Massachusetts IN PUBLIC HEALTH

Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Massachusetts

 

Massachusetts’ high percentage of insured citizens and its low prevalence of obesity are just a few of the reasons it earned a spot as the third healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings list.

 

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Thanks to its comprehensive and wide-reaching public health programs, Massachusetts has plenty to celebrate. According to the United Health Foundation:

 

  • In the past 20 years, cancer deaths in Massachusetts decreased 14 percent, from 215.8 to 185.6 per 100,000 people.
  • Since 1990, cardiovascular deaths in Massachusetts decreased 47 percent from 388.4 to 205.6 per 100,000 people.
  • HPV immunization among Massachusetts females aged 13 to 17 increased 26 percent, from 39.3 percent to 49.5 percent.

 

Both the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Public Health Association have established priorities to maximize efforts aimed at improving public health, strengthening the foundation of public health, and complementing the work of organizational partners. For example, public health leaders, program directors, administrators, program evaluators and educators with the Massachusetts Public Health Association have made great strides in recent years in the areas of:

 

  • Healthy eating and active living
  • Essential public health services
  • Violence prevention
  • Housing and family stability
  • Connecting community health and clinical care

 

The broad, multidisciplinary scope of public health—whether at the local, regional, state, national, or international level—increasingly requires professionals who possess a wide-ranging foundation of knowledge achieved through a master’s degree in public health.

 

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Massachusetts

 

The Master of Public Health (MPH) has earned a reputation for being the gold standard among public health degrees. As a result, many employers now seek candidates who possess MPH degrees for careers in health communication, health policy, and program planning and evaluation, among others.

 

MPH degree programs and the schools that offer them seek accreditation through the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Accredited degree programs must always encompass the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health’s (ASPPH) MPH Core Competency Model.

 

The MPH Core Competency Model ensures students and employers that the MPH degree program is an interdisciplinary one, consisting of study in the five, traditional core areas of public health, as well as the seven interdisciplinary/cross-cutting areas of public health:

 

Traditional Core Competencies of Public Health

 

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

 

Interdisciplinary/Cross-Cutting Areas of Public Health

 

  • Communications and Informatics
  • Diversity and Culture
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Program Planning
  • Public Health Biology
  • Systems Thinking

 

An accredited MPH degree program provides students with the most comprehensive course of study in public health, which prepares them to take on senior-level positions in a wide variety of settings and organizations.

 

MPH Program Options

 

Depending on the institution that offers them, accredited MPH programs may feature a number of flexible options. For example:

 

  • Executive MPH Programs: Executive MPH programs are designed for professionals in public health seeking to advance their careers through the completion of a graduate degree. These degree programs may include a number of program options to accommodate the working public health professional, including part-time study and online classes. Many executive MPH programs offer weekend courses and summer schedules.
  • Accelerated MPH Programs: Accelerated MPH programs encompass the same course of study as traditional MPH programs, in an accelerated format that allows students to complete their degree program in just one year.
  • Online MPH Programs: Distance education is a convenient option for many of today’s students in public health; therefore, a number of MPH programs now allow students to complete all or some of their coursework requirements through a web-based platform.

 

MPH Focus Areas

 

Accredited MPH programs follow the MPH Core Competency Model, which means that most programs feature a similar core course of study. However, many programs also allow students to customize their MPH degree program by completing courses in one or more focus areas. Although each institution may vary according to the number or type of focus areas they offer, many of today’s leading MPH programs offer the following (each of which consist of between 10 to 15 coursework credits):

 

Health Communication: Health communication involves the strategic use of communication and marketing tools in public health. Professionals skilled in health communication are able to effectively implement a wide array of marketing and communication strategies for public health initiatives.

 

For example, public health professionals skilled in health communication likely lend their expertise to projects such as Mass in Motion, where they work with local communities to encourage citizens to make healthy choices. Through the dedicated efforts of public health professionals, Mass in Motion established a total of 33 programs in 52 towns and cities throughout Massachusetts in 2013 alone.

 

Coursework found within a health communication focus area includes:

 

  • Preventing health disparities
  • Social marketing
  • Marketing and research for public health
  • Global health communication interventions

 

Health Policy: Public health professionals in health policy focus their efforts on advancing health policy education, research, and service so as to improve public health services at all levels.

 

Massachusetts’ FRESH Act coalition is an excellent example of health policy in action. Led by the Massachusetts Public Health Association, public health leaders work to improve statewide policies and systems that make it easy and affordable for Massachusetts citizens to eat a healthy diet and be physically active. Every two years, members of the coalition create a policy agenda for the upcoming legislative session and commit to advocating for these priorities.

 

Coursework found within a health policy focus area includes:

 

  • Public health and law
  • Global health diplomacy
  • Leadership seminar
  • Qualitative research methods in public health

 

Program Planning and Evaluation: The goal of program planning and evaluation in public health involves developing, improving, and critiquing public health programs and evaluations. Professionals in program planning and evaluation assess, implement, manage, and evaluate public health programs to ensure their effectiveness.

 

Public health administrators oversee a number of Massachusetts’ most successful public health programs to ensure their continued success, including the Cancer Care Coordination Program, which provides citizens with screenings for, and increases public awareness about, breast, cervical, and colorectal health, and the Domestic and Sexual Violence Integration initiative, which promotes system-wide initiatives and policy development regarding maternal and child health in Massachusetts.

 

Coursework found within a program planning and evaluation focus area includes:

 

  • Qualitative research methods in public health
  • Researching violence against women and girls
  • Social marketing
  • Marketing research for public health

 

Global Health: Global health has become a critical, contemporary topic within public health. Professionals with expertise in global health are prepared to face today’s and tomorrow’s most pressing global health issues and contribute to the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies at all levels.

 

A few examples of organizations involved in global health initiatives include the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Coursework found within a global health focus area includes:

 

  • Researching violence against women and girls
  • Monitoring and evaluation the sexual and reproductive health programs in low- and middle-income countries
  • Preventing health disparities
  • Global health diplomacy

 

Admission Requirements

One of the major requirements for entrance into an MPH program is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Although some enrolling graduate students possess undergraduate degrees in areas such as health administration, business administration, or in a clinical healthcare discipline, most MPH programs accept students with a wide array of undergraduate majors, provided they have completed a number of undergraduate prerequisites in math, biology, and the health sciences (anatomy, physiology, etc.).

 

Other typical requirements for entrance into an MPH program include:

 

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA
  • Minimum GRE scores (or other standardized test scores like the MCAT)
  • Admissions essay
  • Letters of recommendation

 

Job Growth Projections for Public Health Professions in Massachusetts that Require a Master’s Degree

 

Massachusetts’ public health leaders, administrators, and educators, among others, work in a wide variety of sectors and settings to assess and improve the health of communities, prioritize needs, and create public policy.

 

A number of public health jobs in Massachusetts that require a master’s degree will experience positive job growth between 2012 and 2022 according to reports published by Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development:

 

  • Social and Community Services Managers: 22 percent
  • Statisticians: 33 percent
  • Microbiologists: 12 percent
  • Sociologists: 17 percent
  • Epidemiologists: 15 percent
  • Social Scientists: 12 percent
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 15 percent

 

Salaries for Public Health Professions in Massachusetts that Require a Master’s Degree

 

Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development also revealed the salary range (entry-level to experienced) for public health professionals in Massachusetts with a master’s degree, as of 2014:

 

  • Social and Community Services Managers: $24,800-$46,800
  • Microbiologists: $43,350-$74,680
  • Sociologists: $36,630-$118,290
  • Epidemiologists: $55,360-$101,110
  • Social Scientists: $46,740-$90,380
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $25,780-$45,560

 

Career Opportunities for Massachusetts’ Master’s-Prepared Public Health Professionals

 

Although the following job descriptions (sourced in December 2015) are not necessarily indicative of current job opportunities in Massachusetts, they do provide insight into the type of public health jobs often available in the Commonwealth for MPH graduates (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply a job offer or assurance of employment.):

 

SIM Project Coordinator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of the Trial Court, Boston

 

  • Responsibilities
    • Provides coordination, administrative, and financial oversight of a statewide project facilitating effective collaboration between local criminal justice systems and mental health and substance use disorder treatment systems
    • Brings together local key stakeholders from the criminal justice system, treatment providers, community advocates, and others
  • Requirements:
    • Master’s degree in public health, forensics, criminal justice, or social work
    • At least three years of experience working with the criminal justice system, behavioral health treatment systems, and social service agencies

 

Program Manager for HIV/AIDS Services, Upham’s Corner Community Health Center, Dorchester

 

  • Responsibilities:
    • Provides individualized comprehensive case management services to HIV/AIDS clients
    • Provides supervision to the HIV Social Case Manager
  • Requirements:
    • Master’s degree
    • Two years of experience working in the field of HIV/AIDS

 

Senior Infection Control and Prevention Director, Fresenius Medical Care, Waltham

 

  • Responsibilities:            
    • Develops, coordinates, and collaborates on activities and infection control measures to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases
    • Participates in planning, developing, evaluating, and monitoring of surveillance activities
  • Requirements:
    • Master’s degree in nursing, public health, epidemiology, microbiology, or other health-related science
    • Certification in infection control