In the public health field, environmental health is a surprisingly broad specialization that provides professionals with all kinds of career options. Environmental health – which often includes areas like occupational health, epidemiology, pollution, and other environmentally-related health hazards – is an area that is growing in importance and desirability as we learn how the environment relates to the health of populations and communities.
Students who want to earn a Master’s in Environmental Health online degree include working public health professionals who want to advance in their careers, new college graduates who want to specialize in environmental health, and career-changing professionals who may be coming from areas as diverse as medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, and others. To find the best environmental health degree online, students need look no further than MPH Online.
Ranking the Best Master’s in Environmental Health Online Programs
To rank the top Master’s in Environmental Health online degree programs, MPH Online editors searched for regionally-accredited, established colleges and universities offering a fully online MPH degree program in environmental health or a related field.
We then ranked programs according to three main criteria:
- Cost (from current IPEDs data)
- Reputation (from current Niche reviews)
- Return on Investment (from current College Scorecard data)
These environmental health degree online programs represent the best distance-format programs in public health.
1. Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) in Occupation and Environmental Hygiene (OEH) is offered as a distance learning degree. This program, which provides working professionals with a master’s in environmental health online, is a technology-based program designed to meet the increasing demands of professionals who are just too busy to attend traditional classes. The coursework portion of the MSPH-OEH roughly completes two-thirds of the degree coursework. The remaining third of the MSPH-OEH program is completed by attending 2 condensed weekend sessions on campus. JHU’s MSPH-OEH degree can be earned in 2.5 to 4 years, depending on the student’s preferences and needs.
The Bloomberg School of Public Health, established in 1916, is the oldest School of Public Health in the world, and still the largest. JHU researchers have, to date, earned 27 Nobel Prizes. JHU’s mission is the advancement of humanity through the determined quest of discovery. During 2016, JHU outspent every other university with regards to research and development, this year being the 38th consecutive of such distinction. For an environmental health degree online, JHU can’t be beat.
2. Augusta University
Augusta University’s graduate school offers more than 45 graduate degree and certificate programs. Augusta University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program is a combination of healthcare disciplines that emphasize the practical application of solutions to public health issues. In the AU-MPH environmental health degree online graduates are prepared clinically and non-clinically to promote health care initiatives in the ever changing public health arena. Additionally, the master’s in environmental health online program offered by Augusta University professionally trains their graduates to focus on community health requirements and patient-focused care.
Augusta University was originally established as a private medical school in 1828, and today stands as a public institution crucial to healthcare in Georgia. AU offers a variety of Master of Public Health concentration options. A partial list includes Nutrition, Health Informatics, Environmental Health, and Medical Illustration. The Augusta University Medical Center includes 80+ outpatient clinics and a 150+ bed children’s hospital. The student population in the College of Allied Health was approximately 650 students in the year 2015. Tuition costs depend upon residence status while attending school.
3. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida online Master of Public Health degree program offers a 42-credit, distance-format program for busy working professionals. USF’s online MPH coursework prepares graduates for successful and satisfying careers in the varying facets of public health – health policy, bio-statistics, toxicology, global health and global disaster relief, among others. According to the Chronicle of Higher Learning, the University of South Florida is considered among those research schools on the fast track for those wishing to earn their master’s in environmental health online.
USF’s College of Public Health (COPH), which opened in 1984, is classified as the #1 school public health school in the state of Florida and second in the southeast portion of the United States. USF was the first school to provide a satellite-based environmental health degree online. The University of South Florida’s Tampa campus provides comprehensive higher degree programs in a variety of disciplines; in 2015, approximately 9,000 students were in the process of earning graduate degrees. Tuition is determined by program level, the term of admission and residency.
4. George Washington University
The Milken Institute School of Public Health offers George Washington University’s Master’s of Public Health online program in fast-track or part-time formats. This EHS master’s degree online program can be completed in 1 year (60-80 hours of coursework per week) or in one and one-half years (40-60 hours of coursework per week). GWU’s master’s in environmental health online program prepares graduates for public health care careers using an integrative, multi-disciplined approach to produce one of the best environmental health degree online programs in the world.
George Washington University is one of five universities chartered by the U.S. Congress. GWU holds the distinction of being one of the largest schools of higher learning in D.C., while the Milken School – founded in 1997 by bringing together public health programs from the medical, business, and education schools – is one of the top public health schools in the world. As a leader not only in public health, but public affairs of all kinds, George Washington University was ranked # 25 (by Times Higher Education) of the Top Universities for Producing Billionaires during the 2015-2017 school years.
5. Tulane University
Tulane University’s online Master of Public Health degree program comes from TU’s School of Public health and Tropical Medicine, one of the most unique public health schools in the world. TU’s MPH in Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH) is a 42-credit hour course designed for working professionals with time constraints. Tulane University offers convenient opportunities for those students looking to earn an environmental health degree online. Tulane’s master’s in environmental health online prepares graduates to evaluate the effect on humans exposed to hazards, and to design practical solutions for these public health concerns.
In the state of Louisiana, Tulane University has the most selective acceptance rate school, as evidenced by their 17% acceptance rate. Although it was founded as a public medical college in 1824, TU is currently a private research university and the ninth oldest private school. In addition, Tulane has the only Tropical Medicine schools in the US, making it a destination for students pursuing careers in the tropics. The Carnegie Foundation classified Tulane University as a high research activity school, while the Princeton Review ranked Tulane’s students as the second happiest in the country.
6. University of Alabama Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham online Master of Public Health degree programs include numerous optional specializations, including Industrial Hygiene or Environmental Health Toxicology. For those seeking to earn a master’s in environmental health online, UAB offers an online MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health. Their online program uses the identical content found in UAB’s classrooms, but is designed for the convenience of students who cannot attend on campus. Graduate students are required to participate in an internship while earning their degree.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is the only R-1 research facility in the state, in fact, UAB is the state of Alabama’s largest single employer. In 2015, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Master in Science in Health Administration #2, countrywide. Earning an environmental health degree online from the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the perfect path for those who wish to play an instrumental role in the creation of social policies by applying qualitative and quantitative research assessments.
7. University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Master of Public Health – Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) degree is offered for students who need an environmental health degree online. The UNMC is a publicly-funded development center in Omaha which offers education and patient care while conducting extensive research. The online MPH-EOH program allows students to delve into and understand just how environments impact human health. Training includes the related fields of toxicology, environmental health, and occupational health, among others.
UNMC began as a medical college (1880), but became part of the University of Nebraska systems of colleges in 1902. Today, The UNMC is Nebraska’s foremost teaching hospital and medical research complex. In 2007, UNMC established the College of Public Health, which is a nationally ranked program by U.S. News and World Report. Per credit hour tuition is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. Those earning their master’s in environmental health online with UNMC, receive the same benefits and access to student services as those attending brick and mortar classes.
8. University of Vermont
The University of Vermont’s online Master of Public Health degree program comes from the Larner College of Medicine, the nation’s 7th-oldest medical school. The 42-hour masters in environmental health degree online program offers a Generalist MPH with several concentrations: Health Policy, Epidemiology, Environmental Public Health and Leadership, among others. With the connection to the Larner College, the master’s in environmental health online program has access to Vermont’s foremost medical facility, and builds on a national and international reputation for excellence in care, teaching, and research.
The University of Vermont’s campus is located near Lake Champlain in Burlington, the most populated part of the state of Vermont. The Larner College of Medicine is equipped for extensive research in environmental disease, cancer, health services, and neuroscience, among others. UVM-LCM’s mission is to educate graduates who can interact with Vermont’s communities in the fields of medical advancement, improving overall healthcare accessibility. The Larner College of Medicine is quite selective with regards to the number of students accepted when compared to the applications submitted.
9. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis’s Master of Science in Product Stewardship is the nation’s first program of its kind. The Product Stewardship graduate degree is an emerging discipline in the field of public health, focusing on the health and safety of consumer products from raw material to purchase. Graduates have the skill-set to responsibly manage national and local health and safety matters regarding consumer and worker health and safety. Product Stewards use environmentally ethical processes that follow acceptable standards of sustainability to accomplish this task.
IUPUI is a unique institution formed from the merger of IU and PU’s urban extension campuses in Indianapolis, creating one of the nation’s top urban-focused research universities in one swoop. In addition to Product Stewardship concentrations, IUPUI Public Health coursework focuses upon epidemiology, health policy management, and urban health issues, among others. Additionally, IUPUI earned Diversity Magazine’s Diversity in Excellence Award. IUPUI has been committed from its very beginning to the needs of working adults and professionals, and was recognized in in 2014 as one of the best schools for veterans by Military Times.
10. University of Illinois Springfield
The University of Illinois Springfield’s online Master of Public Health degree program offers numerous concentrations and specializations in a fully online format for working professionals. One specialty degree offered is the MPH in Environmental Health (EH) Concentration where graduates have the opportunity to experience real world issues as a part of the UIS curriculum. MPH – EH graduates learn to be a voice and/or advocate in the areas of healthy living. Each degree offered by the public health program is available through an online distance-learning program.
The MPH program offered by the University of Illinois at Springfield is tasked with the mission to create improvements to each generation’s quality of life, well-being and to address social factors that have been shown to reduce the odds of achieving healthy functioning living. The University of Illinois, Springfield offers graduate students an opportunity to participate in the Graduate Public Service Internship Program –a hands-on experience where graduate candidates network with other public health professionals.
What Can I Expect to Learn From an MPH Environmental Health Degree Program?
Because environmental health is such a broad category of public health, there can be quite a variation in what you’ll learn in an environmental health degree online program. First of all, there are the basics of public health. That includes areas like:
- Population Health
There are areas that are common to pretty much all public health programs; they cover the basics of how diseases spread, how to promote health, and how to analyze data to understand patterns. You will very likely also have some courses that are heavily focused on computing and technology, as well as courses in clinical research skills.
Then there are the courses that are specific to a master’s in environmental health online. Those will be determined by your specialization. Environmental health is a broad category, and concentrations might include anything from occupational health to zoological diseases.
Your courses will reflect your specialization; if you’re going into an administrative career in public health, you will have more courses in leadership, public policy, and management; if you’re going into a more research-focused career, there will be more focus on research skills, laboratory work, and toxicology.
What Can I Do With a Degree in Environmental Health?
What you can do with a degree in environmental health really depends on the specialization you choose to pursue. Professionals in the area of occupational health might become:
- Corporate Health and Safety Director
- Environmental Health and Safety Specialist
- Food Safety Inspector
- Industrial Hygienist
- OSHA Inspector
On the other hand, graduates whose environmental health degree online program focused on environmental hazards may work for government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control or the Environmental Protection Agency as epidemiologists. Others may go into academia as professors and, again, researchers.
How Much Money Does an Environmental Health Specialist Make?
Salary for any professional depends on a lot of factors – location, experience, education, even plain old luck – but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in environmental health make a strong income:
- Environmental Engineer – $86,800
- Health and Safety Engineer – $88,510
- Epidemiologist – $69,660
- Environmental Scientist/Specialist – $69,400
- Occupational Health and Safety Specialist – $67,720
- Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist – $62,290
- Conservation Scientist – $60,970
- Environmental Science and Protection Technician – $49,490
Even on the lower end – Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, who can typically get the job with just a bachelor’s degree – environmental health is a career that pays a strong middle-class wage. For the upper reaches, which would require a master’s degree, pay is quite impressive. Salary is definitely a factor that makes getting a masters in environmental health online a worthwhile investment.
Is Environmental Health a Good Career?
What makes a good career is extremely subjective, but there are a few particular criteria that most people would use to define a good job:
- Can I make a high salary?
- Do I enjoy the work?
- Is the career stable?
- Is the work meaningful or important?
So how does environmental health stack up against those criteria?
- Salary: We’ve already seen that environmental health professionals make middle to upper-middle class incomes, so Check 1.
- Enjoyment: No job is all fun and games (even the people who are paid to play with the pandas in the zoo), but if you come through your environmental health degree online program with a specialization that fits you, you will enjoy the work. Check 2.
- Stability: Environmental health is, by and large, a stable job. As long as there is a CDC or EPA, there will be a place for researchers; as long as there are safety standards for workers and environmental standards for corporations, there will be work in the private sector. If you’re a grant-based researcher, your position may be a little less stable – grants come and go – but in an in-demand field like environmental health, there will be another job around the corner. Check 3.
- Meaningful: Oh, absolutely. Making sure that people are safe on the job, healthy in their communities, and protected from environmental hazards is the definition of meaningful. Every task you do every day won’t change the world (you still have to check email and delete spam every once in a while), but by and large, you can be confident that you’re making a difference. Check 4, big time.
So is environmental health a good career for you? If all of the above sounds like the right fit, find an MPH environmental health degree online program – one of the ones above, or something else that meets your needs.