It’s quite possible that public health is more important today than it has ever been.
The world has gotten smaller in the 21st century, between travel and communication technology, but inequities in wealth and healthcare have grown wider as well. The US faces public health challenges that threaten at any time to turn into crises, from obesity and heart disease to cancer and mental illness; communicable diseases once thought eradicated are reappearing, and environmental pollution is linked to a startling number of illnesses.
Keeping the population healthy is not just the work of individual doctors and nurses treating individual patients; it’s the work of public health professionals, researchers, and experts who study population trends, educate the public, and advocate for aggressive, positive changes in public policy that improve health and well-being. So great is the need for public health advocates that colleges and universities all over the nation are developing online Master of Public Health degree programs to help fill the gap. Online programs prepare working professionals to take on the responsibilities of leadership and management, often while keeping their jobs.
And in our time of imminent crisis, it’s important to get that job done quickly.
That’s why MPH Online has profiled some of the fastest, most reputable, accredited online MPH programs in the US. Keep in mind, accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the gold standard for education in the field, and the strongest public health curriculum offerings will be the ones developed along CEPH and Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) guidelines.
*all images sourced from institution’s website*
Ranking factors – Time To Completion (TTC), Accreditation and Online Reputation
#1 George Washington University – Washington DC
George Washington University was founded in 1821 to act as a national university, as George Washington had envisioned before his death. A top-ranked private research institution, GWU is one of the most politically active colleges in the nation, and one of the most connected, using its location in the nation’s capital to develop valuable ties to the federal government, industry, and nonprofit sector. Students benefit in a big way from GWU’s network for internships, experiential learning, and job placement after graduation. Not surprisingly, that has meant big things for George Washington University’s programs as well, from attracting the most renowned experts in the world, to service learning and hands-on opportunities for students.
It should come as no surprise, with its access to government health agencies, that GWU’s Milkin Institute School of Public Health stands as one of the best in the world. George Washington University offers a fully online, accelerated MPH degree program that can be completed in only a year. The MPH@GWU (as it is called) combines real-time, live online courses with practical experience and GWU’s network to provide an in-depth, comprehensive view of public health. Because of the intensive demands of the 12-month program, students cannot work – they must be enrolled as full-time students, and they must have approval from the Program Director. But those those who can take the time and handle the heat, GWU’s online MPH is one of the fastest out there.
Fastest TTC: 12 months
#2 University of San Francisco – San Francisco, CA
The University of San Francisco is more deeply rooted in San Francisco than any other institution. Founded in 1855, USF is only a little younger than the state of California itself, and it was a key part of taming the gold-fever crazed 49ers who made the city a boomtown in the 1850s. USF began as a one-room schoolhouse to care for the children of the settlers, and its Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and social outreach remains intact through all of the changes of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. This top-tier university is also home to one of the Bay Area’s most prestigious healthcare programs, the USF School of Nursing and Health Professions, which is dedicated to the highest degree of practice and care, as well as service to the community.
The University of San Francisco online MPH degree program has been nationally ranked as one of the best in the field. The School of Nursing and Health Professions is well known for its commitment to innovation and outreach, and its Catholic values make ethics, responsible leadership, and service to humanity the highest priorities. The online MPH puts an emphasis on collaboration, evidence-based practice, and health advocacy and education for whole populations, and draws on San Francisco’s history of awareness and support for public health initiatives. The accelerated online MPH can be completed in only 12 months, giving prospective public health leaders the credentials they need to make a difference today.
Fastest TTC: 12 months
#3 University of Vermont – Burlington, VT
The University of Vermont is the state’s only land-grant, public research university, a big responsibility in a small state. Founded in 1791, UVM is one of the oldest colleges in the US. Originally a private college, in 1865 the university merged with Vermont’s newly-created land-grant Vermont Agricultural College to form the new, public University of Vermont. As a land-grant, public institution, UVM has always put a priority on useful, practical education for the people of Vermont, and its roots in the applied sciences has made Vermont’s flagship a key educator for the 21st century. The Larner College of Medicine, in particular, is the oldest medical program at any state university, and leads Vermont’s healthcare system.
The University of Vermont online MPH degree program was developed collaboratively between UVM Continuing and Distance Education and the Larner College of Medicine, leveraging the school’s long history of care and advocacy into one of the finest online MPH programs in the world. UVM’s online courses are taught by the same world-class faculty, made up of experienced practitioners, as the on-campus courses, and support from the University of Vermont Medical Center – the state’s premier teaching hospital – gives students assurance that they’re getting the best online education possible. Prepared students can complete the online MPH in as little as 14 months, making the UVM online MPH one of the best choices in New England.
Fastest TTC: 14 months
#4 Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester, NH
Southern New Hampshire University began with a small accounting and secretarial school in 1932, a for-profit venture by an entrepreneurial couple, Harry and Gertrude Shapiro. Once the college was incorporated as a nonprofit and chartered by the state in the 1960s, SNHU began growing, but nothing compared to the explosion in growth and recognition that came with SNHU Online. Beginning in 1995 – when other colleges were debating whether the internet was useful for research or a distraction for students – Southern New Hampshire began offering fully online degree programs, building a reputation for quality, flexibility, and affordability.
The SNHU online MPH degree program is built for speed and convenience, from a university ranked one of the most innovative schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The public health master’s program is designed around the guidelines set by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) and the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), so students can trust that they are learning the most current, future-focused information for public health. The program is designed around competencies in behavioral science, biostatistics, epidemiology, occupational and environmental health, and public health and policy, giving students a full view of the field, and it can be completed in as little as 15 months with SNHU’s accelerated 10-week terms.
Fastest TTC: 15 months
#5 Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
Founded by 1971 by evangelist Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is a Baptist college in Lynchburg, VA, widely known for its political influence and academic accessibility. For most of its early history Liberty was a small school, largely focused on programs of benefit to future pastors and lay leaders in the church, but its fateful decision to invest in fully online programs has created a whole new life for Liberty in the 21st century. Today, Liberty is the largest Christian college, and the largest private college altogether, thanks to an online student body of well over 100,000, drawn to Liberty’s low tuition rates, generous transfer program, and outreach to working adults.
Liberty University’s online MPH degree program is a fully online course of study designed around the practice of public health, with a particular emphasis on social ethics. Intended especially for working adults, Liberty allows as much as half of the 42 required credit hours to be transferred from another program, and 3 specialization are available: Global Health, Health Promotion, and Nutrition. Liberty has built a reputation for military-friendliness, including tuition discounts and scholarships, making their online programs especially attractive to veterans and active-duty personnel. Students can complete the program in as little as 16 months, taking accelerated courses full-time, getting them into their new careers, or promoted in their current careers, in less than a year and a half.
Fastest TTC: 16 months
#6 California State University San Marcos – San Marcos, CA
California State University San Marcos is a young institution, founded in just 1989, but in less than 30 years it has proven to be a key part of life in San Diego’s North County. The need for a public university in the area had been apparent for many years, but only an extension campus of San Diego State had been opened in the area. In 1985 the CSU Chancellor Ann Reynolds began calling for an independent university to meet the needs of the region’s large minority population, as well as to expand opportunities for women, and CSU San Marcos was born. San Marcos is highly diverse – more than a quarter of the student body is Latino, with another quarter made up of other minority groups – and much of the student body consists of transfers from community college.
CSU San Marcos’ online MPH degree program benefits tremendously from San Marcos’ experience meeting the needs of working adults and other nontraditional students; the university was originally strictly degree-completion for juniors and seniors. To increase their reach, CSUSM has made online degrees a priority, and earned a strong regional reputation for their quality. Students can earn the online MPH in only 16 months, studying full-time with 2 courses in each 8-week session. Two concentrations are available: Global Health, and Health Promotion and Education. CSU San Marcos understands its students’ needs, and CSUSM’ Public Health department knows public health.
Fastest TTC: 16 months
#7 University of New England – Biddeford, ME
The University of New England dates back to 1939, to the College Seraphique, a Catholic high school and junior college founded to educate the many young men whose families had immigrated from French Canada. Over the years, many mergers and acquisitions have made the University of New England Maine’s largest private university, and, more importantly for MPH Online, the state’s leading health education institution. UNE is the home of Maine’s only medical school – the College of Osteopathic Medicine – and the state’s only College of Dental Medicine. In short, no school in Maine knows health better than the University of New England.
The university has also become a leading online educator for northern New England, with programs like the UNE online MPH degree. This 46-credit program is designed for both working adults and traditional-aged students, though professionals already in some aspect of the healthcare industry will likely find it most helpful. Students focus on areas such as analysis, program planning and development, ethics, law, and policy, preparing for a career fighting disease and injury to keep whole populations healthy. The online program uses both synchronous and asynchronous formats for variety, providing different approaches to learning for different kinds of learners, and the whole program can be completed in just a year and a half.
Fastest TTC: 18 months
#8 Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, IL
Few institutions have had the impact on Chicago that Loyola University has brought to the city in its nearly 150 years. Chicago was a booming industrial town in 1870, when Loyola University Chicago was founded by Jesuit educators, and the private Catholic college spent its first decades civilizing and providing services for the city as it grew. Loyola established the Stritch Medical School in 1909, and the Niehoff School of Nursing in 1935 (a former dental school is no longer operational); these constitute two of the leading health sciences programs in the Midwest, along with the facilities of the Loyola Medical Center and the Health Sciences Campus – Chicago’s leading teaching hospitals.
Besides its academic excellence, Loyola is especially known for its commitment to service, and its value, providing opportunity for social mobility and growth. As part of Loyola’s efforts to extend its outreach, the university has built world-class online programs, such at the Loyola Chicago online MPH degree program, a 44-credit course of study dedicated to the most pressing issues of modern public health. There are two concentrations; the Health Policy & Management program is 100% online, but the Epidemiology track is a hybrid program. With practicum experience and a capstone project, the online MPH is challenging, but Loyola’s reputation on the job market in Chicago, the Midwest, and the US gives students a strong return on their time and tuition.
Fastest TTC: 18 months
#9 West Virginia University – Morgantown, WV
The only Carnegie Classification-recognized R1 research university in the state, West Virginia University is quite possibly the most important institution in West Virginia for education and health. WVU was founded in 1867 under the Morrill Land-Grant Act as the Agricultural College of West Virginia, and under the requirements of that act, was bound to provide the best practical education for the good of West Virginia’s people. WVU has kept that mission, especially in regards to health sciences; it is home to the state’s first medical school, the state’s foremost School of Nursing, and the only School of Dentistry. WVU also leads West Virginia’s only School of Public Health, a crucial link in addressing public health needs in the Appalachians.
The WVU online MPH degree program is primarily designed for working professionals already in some public health-related career or field earn the credentials and knowledge to develop plans, put those programs into motion, and manage complex public health initiatives. The 44 credit program focuses on Social & Behavioral Sciences, and prepares students for managerial and other leadership positions in the field. WVU’s online tuition is a very reasonable rate for in-state residents, and is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. For working professionals concerned about West Virginia’s healthcare needs, the WVU online MPH is the first step in making a difference.
Fastest TTC: 18 months
#10 Simmons College – Boston, MA
Founded in 1899, Simmons College is named for its founder, clothing entrepreneur John Simmons – noted as the inventor of off-the-rack clothes in standardized sizes. At his death in 1870, Simmons left behind funds to start a college for women dedicated to the liberal arts and career preparation, believing that women deserved the opportunity to make their living independently. However, the Great Boston Fire prevented the campus from being built and opened until 1899. From that time forward, Simmons College began a long tradition of excellence and progressivism, and remains dedicated to giving women the tools to succeed.
The Simmons College online MPH degree program – known as the MPH@Simmons – gives students an immersive, collaborative environment to learn the most current theory and practice in public health. With a mix of real-time online courses and self-paced content, students get the same kind of attention and investment of a traditional on-campus program, including a 15:1 student:faculty ratio. Simmons’ curriculum is focused on health equities, focusing intensively on the inequities in healthcare caused by systemic disadvantages of race, economics, and gender. The MPH@Simmons is designed not just to make people healthier – it’s designed to make the world a better, fairer place.
Fastest TTC: 21 months
#11 The Dartmouth Institute – Hanover, NH
The Dartmouth Institute is a semi-independent research and education center that is part of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution and one of the oldest colleges in the US. One of the nine Colonial Colleges, Dartmouth was founded in 1769, establishing itself as one of the most important institutions in the nation for medicine, business, and engineering. The Dartmouth Institute was founded in 1988 to organize Dartmouth’s health sciences research and learning, and is dedicated to improving healthcare policy and leadership. The Dartmouth Institute is one of the nation’s most influential institutions for public health and policy, publishing the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which documents national discrepancies in health services and resources.
The Dartmouth Institute’s online MPH degree program is one of the most innovative programs of its kind in the world. The institute’s curriculum is designed to disrupt the status quo and force the healthcare system to address inconsistencies and inequities across the US. Dartmouth looks for working professionals already in the public health field, including primary care professionals, policy analysts, administrators, and others who want to make radical improvements in public health. A 12:1 student:faculty ratio gives students the chance to build relationships with some of the most renowned faculty in the field, and a cohort of around 30 students creates networking connections that make a difference in a long, fruitful career.
Fastest TTC: 21 months
#12 Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, FL
Founded in 1887, Florida A&M University is one of the largest and most respected historically black colleges in the US, and Florida’s only public HBCU. While it was originally a teacher training school for Florida’s segregated black schools, Florida A&M became a federal land-grant institution when Congress determined that segregated states must have a land-grant university for African-American students. In nearly a century and a half, Florida A&M has become one of the leading research institutions in the US among HBCUs, recognized by the NSF for science research and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top public HBCU in the nation.
FAMU is also the first HBCU in America to offer an online degree in public health, the Florida A&M online MPH degree program. The online MPH is designed by the FAMU Institute of Public Health, one of Florida’s premier public health institutions, and in addition to being the first accredited public health program in northern Florida (and one of the first 5 in the South), the Institute of Public Health has deep connections to the CDC, the EPA, and the Florida Department of Health, giving graduate a strong entry point into their careers. Self-directed, independent courses help students work around their professional schedules, and full-time students can complete the program in 5 semesters.
Fastest TTC: 24 months
#13 University of South Carolina – Columbia, SC
Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina is the state’s flagship public research university, a top-tier college ranked as an up-and-coming national institution by U.S. News & World Report. As South Carolina’s foremost research institution, USC has a responsibility to bring the best professional education possible to the people of South Carolina, and it has fulfilled that duty for well over two centuries. From one of the best freshman experience programs, to some of South Carolina’s top master’s and doctorate degrees, to Carnegie Foundation Community Service Classification, USC meets South Carolina’s deepest needs.
The USC online MPH degree program focuses on Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, preparing working professionals in some aspect of the public health field to take on leadership and advocacy positions at a higher level. This 45 credit, interdisciplinary program emphasizes transferable planning, management, and communication skills, with insights into the modern needs of whole communities, from social inequities in healthcare to consumer advocacy. As South Carolina’s primary medical and health educator, USC makes an online MPH degree the logical next step.
Fastest TTC: 24 months
#14 Benedictine University – Lisle, IL
One of Chicago’s foremost Catholic institutions, Benedictine University has been educating Chicago’s most promising students since 1887, when the Benedictine monks at St. Procopius Abbey founded the college. As a Catholic college, Benedictine is dedicated to the values of the Benedictine order, including faith, discipline, simplicity, and service, and those values inform all of the curriculum and programs at Benedictine. In recent years, Benedictine has further grown their national and international reputation with accessible online programs, including highly ranked online degrees in business, nursing, and public health.
The Benedictine University online MPH degree program gives students a full grounding in the theory and practice of contemporary public health, from biostatistics and epidemiology to policy and ethics. Students can also add a graduate certificate to their online MPH for further specialization, though that will extend the time it will take to complete the program; specialized certificates include Emergency Preparedness, Epidemiology, Health Education & Promotion, and Health Management & Policy. Benedictine is deeply integrated into the life of metropolitan Chicago, and its reputation is trusted throughout the Midwest, making it a solid choice.
Fastest TTC: 24 months
#15 Kent State University – Kent, OH
Founded in 1910 as the Kent State Normal School – a 2-year experiential training program for teachers, who learned teaching by leading a real class – Kent State University has been reaching out to Ohio’s students wherever they are for over a century now. With well over 29,000 students just on the Kent campus, and 44,000 in total (including 8 regional campuses throughout Ohio), it’s one of the largest universities in the Midwest, and its online degree offerings just extend Kent State’s reach even further. Kent State’s online programs have frequently been recognized nationally for quality and affordability.
The Kent State online MPH degree program is designed for flexibility and adaptability; while there are two concentrations available (Health Policy & Management or Social & Behavioral Sciences), the curriculum can be adjusted according to each student’s current or preferred career path. The online MPH emphasizes professionalization, preparing working adults for leadership, management, and policy and program planning for public health initiatives. Kent State’s program is also noted as one of the most affordable in the Midwest, making it a safe investment as well one that can be completed in just two years, even part-time.
Fastest TTC: 24 months