Can You Earn an Online MPH in 1 Year?

Online master’s in public health programs can help advanced students earn an MPH in as fast as one year. Learn which colleges offer the accelerated online program and how to take advantage of this flexible option.

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James Mielke

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James Mielke is a freelance writer currently based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to higher education topics, other areas of research and writing include food history, cooking, dining, and golf. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic fan of the Grateful Dead.

last updated

04/22/2022

Earning a master’s in public health (MPH) usually takes two years. Some can be completed in less time. These accelerated options tend to lean on heavier credit loads, previous credits earned, and online coursework to fast-track the curriculum. But is a faster option right for you? Read on to learn how they work, who offers them, and, most importantly, whether or not you can finish your online MPH in one year (or close).

University of Southern California’s 1-Year Online MPH

The prestigious University of Southern California hosts a standout master of public health program that students can complete in just one year. Linked to USC’s medical school, this program provides a unique academic track for working professionals and medical school applicants alike. This online MPH program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and USC holds accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

USC’s one-year MPH program offers three start dates per year, and students choose from six academic concentrations: community health, biostatistics and epidemiology, geohealth, global health, health services and policy, and generalist studies. Students interested in the fast-track program begin coursework during a summer semester. Once enrolled, they typically dedicate approximately 40 hours per week and complete 42 credits. Due to its intensity, USC suggests students do not work while completing this one-year MPH.

Core courses for this online MPH cover 22 credits and include classes like public health leadership, principles of epidemiology, foundations in health education and promotion, and principles of biostatistics. Students also complete a capstone project in public health and a hands-on practicum experience.

This program’s degree-culminating practicum experience allows master’s students to apply theoretical knowledge in the field. Online learners choose a public health agency – a health department or other community organization, for example – convenient to their location and relevant to career goals for this practicum. Students currently employed in public health settings can complete their practicum at work. Additionally, students couple their hands-on work with a capstone seminar that prepares them for leadership roles in public health settings.

USC’s online MPH program is mainly asynchronous where students access course content and complete coursework at their convenience. There also attend live learning sessions, complete group projects, and work with instructors through virtual office hours.

Prospective students need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA from an accredited institution. Along with a completed application, students must submit three academic or professional letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a current professional resume. Applicants also must submit 2-3 page personal essays outlining educational and career goals. This program does not require a GRE or other standardized test scores.

University of Florida’s Accelerated MPH Online

The University of Florida’s accelerated online master’s in public health offers working professionals the chance to complete the program in 18-24 months. Unlike other MPH programs, UF’s online option was designed explicitly for health professionals with a terminal degree in their area of expertise, which typically means applicants hold a doctoral-level degree with some master’s only graduates gaining admission.

Online MPH students at UF complete a CEPH-accredited curriculum and select an academic concentration in areas that include biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, public health practice, and population health management. Alongside their concentration coursework, students also complete core public health requirements through classes like statistical methods for health science, introduction to the U.S. healthcare system, and environmental health concepts in public health.

Students complete 42 credits in this accelerated online MPH track, including 15 credits of core classes, 18-21 credits of concentration coursework, and 6-9 credits dedicated to experiential learning and a capstone experience. Before graduation, these health professionals gain competencies set out by the curriculum, faculty, and via recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to earning an MPH degree, students can also prepare and sit for the credentialing exam for certified public health professionals.

This accelerated program offers coursework entirely online and asynchronously, and students progress at their own pace. There are no on-campus requirements, and students engage with pre-recorded lectures and complete exams through an online proctoring platform. The only in-person requirements involve the degree-culminating, experiential learning component at public health locations convenient to the student.

Working professionals interested in pursuing UF’s online MPH program must submit an online application to the school’s graduate admission office along with a professional statement that parallels the mission of the MPH program. Applicants also provide three letters of recommendation, preferably from academic sources. While UF’s standard MPH program is open to students holding just a bachelor’s degree, applicants to the accelerated online program must have an advanced degree. This program does not require GRE scores.

University of Buffalo – SUNY’s 1-Year Online MPH

The University of Buffalo offers a one-year accelerated online master of public health program that allows working professionals to boost career options while tackling an individualized curriculum that mirrors their academic and career goals. Full-time online students can complete this program in just four semesters and cut down graduation time by transferring up to nine graduate-level courses. Online students can further accelerate the process by applying work experience in place of the in-person field training requirement.

Before enrolling as an online student, the university encourages prospective students to self-evaluate their readiness for online learning. According to the SUNY Online Readiness Success Inventory and the school’s thorough self-assessment, prospective students should be self-motivated with solid time-management skills. Potential online MPH students also need confidence in their academic abilities and a work and home life that allows for serious dedication to coursework.

Students enrolling in Buffalo’s individualized MPH program tackle core classes that include the study of health behavior, introduction to healthcare organization, and introduction to epidemiology. Alongside this program’s individualized academic track, students can choose from concentrations in health equity and addiction focus areas.

Toward the end of their master’s in public health program, students complete a degree-culminating project where they apply theoretical knowledge to real-world public health issues. Working alongside an advisor, students conduct research and present their projects during their final semester. Before graduation, most students also complete a hands-on field experience where they apply learned knowledge and skills in a professional public health environment. Students typically select their field experience location based on academic interest and career goals.

Prospective students need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. MPH applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement outlining their interest in the program, career goals, and specific areas of academic interest. This MPH program does not consider GRE scores when making admission decisions. This program holds CEPH accreditation, and graduates can sit for the Certified in Public Health credentialing exam.

George Washington University’s Accelerated MPH

George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health offers an online master’s in public health students can complete in as little as one year along with an 18-month accelerated program. Online students complete coursework entirely online through both self-guided content and face-to-face virtual settings. Graduates of this online MPH program join an alumni network of more than 300,000 individuals from across the globe.

Students enrolled in the one-year accelerated track typically complete between 60-80 hours of coursework per week and are not allowed to be employed during the program. Those enrolling in the 18-month track can anticipate 40-60 hours of coursework and are permitted to hold a part-time job during the program.

Students tackling this intensive online program complete requirements that include:

  • 17 credits of public health classes
  • 10 credits of core classes
  • 16 credits of concentration coursework
  • 2 credits dedicated to their degree-culminating experience

Core academic requirements include courses like the environmental and biological foundations of public health, fundamentals of health policy, principles and practice of epidemiology, and social and behavioral approaches to public health. In addition to core classes, students select from academic elective areas in global health, health communication, health policy, program planning and evaluation, or environmental and occupational health.

Alongside their standard MPH requirements, every student can supplement their academic track with a health informatics concentration. In recognizing the widespread influence of data and IT in public health, GWU added this incredibly marketable skillset. Standard courses for this concentration include topics like population health analytics, research analytics, predictive analytics, and informatics and decision making.

Whether applying for the one-year or 18-month accelerated programs, prospective students need a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5. Applicants must submit an online application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining their interest in public health and their career goals. GWU’s MPH program does not require GRE scores.

When applying, GWU assigns each applicant a personal admission counselor who walks them through the admission process. These professionals help applicants make application deadlines, compile admission documents, and investigate potential financial assistance and scholarships.

The University of Vermont’s 15-month MPH

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont offers an online master of public health students can complete in just 15 months. This program boasts a 100% online delivery and holds the essential CEPH accreditation. Online MPH students take an interdisciplinary approach to public health, utilizing population health science, research, and public policy when approaching issues in public health. Students also explore how public policy, racism, and environmental issues impact public health.

Designed to give students a holistic public health experience, this 42-credit master’s track provides deep knowledge of public health policy and prepares graduates for careers in areas like environmental health, epidemiology, and behavioral sciences. Online learners complete 27 credits of core requirements, nine credits of elective classes, and six hours in their degree-culminating experience.

Core MPH classes lean on national competencies and include classes in environmental public health, public health law and ethics, and social and behavioral public health. Additionally, students complete three elective courses in areas like global public health, public health surveillance, controversies in health economics, and legal issues in healthcare. While this is a generalist MPH degree, students can focus their elective coursework on academic topics that mirror career objectives.

Before graduation, MPH students complete a hands-on applied practice experience. This one-credit experiential learning opportunity encourages learners to put theoretical topics to work, dedicating 20+ hours outside the classroom. Online learners complete this in-person requirement at a convenient public health organization in their area. In this hands-on learning experience, students assess population needs, design public health policies, and collaborate with professionals working in the public health field.

In addition to the hands-on experience, students also complete a group project where they address a real-world public health issue, conduct research, and craft a group manuscript laying out research and conclusions. Online learners also present their degree-culminating research projects in a virtual setting.

Prospective students need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and to submit academic transcripts showing the completion of various math and science prerequisites. Applicants must also submit an online application, a professional resume, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining their interest in this online MPH program. UVM does not require GRE scores for admission.

Accreditation for Online MPH Programs

While many students want to earn their degrees quickly, doing so often means sacrificing quality. Without accreditation, students encounter issues like the inability to transfer credits and secure various certifications and licensures.

To assure your program has the highest quality, remember that the best online MPH programs hold accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). CEPH establishes academic, administrative, financial, and career-based standards to ensure that public health students receive a top-notch education that prepares them to work effectively in public health roles.

Dedicated to both public health students and the needs of the general public, CEPH encourages a process of continuous self-evaluation where academic programs maintain high standards and mirror the advancements of an ever-evolving public health landscape. In short, CEPH ensures that MPH students get their money’s worth. This assures MPH graduates typically enter the workforce with essential public health competencies.

In addition to programmatic accreditation, the best colleges hold institutional accreditation. Until recently, this was known as regional accreditation. Accrediting organizations accredit schools on the institutional level, ensuring that colleges and universities meet various academic, professional, financial, and student support standards. Common accrediting agencies include the Higher Learning Commission and the Middles States Commission on Higher Education. You can find accredited schools through the U.S. Department of Education.

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