Best Value Schools of Public Health
By Staff Writer

columbia mph tuitionEarning a masters degree is an investment – students will be expending time, energy and resources over the course of a program. On the financial end, full-time students will most likely not earn a salary, will be required to take out loans, and will have to move to a new city or state. They will put much of their time and energy into studying, working part-time as a research assistant, and completing an internship/practicum (examples here, here and here), culminating/capstone experiences (examples here, here and here), and/or a masters thesis (examples here and here).

Determining best value is complicated because of the diversity of programs, expectations, and motivations for pursuing an MPH in the first place. A prospective student interested in a career in public health practice may place more weight on factors such as cost, location, and/or quality of practicum/internship opportunities whereas a prospective student interested in a career in research or academics may focus more on program rank and the availability of faculty with a similar topic focus. Others may prioritize the level of convenience and flexibility provided by the best online MPH programs.

With that in mind, the following accredited, residential schools of public health have been ranked by best value based on the cost of the degree (non-resident tuition), local cost of living, and reputation.


Compared to undergraduate programs and medical or law degrees, there are very few centralized data sources on public health degree programs. Although many individual public health programs post their own data on factors such as employment rates and average student debt post-graduation, it is not clear how accurate or recent the data was gathered or whether the methods of collection and reporting are comparable across programs.

In order to determine a method with the least amount of bias, the Best Value ranking is based on three factors measured from publicly available data:

USN – Program Reputation* (US News & Report ranking, 2015)
TUITION/FEES – Cost of the Degree* (total tuition and fees before grants/scholarships/loans)
COL – Cost of Living* (ERI Economic Research Institute’s Student Cost of Living Calculator)


30. University of Maryland School of Public Health
College Park, MD

USN: 22
COL: 135

The UMD School of Public Health partners with communities under the notion that “health starts where we live, learn, work and play“. A few of its strategic research initiatives include Health Disparities, Health Equity, Social and Environmental Justice; Healthy Aging; Health Literacy and Cultural Competence; and Global Health and Climate Change.

As a teaching institution, the SPH has been “forging a new model of public health training that includes not only the traditional public health disciplines, but embraces the study of the role of families and physical activity in community and population health“. The MPH offers concentrations in Behavioral and Community Health, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Sciences, Health Equity, Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation, and Physical Activity.

29. University of Massachusetts – Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences
Amherst, MA

USN: 25
COL: 132

Amherst is located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, which features unspoiled forests, the Connecticut River, and lively college towns. The SPHHS partners with the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center to assist public health workers in addressing the health needs of surrounding communities.

The SPHHS, which houses Nutrition, Kinesiology, and Communication Disorders in addition to Public Health, emphasizes a trans-disciplinary approach. It offers the MPH in Nutrition and Public Health (Biostatistics, Community Health Education, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management). The Office of Public Health Practice and Outreach connects students, faculty and staff with opportunities in the community.

28. University of Buffalo, The State University of New York School of Public Health and Health Professions
Buffalo, NY

USN: 31
COL: 106

Buffalo was ranked the Best US City for Commuting by Forbes, and is nicknamed the “20 minute city” for its quick average commute time. Located on the University’s historic South Campus, the SPHHP’s classic ivy-covered buildings are situated in a residential area.

Areas of study for the MPH include Biostatistics, Community Health and Health Behavior, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, and Health Services Administration. Students with significant experience in public health may be able to complete an accelerated program of 12 months. In addition to outreach programs in the Western New York region, the SPHHP is involved state-wide and globally.

27. University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health
Omaha, NE

USN: 39
COL: 106

The Dean of the UNMC College of Public Health, a retired Assistant Surgeon General, credits Nebraska’s ranking as the 11th healthiest state in the nation to it’s partnership with state and local health departments as well as corporate and community partners. As a location, Omaha boasts low cost of living and top quality education.

MPH students choose from the following concentrations: Biostatistics (also offered online), Community Oriented Primary Care, Environmental and Occupational Health (also offered online), Epidemiology, Health Policy, Health Promotion, Maternal and Child Health, Public Health Administration, or Social Marketing and Health Communication.

26. University of Albany State University of New York School of Public Health
Albany, NY

USN: 31
COL: 102

UAlbany School of Public Health prides itself in its location that is a “melting pot of ethnic and racial groups from all over the world”. The SPH strategic values are: Engaged Learning, Discovery, Technological Innovation, Societal Responsibility, and Distinctiveness.

Students at the School of Public Health have opportunities to work with state and local organizations – it is partnered with the New York State Department of Health and affiliated with Albany Medical Center and Bassett Healthcare. Most faculty have primary appointments at the Department of Health. The MPH degree is offered in Biomedical Sciences; Environmental Health Sciences; Epidemiology; Biostatistics; Social Behavior & Community Health; or Health Policy & Management. Part-time study is permitted.

25. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health
Little Rock, AR

USN: 39
COL: 110

The Arkansas River runs through the capital city of Little Rock and offers beautiful views. The mission of UAMS is to “Improve health and promote the well-being of individuals, families, and communities in Arkansas through education, research and service”. It has outreach programs that serve every county in the state.

Students enrolled in the COPH may choose to concentrate in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental and, Occupational Health, Health Behavior and Health Education, Health Policy and Management, and Rural Public Health Practice. The school works to achieve its vision of “Optimal Health for All” through a community-wide perspective to health promotion and disease prevention.

24. University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health
Fort Worth, TX

USN: 44
COL: 113

Fort Worth is one of the largest cities in Texas but maintains a “hometown feel“. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the friendliest cities in America. UNTHSC students have opportunities to participate in community outreach programs such as the Hispanic Wellness Coalition and the Pediatric Mobile Clinic.

MPH students can concentrate in the following areas: biostatistics, community health, environmental & occupational health sciences, epidemiology, health management and policy, and maternal and child health.

23. Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, MA

USN: 10
COL: 226

Boston is the home of the first public health department in the nation. As a city, Boston offers a high concentration of hospitals, research centers, science and technology companies, and health-related agencies. The SPH is located in Boston’s South End Neighborhood along with the School of Medicine.

The MPH offers concentrations in Biostatistics; Environmental Health; Epidemiology; Global Health; Health Law; Bioethics & Human Rights; Health Policy & Management; Maternal & Child Health; and Social & Behavioral Sciences.

22. University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Tuscon, AZ

USN: 25
COL: 103

The MEZCOPH is known for its community-based research and focus on health disparities in the Southwest. The MPH offers concentrations in Biostatistics; Environmental & Occupational Health; Epidemiology; Family & Child Health; Health Behavior & Health Promotion; Public Health Policy & Management; and Public Health Practice. It surpasses most schools of public health in the number of American Indian and Hispanic graduates.

21. University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health
Columbia, SC

USN: 23
COL: 104

The University of South Carolina offers a generalized MPH with the opportunity to specialize in Epidemiology; Biostatistics; Environmental Health Sciences; Health Promotion, Education & Behavior; and Health Services Policy & Management.

The SPH serves communities throughout the state through initiatives such as Dementia Dialogues, which trains caregivers of people with dementia;  GoodBodies, which addresses childhood obesity; and PASOs, which works with Latin@ communities throughout the state.

20. Saint Louis University College for Public Health & Social Justice
St. Louis, MO

USN: 23
COL: 118

Saint Louis University is the only accredited school of public health at a Catholic, Jesuit university. As a Jesuit university, they “believe in educating “the whole person” — mind, body, heart and spirit“. Located in St. Louis, SLU has contributed to urban renewal in the city.

MPH students at SLU may choose from nine concentrations: Behavioral Science & Health Education; Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness; Biostatistics; Environmental & Occupational Health; Epidemiology; Global Health; Health Management & Policy; Maternal & Child Health; and Public Health Practice.

19. University of Kentucky College of Public Health
Lexington, KY

USN: 25
COL: 101

Lexington, the second largest city in Kentucky, is located in the Bluegrass Region and is known as the “Horse Capital of the World”. It has also been named one of the top 5 college towns in the US. The state of Kentucky, however, is 45th in the nation in health. Students and faculty at the College are committed to transforming health both statewide and around the world.

The College of Public Health first earned accreditation in 2004. The MPH program is offered in five concentrations: Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Health Behavior, Epidemiology, and Health Management & Policy.

18. University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA

USN: 13
COL: 113

The city of Pittsburgh boasts both rich history and culture as well as stunning views. Pitt Public Health boasts several firsts, including the first Salk polio vaccine and the world’s first certificate program geared towards LGBTQ health.

The MPH degree includes tracks in Behavioral & Community Health Sciences; Biostatistics; Environmental & Occupational Health; Epidemiology; Health Policy & Management; Human Genetics; Infectious Disease Pathogenesis, Eradication and Laboratory Practice; Infectious Disease Management, Intervention, and Community Practice; and a Multidisciplinary Master of Public Health.

17. University of Washington School of Public Health
Seattle, WA

USN: 6
COL: 167

The UW SPH was founded in 1970 and until 2011 was the only accredited school of public health in the Pacific Northwest. With views of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington, is considered one of the top 25 most beautiful college campuses.

Students and faculty at UW work both locally – in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, and globally – in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The MPH can be focused on one of eighteen different tracks. Six areas were prioritized in the School’s strategic plan for 2012-2020: Global Environmental Change and Human Health; Genomics and Public Health; Obesity, Food, Physical Activity and Health; Health Policy and Health Systems; Public Health Implementation Science; and Social Determinants of Health.

16. The Ohio State University College of Public Health
Columbus, OH

USN: 19
COL: 108

As a land grant university, the OSU College of Public Health is committed to the public health concerns of the state, including an infant mortality rate that ranks 46th out of the 50 states. In addition to addressing local needs, the College of Public Health collaborates with partners around the world through the Office of Global Public Health.

OSU offers the following specializations for the MPH: Biomedical Informatics, Biostatistics, Clinical Translational Science, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior & Health Promotion, Health Services Management & Policy, Program for Experienced Professionals, and Veterinary Public Health.

15. Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine
New Orleans, LA

USN: 12
COL: 125

Founded in 1912, the Tulane SPHTM is the oldest school of public health in the US, and the only school to be combined with a school of tropical medicine. The MPH is offered in the departments of Epidemiology, Community Health Sciences, Health Education & Communication, Maternal & Child Health, Nutrition, Disaster Management, Health Systems Management, Health Policy, and International Health & Development.

Tulane houses the interdisciplinary Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, an innovative program designed in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Based on the agreement that a “systematic and interdisciplinary approach to leadership is widely needed in the community and insufficiently addressed in most academic programs”, the recovering city of New Orleans is considered an ideal setting to learn from.

14. University of California – Berkley School of Public Health
Berkeley, CA

USN: 9
COL: 220

UC Berkeley is considered one of the top 25 most beautiful college campuses. The graduate program offers the MPH in Biostatistics, Community Health & Human Development, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health & Social Behavior, Health Policy & Management, Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology, Interdisciplinary, Maternal & Child Health, and Public Health Nutrition.

The School of Public Health, founded in 1943, prides itself on its approach to addressing public health issues: “The Berkeley Difference“.

13. University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions
Gainesville, FL

USN: 30
COL: 116

The University of Florida CPHHP offers concentrations in Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Public Health Management and Policy, Public Health Practice, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. In addition to an MPH, the school offers several degree options: PhD, MS, MA, MHS (Master of Health Science), MBA/MHA dual degree, MOT (Master of Occupational Therapy), AuD (Doctor of Audiology), and DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy).

The CPHHP is home to several service and outreach programs, including A Better Tomorrow for Haiti, which works to improve health and promote economic sustainability, and the Florida Trauma Rehabilitation Center for Returning Military Personnel, which addresses post-traumatic stress syndrome in returning veterans to improve quality of life.

12. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA

USN: #2
COL: 226
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has been committed to activism since its roots, and became an independent School in 1946. As a leader in global public health, it has collaborated with initiatives in more than 75 countries in recent years. 

Students have opportunities to work with Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and other world-class health facilities. The traditional, 65-credit MPH track offers fields of study in Environmental Health (Environmental Health Sciences track or
Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety track), Global Health, Health and Social Behavior (Planned Social Change track or Social Determinants of Health and Disparities track), Health Management, and Health Policy.

11. Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
New York, NY

USN: #5
COL: 322

Established in the Northern Manhattan community for decades, the Mailman School works in all five boroughs. It is also the home to world-renowned research centers such as the Center for Infection and Immunity, the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, and ICAP, which works to strengthen health care systems through capacity building innovative programs.

Prospective students can apply for the traditional 2-year MPH, the accelerated 1-year MPH, or the Executive MPH. Departments include Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Population and Family Health, and Sociomedical Sciences.

10. University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

USN: #8
COL: 154

The U of M School of Public Health, founded in 1944, prides itself as a top 10 school of public health in an affordable metropolitan city. Students can apply to the divisions of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology & Community Health, and Health Policy & Management.

Minnesota, as a state, is “health-focused and progressive”: it has a strong health-care system, good public transit, a nationally ranked parks system, and has many open streets events.

9. University of Alabama – Birmingham School of Public Health
Birmingham, AL

USN: #19
COL: 100 (equal to the national average)

UAB SOPH ranks in the top 20 and the cost of living in Birmingham is equal to the national average. UAB SPH recently revealed a five year plan to guide the school in the areas of education; research and discovery; living, learning and working environment; resource development; and community.

In addition to the MPH, the School of Public Health offers a Master’s in Public Health in cooperation with the Peace Corps Master’s International Program. One of the benefits of this program is in-state tuition ($24,926) and a $1500 scholarship.

8. University of California – Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health
Los Angeles, CA

USN: #10
COL: 197

Founded in 1961, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health provides graduate education in a culturally, economically, and commercially diverse region, and offers resources for undocumented students/applicants. The school hosts programs that address the needs of local communities, including the Mobile Clinic Project, which serves the homeless and transient population in West Hollywood.

Students may pursue professional (MPH, DrPH) or academic (MS, PhD) degrees in one of five departments: Biostatistics, Community Health Sciences, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, and Health Policy and Management.

7. Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, GA

USN: #7
COL: 123

Students attending the Rollins School of Public Health will be in close proximity to several leading public health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the national office of the American Cancer Society, the international headquarters of CARE, and the Arthritis Foundation, among others. The MPH is offered in the departments of behavioral sciences and health education, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy and management, and global health. A unique feature of the Rollins School of Public Health is that over half of the adjunct faculty come from the CDC. Other degree options include the MSPH, EMPH (executive MPH), MSCR (Masters of Science in Clinical Research), and PhD.

6. University of Iowa College of Public Health
Iowa City, IA

USN: #17
COL: 89

The UI College of Public Health was created in 1999 by merging the established units of Preventative Medicine, Environmental Health, and the Graduate Program in Hospital and Health Administration. The MPH offers tracks in Community and Behavioral Health, Epidemiology, Health Communication, Occupational and Environmental Health, Policy, and Quantitative Methods. Prospective students interested in working with rural populations and environments will be interested to know the School aspires to provide global leadership in rural public health.

In addition to boasting a cost of living index below the national average, Iowa City was ranked the top smallest city for young educated people by the American Institute for Economic Research.

5. University of South Florida College of Public Health
Tampa, FL

USN: #16
COL: 117

The USF College of Public Health was founded in 1984, the first in the state. It offers 5 graduate degrees (MPH, MSPH, MHA, PhD, DrPH) in 25 concentrations, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH). Their US News & World Report ranking improved to #16 from #21 this year. Among the several research centers and institutes are the innovative Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Women’s Health (CTR-WH) and The James and Jennifer Harrell Center for the Study of Domestic Violence.

4. Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health
College Station, TX

USN: #25
COL: 89

The TAMHSC School of Public Health was established with a state land grant in order to address specifically the rural and underserved populations of Texas. It is considered one of the top 25 most beautiful college campuses. The school focuses on an interdisciplinary approach, as highlighted by the One Health Grand Challenge: “the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain sustainable optimal health for the ecosystem*. It is a cultural and behavioral concept with socioeconomic elements and impact.”

TAMHSC SPH offers the following degrees: MPH, MHA, PhD, BSPH. Students pursuing an MPH may apply to the following departments: Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Occupational Safety and Health, Health Policy and Management, or Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences.

3. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD

USN: #1
COL: 159

The MPH is the flagship masters program at the Bloomberg School, and is the #1 School of Public Health in the US according to US News & World Report. While most MPH programs are completed in 2 years, the full time MPH program at JHU is completed in 11 months. It is the largest school of public health in the world, and it “receives 20 percent of all grants and contracts awarded to the 50 accredited U.S. schools of public health”.

The Bloomberg School offers concentrations in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biostatistics; Environmental Health Sciences; Epidemiology; Health, Behavior and Society; Health Policy and Management; International Health; Mental Health; Population, Family and Reproductive Health; and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. In addition to the MPH, the Bloomberg School degree programs offer an MBE (Master of Bioethics), MHA (Master of Health Administration), MHS (Master of Health Science), MSPH (Master of Science in Public Health), ScM (Master of Science), and MPP (Master in Public Policy).

2. University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI

USN: #4
COL: 111

In addition to being the #4 ranked School of Public Health in the nation, U-M boasts the #1 Health Policy & Management and Biostatistics programs in the US. Over the course of its history, the U-M SPH is where Blue Cross Blue Shield was created, where the first Earth Day was held, and where the largest field trials to date proved that the polio vaccine was “safe, potent, and effective.” Though its roots date back to the 1880s, it officially became a school of public health in 1941.

Located in Ann Arbor, the U-M campus is considered one of the top 25 most beautiful college campuses. Students may complete an MPH in one of the following departments: Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior and Health Education, Health Informatics, Health Management and Policy, or Nutritional Sciences.

1. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health (GSGPH)
Chapel Hill, NC

USN: #2
COL: 109

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health tops our list at best value based on it’s top 5 ranking, reasonable tuition, and low cost of living. Since rankings began, the school has been ranked as one of the top 3 schools of public health. Having just celebrated its 75th year, the program was the first to be offered at a public university in 1940, and the 4th overall. It boasts “a small-school feel with all the advantages of a large, world-class university.”

The MPH degree is offered through the departments of Biostatistics, Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Epidemiology, Health Behavior, Health Policy and Management, Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, and Public Health Leadership.

*Data collected in Spring 2015.