Top Online Colleges for Public Health

Individuals participating in an online public health degree program should be those who are passionate about helping others and impacting their communities. Graduates holding a degree in public health should be able to work in a variety of different sectors, including state health departments, managed care organizations, academic medical centers, municipal and county health departments, school health organizations, and private, not-for-profit community agencies. Degrees in public health are typically offered online at the master’s level; however, they can also be found at the certificate, associate, and bachelor’s levels as well. The best online colleges for public health will challenge students by offering rigorous curriculum that is on-par with programs offered at traditional colleges.

Public Health Course Work Basics

Online colleges for public health usually offer degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Associate degree programs typically included general education requirements along with courses specific to public health. Sometimes referred to as “basics,” general education courses provide students a sound foundation of college-level courses in areas like mathematics, natural and behavioral sciences, composition, speech, English, and computing. Students then move onto courses specific to public health, including modern health care systems, disease prevention, health ethics, and more.

At the bachelor’s level, students are required to complete additional basic-level courses that can include arts, history, and foreign language among others. Bachelor’s students will also have additional public health courses that can include pathology, human biology, and business courses as they relate to health care. Online classes in public health will cover introductory topics through advanced public health issues, and may include the following:

  • Health, Culture, and Society: This course provides students with a holistic interpretation of health, illness, and the human body, and emphasizes how social structure can impact overall health of a society.
  • Community Health Assessment: Students in this course learn applied methods of public health that include analyzing community-level assessment data, developing a casual model for selected health outcomes, maximizing community participation in the assessment process, and developing effective intervention and evaluation techniques.
  • Social Determinants of Health: In this course, students explore social inequalities in physical and mental health, the illness experience, the healing professions, health policy, relations between providers and patients, and the structure access to, and financing of health care organizations.
  • Health Risk Communication: This course acquaints students with contemporary theory, reseach, and practice in health risk communication.
  • Social Statistics: This course provides students with a detailed knowledge and practice of the theory and application of basic and advanced statistical methods for social and health research.

Prospective students already possessing a bachelor’s degree in public health, or a related discipline, and those who already possess significant experience in a field pertaining to public health. A master’s degree in the field can also be beneficial to seasoned professional wanting to teach courses in the field as well. At the master’s degree level, online courses in public health provide students with advanced courses in healthcare ethics, statistics, management principles for health care industries, and a more advanced study on various aspects of community health. While some programs in public health are available at the doctoral level, they are usually only necessary if the individual is seeking a full-time position as college educator.

Careers for the Accounting Graduate

Two common careers for individuals who have graduated from an online degree program in public health include social and community service managers, and medical and health services managers. Social and community service managers are typically responsible for coordinating and supervising social service programs and community organizations. They often directed a staff that provides social services to specific groups, such as children, the homeless, or veterans. In addition, these works may focus on helping people with a specific challenge such as hunger or unemployment.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statitics (BLS), most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline to gain entry into the field. Additionally, most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree combined with work experience, or a master’s degree to obtain a management position. The BLS also reports that job growth in the field is expected to grow by 27% through the year 2020, as a result of a growing population of elderly adults. The BLS also reports that the median annual income for social and community service managers was $57,950 as of May 2010.

Another viable career for and individual possessing a degree in public health is as a medical and health services managers. These workers typically plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services of a specific clinical area or department, or manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. According to the BLS, individuals hoping to gain a career in the field must have at least a bachelor’s degree in field pertaining to health services, however a master’s degree with an emphasis in the specific field health care are sometimes preferred. Strong growth within the field is expected, as the BLS predicts that jobs for medical and health services managers should increase by 22% through the year 2020. However, remember that job prospects and salaries will vary, depending on the individual.

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