Guide to Earning Your Master’s (MPH) in Epidemiology Online

Get answers to key questions, find top-ranked accredited schools, and start your journey towards earning your master’s in epidemiology online.

Last Updated: 12/21/2020

If you want to become an epidemiologist or pursue related career fields where you can help study and prevent the spread of diseases, a master’s in epidemiology online degree can provide a flexible, affordable way to get there. Given the recent deadly outbreak of Covid-19 and the threat of new diseases always on the horizon, the importance of epidemiology has never been higher.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10-year growth rate for epidemiologists is 5%, which is above the national average for all occupations. Median pay is also quite high at $77,990 as of May 2019.

MPH programs with an emphasis in epidemiology provide the most direct route to joining this in-demand field. Fortunately, many MPH epidemiology degrees are now available entirely online. This guide helps you learn what it’s like to earn a master’s in epidemiology online, provides a list of top accredited schools offering online MPH epidemiology programs, and much more.

2021’s Best Online MPH Epidemiology Programs

The need for epidemiologists is strong, and there are numerous MPH epidemiology online degrees available. Not all programs are equal, and some provide more value than others. Below are three schools standing out in terms of quality of education, convenience, flexibility, and cost.

1

Drexel University

Drexel

Drexel University’s online Master of Public Health in Epidemiology degree conveniently provides a top-notch education. No GRE Is needed, and all coursework can be completed online. Even the hands-on Applied Practical Experience allows for working at a convenient location such as a current place of employment.

Students are never required to be on campus for this program. Flexibility also comes in the pace of the program, with students able to earn their master’s in epidemiology in as little as one year. After graduating from this Council for Education in Public Health accredited program, graduates are prepared for exciting careers fighting threatening diseases.

2

Harvard University

Harvard University

Consisting of 45 credits, Harvard University’s MPH in Epidemiology program is available either on campus or online. Offered in a part-time format, students can earn their master’s in epidemiology online within two years.

A highlight of this program is its practicum requirement. While many online MPH epidemiology programs also have this requirement, Harvard’s practicum stands out for providing individual and group mentorship opportunities as students develop practicum proposals. Students present practicum findings to peers, other members of Harvard University, and the epidemiological community.

To help cover costs, limited grant funding is available. Additionally, to accommodate those who have third parties, such as employers, helping cover costs, the T.H. Chan School of Public Health accepts third party contracts. This allows Harvard to directly bill the third party as opposed to the student.

3

Texas A&M

Texas A&M

At Texas A&M’s School of Public Health, the master’s in epidemiology online track follows the same degree plan as the in-person track. Graduates earn the necessary research skills and knowledge in epidemiology to take positions in many sectors, including within private medical facilities, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies.

The program includes a series of core public health classes in addition to specialty courses in epidemiology. Courses include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiological Methods
  • Investigation and Control: Acute Public Health Events
  • Assessment and Intervention: Wicked Problems in Public Health
  • Data Management and Computing

Applicants must complete an application and provide three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a resume or curriculum vitae.

What You’ll Study in an Epidemiology MPH Online Degree Program

Enrolling in a master’s in epidemiology online degree program prepares you for almost any role within the field. After graduating, students can work in practice-based or research-based positions. To provide this professional flexibility, courses cover topics such as:

  • Chronic diseases
  • Infectious diseases
  • Data analysis and management
  • Biostatistics
  • Strategies for disease prevention and treatment

Students also apply their knowledge through a practicum, which often provides opportunities for developing a plan to address an actual public health issue. This allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills learned in their online epidemiology degree program.

Core Classes in Online Epidemiology MPH Degree Programs

Most programs leading to an epidemiology degree have two types of courses. The first includes core classes in public health optics. The second type is epidemiology specific. The five sample classes below give an idea of the types of courses to expect.

Foundations in Public Health

This course introduces the basic tenants of public health and the U.S. healthcare system. Students also learn about principles affecting how public health is run. These include social justice, human rights, racism, and public health programs throughout history.

Introduction to Biostatistics

Critical data analysis is key for anyone wanting a career in public health and epidemiology. This class introduces the fundamentals of statistical methods and interpretation and covers descriptive statistics, regression, and correlation.

Qualitative Data and Mixed Methods Analysis

Qualitative data refers to information gathered from direct observation and sampling, such as questionnaires and interviews. This course introduces students to qualitative data analysis and teaches management of data along with quantitative data in a mixed-method analysis.

Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Human Research

Research on humans helps gain an understanding of the common biological processes and health problems people encounter. This class explains the ethical and regulatory considerations when designing and conducting research involving individuals.

Practicum

To gain a better understanding of knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, students complete a practicum to demonstrate application of these concepts to issues in public health.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Epidemiology?

Earning an MPH degree in epidemiology opens doors to various roles in the public health, healthcare, and medical communities. These roles often present opportunities to engage in high-level decision making that potentially affects the lives of countless people. The following careers demonstrate what someone with a master’s degree in epidemiology might do.

Epidemiologist

Through research, education, and policies, epidemiologists improve the overall health of the general public. They find ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases or reduce the lethality of chronic diseases.

Health Services Manager

These specialized administrators strategize and coordinate the distribution of healthcare services to patients and the general public. Health services managers are often found in hospitals managing the entire facility but may also focus on a single department.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Medical research is pivotal to studying and understanding human diseases. To help make this research possible, clinical research coordinators plan and help operate research programs. They also help interpret the data collected during research.

Clinical Data Manager

Clinical data managers take information from healthcare management systems and databases and analyzes it to identify useful information. For example, they might see trends or patterns that can help governments and healthcare systems adjust strategies and resources for tackling health challenges.

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists study human diseases by conducting research and analyzing data. They are involved in all stages of medical research from study design to conducting studies, publishing findings, and analyzing data.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Epidemiology MPH Programs

Before applying, be sure to confirm if a master’s in epidemiology online program is accredited. Accreditation is a process in which an independent organization confirms a school or academic program meets basic educational standards. Accreditation can apply at both the institutional and programmatic levels.

Epidemiology master’s programs are accredited by the Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH). A program’s website should indicate this accreditation. You can also go to the CEPH’s website and check its List of Accredited Schools and Programs.

FAQs About Earning Your MPH in Epidemiology Online

How long does it take to complete a master’s degree in epidemiology online?

Degree completion varies based on the pace of learning and the flexibility offered. Most online epidemiology programs last one to four years and require 42 to 80 credits. Most full-time students can earn their epidemiology MPH degree in about two years. Part-time students should expect to take at least three years.

How much do online epidemiology MPH degrees cost?

The cost of earning a master’s in epidemiology online depends on a school’s tuition along with other variables. These include scholarships, course load, prior academic training, and if an employer is paying for any costs. The following chart gives an idea of what to expect in tuition cost.

School NameNo. of CreditsCost/CreditTotal Cost
UC Berkeley’s Online Master of Public Health Program42$1,103$49,000
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health80$1,197$73,960
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health42$549$23,058

What are the admissions requirements for online epidemiology MPH degrees?

Each program has its own admissions requirements, but most expect the same core elements. Those include:

  • An application: Most are completed online.
  • Official transcripts: Includes any undergraduate or post-secondary work.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae: Many students in MPH programs already have a few years of professional experience. Admissions officers want to see this practical experience.
  • Letters of recommendation: Expect to provide two or three letters.
  • Essay: An opportunity to explain your interest in public health and epidemiology.

Some programs also require GRE scores. Standardized test scores are usually optional, though, or only required if students have not taken certain coursework like high-level math classes.

Can I earn my epidemiology master’s completely online?

Most online programs allow you to complete most coursework online but require an in-person practicum at an approved location. Other online programs have additional in-person requirements, such as on-campus visits to present research findings. A few online programs are completely virtual, and the practicum requirement is replaced with a practical experience requirement completed online.

Do I need to take the GRE to get into an online epidemiology MPH program?

Many online MPH programs in epidemiology do not require the GRE, but most allow submission of GRE or other standardized test scores to strengthen applications. Some schools require applicants to complete portions of the GRE but only if they have not taken certain types of classes.

Will I learn the same skills in an online epidemiology MPH as an on-campus program?

MPH epidemiology online programs cover the same topics and teach the same skills as traditional, on-campus programs. By requiring a practicum, online programs have the same in-person requirements as on-campus programs. With classwork, though, students watch virtual lectures. Online programs also make sure students get the same access to faculty as on-campus students.