Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Oregon


Public health leaders in positions of influence are capable of skillfully coordinating collaborative projects, formulating goals, and fostering healthy partnerships with different groups, weather dealing with local health issues or issues with global implications.


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For example, when winter sets in organizations like the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) grow increasingly concerned about travel in tropical regions. A beach vacation in Costa Rica sounds like a fantastic way of waiting out negative temperatures, but traveling internationally poses serious disease related risks. In the winter of 2015, the OHA released a travel advisory to people visiting countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Bali, and the Dominican Republic. These regions are all known for diseases like dengue and chikungunya, potentially deadly viral diseases. Oregon citizens are particularly susceptible to diseases like these having built up little to no immunity.


Understanding the risks diseases like these pose, determining the risk to potential travelers, developing policy for those travelers, and then distributing educational materials related to those policies, are all a part of making public health programming successful. The OHA employs experts at every level of the process to ensure that the people of Oregon are kept safe from health and safety risks of every kind.


Earning a Master of Public Health best develops the skills necessary for this kind of work. Programs like this are designed to teach students about the complex and multifaceted world of epidemiology, health policy and public health program administration. Professionals interested in a career in public health would do well to consider the benefits that a graduate education could provide for their career and for the health and safety of their community.


Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Oregon


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 in local communities, and around the world.


Part-time and/or online MPH programs allow working professionals to earn a graduate degree while still investing in their career. An accelerated one-year option enables students to rapidly complete their MPH in about half the time of a conventional graduate program.


MPH Program Overview


The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the sole accrediting body for Master of Public Health programs, recommends that accredited MPH programs follow the MPH Core Competency model developed 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


While the five core competencies form the basis of MPH programs, the ASPH also identified seven crosscutting domains that they recommend all MPH programs incorporate:


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


Options for Specialization


A specialization, like a minor in an undergraduate degree, provides a level of diversity to an MPH program that can help to truly distinguish a student’s academic experience. The following specializations are representative of some of the most common options available through a standard MPH program.


Health Communication: Travelers are not the only ones at risk of contracting a disease during the winter. The OHA released a list of tools and tips to help educate Oregon citizens during the 2016 flu season. Cold temperatures drive people indoors, and close proximity heightens the disease’s ability to move from person to person. Educational campaigns are designed to equip people with the tools they needed to mitigate the risk of contracting the flu while also providing information on where to go to receive vaccinations.


Health communication experts understand how to market health initiatives, ensuring that they reach as many people as possible, while communicating information in a way that the public can understand. This requires a specialized skillset developed in a health communication focused MPH program.


Courses within this specialization may include:


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


Health Policy: In 2015, the state of Oregon joined three other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. Recreational users of the drug across the state might have been rejoicing, but health policy experts across the state found themselves gearing up for the arduous task of developing new health policy and legislation to account for the change in the drug’s legal status.


Research into health risks associated with regular smoking, dispensary and distribution laws, and public smoking regulations are all concerns that the OHA addressed in committees throughout the second half of 2015. Discussing the implications of major policy changes like this and the development of new legislation and programming related to such sweeping change is the responsibility of health policy specialists. A health policy focused MPH is designed to equip students to walk a thin line between their legal, medical, and administrative functions and to give them the tools they need to develop long lasting and effective policy.


Courses within this specialization 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


Program Planning and Evaluation: For all the hard work they do, public health professionals may not necessarily be able to accurately evaluate the success of their programs and initiatives. Specialists in this program focus their efforts towards understanding what makes programs impactful and what can be done to improve the programs in their region to the best of their abilities.


Courses within this specialization 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


Global Health: While many communities find themselves dealing with unique health concerns in response to local environmental factors, people around the world share certain health risks in common. The need for food and clean water and the impact of age on the human body are all factors that cannot be ignored. Some communities find themselves ill equipped to deal with these issues and suffer from health risks that have little effect on people in other parts of the world.


Understanding how health changes from community to community and the process for dealing with worldwide concerns is within the wheelhouse of a global health specialist. Global health specialized MPH programs give students the perspective shift they need to take skills and techniques developed for use in their local community and apply those same skills to the rest of the world.


Courses within this specialization may include:


  • 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


Admissions Requirements


Although admission requirements to an MPH program will differ slightly according to school policy, most schools maintain similar requirements:


  • 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


Accelerated One-Year and Part-Time Options


The intensive academic burden of a master’s program can be difficult to balance with professional goals and personal life, but flexible part-time options can help to reduce that strain. Students in part-time programs can take as many as four years to earn their MPH degree.


Accelerated one-year options are also available for students who want to move through their program as quickly as possible. Whether their intent is to enter the field as quickly as possible or to begin preparation for doctoral work, the accelerated option can help students to graduate in as little as 12 months.


Job Growth Projections for Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Oregon


Careers in public health are growing according to 10-year projections from the U.S. Department of Labor. The following are job growth projections for Oregon’s public health specialists published in 2014. This paints a picture of a healthy and expanding job marketing for MPH graduates:


  • Social and Community Service Managers-16%
  • Statisticians-26%
  • Microbiologists-12%
  • Biological Scientists-9%
  • Rehabilitation Counselors- 22%


Salaries for Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Oregon


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provided the following figures for public health professions in Oregon typically associated with a master’s degree (2014). The salaries below range from the 10th percentile to the 90th percentile:


  • Rehabilitation Counselors: $28,800 to $60,240
  • Biological Scientists: $39,110 to $93,350
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $34,110 to $90,850
  • Microbiologists: $40,390 to $92,930


Career Opportunities for Public Health Professionals with Master’s Degrees in Oregon


The diverse array of academic options available to MPH graduates that choose to focus their studies in a specialty track is reflected in an equally diverse job market. Below are just a handful of job listings for master’s-prepared public health professionals as found in a survey of job vacancies in Oregon in January 2016. (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply a job offer or assurance of employment.):


Microbiologist, Kelly Scientific Resources


  • Responsibilities
    • Identify and report faulty product
    • Investigate and determine root causes of anomalies
    • Develop and maintain work instructions for Micro Lab
    • Verify and validate production cleaning results
  • Requirements
    • Willingness and demonstrated capability to work in a laboratory setting
    • Proficiency with word processing and spreadsheet programs


Epidemiologist, Parexel


  • Responsibilities
    • Develop industry networks and identify potential business opportunities
    • Participate in industry forums
    • Consult with sponsors on development and communicate effectively
    • Participate in proposal development and late phase clinical trials
    • Communicate epidemiological considerations at bid meetings
  • Requirements
    • 10 years of relevant experience in a Pharma company or CRO
    • Consulting experience related to clinical trial design
    • Demonstrated leadership through appropriate managerial practices and through a history of published work and public speaking
    • Experience with academic institutions and healthcare providers


Rehabilitation Counselor, State of Oregon Department of Human Services-Children


  • Responsibilities
    • Manage a full caseload and contribute to upwards of 40 plans and 34 rehabs per FTE
    • Assure the agency standards for compliance and quality are met for all cases
    • Collect, synthesize, and analyze medical and psychological information
    • Facilitate job placement
    • Assess medical, psychological, and rehabilitative service needs and schedule appropriately
  • Requirements
    • 1 year of vocational employment as a rehabilitative counselor
    • Experience conducting job seeking workshops and with job market analysis
    • Experience working with persons with disabilities and assisting them with developing solutions, developing job readiness, and case management