Master of Public Health (MPH) Careers in North Carolina

Public Health Career Education in North Carolina


As of 2015, North Carolina ranked 37th in the nation in a number of key health metrics as detailed in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Annual Report. In light of these sobering findings, the state has launched a comprehensive new strategic plan in conjunction with federal efforts to improve national health by 2020. Reports on the 2020 initiative indicate that there has been positive integration of the new strategic goals and that all municipal and state government health agencies are cooperating fully.

The goal of the 2020 effort is largely prevention. According to the DHHS report, the prevailing belief in North Carolina, based on statistical analysis, is that preventing problems from occurring in the first place is the best way to reduce long-term health costs. The Prevention Action Plan for North Carolina developed in 2009 sits at the center of this effort and has acted as an outline for most programs that have been developed in the years since.

The coordination of this effort falls within the purview of master’s-educated public health professionals in policy development and program administration. Program evaluators analyze data, while public health program administrators develop new procedures, and communicate outcomes to legislators and the voting public. Together, these highly educated experts are well equipped to improve the state of health, safety and well being of at-risk residents across North Carolina.

Earning Your Master of Public Health in North Carolina

The skills gained through a Master of Public Health (MPH) apply to a diverse array of career options related to public policy development and program administration in the private and public sectors.

MPH programs are designed for advancing public health professionals and career changers alike. Professionals enrolling in MPH programs come from diverse backgrounds, all of which can bring experience relevant to studying public health at the graduate level. For example, an RN’s exposure to the medical field is just as important as a healthcare administrator’s knowledge of the workings of integrated health systems.

Academic Overview

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredits qualifying MPH programs. Since 2004, CEPH accredited programs have been designed to fit the MPH Core Competency Model developed by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). The five competencies all accredited MPH program cover are:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy Management
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

While the five core competencies form the basis of a Master of Public Health, the ASPH also identified seven interdisciplinary areas of focus that are necessary for a graduate to effectively design and implement public health policy:

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

Admission Requirements

Common admission requirements for master’s programs in public health include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Submission of GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT
  • Submission of official transcripts from all other undergraduate and graduate institutions
  • Submission of a 500-1000 word purpose essay
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation


MPH programs will regularly offer unique focus areas designed to hone expertise in specific areas of public health policy development and program administration. These areas of focus would consist of between 10 and 15 additional credits:

Health Communication: One of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) greatest successes has been to increase the immunization rates of children in the state. Part of their success in this area has been the establishment of effective programs, services, and educational materials related to immunization.

Making these programs available, staffing them, and successfully disseminating them to the appropriate populations falls within the purview of health communications professionals. A program specializing in health communication will equip students with the tools they need to translate public health data in a way that resonates with communities, and to design campaigns and educational tools to help better reach the public.

Courses within this specialization may include (total of 10-15 credits):

  • Leadership Seminar
  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Social Marketing
  • Marketing and Research for Public Health

Health Policy: The development of health policy in private corporations and in legislative bodies is one of the most complex and pressing issues faced by any organization. Combing through laws related to Medicaid, health regulations, and evolving federal requirements while simultaneously trying to stay up to date on emerging public health threats requires a specific set of skills.

Specializing in health policy provides graduate students with the tools they need to bridge the gap between policy development and public health programming. This is absolutely essential for communicating effectively between legislators, program directors and boots-on-the-ground workers in direct contact with members of the community.

Courses within this specialization may include (total of 10-15 credits):

  • 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
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Program Planning and Evaluation: North Carolina State University runs an evaluation and program planning organization dedicated to making healthy and nutritious food more affordable and widely available. To do this well, they regularly measure a variety of different factors related to nutritional deficiencies among state residents, agriculture and transportation issues for farmers, and administrative issues for food distributors trying to bring the food from farm to table.

Developing programs that effectively impact health in North Carolina is the job of program planning and evaluation specialists. Public health program planning specialists focus on more than just data analysis. They also search for unknown factors that can impact their programs and develop new assessment tools for ensuring the success of their public health initiatives. Without their helping hands, many public health programs would not have access to important streams of data that are crucial for building and maintaining a successful initiative.

Courses within this specialization may include (total of 10-15 credits):

  • 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

Global Health: Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Cholera, and a host of other diseases pose major health risks to communities around the world lacking the proper health infrastructure to deal with them. Some regions afflicted with these diseases also find themselves suffering from starvation, outbreaks of violence, and abuse. Aiding communities like these is the responsibility of global health professionals working outside their local communities and focusing on global health risks.

An MPH program focused on global health will work to teach students how to apply their administrative and analytical expertise to multinational communities. This includes education in how to communicate and market across cultural boundaries and in identifying the most pressing health needs in a given region.

Courses within this specialization may include (total of 10-15 credits):

  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
  • Researching Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Global Health Communication Interventions
  • Preventing Health Disparities
  • Global Health Diplomacy
  • Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
  • Climate Change and Social Change

Accelerated One-Year and Part-Time Options

Part-time options allow busy working professionals to take up to four years to complete their graduate studies. For students working full time or pursuing other professional and academic goals, this may be the best option for earning the Master of Public Health.

Most MPH programs also offer an accelerated one-year option that takes the opposite approach, allowing students to take on a heavier course load and graduate in as little as 12 months.

Job Growth Projections for Masters Educated Public Health Professionals in North Carolina

The following are growth projections for some of North Carolina’s master’s-educated public health professionals for the ten-year projection period between 2012 and 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):

  • Social and Community Service Managers-31%
  • Statisticians-24%
  • Microbiologists-7%
  • Biological Scientists-2%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors-32%

Salaries for Public Health Professions in North Carolina that Require a Masters Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary ranges for some of North Carolina’s master’s-educated public health professionals as of 2014. The salaries below range from the tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:

  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $20,430 to $59,620
  • Social Scientists: $48,130 to $105,030
  • Biological Scientists: $44,440 to $105,990
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $39,350 to $94,720
  • Microbiologists: $37,490 to 107,340
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Career Opportunities for Masters-Educated Public Health Professionals in North Carolina

Shown here are job descriptions taken from a survey of vacancy announcements posted in North Carolina as of December 2015 (The following samples are examples only and are not representative of a job offer or an assurance of employment.):

Biomedical Informaticist, RTI International

  • Responsibilities
    • Identify or develop appropriate methods for analysis of high dimensional data such as digitalized image from imaging technology
    • Work in team programming environment to develop user-friendly web and cloud software
    • Address biomedical imaging informatics needs of current and future contracts
    • Work with statisticians to develop new analytic methods for imaging
  • Requirements
    • Six years of experience in biomedical informatics data management, analysis, or software development
    • Strong experience with software and system development with tools such as C, C++, Java, and Perl
    • Current knowledge of biomedical information
    • Ability to communicate with scientists across diverse fields
    • Ability to travel and present work at meetings and conferences

Regional Director, Family Preservation Services of North Carolina

  • Responsibilities
    • Personnel management including disciplinary action
    • Maintaining the financial aspect of the provision of services and effectively working within budgetary constraints
    • Responsibility for Program Regulations
    • Coordinates with referring agent, treatment team, and client/family for supervision and monitoring of treatment goals
    • Develops and monitors programs
  • Requirements
    • Knowledge of Juvenile Justice and related service systems
    • Knowledge of Family Systems approach to treatment
    • Knowledge of child welfare laws and regulations
    • Parenting skills and behavior management techniques
    • Four years of supervisory experience

Epidemiologist, DOCS

  • Responsibilities
    • Contribute to research strategy within the product team and epidemiology TA
    • Responsible for conducting high-quality epidemiologic research to support product strategy within TA
    • supports relationships with key leaders in epidemiology
    • Provides input into epidemiology department meetings
    • Promotes understanding and use of state of the art epidemiologic methods
  • Requirements
    • Three years of experience
    • Experience in the design, execution, and analysis of epidemiologic studies within the Public Health or Pharmaceutical setting
    • Drug Development knowledge
    • Experience working in multidisciplinary teams
    • Project planning and management ability