Public Health has been described as being concerned with improvement of health and prevention of disease and disability, worldwide. It is one of the most versatile fields of study there is, because it is implicated in the widest range of concerns in the professional and political world. Every person has concerned themselves with the health of someone at one time or another; an aging parent, a child, a partner, a co worker, perhaps themselves. Health and healthcare have been at the center of debate in every U.S. presidential election since the 1980’s and before. Globalized corporations, NGOs, politicians and lobbyists, nonprofits, government entities, and even small healthcare centered companies, all focus on health initiatives and research intended to benefit people around the world. What ties this work together in a fairly neat package is located in the field of Public Health. If you have the drive to push yourself in a highly competitive field, and you have the passion to help solve some of the world’s most confounding health issues, obtaining a Masters Degree in Public Health is an extremely advantageous move, not only for yourself professionally, but for the world of healthcare, which could always use a few more dedicated, hardworking people.
Expectations of MPH Fellowships
While considering graduate programs in Public Health, the question of cost is never far behind other factors. While graduate programs these days are not cheap, there are scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships that can take some of the financial pressure off of getting your MPH degree. We have found a list of the top ten Fellowships for master’s degrees in Public Health, with a bonus eleventh fellowship for returned Peace Corps volunteers. These fellowships offer students free or greatly reduced tuition, and training in leadership development, as well as some offering stipends for living expenses, health insurance, research travel reimbursement, and more. The expectations that Public Health schools have of fellows are often many–from teaching undergraduate courses, to assisting with faculty research, to attending and presenting at conferences. These are all things that certainly require some level of sacrifice, even just of time, but are all extremely important factors in a student’s ability develop skills that allow them to stand out to future employers, and gain the kind of experience that leads to innovation in the field.
**Please note that the following list is in alphabetical order, and does not reflect any system of ranking beyond each school represented being one of the 10 best fellowship opportunities our editors could find.
1. Columbia University
As one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country, New York City’s Columbia University seamlessly combines legacies of excellence with innovation. Located in the urban nucleus of the east coast, Columbia moves with the heartbeat of the city, and has its finger on the pulse of the evolution of the academy, as the nearly three centuries of students have brought with them the ideas for building of new worlds of thought. The School of Public Health at Columbia is leading the world in research and collaboration, uncovering some of the most important health and wellness implications of our time. Founded in 1922 as the Institute of Public Health, the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health is the one of the largest research grant recipient institutions in the country. With this kind of history and infrastructure, tackling the world’s unsolvable public health problems are what Mailman students, faculty, and researchers do.
In terms of accessing the resources that Mailman has to offer, there are various fellowships that are specifically for full-time MPH students studying at Columbia. One of these is the Latino Fellowship Program, for students interested in professionally working with advancing the health of Latino immigrant communities. Applicants must be enrolled in the Masters of Public Health (MPH) through The Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health (HDPFH), and must be conversant in Spanish. Successful fellows will receive half of their full, 2 year Mailman tuition free, as well as ongoing training and support for their work with Latino communities in the U.S. Another fellowship for full-time MPH students at Columbia is the Mayor’s Graduate Scholarship Program, specifically for students who are full-time city employees in New York. This fellowship also offers two separate fellows, half free tuition for students in good standing in the Mailman School of Public Health. MPH students at Columbia have the opportunity to change lives, and change history. Fellowships can make all of that possible for dedicated, hard-working MPH students.
2. Drexel University
Drexel University is a large, research university in Philadelphia. Founded in 1891, Drexel has an illustrious history of strong ties to, and investments in the community it is at the center of. The Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel has a stated mission to “provide education, conduct research, and partner with communities and organizations to improve the health of populations.” They do this through promoting health in policies, conducting research that reduces health disparities in Philadelphia and beyond, and creating healthy cities by pushing for greater access to science and teaching about policy within their community partnerships. Dornsife contains the following four departments; Community Health and Prevention (CHP), Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Epi/ Bio), and Health Management and Policy (HMP). This way, MPH students can specialize in the area they are most called to, to promote health and change the world.
Fellowships for full-time MPH students at Drexel are more plentiful than most comparable institutions. The Dornsife Public Health Fellows are first year MPH students who show a strong ability to excel in the area of urban public health innovation. Preference is given to MPH students who have interest and experience in urban health and health disparities, as well as to students from marginalized groups (folks of color and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds). Each successful fellow will receive half their tuition for free, as well as an $8,000 per year assistantship ($1000 per month for 8 months) to work as a research assistant with a faculty member for 15 hours per week. The fellow may receive the same funding for the second year. Another fellowship at Drexel is the Dornsife International Fellowship, for exceptional international applicants whose research interests align with the focus on global urban health that Drexel promotes. International fellows receive the same half free tuition and research assistantship as the Public Health Fellows above. Second year continuation is possible for these fellows as well. If your commitment to global and urban health and wellness can line up with Drexel’s, consider these fellowships as an invitation to spread your wings in Philadelphia.
3. Harvard University
The reputation that Harvard University has built, began nearly 400 years ago when it became the first institution of higher education in North America in 1636 CE. With a 35.5 billion dollar endowment, Harvard makes it their duty to ensure that anyone who can contribute to the prestige and influence of the school academically, will be able to afford to attend, creating for students avenues of receiving free tuition is some cases. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is located in Boston, Massachusetts adjacent Harvard Medical School. As one of the preeminent public health schools in the world, the Chan School offers the Master of Public Health Program (MPH) in eight degree fields of study; Clinical Effectiveness (CLE), Epidemiology (EPI), Health and Social Behavior (HSB), Health Policy (HP), Health Management (HM), Global Health (GH), Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH), and Quantitative Methods (QM). Chan students and researchers are routinely involved in major health effectiveness and disparity research projects around the world, including research in environmental toxic waste sites and health disparities of residents near these “superfund” sites, and the 40-year-long continued research project on the health of nurses, involving over 100,000 nurses and producing hundreds of papers and counting.
In line with the promise Harvard offers to make an education financially possible to anyone who can make it academically, The Chan School of Public Health offers several fellowships for students pursuing an MPH at Harvard. One of these is the Zukerman Fellowship, which offers fellows a free MPH education at Harvard in exchange for their participation in a number of leadership and skill-building retreats, seminars, speaker series, and experiential learning opportunities throughout their time at Harvard and beyond. Fellows are chosen based on outstanding leadership ability with potential for significant impact to advance the public good, their proven commitment to public service, and intellectual distinction and academic achievement. Another fellowship is the Commonwealth Fund Mongan Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, is a one-year fellowship for student researchers at The Chan School for Public Health. Each Commonwealth Fellow is awarded a $60,000 stipend, free MPH tuition, health insurance, books, travel, and related program expenses, including financial assistance for a practicum project. Fellowships are designated for racial and ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged students, and students from other vulnerable populations, who are performing outstanding work in the fields of public health and medicine. With these and other MPH fellowships at Harvard, students can access some of the most exceptional leadership experience, and can focus on the ways that they will make health an option for people who need it most, not how they are going to pay to learn about the things they are most passionate about.
4. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins is one of the leading research institutions in the world, and have made this so by investing more money in research than any other academic institution in North America. Hopkins has produced 36 Nobel Prize winners and has collaborated with students from and conducted research in more than 150 countries in the world, nearly all of the 195 countries around the globe. The Bloomberg School for Public Health at Johns Hopkins is the largest public health school in the world and has a mission of “protect[ing] populations from illness and injury by pioneering new research, deploying its knowledge and expertise in the field, and educating scientists and practitioners in the global defense of human life”. For over a century, Bloomberg students have been achieving this goal through research in ten academic areas of focus; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health and Engineering, Epidemiology, Health, Behavior and Society, Health Policy and Management, International Health, Mental Health, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, and Population, Family and Reproductive Health. With the Online/Part-time format option for working professionals, Bloomberg and JHU offer the ability for students to achieve their MPH from the best school in the world, in between 2-3 years. There is an in-person component to the online format, but only a total of four weeks over the course of the whole program.
Fellowships for students at Bloomberg bring a sense of accessibility to this highly competitive program. Even online students at Johns Hopkins are eligible for multiple Fellowship opportunities including the Bloomberg Fellowship. Bloomberg fellows receive free tuition and a stipend for living expenses. This Program is designed for individuals who are currently working in the United States with organizations on the frontlines of addiction, violence, risks to adolescent health, environmental challenges, and obesity in the food system. Fellows in this program must commit to serving a year with the collaborating organization after graduation. The Welch Scholarship, which is not a fellowship and may be an options for more students, is specifically for online/part-time MPH students This award is in honor of the Bloomberg School’s 100th anniversary and their founding dean William Henry Welch. The Welch Scholarship awards $20,000 to deserving students and is designated for tuition costs and is disbursed incrementally for each credit (up to 80 credits). This funding can be used for online, in-person or institute courses. With these and so many other options for fellowships and funding, Johns Hopkins clearly takes removing barriers to educational seriously.
5. Oregon State University
Oregon State University, located in Corvallis, Oregon, dates its roots back to 1856 when it was the established as the first institution of postsecondary education in the state of Oregon. Since those early days, OSU has established itself as very important research institution, supplying the scientific community with information as varied as wave research on earthquake and tsunami predictions, to nuclear energy working with the research reactor located directly on campus. The OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences takes the legacy of research at OSU very seriously. Engaging in research in the school of Public Health at OSU may look like studying contribution to the ongoing work studying mental health for children with disabilities, or looking at new trends in marijuana use in college students since legalization. OSU offers online options for working professionals to obtain a certificate in public health, and a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, but not yet a Masters in Public Health degree. OSU is hoping to launch an online MPH program soon.
Fellowship options at OSU make it possible for some students to be able to put their hearts and minds into solving the world’s health problems. The Anne Rossignol Fellowship in Public Health is for a full or part-time student in any Public Health discipline, including those seeking certificates in public health through the online option, who have a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and who are making satisfactory progress toward degree or certificate. Preference is given to students who have demonstrated a commitment to ethics and issues of social justice. Fellows may be US citizen or international citizen. Award amounts vary and are dependent upon need.
6. Saint Louis University
One of the oldest and esteemed Catholic Universities, Saint Louis University was established in 1818. Their reputation for excellence in the academy is recognized globally, and they even have a campus in Madrid, Spain. Much of their mission roots back to commitment, faith and service. The College for Public Health and Social Justice follows the mission, by bringing inquiry to some of the largest public health challenges that impact the health of communities and individuals. It is also the only public health program in the United States at a Catholic/Jesuit university. The College of Public Health and Social Justice offers the following eight focus areas; Behavioral Science and Health Education, Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Global Health, Health Management and Policy, Maternal and Child Health, Public Health Practice. The Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness MPH degree is offered as an online degree option, with other focus areas to offer online options in the future.
Finding fellowships opportunities at smaller universities is not as easy. Luckily, the College of Public Health and Social Justice at SLU offers a Diversity Fellowship for newly accepted MPH students who are in their first year at the school, either on campus or enrolling in the online Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness MPH degree, and are nominated by their program. This award is an 11 month fellowship, for 18 hours of tuition in both fall and spring, 3 hours tuition in the mandatory summer session, a $22,750 stipend, and health insurance. Students should contact their new program to show interest in being nominated for this award. Another option for first year MPH students is the Presidential Graduate Fellowship, which carries almost identical awards as the Diversity Fellowship except with a $26,000 stipend. Responsibilities for both of these institutional fellowships include being asked to participate in various activities meant to enhance the fellow’s overall understanding and immersion and participation in the field including teaching in the department and research activities.
7. University of Illinois – Chicago
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed University of Illinois, Chicago as the 18th best in the world among universities less than 50 years old. Located on the Near West Side of Chicago, UL is a public state funded research university with approximately 29,000 students. The University of Chicago School of Public Health was established in 1970, as an extension of the medical school. The Masters in Public Health Program includes four divisions: Community Health Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Health Policy and Administration. Students who enter the program have the opportunity to focus on one of the four concentrations, or they can tailor their degree to their personal interests, which can include the online degree option. The School of Public Health has three options for fully online degree programs, all of which emphasize Community Health Sciences.
The UIC-SPH Irving Harris (MCH) Scholars Program is designed to recruit exceptional students from various racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, geographic, and disciplinary backgrounds who show leadership and academic promise. This assistantship focuses on leadership development in order to enhance students’ capacity to improve the health and wellbeing of women, children, and families. MPH students must be accepted into the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) concentration or the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology (MCHEPI) concentration of the School of Public Health. Students will receive free tuition for their first year, as well as monthly stipends. Awardees with be eligible for professional development funding (conferences, workshops) and will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and staff on projects, ultimately developing relationships with individuals who are leaders in the MCH field.
8. Vanderbilt University
Named for shipping and rail mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt, this University was established in 1873, and is situated in Nashville, Tennessee. Approximately 12,000 students attend Vanderbilt from all over the country and the world. Vanderbilt’s Masters in Public Health is a two year program under the umbrella of the University’s highly acclaimed medical school. The tracks the program offers are Epidemiology, Health Policy, and Global Health. Since 1996, Vanderbilt’s public health programming has been known for the graduates who become leaders and innovators, especially in their research endeavors. Generally they don’t enroll more than 48 students in a cohort. Making research opportunities more accessible to students is something that Vanderbilt strives to do.
While there are no institutional fellowship opportunities for Vanderbilt MPH students, The David Satcher Public Health Scholars Program provides two years of merit-based tuition support as well as the opportunity to conduct research at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. The program is designed for incoming MPH students in health-related sciences, from underrepresented backgrounds. The program honors the public health contributions of David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., and his commitment to eliminate health disparities for poor people and racial and ethnic minorities. Scholars also serve as student representatives on the Vanderbilt MPH Programs Diversity Committee. There is no separate application, awardees are notified upon admission to the School of Public Health.
9. Washington University in St. Louis
Referred to as WashU or WUSTL, Washington University in St. Louis, was opened in 1853 and named after the first President of the United States. Twenty-five nobel Laureates have held affiliations to WashU, and it was ranked by the Academic Ranking of World Universities as 23 in the world for their undergraduate programming. The George Warren Brown School of Social Work was founded in 1925, and its degree options include a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Public Health. Wash U and the Brown School of Public Health have a mission to prepare students to succeed in public health across the profession in hospital administration, epidemiology and biostatistics, research, policy, or to work at the intersection of the social determinants of health.
For MPH students at The Brown School of Public Health who are appointed to one of the many Masters Research Fellowships (MRF), student researchers are covered, by a guaranteed $5,000 in part-time research work, and free health insurance for the duration of their program. Various duties including participation in The Brown School various seminars and lecture series, as well as teaching and research with faculty may be required. Another option for some MPH students at WashU, is the returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellowship called the Coverdell Fellowship. All returned Peace Corps Volunteers are eligible for this fellowship, and Washington University is one of only 11 public health graduate schools who partner with the Peace Corps to offer it.
10. Yale Global Health Leadership Institute + Global Health Corps Fellows
Yale University was established in 1701 and is the third oldest university in North America. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is a private Ivy League institution. One of Yale’s many gems is their School of Public Health, as it is known by consistent ratings as one of the best programs since its inception in 1915. The Epidemiology doctoral program was recently rated 3rd in the country. The School of Public Health and School of Medicine uniquely work in tandem with one another, and both are on the front lines of innovative and interdisciplinary research. Graduates of the School of Public Health revere the low student to faculty ratio, as well as the state of the art facilities.
The Downs International Health Student Travel Fellowship at the Yale School of Public Health has been called a forerunner of today’s global health movement. Fellows receive free travel and accommodations for public health research and implementation, as well as receive a stipend while abroad. MPH Fellows of the Downs Fellowship are able to engage in life-changing, career-building research initiatives while in graduate school, an incredibly rare opportunity, especially while incurring no additional debt in the process. Another fellowship opportunity available to Yale MPH students is the Coverdell Fellowship for Peace Corps volunteers. Open only to returned Peace Corps volunteers who have completed their two-year tour of service. This fellowship is available to returned volunteers for the rest of their life and covers 12 months of their graduate education, in this case, allowing Yale MPH students one free year of their two-year MPH degree.
11. *Honorable Mention* Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship Program
The United States Peace Corps was established by president John F. Kennedy to establish personal relationships between U.S. citizens and citizens of developing countries, to provide services and cultural exchanges, and to assist in infrastructure building projects, using the resources of the United States Government. It is a long and difficult journey for some, and returned volunteers often report learning as much about themselves and the United States as they do about their placement site and the people and cultures they interact with.
In exchange for their service, the U.S. government has set up fellowship opportunities for Volunteers who return from two years abroad with the Peace Corps. Often, Public Health is An obvious path of study for returned volunteers who want to go to graduate school after their service. The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship Program (Merit Scholars) is for these such volunteers. There are 12 Public Health schools who partner with the Peace Corps. These are:
- Emory University – Rollins School of Public Health – ATLANTA, GA,
- George Washington University – Milken Institute School of Public Health – WASHINGTON, DC
- Indiana University – Bloomington – School of Public Health – BLOOMINGTON, IN
- Loma Linda University – School of Public Health – LOMA LINDA, CA
- New York University – College of Global Public Health – NEW YORK, NY
- Penn State University – School of International Affairs – UNIVERSITY PARK, PA
- Southern New Hampshire University – College of Online and Continuing Education – ONLINE
- SUNY – University at Albany – School of Public Health – Center for Global Health- RENSSELAER, NY
- University of Alabama – Birmingham – Sparkman Center for Global Health – BIRMINGHAM, AL
- University of Notre Dame – Eck Institute for Global Health – NOTRE DAME, IN
- University of Pennsylvania – School of Medicine – Public Health – PHILADELPHIA, PA
- Yale University – School of Public Health – NEW HAVEN, CT
please note: all pictures sourced from institution’s website