Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Alabama


According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), some of the greatest risks to public health in the state are dropping after a decade’s worth of reform and $4 billion in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state’s number one cause of death for people under the age of 45 is trauma like car crashes, workplace accidents, and violent crime. Thanks to a new system first established in 2007 and implemented in 2014, the entire state now has access to trauma centers, which has significantly reduced the time it takes for a patient to receive treatment.


Featured Programs:

Alabama public health officials have also maintained free screening and diagnostic services for women to help stop cancer before it can develop into a serious health risk. Since 2001, a total of 1,590 incidents of breast cancer were diagnosed during free screenings alongside 1,138 incidents of pre-invasive and cervical cancers, according to the ADPH. Thanks to the free screening program, all of those women had a fighting chance at successfully treating their cancer.


However, in a report to the governor of Alabama, ADPH State Health Officer Donald Williamson stated that one of the most critical goals of public health officials everywhere is to improve the state’s infant mortality rate. Numbers have dropped only slightly since 2012 from 8.9 deaths per 1000 births to 8.6 in 2014. However, while there was an overall drop, numbers stayed consistent from 2013 to 2014, and mortality rates actually rose for black infants. Considering it to be one of the greatest health risks facing the state today, the ADPH considers infant mortality to be its top priority in the years to come.


While funding has had a major impact, that funding would be worthless without educated public health professionals with the skills to develop policy and implement beneficial programs.


Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Alabama


The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is designed to advance the careers of public health professionals by honing their skills and focusing them towards the core issues of the field.

Online and part time MPH programs help to provide a degree of flexibility that can help even the busiest working students succeed. Fast track options have even helped some students to receive their degrees after only one year.


Most MPH programs do not require matching undergraduate degrees, instead accepting most any bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year university. Graduate students in MPH programs often come from a background in health administration, business, nutrition, healthcare, or education. Still, students with educational experiences of every kind will find that their unique perspective can help to fuel a successful career in public health.


Academic Overview


The standards for most MPH programs are set in stone by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Since 2004, CEPH accredited programs have been based on the MPH Core Competency Model developed by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). These competencies are:


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


While the five core competencies form the basis of MPH programs, the ASPH also identified seven interdisciplinary areas of focus that they believe are necessary for a graduate to function in a contemporary public health setting. These are:


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


Admission Requirements


Admission requirements for master’s programs will differ from program to program and universitys will usually list their specific requirements. However, generally speaking, the list below is a standard set of requirements for graduate-level MPH programs:


  • Submission of GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT
  • Submission of official transcripts from all other undergraduate and graduate institutions
  • Submission of a 500-1000 word purpose essay
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation




MPH programs will regularly offer specializations designed to challenge students with additional areas of focus to prepare them for careers in public health policy development and program administration. Most of these specializations will constitute between 10 and 15 additional credits alongside their courses. Some options available in Alabama include:


Health Communication


This focus is designed around properly communicating and marketing health campaigns to the public and to their administrative staff as well as planning events and courses that teach and empower people to take care of their bodies. The Alabama Public Health Training Network ran workshop’s in the beginning of 2015 that aided and educated breast cancer survivors alongside a healthy weight initiative at the end of 2014, both campaigns designed by health communications professionals to make an impact on a large scale.


Courses within this specialization may include:

  • Leadership Seminar
  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing and Research for Public Health

Total of 10-15 credits


Health Policy


This focus is designed for specialists who want to use their skills and knowledge to aid in keeping health policy relevant. It also means keeping an eye on developing health problems and designing new policy to address sudden epidemics of disease or injury. The Alabama Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care (ADHPC) is filled with health policy experts who have been working to contain the outbreak since the disease first reared its ugly head. The ADHPC’s efforts have helped to keep the spread of HIV/AIDS in check since the early 1990’s, and continued research and advocacy efforts are dedicated to eliminating the disease entirely.


Courses within this specialization may include:


  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
  • Public Health and Law
  • Global Health Diplomacy
  • Leadership Seminar
  • Law, Medicine and Ethics


Program Planning and Evaluation


Specialists in program planning and evaluation focus their efforts towards understanding what makes programs impactful and what can be done to improve the programs in their region. In Alabama, the Office of Prevention of the Alabama Department of Mental Health recently evaluated its addiction prevention efforts in a report analyzing its Tobacco Sales to Minors program. They developed a new data driven process around implementation and program capacity that they believe will have an impact on youth tobacco usage in 2016. Public health experts have been a part of this effort from the very beginning and will continue to be there throughout the evaluation process.


Courses within this specialization may include:


  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
  • Researching Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing Research for Public Health


Global Health


While public health policy is often handled through local government and small private efforts, some health concerns require attention on a global scale. The recent mass immigration of Syrian refugees has had a major impact on the health systems of Northern and Eastern Europe. Both the native and immigrant populations found themselves exposed to new diseases with no time to develop immunization. Making sure the region was properly supplied with vaccinations and health staff to accommodate the increase in need was the responsibility of global health experts with the knowledge and experience to handle epidemic level issues.


Courses within this specialization may include:

  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
  • Researching Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Global Health Diplomacy
  • Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
  • Climate Change and Social Change


Accelerated One-Year and Part-Time Options


Most master’s programs offer flexible options for credit loads that allow students to graduate at their own pace. MPH programs are no exception.


Part-time options allow busy students to complete their program in as long as four years. For students working full time or pursuing other professional and academic goals, this may be the best option for earning an MPH.


However, most MPH programs also offer an accelerated one-year option that takes the opposite approach. Students take on a heavier course load and are able to graduate in as little as 12 months. The curriculum is no different than a standard online or campus based MPH program, but is designed around a much more intensive schedule.


Job Growth Projections for Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Alabama


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama will see strong job growth in the public health sector during the ten-year period between 2012 and 2022:


  • Social and Community Service Managers 22%
  • Statisticians 22%
  • Microbiologists 7%
  • Biological Scientists 1%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors 31%


Centers established in Birmingham out of the University of Birmingham are responsible for cutting edge efforts in the world of Microbiology, and have been responsible for breakthrough research into diseases like Ebola and Cystic Fibrosis. Continued success in their research makes for a positive outlook for the public health community at every level as new treatments and strategies developed there are integrated into modern health practices.


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


The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provided the following figures for public health jobs in Alabama in 2014. The salaries below range from the bottom tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:


  • Social and Community Services Managers: $35,120 to $98,200
  • Statisticians: $33,830 to $89,260
  • Microbiologists: $33,420 to $125,570
  • Biological Scientists, All Other: $41,930 to $83,960
  • Epidemiologists- $39,680 to $69,800
  • Social Scientists- $54,310 to $109,190
  • Rehabilitation Counselors- $18,090 to $57,260


Career Opportunities for Public Health Professionals with Master’s Degrees in Alabama


Below are a handful of job postings that represent some of the career options available to graduates with an MPH. (The following samples are examples only and are not representative of a job offer or an assurance of employment.)


Clinical Coordinator for Rehabilitation Counseling, Alabama A&M University

  • Responsibilities
    • Advise and supervisor internships and practicums of graduate students
    • Teach and coordinate graduate level practicum and internship experiences in agencies providing services for individuals with disabilities
  • Requirements
    • Master’s degree in MPH or a closely related field
    • Experience in program coordination, rehabilitation knowledge, agency resources, and evaluation of agencies and student performance during on-site placements
    • Experience in clinical supervision of rehabilitation counseling students


Clinical Lab Scientist/Medical Technologist, DCH Health System

  • Responsibilities
    • Performs basic and advanced emergency, therapeutic, and diagnostic laboratory procedures
    • Maintains and operates various instruments following established procedures
    • Answers inquiries about test results, methodology, specificity, sensitivity, and interpretation
  • Requirements
    • Must possess manual dexterity and fine motor skills
    • Ability to lift and carry objects up to 50 pounds
    • Recognition of risk related to exposure to body fluids, disease, infection, chemicals, and other hazardous materials


Infection Preventionist, Southeast Alabama Medical center

  • Responsibilities
    • Generation of reports, graphs, and trend tables related to disease prevention
    • Manage potential disease containment in emergency scenario
  • Requirements
    • 3-5 years in a clinical setting
    • Knowledge in basic surveillance and epidemiology
    • advanced computer skills


Clinical Analyst, Hudsonalpha Institute for Biotechnology

  • Responsibilities
    • Gather business data from clinical faculty and investigators in the Genomic Medicine Clinic and collaborate on the design of new studies based on available systems
    • Participate in analytics based quality improvement projects that leverage data collected from electronic medical records
    • Produce reports that facilitate evidence based clinical and financial decisions
  • Requirements
    • Experience with data analysis, management, and clinical research
    • Experience in medical policy documentation
    • Relevant clinical application including graduate level educational experience
    • Knowledge of various information systems and clinical software in a healthcare setting