Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Louisiana

Public Health Career Resource for Louisiana


For many, health and safety programs for the most vulnerable populations in Louisiana were never more significant than when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the state in 2005. The public health leaders of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Louisiana Office of Public Health continue to focus much of their efforts on the recovery efforts still taking place throughout many of the state’s coastal communities, working to improve the health and safety of its citizens while minimizing inequities in healthcare access.

The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s program portfolio is an excellent example of the many public health programs and partnerships throughout the state. Just a few of the initiatives developed by the organization’s health policy, program planning, and communication professionals in recent years include:

  • Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living
  • Health New Orleans Neighborhoods Initiative
  • Primary Care and Behavioral Health Programs
  • 4 Real Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project
  • Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership
  • Positive Charge Access to Care initiative

Likewise, the Office of Public Health, which consists of more than 1,300 professionals throughout the state, protects and promotes the health of the communities of Louisiana through initiatives and programs aimed at keeping the water safe to drink, fighting chronic and communicable diseases, ensuring readiness for hurricanes and other disasters, and ensuring the availability of preventive health services.

From health communications and health policy directors to leaders in global health and program planning and design, Louisiana’s public health professionals deliver expertise gained through experience and a graduate-level education.

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Louisiana

The Master of Public Health (MPH) has become a standard degree among Louisiana’s trailblazers in public health policy, education and program planning.

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), which accredits both schools of public health and public health programs in the U.S., ensures that accredited MPH programs encompass the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) MPH Core Competency Model.

Academic Overview

The MPH Core Competency Model identifies the MPH as being a multidisciplinary degree program that includes study in five, traditional core areas of public health and seven interdisciplinary/cross-cutting areas of public health:

Traditional Core Competencies of Public Health:

  • Environmental Health Sciences: Encompasses the study of environmental factors that affect the health of a community
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Encompasses a variety of factors related to individual and population health and health disparities, including behavioral, social and cultural
  • Biostatistics: Includes statistical reasoning and methods for addressing and solving problems in public health, healthcare, and biomedical-related research
  • Health Policy and Management: Encompasses the delivery, quality, and costs associated with healthcare for both individuals and populations
  • Epidemiology: The study of disease and injury in human populations and the application of the study

Interdisciplinary/Cross-Cutting Areas of Public Health:

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

Program Structure and Design

Today’s MPH programs offer students a wide array of options for completing their graduate-level course of study in public health:

  • Partially or fully online study: Some programs allow students to complete some or all of their MPH requirements through online study.
  • Executive MPH programs: Executive MPH programs appeal to individuals interested in advancing their leadership roles in public health. Many of these programs offer students flexible study options, including part-time study and both on-campus coursework and online modalities.
  • Accelerated MPH Programs: Accelerated MPH programs allow students to complete their MPH in just one year, instead of the typical two years for traditional MPH programs. These programs encompass the same content and coursework as traditional MPH programs, although the pace and schedule are often much more demanding.
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Admission Requirements

Admission into an MPH degree program requires candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Although many students entering MPH programs (usually those in public health policy) possess undergrad degrees in areas such as healthcare administration, public administration, or in a clinical healthcare discipline, most programs accept students who possess undergraduate degrees in a variety of different majors.

Regardless of the undergraduate degree, most schools require candidates to have completed a specific number of prerequisites before entering the MPH program:

  • Math course (algebra, statistics, calculus, etc.)
  • Biology course
  • Health-related science course (physiology, anatomy, nutrition, etc.)

Other typical requirements for admission include:

  • Relevant work experience (executive programs)
  • Minimum standardized test score (GRE, MCAT, etc.)
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Admissions essay/statement of purpose

Focus Areas

In addition to completing a comprehensive education in public health that encompasses the MPH Core Competency Model’s core competency areas, many programs allow students to complete study in a focus area related to their professional goals and interests. Available focus areas, which generally consist of between 10 and 15 credits of related courses, vary from one institution to the next. However, many of today’s leading MPH programs offer focus areas in:

Health Policy: Public health professionals in health policy are dedicated to advancing innovation in health policy education, research, and services as to improve public health services.

For example, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living is a statewide tobacco control program funded by a state excise tax on tobacco passed in 2022. Public health professionals working on this initiative aim to implement and evaluate comprehensive tobacco-control programs that prevent and reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Coursework in this focus area includes:

  • Global health diplomacy
  • Law, medicine, and ethics
  • Public health and law
  • Research methods in public health

Health Communication: Public health professionals in health communications use any number of communications and marketing strategies to influence people as to advance public health objectives.

For example, public health professionals working for the Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership, a statewide collaborative effort between the Louisiana Public Health Institute and AIDS United, use a number of communications tools to prevent new infections and improve the health and quality of life of individuals living with, vulnerable to, and affected by HIV/AIDS in Louisiana.

Coursework in this focus area includes:

  • Global health communication interventions
  • Marketing and research for public health
  • Preventing health disparities
  • Social marketing

Global Health: Global health professionals tackle some of the most contemporary issues facing the international community. Their work contributes to the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

Examples of global health organizations include the Clinton Foundation, WHO, and the Global Health Council.

Coursework in this focus area includes:

  • Climate change and social change
  • Environmental and occupational epidemiology
  • Global health diplomacy
  • Preventing health disparities
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Program Planning and Evaluation: Public health professionals in program planning and evaluation plan, design, implement, and evaluate programs and research aimed at health promotion and disease prevention.

For example, the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program—a five-year, $105 million initiative composed of five, integrated projects designed to strengthen healthcare services in oil-spill-impacted communities—requires public health professionals who can evaluate this ongoing partnership and ensure its continued efficiency and financial stability.

Coursework in this focus area includes:

  • Marketing research for public health
  • Research methods in public health
  • Researching violence against women and girls
  • Social marketing

Students can further customize their MPH degree program by taking electives that complement their professional goals.

Job Growth Projections for Public Health Professions in Louisiana

Public health professionals in Louisiana serve as partners, associates, and collaborators working to improve population-level health outcomes and foster innovations in health and safety systems.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission revealed the ten-year projected job growth rate (2012-2022) for the following occupations requiring a master’s degree in public health:

  • Social and Community Services Managers: 14 percent
  • Statisticians: 33 percent
  • Microbiologists: 17 percent
  • Epidemiologists: 7 percent
  • Social Scientists: 7 percent
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 14 percent

Salaries for Public Health Professions in Louisiana

The Louisiana Workforce Commission also showed 2013 salary ranges (lowest 10 percent – highest 10 percent) for public health professions that require a master’s degree:

  • Social and Community Services Managers: $63,790-$91,500
  • Statisticians: $69,400-$98,190
  • Microbiologists: $88,191-$137,800
  • Epidemiologists: $60,260-$93,220
  • Social Scientists: $69,120-$94,180
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $41,080-$58,430
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Career Opportunities for Louisiana Public Health Professionals

Louisiana’s public health professionals enjoy a wide array of career opportunities in the government, private, and nonprofit sectors. Their organized, interdisciplinary efforts address the physical, mental, and environmental health concerns of the citizens and populations of Louisiana.

The following job descriptions (sourced in December 2015), although for illustrative purposes only, provide MPH graduates with some insight into the many types of career opportunities for public health professionals in Louisiana:

Director, Infection Control, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans

  • Responsibilities:
    • Provides leadership and support in the area of infection control surveillance, detection, improvement, and prevention
    • Operates an infection control prevention program that includes education, tracking, and reporting
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree in nursing, epidemiology, statistics, or public health
    • Preferred qualifications: master’s degree in healthcare, epidemiological field, or a relevant area

Louisiana Drug Assistance Program Coordinator, Louisiana Office of Public Health (STD/HIV program), New Orleans

  • Responsibilities:
    • Maintains and monitors medication access services provided to low-income persons living with HIV through the Louisiana Drug Assistance Program
    • Assures that the program meets all state and federal regulations
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or finance, public health, social work, public administration, or a closely related field
    • Three years of related professional experience
    • Preferred qualifications: master’s degree and five years of related work experience