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MPH epidemiology online programs
Accredited Degrees
Master’s in Epidemiology Online
Schools that offer Epidemiology
Online Master’s in Epidemiology
Curriculum Details
Accredited Online MPH/Epidemiology
Tips for applying
MPH Epidemiologists
Careers for Epidemiologists
Online MPH in Epidemiology
How to pay?
Careers in Epidemiology
FAQs
Online Epidemiology Resources
Additional Resources

Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Public Health, Epidemiology

masters in epidemiology online

Epidemiology is a specialty offered in Master in Public Health (MPH) degree programs. Epidemiologists, sometimes called disease detectives, research sectors of a target population to examine the causes of illness. They assist public health organizations to prevent the spread of disease and create strategies for identifying the at-risk population. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a nine percent increase in professional epidemiologists, 2016 to 2026.  The average annual salary epidemiologists is $84,048.  To become a professional, students must earn an MPH with a specialty in epidemiology. Master’s in Epidemiology Online (MPH, Epidemiology) degrees are designed for students with active jobs and commitments to their families. This guide provides an overview of the master’s in epidemiology online, the university admission requirements, and financial aid opportunities.

Overview of the Accredited Master’s in Epidemiology Online Degree

MPH epidemiology online programs allow students to complete up to 80 percent of their didactic coursework at their location of choice. The remaining 20 percent of the program includes one on-campus course per year. University programs permit online epidemiology master’s students up to four years to complete their degree; however, most students finish their degree in 26 months. Graduation requirements can vary by program from 45 to 60 credits.

MPH/epidemiology coursework focuses on research strategies, biostatistics, public health policy and management, infectious disease, and public health data analysis. Students also complete an on-site internship with a public health organization. Online courses are offered in two required modalities: asynchronous and synchronous. The asynchronous component allows students to complete their degree at their own pace while synchronous online courses must be attended on schedule to provide live lectures and class sections with their peers. The online courses use multimedia, virtual chat, discussion threads, instructional podcasts, Skype, and email. Students may work with a faculty adviser via chat or by phone.

Find out more about Accreditation here.

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Universities Offering Master’s in Epidemiology Online Programs

Master’s students can choose among many qualified, accredited online programs leading to an MPH degree with a specialization in epidemiology. Without favoring a specific school, here is a list of some of the nation’s top programs to explore:

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Curriculum Details for an Online Master’s in Epidemiology Program

Online university programs with an epidemiology specialization must be accredited by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  Some employers –
particularly the U.S. Public Health Service and state and local agencies – hire only graduates of CEPH-accredited MPH programs.  

Curriculum requirements for the epidemiology program include satisfactory completion of a supervised internship lasting for one or two semesters.  Coursework focuses on survey design, causal analysis, statistical methods, medical informatics, biomedical research, regression, and healthcare systems.  Programs may also require the completion of a research project and scholarly paper or a comprehensive exam.  Here is a sampling of typical courses offered in a master’s in epidemiology online program:

  • Principles and Methodology
  • Epidemiology of Communicable Disease
  • Public Health Policy and Management
  • Community Outreach and Education
  • Epidemiologic Method
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Outbreak Investigations
  • Biostatistics for Research
  • Intro to Multivariate Stats
  • SAS Data Management
  • Epidemiology of HIV/STDs
  • Field Epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Surveillance
  • Health Budgeting & Financial Management
  • Computer Analysis in Public Health
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Sociocultural & Behavioral Aspects of Public Health
  • Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology
  • Master’s Seminar
  • Internships

Internships require the physical attendance of online students and may be arranged at locations convenient to students.  Depending on the institution, internships at a public health or related agency may require a minimum of 200 hours, or 20 hours per week for 10 weeks.  They are usually allowed for MPH students who have completed their first year of graduate school.  Internships are often at universities and college research centers, healthcare organizations, state and federal disease control agencies, pharmaceutical firms, or biogenetical research organizations.  Open internships are posted at your university’s career services office or at the university MPH department. You can also find listings of current internship openings at Indeed, Glassdoor and Internships.com.

Tips for Applying to an Accredited Online MPH/Epidemiology Program

According to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), there are 60,000 students attending the nation’s MPH degree programs.  Most online institutions use the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS).  It allows prospective students to apply to multiple universities at the same time.  Approximately 13,000 students were accepted into programs via SOPHAS in 2017. 

The first step is to register for a SOPHAS account. The initial university application by SOPHAS costs $135 and $50 per additional school.  Here is the SOPHAS suggested schedule for applying to schools offering an epidemiology degree online:

  1. Begin the SOPHAS application at least three months prior to the school’s deadline
  2. Request for official college transcripts be sent to SOPHAS at least eight weeks prior to the school’s deadline
  3. Submit transcripts, graduate test scores, entry essays, and letters of recommendation to SOPHAS at least four weeks prior to school deadlines
  4. Complete and submit your online SOPHAS application at least three weeks prior to deadlines.

Important Note: The fees paid for the SOPHAS application are for the submission of your application materials.  Students should contact each prospective program to find out if there are additional fees.  Some offer tuition waivers based on need.

Individual universities establish their own requirements for accepting students into the program.  These may include two or three letters of recommendation, the submission of an essay on your education and career goals.  They usually favor an undergraduate degree in the fields of mathematics, health, or sciences, with a 3.0 cumulative GPA.  Prerequisites may include college undergraduate credits in anatomy, algebra, physiology, microbiology, and biology.  Students who do not meet the prerequisites can complete them in summer session preceding or during their first graduate semester.  Check with your prospective programs.  Some master’s in epidemiology online schools require no prerequisites beyond completion of a baccalaureate degree and submission of transcripts and test scores.

Employers Hiring MPH Epidemiologists Graduates

According to the BLS, most epidemiologists take jobs working for state government organizations. The second largest sector of employers are state, local, and private hospitals, followed in order by public and private colleges, universities and scientific research firms.  Some pursue federal employment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In addition to their work as disease detective, epidemiologists find roles in disease control, occupational health, bioterrorism, substance abuse, adult and child health.  In addition to service in clinical settings, epidemiologists work as government researchers and in field support of emergency responders and investigators. Some find employment in overseas health organizations. 

Financing an Online MPH in Epidemiology

The first step in applying for grants and scholarships is to complete the online Free Application for Financial Student Aid ( FAFSA ). The application is used to evaluate financial need and the analysis is sent to the universities of your choice.  The federal aid programs include:

Students employed by non-profit organizations or governmental agencies can apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.  In addition to federal aid, students should contact each state’s department of education to investigate loan, grant or scholarship programs. The U.S. Department of Education has a search tool that identifies the contacts for each state.  There are also scholarships available by health organizations, MPH-related organizations and more. These are pegged to financial need or scholarly achievement.  Epidemiology master’s students can search for more than 8,000 scholarships at the Department of Education.  The ASPPH also list and extensive selection of graduate scholarships for MPH candidates. In addition, grants, tuition reductions and scholarships are available from universities or the master’s in epidemiology online program.  Finally, there are private educational loans to help students who need more loan funds beyond federal aid. These loans may be considerably more expensive than federal loans. They are not backed by the Department of Education and carry with higher interest rates.

More information about Financial Aid can be found here.

FAQ: Careers in Epidemiology

Do master’s students need to earn a certification in epidemiology?

Certification is voluntary. The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC) provides a certification option for professionals.

Why should master’s students become certified?

Some employers prefer to hire job applicants with certifications. The credentials attest to the level and quality of MPH training and your commitment to continuing education.

What are the best states to offer epidemiology jobs?

The BLS reports that the states with the highest employment of epidemiologists are California, Texas, Georgia, Maryland and Washington.

Is a doctorate degree necessary as an epidemiologist?

Post-graduate degrees presents one option to grow your career. They are required for positions as university professors and for some advanced research employers.

What is disaster epidemiology?

Disaster epidemiologists work for federal and state organizations.  They collect and analyze adverse short- and long-term health effects following a man-made or natural disaster.

What kind of questions will employers ask?

Students may be queried about their SAS programming skills, how they respond to stress and deadlines, and about their internship or practical experience.

Are there fellowships for MPH/epidemiology graduates?

There are many paid fellowships for grads, including the CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellowship in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control.  You may want to explore the ASPPH/CDC Public Health Fellowship Program.

Are there journals dedicated to the practice of epidemiology?

Yes. These include:

Additional Online Epidemiology Resources

The following websites provide online epidemiology master’s students access to statistical information, professional news, case studies, and other resources to assist in their research:

Sources:

Admissions
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
https://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/epidemiology/admissions-aid/admissions

Epidemiology
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm

Epidemiologists
Inded.com
https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Epidemiologists

Epidemiologist Interview Questions
Glassdoor
https://www.glassdoor.com/Interview/epidemiologist-interview-questions-SRCH_KO0,14.htm

Financing Your Degree
Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
https://www.aspph.org/study/financing-your-degree/

Graduate Program: Public Health (MPH) – Applied Epidemiology: Curriculum
University of Arizona
https://grad.arizona.edu/catalog/programinfo/PHLMPHAEPI

Master’s in Public Health-Concentration in Epidemiology
Colorado School of Public Health
http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/PublicHealth/Academics/departments/Epidemiology/Academics/SiteAssets/Pages/MPHEpi/MPH%20Epidemiology%20Curriculum%20Checksheet.pdf

Occupational Employment and Wages, Epidemiologists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes191041.htm

State Contacts
U.S. Department of Education
https://www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/state/index.html

Welcome to SOPHAS
SOPHAS
https://sophas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login

What is CEPH Accreditation?
The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
https://www.aspph.org/study/what-is-ceph-accreditation/

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