Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Colorado


In recent years, public health has improved in Colorado thanks in large part to collaborative policy initiatives led by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and The Public Health Alliance of Colorado. These policy initiatives have given way to the development of new public health programs and public awareness campaigns, and as the rubber meets the road, the net result has been a healthier, safer state populace.


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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.


With ample funding, Colorado’s public health initiatives are projected to continue driving job growth in both the public and private sectors. Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) opens up employment opportunities in public health education, biosecurity, health care management, disaster preparedness, environmental health, consumer safety, and health policy and development.


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.


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.


Academic Requirements


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


Focus Areas and 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:


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.


Courses within this specialization may include:


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


Health Systems, Management and 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 Programs, Part-time Programs, and Dual Degree 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.


Job Growth Projections for Public Health Professions in Colorado that Require a Master’s Degrees


Job growth in Colorado is driven by new health initiatives, which create the need for educated professionals to implement and improve these plans.


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the following job growth projections for key public health professions in Colorado between 2012-2022:


  • Social and Community Service Managers: 5.7%
  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists, including health: 8.6%
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: 13%
  • Health Educators: 13.2%
  • Community Health Workers: 17.7%


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


Average annual wages for public health occupations in Colorado range from $25,310-$112,360. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has recorded the following salary data in 2014, organized from entry-level professionals (tenth percentile) to experienced professionals (90th percentile):


  • Substance Abuse/Behavioral Disorder Counselors: $25,310-$61,420
  • Community Health Workers: $20,790-$60,360
  • Health Care Educators: $29,650-$90,260
  • Health Care Social Workers: $32,060- $76,940
  • Epidemiologists: $43,530-$112,360


Career Opportunities for Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Colorado


The following job descriptions were taken from a survey of job vacancy announcements in Colorado in December 2015. These illustrative examples do not represent job offers or the assurance of employment:


Public Health Planner at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, Colorado




  • 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




  • 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




  • 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




  • 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 at San Juan Basin Health Department in Durango, Colorado




  • 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.




  • 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 in Durango, Colorado




  • Responsibilities to 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.




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.