Achievements in the public health field during the 20th century have radically improved the quality of life around the world. As a result, many diseases, such as smallpox and polio, have been eradicated or reduced; the rate of infant and child mortality has been decreased; and people are, on average, living longer. However, there are plenty of challenges left to conquer in this field.
If you’d like to have a career in improving public health in the 21st century – whether in your local community hospital or government or through a nonprofit organization that addresses issues on a global scale – earning an online degree in public health can be a good place to get started.
Students looking to have careers in public health will likely need a degree in that field, and may want to consider earning one online. If you're overwhelmed by the number of online programs available to you, this list might be able to help! We have ranked the top 10 schools for earning an online public health degree by looking at a variety of factors, including admissions rate, graduation rate and tuition costs. You can read more about the methodology used to create the list below, but first: meet our top 10 online colleges for degrees in public health.
Online programs for public health are meant to educate those who are interested in how diseases affect a community, using their curriculum to impart valuable skills to their students. Here, we will explore the coursework found in these programs and the skills they hope to cultivate.
Public health is a complex field that requires rather specialized knowledge. The following are examples of courses focused on this knowledge that are commonly found in public health degree programs.
Online education for public health emphasizes many different skills during its courses. The following are some of the skills students may want to pay particular attention to refining as they complete the coursework in their program.
Public health professionals have a demanding job that requires specialized abilities and knowledge. In order to display this expertise, people in the field can earn certifications. The following are examples of some of the credentials public health workers can obtain.
Community health workers serve an important role in modern society. As educators, they are charged with discussing an array of health concerns with members of a community — people who live in the same area or those who share a similar characteristic. By sharing information on important health-related topics, community health workers can guide people toward valuable resources such as cancer screenings and community health fairs.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, some community health worker careers begin with a high school diploma and some experience. However, other community health workers get started with on-the-job training, an associate degree, or state-based certifications. Regardless of the length of the program, most educational programs aimed at community health workers focus on wellness, ethics and cultural awareness.
The environment we live in plays a critical role in public health. As a result, many public health careers fall into the field of environmental health and safety. Environmental health specialists study how various environmental factors impact human health. Job duties can include investigating potential risks to public health such as chemical spills or dumping, as well as checking out reports of soil and water contamination. As educators, environmental health and safety specialists also help community members understand how to properly care for our planet.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, most environmental health and safety specialist careers begin with a bachelor's degree in natural science or a related field. Typically, these programs require students to study topics such as physics, biology, chemistry and geology.
While job duties can vary based on the position, occupational health and safety specialists focus most of their efforts on identifying occupational hazards in the workplace. They collect samples of material to check for toxicity, inspect and evaluate workplace environments, investigate workplace accidents and help create procedures that prevent unsafe working conditions. While many of these workers are employed by the government, occupational health and safety specialists may also work in manufacturing, construction, professional and scientific industries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most occupational health and safety specialist careers begin with a bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety or a related field.
Health educators play a vital role in public health, mostly because they're the driving force behind the programs implemented in their communities. These workers survey their communities to find out which public health issues need addressing. They also gather and hand out important information to community residents, advocate for improved health resources and educate community members on the best ways to care for their bodies and specific health conditions.
Most health educator careers begin with a bachelor's degree in health education or health promotion. Some employers may also require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of those employed in this field work either for hospitals or for the local, state or federal government.