Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Pennsylvania

Public Health Career Education in Pennsylvania

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An accredited MPH program provides an interdisciplinary education designed to prepare graduates to formulate effective public health policy, to design and construct public health initiatives, and to effectively implement and evaluate programs customized to address specific public health threats, whether isolated to a small community or impacting people around the world. There is no better example of coordinated public health efforts in action than the steps the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) has taken to curtail the incidents of opioid drug overdose in recent years.

The Master of Public Health is interdisciplinary and customizable in nature. It is designed to advance the careers of public health professionals, but is also perfect for bachelor’s-educated professionals from diverse fields. A background in health administration, business administration, social work in PA, communications, teaching or psychology, can all play an important role in preparing a student for a future in public health policy, epidemiology, global health, health communication or program management and evaluation.

This guide looks at the steps you need to take should you wish to study for your MPH in Pennsylvania. Is it the right step for you? With job growth projections increasing, competitive salaries, and comprehensive, multi-disciplinary courses available at a range of institutions in Pennsylvania, it certainly seems like a good place to start. Read on to find out more information about your potential future career.

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

The Bachelor’s program provides a god stepping stone for your public health career, but its not as widely offered as the Master’s program its still relatively new.

This guide focuses primarily on the MPH program. With an MPH degree, you’ll have more career opportunities as it’s a multi-disciplinary degree that focuses on a variety of specializations. You’ll also be able to command a more competitive salary and better benefits and job security.

Q: Where do Public Health Professionals Work in Pennsylvania?

Public health professionals can work at a college or university, hospital, clinic, laboratory, office, or state or private institution. Where you work depends on your chosen specialty.

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Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to several universities that offer over 70 MPH degrees. These include Arcadia University, Drexel University, the University of Pittsburg, and many more.

Drexel University and Thomas Jefferson University both offer hybrid online and on-campus classes, so you’re able to choose a study schedule that will fit into your daily life. Temple University offers an excellent online course in Social and Behavioral Sciences that can be completed in two years.

There’s a wealth of options for you to choose from, so it can be slightly overwhelming when you start your search. We’ve put together some basic things to consider to ensure that you’re making the right decision.

Step One: Know the Basics

  • When looking at various courses, keep an eye out for CEPH accreditation. We explain why this is important a little further down in this guide.
  • The MPH program accepts individuals from any previous bachelor’s discipline. Applicants often come from a background in nursing, nutrition, environmental health, education, or business administration. However, as long as you’ve completed a four-year undergraduate degree, you’ll be eligible for admission into the MPH program.
  • When you have so many schools to chose from, keeping the location and tuition costs in mind is imperative.
  • The academic overview gives you an idea of the coursework you’ll be covering and the specializations on offer. This allows you to choose a specialization that caters to your strengths and preferences.

Academic Overview

Accredited MPH programs adhere to the recommendations of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) by aligning with the MPH Core Competency Model. The five core competencies that students can expect all accredited MPH programs to cover are:

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

The ASPH also identified seven crosscutting disciplines specific to the skills necessary to develop effective public health policy and see it through to execution. MPH programs would include some combination of these seven disciplines.

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

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary from school to school, but most MPH programs require the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA in undergraduate study
  • Official GRE scores
  • Personal essay
  • Three letters of recommendation

Step Two: Choosing a State Public Health School

MPH programs in Pennsylvania are abundant, so you won’t have to worry about limited options. There are 70 CEPH accredited MPH throughout the state. Most of the programs offer seven areas of concentration to choose from, each with a different selection of core courses. To find a school that suits you best, keep the location, tuition costs, and coursework in mind.

What is CEPH accreditation?

The Council on Education for Public Health is an independent agency that works with the United States Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools that offer MPH programs. Most employees will look for qualifications that have been accredited by the CEPH, so its worth investing in a recognized public health course.

Getting Your MPH Online in Pennsylvania

Online courses can be accessed from anywhere in the country, but getting studying in your state of residence provides some comfort and a few benefits. The tuition costs are often cheaper and you’ll have easier access to the school’s resources.

Online courses are also evolving quite quickly, so lessons are becoming more interactive, engaging, and mentally stimulating. They’re also designed to fit into your life and schedule to make studying easier for you. Temple University and East Stroudsburg University both offer great online courses .

Step Three: Choosing a Public Health Specialization

MPH programs encourage students to choose a specialty track or otherwise customize their educational experience based on career goals by selecting relevant electives. A specialization is a focused track of 10-15 additional credit hours that will help to further focus a graduate student’s academic focus:

Health Communication

All the programming and initiatives in the world mean very little if the public does not know they exist or is not able to understand them. Health communication specialists combine the worlds of public health and marketing together, finding unique and interesting ways to ensure that the public is made aware of any potential health and safety risks while also ensuring that the language and avenues used to communicate that information are accessible to the general public.

In South Sterling, Pennsylvania, a dairy farm selling raw milk was contaminated with a Listeria infection. Communicating the risks associated with Listeria and warning consumers about the dangers of that farm in particular was the job of a health communication specialist. All of this was communicated through the Pennsylvania Pressroom, an outlet available through the PDH that makes health based communications clear and readily available to the public. Learning how to develop a tool like this is just one small part of 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

Budgeting for an individual or a family is difficult enough. Putting together a budget meant to fund the healthcare of millions of people is a seemingly impossible task tackled by legislatures every single year. Government officials rely on the work of organizations like the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) to help ensure that the policy they develop is actually impactful.

In particular, the PBPC relied on health policy experts to inform recommendations they made related to mental health funding. The PBCP recently pushed to repeal funding cuts to mental health made in previous years that have hampered efforts in Pennsylvania to improve mental health across the board.

These health policy experts play a crucial role in the development of a wide array of health policies, and they developed the skills necessary to waltz between complex data analysis, dense policy development, and health risk assessment in a health policy focused MPH program.

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

Program Planning and Evaluation

The PDH set aside $2 million in funding for research related to treating childhood seizures. Organizations across the state are currently bidding for access to the funds, developing a variety of proposals for research into the use of a variety of different methods for treating seizures.

Developing those proposals, engaging in research and data analysis, and then developing programs in response are all skills that can be honed in a program planning and evaluation focused MPH program. Statistical analysis and data based predictions are key components of this kind of work, and no specialization better prepares MPH students for a future as a statistician or epidemiologist.

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

Great Britain and Northern Ireland contributed $100 million towards pioneering new research into dementia. Dementia impacts aging populations across the world, and its pervasiveness is matched only by the potential it has to cripple those suffering from it. Understanding how a condition like dementia impacts different populations and implementing methods for treating and mitigating its effects is the responsibility of global health professionals.

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

Part time MPH programs are often the best option for busy professionals trying to balance their personal, professional and academic obligations with minimal disruption to work and family life. Most MPH programs will have distinct tracks that allow students to complete studies over the course of as many as four years.

For students hoping to speed up their studies, accelerated one-year options are usually available. An MPH student on an accelerated track can expect to finish their degree in as little as 12 months.

Overview: Public Health Careers in Pennsylvania

Job growth projections in the public health sector are set to increase across the country over the next few years, and Pennsylvania is no exception. For the last few years, we’ve let the state of our health fall to the wayside. Busy lives, demanding jobs, and burgeoning families have take precedence. As individuals begin to realize the importance of putting their physical and mental health first, they will start to rely on professionals to provide accurate and easily accessible information.

In Pennsylvania, the state faces similar health challenges that are continuing to trend upward across the country. Increasing obesity rates that’s exacerbated by little physical activity and poor diets, heart disease and diabetes that are a result of this obesity, high levels of air pollution, and a high drug death rate. These are challenges that can be addressed and improved on, but it needs work from individuals across multiple sectors to provide data, assistance, and follow-up information. Putting these programs together and coordinating the efforts of cross-industry experts is the work of individuals with a Master’s degree in Public Health.

Opportunities of a Public Health Degree in Pennsylvania

There are several benefits to getting your public health degree in Pennsylvania:
  • As a public health professional, you’ll be making a positive impact on people’s lives.
  • You’re always learning, which makes your work interesting and keeps you on your toes.
  • You’ll work with dedicated, like-minded professionals.
  • The cost of living is low, as is the income tax.
  • There are four seasons in Pennsylvania, and none of them are too extreme.
  • The has a great education system with some of the best teachers in the country.
  • There are more than 70 MPH degrees for you to choose from.

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

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania will see strong job growth in the public health sector during the ten-year period between 2018 and 2028:

    1. Social and Community Service Managers +9.3%
    2. Statisticians +33.1%
    3. Microbiologists +8.6%
    4. Biological Scientists +5.8%
    5. Rehabilitation Counselors +8.6%

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

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

    1. Social and Community Services Managers: $40,570 – $95,940
    2. Statisticians: $48,700 – $146,600
    3. Microbiologists: $50,260 – $129,820
    4. Biological Scientists: $44,780 – $99,550
    5. Epidemiologists- $43,410 – $136,250
    6. Social Scientists- $57,330 – $116,370
    7. Rehabilitation Counselors- $24,470 – $63,440

Careers You Can Get with a Public Health Degree in Pennsylvania

Since the MPH can be tailored by choosing a specialty track or otherwise customized by selecting courses based on career-focused objectives, MPH programs are able to prepare graduate students for a diverse array of careers in public health. The job descriptions shown below were taken from a survey of vacancy announcements for public health professionals in Pennsylvania. (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply a job offer or assurance of employment.):

Director of Advanced Analytics

AmeriHealth Caritas

Responsibilities

  • Oversee a small team of statisticians
  • Design and implement advanced predictive and descriptive modeling methodologies.
  • Design and execute disease predictive models
  • Search for patterns and trends in cost and utilization
  • Work with clinical experts to develop explanatory models related to Asthma, Diabetes, heart failure, mental health, and high risk pregnancies

Requirements

  • or more years developing predictive models in a healthcare setting, preferably health plan analytics
  • Experience with SAS Enterprise Miner

Manager of Service Coordination

Manager of Service Coordination

Responsibilities

  • Provide oversight and supervision for service coordinators
  • Stay up to date on applicable federal, state, and local health laws
  • Manage guided by principles of consumer control and independent living

Requirements

  • Two years of management experience
  • Willingness to obtain Case Manager Certification within one year of employment

Microbiologist

U.S. Navy

Responsibilities

  • Consult and conduct infectious disease research
  • Participate in operational deployments
  • Conduct defensive research, including vaccine development
  • Supervise clinical/public health microbiology laboratories
  • Serve as a liaison to executive and commanding officers.

Requirements

  • S. Citizenship
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Minimum of eight hours of laboratory based classwork
  • Willingness to serve a minimum of three years’ active duty
  • Pass a physical and medical examination

Resources for Students & Professionals

  • Department of Health: Pennsylvania. Everything you need to know about starting the licensing process for a career in public health, or the relevant laws and regulations regarding public health, latest news and events, and current health initiatives and campaigns.
  • Post-secondary and Adult Education Pennsylvania Helpful information on academic programs, statewide statistics, record systems, and campus review systems that allow potential students to learn more about the school that they’re interested in.
  • PA.gov: The Official Website for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania For information on business, government regulations, housing, and tax, and anything on living and working in Pennsylvania, you can refer to the state’s official website.