There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an Masters in Public Health program: quality of the program, concentrations offered, opportunity for mentorship in a student’s specific interests, student life, and location, to name a few. In addition, prospective students need to consider the cost of attending graduate school and the potential amount of debt owed upon completing the degree. Given that recent data puts graduating masters students at an average of $57,600 in debt, affordability should be a significant factor in your decision-making process.
When estimating the cost of earning an MPH, the bulk will come from tuition, fees, and room and board. Below is our list of most affordable MPH degrees from accredited schools of public health based on the 2014-2015 academic year tuition and fee data made available on each school’s website. All tuition estimates are based on resident status. In most cases, tuition for non-residents will be higher.
Not included in our ranking are the additional costs of room and board, textbooks, health insurance, etc. Also keep in mind there are ways to mitigate some of your costs through scholarships and grants that you apply for or that are awarded by a school, and opportunities for tuition remission and/or funding through graduate research assistant and teaching assistant positions. Availability and amounts will vary by program.
A Master’s in Public Health is an inter-disciplinary, professional degree. Students complete core coursework in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, Environmental & Occupational Health, and Health Policy & Management (these core areas may be called something slightly different at each school), with the remainder of coursework devoted to the student’s chosen department of concentration and electives. This list includes only those school that have received accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), which determines core competencies for the profession.
Top 25 Most Affordable MPH Programs
If you are considering one of these programs but do not qualify for in-state tuition, you may wish to explore your ability to establish residency prior to matriculating. These schools represent the most affordable programs for those qualifying for in-state tuition. Texas residents have three schools to choose from: all three fall under $15,000. Totals in this list range from about $8,000 to $28,000, and 12 programs fall within the US News Top 25 Best Public Health Programs (*).
1. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health* – $7,817
Photo Credit: UTHealth
Students attending the University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) may choose to concentrate their degrees in one of four divisions: Biostatistics; Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences; Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences; and Management, Policy and Community Health. UTSPH is the only school in the nation to offer 6 regional campuses, and is housed within the largest medical center in the world, including top cancer research and treatment hospital, MD Anderson. Each campus has it’s own set of faculty, and students may attend courses virtually at any of the campuses which are located in Houston (main campus), Austin, Brownville, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. The Texas Public Health Training Center (TPHTC) is one of 14 collaborations between schools of public health and local governments and organizations whose mission is to strengthen the public health systems of communities. Students may apply to internships offered by TPHTC to gain experience applying classroom principles in a community based setting.
2. University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health – $9,597
Photo Credit: http://www.fortwortharchitecture.com/cd/unthsc.htm
Located in the cultural district of Fort Worth, the UNTHSC School of Public Health was established in order to provide health education to the communities of North Texas, and first received CEPH accreditation in June 2002. Students may choose from concentrations of biostatistics, community health, environmental & occupational health sciences, epidemiology, health management and policy, and maternal and child health. UNTHSC houses the UNT Center for Human Identification, which conducts all DNA analysis for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and which also manages the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System for the US Department of Justice.
3. Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health* – $13,258
Photo Credit: Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center
Texas A&M, located in College Station, is among the five largest universities in the United States. The School of Public Health (TAMSPH), formerly called the School of Rural Public Health, places an emphasis on addressing the needs of rural and underserved populations. In addition to traditional concentration offerings in Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Health Policy & Management, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Health Promotion & Community Health Sciences, TAMSPH offers a focus in Border Health at its McAllen Campus in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
4. Louisiana State University School of Public Health – $15,997
Photo Credit: Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons
LSUSPH is located in the Gulf South has a long history in tropical medicine. As a city, New Orleans offers rich history and culture. LSUSPH offers concentrations in the 5 core areas and a low student to faculty ratio. Several of its research programs address women and/or children’s health issues specifically. Students are able to work with the community on issues such as breast and cervical health, tobacco control, and AIDS education.
5. San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health – $16,264
Photo credit: Courtesy of SDSU Malcolm A. Love Library.
The Love Library Dome.
SDSU is one of four accredited schools of public health located in California. According to their website, one in seven adults living in San Diego hold a degree from SDSU, creating a strong alumni connection for finding internship placements and employment. Supported by funding from the NIH and the CDC, SDSU is a leader in research and programs to address child obesity. SDSU is a member of the World Health Organization’s Global Health Workforce Alliance.
6. Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University – $17,456
Georgia Southern prides itself as a “large scale, small feel” university. Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University (JPHCOPH) offers concentrations in Biostatistics, Community Health, Environmental Health, Epidemiology and Health Policy, with a mission of empowering rural communities and underserved populations. The school oversees the Center for Rural Health and Research, the Karl E. Peace Center for Biostatistics and Survey Research and the Center for Addiction Recovery. For the last three years, GSU has been included in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges.
7. University of South Florida College of Public Health – $18,264
Photo Credit: USF Health
The USF College of Public Health, located in Tampa, Florida, offers MPH degrees in the departments of Community and Family Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Global Health, Health Policy and Management, and Public Health Practice. It was the first school of public health in Florida and it continues to grow: The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked it the 5th fastest growing research university in the United States. This year marks the college’s 30th anniversary.
8. University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health – $18,655
Ruth and Bill Scott Student Plaza
Photo Credit: UNMC
The College of Public health is located in Omaha, Nebraska, a city where the cost of living is lower than the national average. In addition to traditional concentrations, UNMC offers tracks in Community Oriented Primary Care and Social Marketing & Health Communication. UNMC offers free webinar events for prospective students to learn about the programs and certificates they offer.
9. University of Iowa College of Public Health* – $18,894
Photo Credit: University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City and is listed as a Public Ivy according to Greens’ Guides. The College of Public Health (CPH) identifies its three areas of excellence: rural health, comparative effectiveness research, and community engagement. The CPH offers degrees in the departments of Biostatistics, Community & Behavioral health, Epidemiology, Health Management & Policy, and Occupational & Environmental Health. The University is also a member of the World Health Organization’s Global Health Workforce Alliance.
10. University of Georgia College of Public Health – $19,320
By Oblivion375 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The UGA College of Public Health (UGACPH) is the only school of public health in the UGA system and is located at the Athens campus. In addition to the core concentrations, UGACPH offers tracks in gerontology and disaster management. Keeping with its mission to support and develop the public health workforce in Georgia, the Georgia Public Health Training Center connects academics with communities and provides training and professional development with a special focus on rural communities and the medically underserved. Notable research includes that of the Institute of Gerontology, which joined the UGACOP to address the demographic trend of retirees moving to the Southeast.
11. University of Oklahoma College of Public Health* – $19,563
Photo Credit: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
OU SPH is located in Oklahoma City and also offers classes at their Tulsa campus. It offers degrees in the departments of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Health Administration & Policy, Health Promotion Sciences, and Occupational & Environmental Health. In addition to traditional public health initiatives, OU SPH has major initiatives related to American Indian Health and Biosecurity Research.
12. CUNY School of Public Health – $19,804
Photo Credit: CUNY School of Public Health
CUNY, located in New York City, has a mission to “promote equitable, efficient, evidence-based solutions to serious urban health problems around the world”. With campuses in all five boroughs, students and researchers work with communities to address health inequities. In addition to the core concentrations, CUNY SPH offers tracks in Community-based Public Health & Health Equity, General Public Health, Public Health Nutrition, and Public Health Geographic Information Science.
13. University of Arkansas Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health – $20,008
Photo Credit: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH) was established in 2001 using a share of funds from a 1998 tobacco industry settlement. They offer concentrations in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental & Occupational Health, Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management, and Rural Public Health Practice. The COPH has partnered with the Escuela de Salud Publica de Mexico with the goal of better addressing the needs of Mexican-Americans in Arkansas.
14. SUNY – Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health – $21,850
Photo Credit: SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Due to findings in a series of health reports that illuminated health disparities in Brooklyn, SUNY SPH has focused its program on urban and immigrant health. In addition to traditional concentrations in Biostatistics, Environmental & Occupational Health, Epidemiology, and Health Policy & Management, they offer a focus in Community Health Sciences – Urban and Immigrant Health. They have recently partnered with the Peace Corp to offer an Peace Corp Master’s International Program. This program includes the required coursework but field experience is completed during Peace Corp service.
15. Florida International University – Robert Stempel College of Public Health and School of Social Work (RSCPHSW) – $22,100
Photo Credit: FIU
Florida International University is an urban program located in Miami, Florida. The RSCPHSW offers MPH degrees in the departments of Biostatistics, Dietetics & Nutrition, Environmental & Occupational Health, Epidemiology, Health Policy & Management, and Health Promotion & Disease Prevention. This year, Florida International University was ranked 24 out of 277 universities for contributions to the public good, based on social mobility, research and public service.
16. University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences – $23,460
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
SPHIS offers in-state tuition to its seven border states: Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It offers concentrations in Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, and Health Management. The SPHIS emphasizes a “new approach that integrates how information about the public’s health is acquired, evaluated, acted on and disseminated, and how these affect the public and its health”.
17. University at Albany – SUNY School of Public Health* – $23,840
“University at Albany Fountain – Project Renderings” by UAlbany – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Located in the capital city of New York, the SPH has a close partnership with the New York Department of Public Health. Students have the option of focusing on Biomedical Sciences, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, and Health Policy, Management & Behavior.
18. University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health* – $24,384
Photo Credit: Berkeley School of Public Health
UC Berkeley was the first school of public health located west of the Mississippi. In addition to traditional areas of study, UC Berkeley offers concentrations in Infectious Disease & Vaccinology and in Public Health Nutrition. Notable research by Berkeley’s SPH faculty includes the landmark San Francisco Men’s Health Study in the 1980s, which was the first to describe mechanisms behind HIV transmission.
19. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health* – $24,926
Photo Credit: UAB
Located on the south end of downtown Birmingham, the UAB SPH lives within the largest academic health center in the southeast. It houses the Deep South Center for Occupational Health & Safety which serves five states in the southeast region. An innovative and collaborative program called The Edge of Chaos brings together academics, business and community to work together toward unique and innovative solutions. Notable alumni include a UAB SPH graduate who is currently leading the containment efforts of the ebola outbreak in Nigeria.
20. University at Buffalo – SUNY School of Public Health and Health Professions – $24,970
South Campus, Hayes Hall
Photo Credit: University at Buffalo
The UB campus is located in an affordable metropolitan area. In support of UB’s strategic plan, SPHHP faculty are conducting research in the areas of Civic Engagement & Public Policy, Extreme Events: Mitigation & Response, Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan, Information & Computing Technology, and Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems & Bioinformatics. They participate in community outreach through programs such as the Network in Aging of WNY and the WNY Alliance for Person-Centered Care.
21. University of Kentucky College of Public Health* – $25,050
Photo Credit: University of Kentucky PR and Marketing
The UK CPH was created in 2004 to address the health needs of the communities in Kentucky – in 2010 it was named the 44th unhealthiest state. It offers concentrations in the traditional, core departments: Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, and Health Services Management. Lexington, KY is the horse capital of the world and was recently named one of Kiplinger’s 50 Smart Places to live.
22. University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health* – $25,228
Photo Credit: UCLA
UCLA FSPH houses a number of research centers and programs such as the Bixby Center on Population and Reproductive Health, Center for Environmental Genomics, Global Media Center for Social Impact, and the UCLA/RAND Prevention Research Center. Over the years, the FSPH has pioneered and contributed important research to health topics such as exposure to air pollutants and pesticides. Its location in Los Angeles provides access to a diverse cultural scene as well as opportunities for cross-collaboration.
23. University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health* – $25,826
“University of Arizona mall” by Original uploader was Jscarreiro at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Atmoz using CommonsHelper. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
In addition to the core concentrations, students may earn an MPH in Family & Child Health or Public Health Practice at the MEZCOPH. The majority of degrees are earned at the main campus in Tuscon, with the exception of the Public Health Practice which is also located at the Phoenix campus. Life in Tuscon reflects the multi-cultural richness and diversity of the region, and a big part of MEZCOPH’s mission is serve the communities of Arizona.
24. Ohio State University College of Public Health* – $26,512
“University Hall, The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)” by Nheyob – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Located in Columbus, the capital city of Ohio, the OSCOP engages its local community through summer farmer’s markets, healthy nutrition and exercise for kids, and training on Comparative Effectiveness Research for health professionals. In addition to the core concentrations, OSCOP offers specializations in Biomedical Informatics, Clinical Translational Science, and Veterinary Public Health. Their research areas of interest include Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Survivorship; Health Disparities Including Multicultural Health; and Childhood Obesity.
25. University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences – $27,799
Amherst, Massachusetts is a rural setting close to urban centers and has been ranked in the top 10 great college towns. Research centers and institutes include the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center, The Center for Research and Education in Women’s Health, and the Institute for Global Health.
Graduate school is an investment, and cost of attendance is an important factor to consider. However, do not eliminate a school based solely on cost: consider also scholarships and research/teaching assistant opportunities available to you as a student, your expected salary upon graduation (which vary depending on your track within public health), job placement rates, and calculate expected amount of debt and evaluate your ability to make loan repayments over the long term. It is my experience that programs are eager to invest in dedicated students and will work with you to find a way to mitigate some of the expense to the best of their ability, if you take the initiative. My advice: apply for fellowships and scholarships, and find a faculty member or mentor who has openings on projects or grants. Be proactive and be creative!
Notes on Methodology:
- Based on each university’s posted tuition rates for 2014-2015 or most recent available data
- Tuition and fees generally change year to year, check with each school for historical data or future projected rates
- US based schools only (omitted: Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Mexico, University of Alberta in Canada, and University of Puerto Rico)
- Summer practicum costs omitted
- Credit-based tuition and fees are calculated using the minimum number of credits required for the degree
- For programs offering different concentrations requiring different numbers of credits to graduate, we used the highest number
- Fee calculations represent general fees required for all students. Additional fees may be charged for specific courses, online courses, lab fees, etc, and are not included in our calculations.
- Cost of health insurance not included because students can opt out and choose their own plan
Please feel free to contact the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions about the rankings or methodology.