Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in District of Columbia

Public Health Career Resource for District of Columbia


In 2014 The U.S. Department of Health named Washington D.C. the fittest city in the nation, thanks to health initiatives such as FitDC and DC Healthy People 2020, which aim to educate residents about the health benefits of regular exercise. These successful initiatives have paved the way for health educators and policy makers to continue improving health services for Washington D.C. residents.

DC Health Matters, a database of health information compiled by the Children’s National Medical Center, shows that recent initiatives promoting access to healthcare have helped the state population immensely; however, 45% of residents are still living in medically underserved areas as reported by the DC Department of Health. Washington, D.C. may be the fittest capital in the nation, but it still has ground to cover when it comes to providing access to healthcare for its medically underserved residents.

In Washington D.C., a master’s in public health can lead to highly influential careers in both the public and private sectors. As public health policy makers who look to address the most pressing public health concerns and program developers and administrators who put policy into action, master’s-prepared public health professionals are responsible for identifying the needs of their constituents and seeing to it that vital health services are available to all residents.

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Washington DC

Master of Public Health programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) are open to bachelor’s prepared professionals in public health, as well as those with a background in business, health administration, teaching, a healthcare discipline like nursing, among many others.

Washington DC is home to one physical campus location offering an accredited MPH program. However, online MPH programs offer a flexible format that working graduate students often prefer. Course requirements vary, but most programs consist of 40-60 credit hours, at least one semester-long internship, and can be completed in two-three years of study.

MPH programs offer different areas of focus, which may include health management and policy, global health, health communication, and health systems, management and policy.

Academic Requirements

All CEPH accredited programs follow the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Core Competency Model. These 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

In addition, ASPPH programs must build competency in the following seven interdisciplinary areas:

  • 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 often 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 can vary, but almost all 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 specific to public health policy development and administration.

Health Communication: Students who choose to study Health Communication will likely pursue leadership occupations in local healthcare fields. Whether in federal or private sectors, many health initiatives strive to build communication between health care officials and state residents. For instance, FitDC, a health initiative developed by the DC mayor, is a plan designed to raise residents’ awareness about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.

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 may pursue federal positions allowing them to improve existing policies and implement new policies to improve health outcomes for the population. Washington D.C. is the home of AcademyHealth, a leading national organization in health services and policy research. AcademyHealth’s research has led to improved public health policies in the District.

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
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Program Planning and Evaluation: Students who choose to study Program Planning and Evaluation will be closely involved in public health initiatives while developing community health plans and compiling data on the results. Washington D.C. has seen many measurable impacts from such initiatives, especially Healthy People 2020, which aims to improve access to health services, adolescent health, disability services, and environmental health, among other topics.

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 not just within the District, but also on national and international levels. Many U.S. initiatives have been the catalyst for better health care on a large scale, including national action plans to address environmental health concerns, health disparities, and immunization/vaccination.

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 and Part-time Programs

Select MPH programs offer accelerated and part-time programs to students. Accelerated programs allow students to finish the degree in one year by maintaining a more rigorous course load (the same curriculum completed over a shorter span of time.) In order to be accepted into a fast track program, students must have:

  • A minimum 3.25 GPA
  • 60-90 completed hours of undergraduate coursework
  • GRE scores quantitative in the 40th percentile

Part-time programs allow students to finish an MPH degree within four years by only taking one course at a time, which is ideal for working students.

Job Growth Projections for Public Health Professions in Washington DC

Job growth in DC is driven by recent health initiatives such as FitDC. When these programs are created, they generate the need for educated professionals to administrate, evaluate, and build health awareness among resident according to program goals.

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

  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers: 10.5%
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: 13%
  • Health Educators: 14%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 16.5%
  • Substance Abuse Social Workers: 17.4%

Salaries for Public Health Professions in Washington DC

As of 2014, there were 630 community health workers employed in DC earning an average annual salary of $65,150. The following salaries range from the tenth percentile (entry level careers) to the 90th percentile (experienced professionals in the field.) The BLS recorded the following salary data in 2014:

  • Substance Abuse/Behavioral Disorder Counselors: $25,310-$61,420
  • Child, Family and School Social Workers: $27,500-$72,510
  • Community Health Workers: $20,790-$60,360
  • Health Educators: $29,650- $90,260
  • Epidemiologists: $43,530-$112,360
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Career Opportunities for MPH-Educated Public Health Professionals in Washington DC

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

Public Health Analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.


  • Responsible for analyzing, evaluating, and advising on a well-defined and established program of a moderate size and complexity
  • Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the assigned public health program(s) and develop and/or implement standards and recommendations


  • A Master’s degree in Public Health
  • One year specialized experience in the federal service regarding public health

Safety and Occupational Health Manager at United States Department of Labor, Washington D.C.


  • Oversees the workers compensation program and managing a comprehensive medical surveillance-screening program to include maintaining the security of personal medical records under HIPAA rules and regulations
  • Prepares standard criteria, procedures, programs, and technical data related to occupational safety and health
  • Provides technical consulting services to all organizational elements of MSHA including senior management officials, as well as other personnel nationwide.


  • Major study in safety or occupational health fields (safety, occupational health, industrial hygiene)

Deputy Director, HIV and TB, at Population Services International, Washington, D.C.


  • With the Director, guiding PSI’s network members in the adoption and execution of new innovative, evidence-based approaches to HIV prevention, care and treatment, with a focus on private-sector delivery
  • Leading the planning and execution of regional meetings on HIV and TB for PSI network members
  • Building and maintaining relationships with key donors to PSI’s HIV and TB programs


  • At least 10 years of experience designing, implementing and managing large, complex public health projects in/for developing countries
  • Master’s degree or higher in public health, business administration, international development, medical degree or a related degree is preferred
  • Experience managing/implementing a range of HIV programs