Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Georgia


The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) manages over 100 public health programs, and includes 159 county health departments and 18 health districts. GDPH health initiatives include a diverse collection of different programs, ranging from STD awareness and treatment to an Alzheimer’s Disease State Registry.


Featured Programs:

One of the most recent GDPH public health initiatives, announced in early December 2015, aims to improve consumer safety at restaurants. The initiative’s main objectives include improving access to food allergy information, decreasing the risk of food borne illnesses from cut leafy greens (such as salmonella), and providing a safe and sanitary way for patrons to dine with their non-service canine companions.


Georgia currently ranks 32nd in national public health funding. According to data provided by the Trust for America’s Health, in 2014 Georgia received just over $219 million in federal funding from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) and about $240 million from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). From 2013-2014, the state budget allotted $185 million to public health spending. Combined state and federal spending in 2014 amounted to $64.02 per capita. Some of Georgia’s most highly funded public health areas include HIV/AIDS, vaccines for children, and chronic disease prevention and control.


While public health programs abound, Georgia still faces an uphill battle against many health problems, including adult and child obesity and associated co-morbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension. Sustaining and increasing overall public health depends on the presence of well-educated and equipped public health experts. Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) from a school fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the best way to acquire and develop the interdisciplinary skills necessary for a career in public health policy development and program management.


Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Georgia


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 career in public health policy development and program administration. MPH-educated public health professionals involved in developing policy and designing, implementing and administering the resulting programs often come from a background in health administration, business, teaching, or a healthcare profession such as 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 customized to the communities they will serve upon graduating.


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.


Academic 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


Public health professionals wear many different hats over the course of their careers. They must be information experts, able to collect, organize, interpret, and communicate data strategically. They will have to compassionately interact with and understand diverse groups and different cultures.


Professionals seeking leadership positions should be prepared to skillfully coordinate collaborative projects, formulate cooperative goals, and foster healthy partnerships with different groups. Because of the constant skill overlap in the public health field, the ASPH also laid out seven interdisciplinary areas of study:


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


Admissions Requirements


Although admission requirements to a 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
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Statement of purpose essay (500-1,500 words)
  • Current resume or CV
  • At least two letters of recommendation


Focus Areas and Specialization


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: This focus area prepares students to effectively communicate and cooperatively work with other public health professionals. Students learn how to cooperatively design, implement, supervise, and market health initiatives. As an example, in November 2015, the GDPH HIV Prevention Program joined forces with the organization, Greater Than AIDS, to launch a campaign to end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Georgia. Through coordinated work and multi-media marketing, the campaign encourages those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to reach out to friends and family for support. It also seeks to encourage individuals to get tested for HIV, since an estimated 20,000 residents live with undiagnosed HIV/AIDS.


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: This focus area teaches students how to analyze, influence, and improve health policy in the US and internationally. In July 2014, Georgia modified their vaccination policies to require all children in seventh through twelfth grade to receive one dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine and one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. This policy change helps control the spread of Tdap bacterial diseases and the most common forms of meningococcal disease.


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: This focus area trains students to assess, improve, and critique public health programs. It also teaches students to design and implement effective and useful programs at the individual, community, and state levels. The GDPH has many programs designed to make changes at the individual and community level, such as the diet-tracking and weight-loss app Lose It and the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program to bring healthy foods to entire communities.


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: This focus area prepares students to analyze and determine health problems in low- or middle-income populations, as well as to evaluate relevant health policies, in the US and on a global level. National public health programs include the CDC’s National Healthy Worksite Program designed to provide employers with efficient health and wellness practices. President Obama launched the United States Global Health Initiative to improve public health programs in other countries.


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

In a report from the US Administration on Aging, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2030, 20% of Georgia’s population will be 60 years of age and older. The particular challenges of an aging population will spur growth in the healthcare and public health sectors. As the state’s elderly population increases, they face different geriatric syndromes, an umbrella term for the wide range of mental and physical health problems that can accompany aging. But an aging population affects all aspects of a community beyond elderly individuals. For instance, Georgia has already launched the Older Drivers Safety Program, an initiative designed to decrease the number of car crashes caused by elderly drivers with the goal of making the roads safer for all drivers.


Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Georgia Department of Labor (GPL) on job growth projections for public health professions between 2012 and 2022:


  • Social and community services managers: 21%
  • Statisticians: 15%
  • Microbiologists: -1%
  • Biological Scientists All Other: -3%
  • Epidemiologists: 8%
  • Scientists: 19%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 12%


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


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


  • Social and community services managers: $37,000-96,600
  • Statisticians: $43,500-125,800
  • Microbiologists: $53,400-125,900
  • Biological Scientists All Other: $46,300-90,200
  • Epidemiologists: $41,500-83,200
  • Scientists: $39,000-125,800
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $30,000-58,800


Career Opportunities for Georgia Master’s Prepared Public Health Professionals


The career opportunities for professionals with a master’s in public health are diverse and exciting. (The following job descriptions are examples of different career opportunities in the public health sector and don’t represent job offers or the assurance of employment.)


Child Health Director-North Central Health District, Macon GA


  • Responsibilities
    • Lead district health team to improve child health outcomes and school readiness
    • Advise district leadership on issues, policy changes, and issues related program implementation
    • Develop short-term and long-term team goals
    • Maintain awareness of advances in child health, technology, governmental regulations, insurance practices, and financing options
    • Ensure coordination and collaboration between child health programs
    • Represent district child health programs to community partners


  • Requirements
    • Bachelor’s degree in related field and two years of supervisory experience in a health care services environment
    • OR Master’s degree in related field and one year of supervisory experience in a health care services environment
    • OR Doctorate degree in related field


Health Education Specialist-ORAU (Non-profit organization), International Travel


  • Responsibilities
    • Long-term deployment to Africa or other developing countries to work with CDC and host country local health partners to conduct public health activities for Ebola virus and other infectious diseases
    • Develop and provide health information to the public, health organizations, and stakeholders
    • Perform problem assessments and develop project plans
    • Design, develop, and deliver health education and public health awareness programs for West African provinces and districts
    • Develop evaluation tools to evaluate health education, communication, and preparedness programs, outreach and dissemination activities, training courses, and act as a technical reviewer for materials and products
    • Serve as a project task lead on training or public health preparedness projects as assigned


  • Requirements
    • Master’s Degree in Health Education, Public Health, Biological Sciences, or related field and one year of related job experience
    • OR Bachelor’s degree in related field and three years of related job experience
    • Knowledge of public health principles, social marketing, best practices, research/literature reviews, chronic disease, health preparedness and response events
    • Excellent writing and communication skills


Executive Director-Georgia Trauma Commission (GTC), Georgia Department of Public Health, Atlanta GA


  • Responsibilities
    • Provide GTC administration, operations management and strategic planning and evaluation
    • Provide budgetary oversight and financial reporting
    • Ensure trauma system provider and community stakeholder participation and collaboration
    • Oversee GTC directed programs development with contractors
    • Liaison with OEMS/T, Attorney General’s Office, and other state agencies
    • Supervise GTC Staff


  • Requirements
    • Master’s degree in health care, Business, Finance, or related field
    • Experience with EMS, trauma system, health emergency preparedness, crisis management, or injury prevention systems.
    • Experience in regional systems development, oversight, and performance improvement programs
    • Experience in grant writing
    • Experience in research-based initiatives
    • Excellent writing and communication skills