got a job about 6 months post graduation. I am not entirely sure how much bearing the graduate program had on the hiring manager s decision.


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    Public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.

    There are many options for a successful career in public health. Before getting to the highest paying careers in public health, let’s review the top public health degrees, and why they are important.

    1. Bachelors of Public Health
    2. Master of Public health
    3. PhD in Public Health

    For each and every degree we have different job careers. Studying Public Health degree is worth it.

    Check careers in public health and gather more information on public health jobs.

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