Massachusetts’ high percentage of insured citizens and its low prevalence of obesity are just a few of the reasons it earned a spot as the second healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings list.
Thanks to its comprehensive and wide-reaching public health programs, Massachusetts has plenty to celebrate. According to the United Health Foundation:
- Since 2012, immunizations among children ages 19-35 months increased 16% from 70.7% to 82.1%.
- In the past two years, public health funding increased 27% from $108 to $137.
- Cancer death rates have decreased.
These results are in large part due to the work of public health officials in the state. For the last three decades, Massachusetts has consistently remained in the top 10 healthiest states, a reflection of the hard work of public health professionals and residents.
But the battle is just beginning. While the state has made improvements, there are worrying figures coming out of health reports. Obesity has increased from 8% to 8.6% since 2012, and drug deaths have increased by 87%. There is also an increase in excessive drinking. The state has shown that it can tackle complex issues through forward-thinking initiatives, and a call for enthusiastic educated public health professionals has been put out.
The Master of Public Health (MPH) has earned a reputation for being the gold standard among public health degrees. As a result, many employers now seek candidates who possess MPH degrees for careers in health communication, health policy, and program planning and evaluation, among others. In this guide we look at what studying towards an MPH entails, the job grown projections and average salaries, the admission requirements, and the benefits and opportunities of studying towards an MPH in Massachusetts.
CEPH accreditation is mentioned quite often in this guide, and for good reason. Job offers in the public health sphere often state that they’ll only accept CEPH accredited graduates and employees look for CEPH accreditation when going through job applicants. CEPH is the Council on Education on Public Health. It’s an independent agency that works with the United States Education Department to ensure that MPH programs adhere to the standards of the education and health system.
Earning Your Master of Public Health (MPH) in Massachusetts
Getting your MPH in Massachusetts is slightly harder than in most other states. Due to the extremely competitive nature of the universities there, which only accept the very top echelon of students, and the fact that currently only five universities offer MPH courses, you will need to be a strong candidate to be accepted here.
However, once you’re in, you’ll be working with the very best educators and researchers in the industry. Some of the standout courses come from universities such as Boston University, which gives students the opportunity to choose from 230 elective courses across a range of public health disciplines. Northeastern University also has comprehensive programs that is offered on-campus, fully online, or a combination of the two. The supportive learning environment requires 42 credits in the public health competencies. Students also work in a community based internship to get on-the-job experience at an inner-city hospital.
Most online courses take about two-years and require some form of internship or a practical component, although the lectures and discussions among fellow students and all resources can be accessed through a fully online program. The online MPH’s generally look Health Disparities in Research, Public Health Geographic Information Systems, and Health Communication.
Accelerated One-Year and Part-Time Options
Most MPH programs offer flexible options that allow students to graduate at their own pace.
Part-time options allow busy students to take as long as four years to complete the program. For students working full time or pursuing other professional and academic goals, this may be the best option for earning a master’s in public health.
Most MPH programs also offer an accelerated one-year option that involves a heavier course load, allowing students to graduate in as little as 12 months. The curriculum is no different than a standard online or campus based MPH program, but is designed around a much more time consuming schedule.
MPH Program Options
Depending on the institution that offers them, accredited MPH programs may feature a number of flexible options. For example:
- Executive MPH Programs: Executive MPH programs are designed for professionals in public health seeking to advance their careers through the completion of a graduate degree.
- These degree programs may include a number of program options to accommodate the working public health professional, including part-time study and online classes. Many executive MPH programs offer weekend courses and summer schedules.
- Accelerated MPH Programs: Accelerated MPH programs encompass the same course of study as traditional MPH programs, in an accelerated format that allows students to complete their degree program in just one year.
- Online MPH Programs: Distance education is a convenient option for many of today’s students in public health; therefore, a number of MPH programs now allow students to complete all or some of their coursework requirements through a web-based platform.
MPH Focus Areas
Q: What’s the Difference Between Bachelor Degree & Master’s Degree in Public Health?
A Bachelor’s in Public Health can be obtained two ways: through a Bachelor of Arts degree or through a Bachelor of Science degree. The former focuses on critical thinking, leadership skills, and community engagement, while the latter focus on research and statistics, epidemiology, and environmental health. Both courses are highly credibly and sought after, however, you do not need a Bachelor’s in Public Health to do your Masters.
The MPH program accepts individuals from any previous bachelor background, although people in the nursing, nutrition, education, health administration, and business sectors are the ones most attracted to the course.
In addition to a more competitive salary and better benefits, the Master’s program gives individuals more room to move in terms of career progression and the influence to make more impactful changes. The MPH degrees are more demanding, but also more flexible. There are several online, part-time, and fast-track courses available, which be tailored to suit your schedule.
Q: Where do Public Health Professionals Work in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is a huge city and public health professionals work all over the state. From universities and colleges, to offices, field work, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and public and private institutions. No matter your preference, there’s a suitable work place for everyone in the public health arena.
Step One: Know the Basics
There are a few things you should know that will help you with the application process and the coursework, when you’re looking at studying towards a Master’s in Public Health. The admission requirements, which can be found below, differ slightly for each institution, but follow the CEPH’s guidelines. You should also look at the academic overview of an MPH to ensure that the competencies that are studied align with your skills and interests. In addition, it’s important to remember that the MPH welcomes students from any previous undergraduate discipline, so even if you don’t have your Bachelor’s in Public Health, you’ll be eligible for admission into the Master’s program.
The MPH Core Competency Model ensures students and employers that the MPH degree program is an interdisciplinary one, consisting of study in the five, traditional core areas of public health, as well as the seven interdisciplinary/cross-cutting areas of public health:
Traditional Core Competencies of Public Health
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Health Policy and Management
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
Interdisciplinary/Cross-Cutting Areas of Public Health
- Communications and Informatics
- Diversity and Culture
- Program Planning
- Public Health Biology
- Systems Thinking
MPH programs may have different admission standards based on school policy. Still, most graduate programs would require applicants to provide:
- Statement of purpose essay (500-1,500 words)
- 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
- Current resume or CV
- At least two letters of recommendation
Step Two: Choosing a State Public Health School
Depending on how you look at it, choosing a school in Massachusetts can either be easier or harder than other states that have more schools offering MPH programs. Too many options can make it hard to settle on one place. In Massachusetts, there are just five universities offering more than 77 courses, all of which have CEPH accreditation, which makes your search a little easier.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Harvard University, Boston University, Northeastern University, and Tufts University School of Medicine are all extremely well-known and provide some of the best MPH programs in the country. Health Care Management and Policy, Clinical Effectiveness, Family and Community Health, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, and Occupational Health are a few of the concentrations that you’ll have the option of delving into when you entering your MPH.
Getting Your MPH Online in Massachusetts
Several universities now offer online MPH courses. These courses range from Community Health Sciences, which is a mix of online and in-person study, Health Administration and Policy, and Public Health Informatics, which is a 100% online program. Online MPH’s can be earned in two-years. At some point, the course will require internship work or on the job training with supervision.
The University of Massachusetts Springfield offers a unique online course that covers disease control and prevention, healthcare access, environmental protection, special populations, data analysis, and policy planning and administrations. Despite it being online, students still have the chance to work closely with some of the top health educators through the internship program.
Step Three: Choosing a Public Health Specialization
The MPH is designed to be highly customizable in order to support careers in such diverse areas as health communication, global health and epidemiology. The focus areas listed below show the kind of specialized tracks commonly available in an MPH program:
In 2015, IDPH created a grant to fund the implementation of the 2014 Tobacco Control Training Policy by a designated organization. The selected organization was responsible for providing planning, coordination, and program management to carry out the policies designated the previous year. A program like this depended on well-equipped leadership and management, as well as clear and efficient communication between different health organizations.
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
This focus area teaches students how to analyze, influence, and improve health policy in the US and internationally. In 2014, IDPH created a five-year strategy to inform and develop the Department’s policies and directives through 2018. The program involved subgroups that managed various public health issues, such as data collection and research methods, health disparities, regulatory compliance, and partner development. This large-scale project brought together dozens of public health officials to develop the policies that will affect Massachusetts residents in coming years.
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 prepares 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.
For example, Massachusetts designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. This targeted project aims to increase awareness of HPV, cervical cancer, and the benefits of the HPV vaccine and regular cancer screening. This public health project has large impact potential because cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease with regular screening and many women do not receive the routine care they need. This program is a follow-up to a very successful 2014 public health campaign that raised the rates of both male and female teens who received the HPV vaccine. The sustained success of this public health program is due in part to public health professionals who collected research about the sexual and reproductive health of the public and designed and implemented effective marketing.
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
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.
An important aspect of both national and global health is the management of internal travel. Many infectious diseases are spread from traveler to traveler. During the most recent Ebola virus outbreak, identification of at-risk travelers and careful monitoring by public health officials helped to prevent virus transfer to new areas. Massachusetts public health officials coordinate with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to address infectious disease control.
Opportunities With a Public Health Degree in Massachusetts
A career in public health is no doubt rewarding; you’re continuously working to improve the health and well-being of your community, you get to work with people who share your work ethic and goals, and you’re able to use a range of different skills in your job – from communication and social interaction to data, research, reports, analytics, and legislation. Your day job will never be boring.
However, you also need to pay the bills, especially with a job that can understandably be quite demanding. Luckily, jobs in public health pay well and they come with added benefits. These jobs are also projected to continue to grow over the next few years as policymakers realize the vital role that public health professions play in economic growth, healthcare accessibility, and a thriving state.
If you’re already living in Massachusetts, then you’re aware of what the city has to offer. For anyone thinking of moving there to pursue their MPH, you won’t regret it. The beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, hidden restaurants, state parks, and of course, Martha’s Vineyard are an attractive pull for any would-be Massachusetts resident.
Most importantly, it’s one of the top states for public health universities due to funding, the proximity to New York, the programs on offer and the multitude of health research facilities and private institutions. At the moment, only five universities offer CEPH accredited courses.
Job Growth Projections – Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Massachusetts :
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts will see strong job growth in the public health sector during the ten years between 2016 and 2026:
- Social and Community Service Managers +12.2%
- Statisticians +36.2%
- Microbiologists +9.2%
- Biological Scientists +13.5%
- Epidemiologists: +$13.8%
- Social Scientists: +$8.5%
- Rehabilitation Counselors +7.3%
Salary Range – Public Health Professions in Massachusetts that Require a Master’s Degree
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provided the following figures for public health jobs in Massachusetts in 2019. The salaries below range from the bottom tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:
- Social and Community Services Managers: $42,860 – $105,030
- Statisticians: $65,830 – $180,870
- Microbiologists: $43,930 – $129,120
- Biological Scientists: $54,860 – $152,400
- Epidemiologists: $67,030 – $185,970
- Social Scientists: $51,610 – $115,690
- Rehabilitation Counselors- $27,010 – $70,420
Overview: Public Health Careers in Massachusetts
Both the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Public Health Association have established priorities to maximize efforts aimed at improving public health, strengthening the foundation of public health, and complementing the work of organizational partners. For example, public health leaders, program directors, administrators, program evaluators and educators with the Massachusetts Public Health Association have made great strides in recent years in the areas of:
- Healthy eating and active living
- Essential public health services
- Violence prevention
- Housing and family stability
- Connecting community health and clinical care
There are numerous health campaigns being run in Massachusetts. Currently, some of the biggest campaigns include The New Look of Nicotine Addiction initiative, which aims to educate parents and children about the dangers of vapes and e-cigarettes, as the state sees a rise in the number of middle and high school-aged children smoking.
The My Path, My Recovery campaign uses personal stories from former substance abusers to highlight the dangers of opioids and other drugs. The campaign tackles prevention, treatment, intervention, and recovery and saw opioid-related deaths decrease by 11 percent in the first six months of 2019 in comparison to 2018.
One of their biggest drives is the Act FRESH campaign, which is aimed at addressing unhealthy eating habits and making healthy foods and physical activity more affordable and accessible to everyone. By funding an initiative that decreases the food deserts in schools and by passing legislation that promotes physical activity at schools during non-school hours, the Massachusetts Public Health Association has shown that its committed to tackling the most pressing health issues the city faces through a myriad of methods.
The Jobs & Careers You Can Get with a Public Health Degree in Massachusetts
The career opportunities for professionals with a Master of Public Health are vast thanks to the fact that the degree can be customized through specialty tracks designed to prepare graduate students for careers in everything from epidemiology to program planning and evaluation. (The following job descriptions were taken from a survey of job vacancy announcements in Massachusetts’ public health sector in 2020 and don’t represent job offers or assurance of employment.):
Decisions Resource Group
- Investigate assigned diseases and their risk factors to estimate incidence/prevalence over a 10-30-year period
- Produce analyses for pharmaceutical drug developers on the descriptive epidemiology of major drug indications in mature and developing markets
- Conduct research using NHANES, HCUP, literature, cancer registries, government survey data, and other resources to summarize current information on prevalence and to forecast numbers for variety of diseases
- Suggest use of proxy data sources when country-specific sources are not available
- Support other programs and units, for instance, by helping to maintain and enhance a sources database and acting as an ambassador for epidemiology forecasting methodologies
- Maintain and distribute epidemiology forecasts for key markets of interest
- Develop strong working relationships with internal customers, provide accurate and timely responses to their queries, and make business recommendations where appropriate
- Advanced degree (Ph.D., Master’s degree) in Epidemiology or Public Health related field
- 1-2 years of relevant work experience analyzing health care plans, population health and risk assessment
- Thorough knowledge of data base user interface and query software (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC WONDER, NHANES, HCUP)
- Knowledge of statistical software, SAS/STATA preferred
- Proficiency in all Microsoft Office Suite products is essential
- Strong interpersonal, written, verbal and analytical skills
Must be able to translate epidemiological research to a business audience
Comfortable delivering presentations to colleagues and/or clients
- Examine, record, analyze and interpret data form different samples
- Maintain day to day lab operations according to compliance
- Perform routine testing
- Ensure completion of testing on time
- Provide support as needed to meet laboratory goals
- Prepare and check QC documents
- Ensure completeness, accuracy, consistency, and clarity in tests
- Optimize test procedures as much as possible
- Prepare and participate in health authorities’ inspections and internal audits
- Bachelor’s Degree or Diploma in Microbiology or equivalent.
- Master’s degree is a plus.
- At least 1 year of experience in the industry.
- Knowledge and understanding of manufacturing, quality control, and validation requirements and activities.
- Experience with standard microbiological techniques.
Roxbury Community College
- Coordinates operations, development, growth, quality, and sustainability of the Cooperative Education program
- Coordinates program planning and development
- Evaluates program effectiveness
- Develops promotional literature/materials, training plans and instructional materials, resources for students, faculty, and staff
- Provides training/workshops on variety of related topics
- Promotes program on-/off-campus; ensures academic integrity and relevancy by working with and involving faculty, staff and students
- Works to strengthen links with community agencies, business and industry.
- Communicates with supervisor, employees, other departments, advisory board members, students, faculty members, alumni, counselors, other academic institutions, local businesses, employment agencies, professional organizations, community organizations, the public, outside agencies, and other individuals to coordinate activities, review status of work, exchange information, or resolve problems
- Master’s degree in Counseling, Education, Human Resources, or closely related field
- Three (3) years’ experience and/or training that includes career counseling, job placement, human < resource management, recruitment, marketing, or public relations
- Or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience
- Must possess and maintain a valid Massachusetts driver’s license
Massachusetts Public Health Resources
Department of Public Health – Massachusetts
The Department of Public Health website is a subsidiary of the Massachusetts government site and gives information on health and social services, public safety, the environment, education, and recreational activities. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting to learn about the government of Massachusetts’ and any policy and health-related news.
State of Massachusetts : Official Website
The official Massachusetts government website is similar to the department of health site, although it focuses more on government information, education, and recreational activities. For people wanting to know more about how the state is run and what makes it work so well, this is a good place to start.
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website can help you with information on various universities and colleges, admission requirements, funding information and assistance, and credit transfer assistance.