Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Florida


The Florida Department of Health (FDH) heavily invests in all aspects of public health and strives to implement smart, efficient, and effective health programs. The FDH approach works, as evidenced by their continual improvement in national state rankings of overall resident health, obesity rates, teen birth rates, and a host of other indicators.


Featured Programs:

According to the Trust for America’s Health 2015 report, Florida spent just over $37 million on public health in 2013-2014, along with about $819 million in federal funding. Combined state and federal per capita health spending in 2013-3014 came to $60.43.


Florida maintained or increased public health spending from 2012-2014, investing heavily in the Healthiest Weight initiative. This public health program brings together 550 state and local organizations, including nonprofit organizations and businesses, in a coordinated effort to improve state health. Healthiest Weight has five main goals: increased opportunity for physical activity, increased access to healthy foods, promoting health in the work place, strengthening health in schools, and increasing public awareness of the health risks of being overweight.


The Healthiest Weight program witnessed several positive changes in public health habits since its inception in 2013, most notably in high schools. Soda consumption and TV viewing time has decreased and physical activity has gone up among Florida high school students. Additionally, Florida was one of only 17 states to decrease childhood obesity among disadvantaged communities in 2014.


Sustaining and increasing overall public health, especially Florida’s improvements in overall resident health and obesity, depends on the presence of well-educated public health experts. A Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from a school fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) provides crucial skills in health policy, program design, implementation, and management. An MPH is the best way to acquire and develop the interdisciplinary skills necessary for a successful career in diverse areas like public health policy, program management and evaluation, global health, epidemiology and health communication and marketing.


Master’s Degree in Public Health in Florida


An MPH program is ideal for public health professionals seeking career advancement or professionals with an undergraduate degree in a different major interested in a public health career. MPH-educated Public health professionals involved in developing policy and designing, implementing, administering and evaluating the resulting programs often come from a background in health administration, business, teaching, or a healthcare profession like nursing.


An accredited MPH program provides an interdisciplinary education designed to teach students to formulate public health policy, to design and construct public health initiatives, and to effectively implement programs in communities throughout Florida.


Part-time and/or online MPH programs allow working professionals to conveniently continue their education while still investing in their career. An accelerated one-year option enables students to rapidly complete their MPH in about half the time a conventional MPH requires, allowing students to launch their professional public health careers as soon as possible.


MPH Program Overview


The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the sole accrediting body for public health graduate programs in the United States, requires that accredited MPH programs follow the MPH Core Competency model. Developed in 2004 by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the model includes five core competencies:


  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental health sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy and management
  • Social and behavior sciences


The ASPH also laid out seven interdisciplinary areas of study that MPH programs :


  • Communication and informatics
  • Diversity and culture
  • Public health biology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Program planning


MPH Focus Areas


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.


Health Communication: Florida Healthy Weight program is heavily reliant on clear communication between the 550 different organizations involved in the program. It also relies on social marketing to communicate new initiatives to the public.


Courses may include:


  • Leadership Seminar
  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Social marketing
  • Market and Research for Public Health
  • Total of 10-15 credits


Health Policy: Florida manages licensing policies for an extensive list of healthcare professions, from acupuncture to dentistry, in an effort to ensure practicing professionals are providing safe and reliable care to residents. Maintaining relevant and useful licensing policies requires skills related to qualitative research, monitoring industry trends and health, and understanding state and federal health laws.


Courses 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
  • Total of 10-15 credits


Program Planning and Evaluation: Florida’s Health 60 Day Challenge, a charting program designed to help residents improve their overall eating and physical activity habits, is a good example of program planning and evaluation in action. The program is based off research indicating that a behavior must be sustained for 60 days to become habitual. Available from the FDH website, this programs offers a downloadable pamphlet that packs an abundance of health information and advice into a colorful and engaging infographic. Included in the pamphlet is a tracking chart that allows the user to track their eating, hydration, and exercise activities for each of the 60 days. This initiative combines skills such as program design, method research, and social marketing tactics.


Courses 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
  • Total of 10-15 credits


Global Health: There are many examples of global health initiatives sponsored by the Florida Health Department. Florida is committed to providing programs that target global and national issues. For example, in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Florida developed Personal Protective Equipment packages and delivered them to 31 different hospitals to help health professionals respond quickly and effectively to highly infectious diseases. The FDH also sponsored 80 presentations at the community level to inform and prepare health care providers, law enforcement, emergency response providers, and other organizations about Ebola management and response. Florida contributed to preventing the national and global spread of Ebola by monitoring 430 travelers from Ebola-affected areas, examining and ruling about 150 suspected cases, and confirming results within hours of testing.


Admissions Requirements


Although admission requirements to MPH program will differ slightly by school, most schools require submission of some common items:


  • Official, current GRE scores
    • GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT scores may be submitted instead
  • Official transcripts from all academic institutions attended, including community colleges
  • Statement of purpose essay (500-1,500 words)
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • At least two letters of recommendation


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


Like much of the nation, Florida faces an obesity epidemic. According to a 2014 Florida Health Impact report, only 36th percent of the population is at a healthy weight, and the rest are overweight or obese. Six out of ten children are estimated to be overweight by the time they graduate high school. The report estimates that health problems stemming from obesity will cost the state about $34 million. However, ongoing public health initiatives moved Florida from being in the top 20 healthiest states to the top 15th healthiest.


In the future, Florida may also face new challenges, such as the increased spread of tropical pathogens, such as the West Nile Virus (WNV). As climate change continues to push average temperatures higher in the southern states, reported cases of WNV climb. Public health intervention will be critical to preventing the spread of WNV in upcoming years.


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Florida Department of Labor (FPL) originally published the following job growth projections for public health professions between 2012 and 2022:


  • Social and community services managers: 20%
  • Statisticians: 23%
  • Microbiologists: 25%
  • Biological Scientists All Other: 7%
  • Epidemiologists: 32%
  • Scientists: 19%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 10%


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


Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Florida Occupational Wages shows a wide salary range for public health professions in the state as reported in 2014. The following shows the range between the tenth percentile salary (entry-level) and the 90th percentile salary (experienced) for select public health professions typically associated with a master’s level education.


  • Social and community services managers: $45,200-116,000
  • Statisticians: $24,500-102,100
  • Microbiologists: $35,500-121,300
  • Biological Scientists All Other: $37,600-90,400
  • Epidemiologists: $41,300-100,300
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $23,800-47,300


Career Opportunities for Florida Master’s Prepared Public Health Professionals


The career opportunities available to professionals with a master’s in public health are diverse and exciting. (The following job descriptions were taken from a survey of vancancy announcements throughout Florida in January 2016. These examples do not represent job offers or the assurance of employment.):


County Health Department Administrator, Jackson County Health Department, Marianna FL


  • Responsibilities
    • Plan, direct, and coordinate activities in medicine and health services in hospitals, clinics, public health agencies, and administrative health functions
    • Manage an annual budget over $4 million
    • Manage a staff of over 80 full-time employees
    • Assess, maintain, and improve health and safety of entire community through coordinated public health programs
    • Diagnose and investigate health problems
  • Requirements
    • Master’s degree, preferably in public health
    • Experience in management and administration of public health programs
      • Public health policy issues
      • Public health advocacy
    • Experience coordinating with elected officials, governmental bodies, community partners, and the media
    • Demonstrated knowledge of fiscal and budget management, human resource management, and information systems
    • Demonstrated leadership, cultural, and interpersonal skills


School Based Motivational Coach/Mental Health Counselor, NVPUSA Healthcare, Orange FL


  • Responsibilities
    • Provide psychosocial and peer support groups
    • Develop intervention/prevention strategies for in school and after school use
    • Establish supportive and trusting relationships with targeted teens
    • Facilitate psychosocial and/or substance abuse treatment to at-risk youth
    • Ensure all documentation (such as treatment plans and program registration forms) are completed in a timely manner
    • Provide services incorporating NVP’s curriculum
    • Participate in staff training as required by NVP
    • Attend weekly case reviews
    • Maintain client records according to NVP standards
  • Requirements
    • Master’s degree from an accredited university in related field
    • Two years of professional experience in providing services to individuals with behavioral illnesses OR be under the supervision of a licensed practitioner
    • At least 2-3 years of clinical experience
    • At least 2 years of experience in a school setting
    • Experience with curriculum based training highly desired


Senior Manager, Public Health Programs, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami FL


  • Responsibilities
    • Day-to-day administration of all public health education related activities for the MD/MPH program
    • Oversee all MD/MPH cohorts (about 200 students)
    • Work closely with the Director of Education to ensure successful implementation of all health initiatives, including student registration, course management, faculty evaluations, capstone programs, graduation clearances, and commencement.
    • Serve as liaison between leadership, faculty, students, and staff in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Medical Education
  • Requirements
    • Master’s degree in public health or relevant field
    • At least four years of work experience
    • Excellent attention to detail and ability to multitask
    • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
    • Strong organization and leadership skills
    • Strong interpersonal skills
    • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite