Master of Public Health (MPH) Degrees in Oregon

Get to Know Public Health Education in Oregon

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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. 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.

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Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Oregon

Oregon has two universities that offer CEPH accredited MPH degrees. Oregon State University and Portland State University both have several MPH degrees on offer. Oregon State University offers eight MPH options with engaging, integrated coursework. Students are also involved with research projects, have access to communities through the OSU Extension Services and have the opportunity to work all over the world.

Portland State University focuses on community-engaged learning. Students work with the community to find sustainable solutions to real-world public health problems. Both universities also have online and hybrid programs for students who are looking for a more flexible study schedule.

Q: What’s the Difference Between Bachelor Degree & Master Degree for Public Health?

The Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health is a four-year undergraduate program that covers the 4Ps of public health: Promotion, Prevention, Planning, and Population-based care. It’s a good starting point to your career in public health, but you’ll usually only be able to hold junior positions with this degree.

The MPH opens more doors as the program has specializations and concentrations that allow you to follow a path that caters to your strengths. With an MPH you’re able to command a better salary and you’ll be eligible for more benefits. This guide focuses on the MPH degree as its more widely offered and it students from any previous bachelor’s background are eligible for the MPH program.

Q: Where do Public Health Professionals Work in Oregon?

Public health professionals can work in schools, universities, colleges, clinics, hospitals, offices, laboratories, or public or private institutions. Some people – like epidemiologists work out in the field collecting data, while others – like social and community workers – work with the community, talking to its residents and gathering anecdotal evidence. Where you work will depend on your chosen specialization.

Step One: Know the Basics

We’ve outline some key need-to-know facts about getting your MPH.

    1. The MPH program doesn’t require a matching Bachelor’s degree. People with any four-year degree can apply for the MPH program.
    2. The tuition costs for MPH programs are affordable and there are several financial aid programs on offer.
    3. The academic overview below covers some of the coursework you’ll be doing. It’s a good point of reference to see that your studies are manageable and enjoyable, but still challenging enough to keep you engaged.

Academic Overview

The standards for most MPH programs are set in stone by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Since 2004, CEPH accredited programs have been based on the MPH Core Competency Model developed by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). These competencies are:

    1. Biostatistics
    2. Environmental Health Sciences
    3. Epidemiology
    4. Health Policy Management
    5. Social and Behavioral Sciences

While the five core competencies form the basis of MPH programs, the ASPH also identified seven interdisciplinary areas of focus that they believe are necessary for a graduate to function in a contemporary public health setting. These are:

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

Admission 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

Step Two: Choosing a State Public Health School

Since there are only two schools in Oregon to choose from, you won’t have to go digging through mounds of research to find a school that suits you.

Both Oregon State University and Portland State University offer accredited, highly-sought after programs. Portland’s courses focus on practical, community based work and uses their network of local and regional partners, clinics, government agencies, and nonprofit agencies to engage students with hands-on learning and multiple internship options.

Oregon State University also offers a CEPH-accredited course. In fact, the two schools have teamed up to combine their network and offer students holistic learning across institutions. Oregon’s program is designed to be completed in two years. Students also have a part-time studying option available where they have up to seven years to complete their MPH.

The Council on Education for Public Health, or CEPH, is an independent agency that has been recognized by the United States Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools that offer programs in the field of public health.

Getting Your MPH Online in Oregon

PSU and OSU both offer online programs. Some are 100% online, with lectures in video format, online quizzes, public forum discussions with lecturers and classmates, and other interactive online games and activities.

There is also hybrid online and on-campus classes, where students come in once a week to discuss the week’s classes and engage in the practical research elements of the course.

Online courses are a great way to fit your studies into your busy, every day life. It’s the perfect option for working professionals looking to further their studies. However, it’s still a comprehensive, demanding program that will take up your time and energy. If you choose to invest in your degree in this way, you’ll need to be self-motivated and able to work diligently on your own.

Step Three: Choosing a Public Health 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

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.

In 2019, The American Health Rankings report put Oregon at number 22 in the state health rankings. While the middle position seems to be okay, it has dropped one point from 2018. The health issues currently facing Oregon only seem to be getting worse, and they’re issues that feed on each other to make each situation worse.

Obesity, alcohol and substance abuse, smoking, immunization rates, and suicide rates are currently displaying worryingly high numbers. These are big issues that need urgent, complex solutions. People in the public health sector are in the perfect position to work together to address these issues. The MPH degree is a multi-disciplinary degree that covers all the areas needed to address these complex issues -from the start of the research and data gathering parts, to the legislation change, campaign development and implementation, and program planning and evaluation.

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.

Opportunities With a Public Health Degree in Oregon

When you work in public health, your daily job involves keeping the citizens of your state safe. It’s a rewarding, interesting way to serve your community, but it comes with its own set of hard work and challenges.

Luckily, the competitive salary, job security, and great benefits reflect your work and dedication. As job growth projections continue to climb, so do the salaries. The lush, green environment of Oregon, strong economy, and great living standards are also a definite plus to living and working in the state.

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

Oregon will see strong job growth in the public health sector over the next few years. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has used existing data to predict the growth from 2018-2028.

    1. Social and Community Service Managers +14.9%
    2. Statisticians +36.2%
    3. Microbiologists +9.1%
    4. Biological Scientists +5.2%
    5. Rehabilitation Counselors +15.4%

Salary Range – Public Health Professions in Oregon that Require a Master’s Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provided the following figures for public health jobs in Oregon in 2018. The salaries below range from the bottom tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:

    1. Social and Community Services Managers: $35,270 – $101,460
    2. Statisticians: $52,950 – $118,590
    3. Microbiologists: $36,540 – $87,830
    4. Biological Scientists: $43,950 – $101,300
    5. Epidemiologists- $56,140 – $92, 220
    6. Social Scientists- $46,870 – $114,620
    7. Rehabilitation Counselors- $25,500 – $72,720

The Jobs & Careers You Can Get with a Public Health Degree 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. (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply a job offer or assurance of employment.):

Microbiologist

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

    Oregon Public Health Division The Oregon Public Health has information on the licensing process for a public health profession, relevant laws and regulations regarding public health, health related news, and information on current campaigns and initiatives.

    Oregon.gov Oregon’s official state website is a good place to get information on health, travel, and jobs. It also has a division for information on higher education institutions in Oregon where you can find details on various universities, the admission requirements, the financial planning and funding options available, and reviews from past students.