Public Health Schools and Degrees in Colorado

Get to Know Public Health in Colorado

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Colorado’s view on the importance of a strong public health system and it’s ample funding that’s allocated towards public health initiatives indicate that the state is serious about improving the health of its residents. For anyone interested in studying or working in the public health sector in Colorado, this is reassuring and motivating.

We take a closer look at the state of Colorado’s health system below, with information on successful initiatives, funding, job growth projections, salary expectations and information on the Master of Public Health programs. Our goal with this guide is to provide you with the tools to decide if following a profession in the public health sector is the right choice for you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to serve your country while earning a competitive salary, breathing easily in the security and stability the job provides, and making a difference to your community.

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Colorado

Master’s programs in public health that have met Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accreditation standards offer bachelor’s-prepared students from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to expand their career prospects by learning an interdisciplinary approach to public health policy development and administration. In addition to existing public health professionals looking to advance in the field, graduate students enrolling in MPH programs often come from a background in health administration, business, teaching, or a healthcare profession such as nursing.

Three physical campus locations offering MPH degrees are located in Colorado. However, many schools around the country offer MPH programs in a flexible online format that working professionals often prefer.

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Step One: Know the Basics

Most online programs consist of 40-60 credit hours, at least one semester-long internship, and can be completed in two-three years of study.

Though MPH programs offer different areas of focus, the core courses of the programs and admission requirements are generally quite similar for all CEPH-accredited programs.

Fast track options have even helped some students to receive their degrees after only one year.

Academic Overview

To maintain a level of consistency and quality among MPH graduates, all accredited programs follow the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Core Competency Model, meaning all programs will require graduates to display competency in five traditional areas of public health:

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

Additionally, ASPPH has established seven interdisciplinary areas of focus that all MPH programs must cover:

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

In accordance with these competency requirements, core coursework for MPH programs includes related topics:

  • Applied Biostatistics
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social and Behavioral Factors and Health
  • Health Systems, Management and Policy
  • Public health Administration
  • Ethical and Political Issues
  • Cultural Context of Health

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary from school to school, but most MPH programs require the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA in undergraduate study
  • Official GRE scores
  • Personal essay
  • Three letters of recommendation

Step Two: Choosing a State Public Health School

MPH programs in Colorado are abundant, so you won’t have to worry about limited options. There are 43 CEPH accredited MPH throughout the state. Colorado State University, University of Colorado

Denver, and University of Northern Colorado all offer excellent programs that have a variety of options. Most of the programs offer seven areas of concentration to choose from, each with a different selection of core courses. To find a school that suits you best, keep the location, tuition costs, and coursework in mind.

Step Three: Choosing a Public Health Specialization

Most MPH programs offer focus areas in order to narrow the concentration to a particular area of interest within public health. Focus areas are not universal and may differ by school. However, the options listed below embody the kind of specialized education that helps students meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world of public health policy and program administration:

CEPH Accreditation?

You’ve probably seen CEPH-accreditation quite often in this guide. The Council on Education for Public Health is an independent organization that works with the United States Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools that offer MPH programs. Most employees will look for qualifications that have been accredited by the CEPH, so its worth investing in a recognized public health course.

Health Communication

Students who choose to study Health Communication will have the opportunity to be involved in state health initiatives and build public awareness of health concerns. For instance, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a non-profit, which has improved healthcare access for Colorado residents, particularly in 2014 when the CCHI helped pass a bill to give financial assistance within hospitals to residents without healthcare.

Q: What’s the Difference Between Bachelor Degree & Master Degree for Public Health?

This guide focuses primarily on the MPH program, although there are Bachelor’s programs available. With an MPH degree, you’ll have more career opportunities as it’s a multi-disciplinary degree that focuses on a variety of specializations. You’ll also be able to command a more competitive salary and better benefits and job security.

The Bachelor’s program provides a god stepping stone for your public health career, but its not as widely offered as it’s still relatively new.

Q: Where do Public Health Professionals Work in Colorado?

As a public health professional, you could either be working at a college or university, hospital, clinic, laboratory, office, or state or private institution. Where you work depends on your chosen specialty.

Courses within this specialization may include:

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

Health Policy

Students who choose to study Health Systems, Management and Policy will have the opportunity to improve existing public health policies as well as create new policies as needed. An example of health policy in action in Colorado is The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment’s 2015-2019 healthcare improvement plan, which involves many individual plans for Colorado counties designed to improve deficiencies in existing systems.

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
  • Law, Medicine and Ethics

Program Planning and Evaluation

Students who choose to study Program Planning and Evaluation will have the opportunity to plan and implement public health program plans as well as evaluations of existing programs. Some of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s existing programs include suicide prevention, smoking and tobacco awareness, injury prevention, chronic disease prevention, and motor vehicle safety.

Courses within this specialization may include:

  • Researching Violence against Women and Girls
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing Research for Public Health

Global Health

Students who choose to study Global Health will have the opportunity to confront public health issues on the national and international level, as well as refine and implement public programs and policies. Roll Back Malaria and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization are two U.S. global health initiatives designed to target disease control.

Courses within this specialization may include:

  • 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 Education Options

Some MPH programs allow students to finish the degree in one year while maintaining a higher course load and a more rigorous schedule. In order to be accepted into such a program, most applicants must have a minimum 3.25 GPA, 60-90 hours of undergraduate coursework, and GRE scores quantitative in the 40th percentile.

Part-time programs allow students to finish the degree within four years.

Overview: The State of Public Health Careers in Colorado

Currently, Colorado is ranked as the 10th healthiest state in the country, according to the American Health Rankings 2019 report. The state’s success is due to residents being physically active, low rates of smoking, low rates of diabetes, and low rates of poverty stricken children.

However, even Colorado faces significant health challenges. The excessive drinking, low infant birth weight, and worryingly high increase in the number of drug related deaths show that the ball is being dropped in some areas. This can only be addressed and rectified with comprehensive public health awareness and monitoring measures and in some cases, significant policy changes.

Key public health programs like the Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System, which allocated funds to ensure the proper disposal of unused medications have, have achieved significant health advances for the state. Other programs aimed at ensuring child safety have resulted in successfully amending regulations for childcare centers so as to better reflect children’s needs, and launching a statewide hotline to report child abuse.

Each year, Colorado allocates more than $1 million in public funding to environmental health programs, along with $13 million for the purpose of chronic disease prevention and health promotion, according to a report by Trust for America’s Health.

Career Opportunities of a Public Health Degree in Colorado

There are several benefits to getting your public health degree in Colorado:

  • As a public health professional, you’ll be making positive changes to people’s lives.
  • The job is challenging enough to keep you on your toes and constantly learning.
  • You’ll work with dedicated, like-minded professionals.
  • Living in Colorado is relatively inexpensive and the job market is strong.
  • The weather is suited to anyone – in some areas, there’s lots of sunshine, and in others its cooler
  • and less humid.
  • The state is surrounded by mountains, foothills, and high planes, boasting beautiful scenery and ample activities for a busy outdoor lifestyle.

Job Growth Projections – Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Colorado

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado will see strong job growth in the public health sector during the ten-year period between 2018 and 2028:

    1. Social and Community Service Managers +26.3%
    2. Statisticians +44%
    3. Microbiologists +19.1%
    4. Biological Scientists +11.8%
    5. Rehabilitation Counselors +27.5%

Salary Range – Public Health Professions in Colorado that Require a Master’s Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provided the following figures for public health jobs in Colorado in 2018. The salaries below range from the bottom tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:

    1. Social and Community Services Managers: $48,010 – $130,970
    2. Statisticians: $56,360 – $120,990
    3. Microbiologists: $37,760 – $104,380
    4. Biological Scientists: $49,140 – $101,090
    5. Epidemiologists- $41,520 – $79,310
    6. Social Scientists- $54,650 – $118,080
    7. Rehabilitation Counselors- $26,000 – $79,870

The Jobs & Careers You Can Get with a Public Health Degree in Colorado

The following job descriptions were taken from a survey of job vacancy announcements in. These illustrative examples do not represent job offers or the assurance of employment:

Public Health Planner

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver

Responsibilities

  • Candidate will provide coordination, support and technical assistance for local community health assessment
  • Improvement planning, strategic planning and quality improvement in accordance with Colorado Statute, best practice and national standards

Requirements

  • A Master’s degree in Public Health
  • Experience with grant writing, including progress reports
  • Experience working with local public health agencies and their partners
  • EPR Coordinator, Colorado Springs, Colorado

EPR Coordinator

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Responsibilities

  • Oversees regional public health emergency response documents and plans
  • Assists other local agencies with public health emergency response plans according to Center for Disease Control standards

Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health, Emergency Management or related field required.
  • Two (2) years experience in Public Health, emergency management or related field preferred.
  • Knowledge of public health, medical and emergency management principles, policies, procedures and practice set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention preparedness and response division

Deputy Director of Public Health Protection Programs

San Juan Basin Health Department in Durango, Colorado

Responsibilities

  • Responsible for ensuring the alignment of San Juan Basin Health’s core services of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Communicable Disease and Environmental Health with the aim of strengthening community resiliency while meeting our statutory obligations.

Requirements

  • Master’s Degree in Public Health
  • Five years of administrative experience in public health or related field; three years supervising preferred.
  • Strong leadership, organizational, and finance skills.

Environmental Health Director

Durango, Colorado

Responsibilities

  • Participate in the protection and improvement of air, water, land, and food quality by identifying, investigating, and responding to community environmental health concerns
  • Reducing current and environmental health risks, preventing communicable disease, and sustaining the environment.

Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited college or university in Public Health, Environmental Health, Public Administration, Public Health Laboratory Administration, or related field in addition to a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum of 30 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours of academic work in the biological, chemical or environmental sciences.
  • Experience 5 years of experience in an environmental or public health programs, preferably in a public health agency, with at least three years in a supervisory, consultant or administrative capacity.

Public Health Resources for Students & Professionals

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website is a valuable resource for anyone who is studying public health, starting the licensing process, or is interested in reading up on the relevant laws and regulations regarding public health in the state of Colorado.

Colorado Commission on Higher Education This website provides helpful information on new academic programs, statewide statistics, record systems, and campus review systems that allow potential students to learn more about the school that they’re interested in.

Colorado: Official State Web Portal For information on business, government regulations, housing, and tax, and anything on living and working in Colorado, you can refer to the state’s official website.