MPH Program Rankings
One of the first places people look for information on the quality of a college or university is the ranking lists released annually or every few years by longstanding rating agencies. The U.S. News and World Report ranking is one of the most nationally popular “best college” lists, and there are dozens of other reputable organizations that weigh in on which schools shine the brightest academically and in other domains. Looking at ratings is a fine way to get a general idea about a school’s quality, but the number of factors that need to be examined, and the amount of subjectivity around school quality (i.e. a school that is right for one person might be terrible for someone else), means that a college-ranking list should never override your own diligent research into the aspects of colleges that matter to you. A few characteristics you should find out about any college you apply to, which may or may not be included in national rankings, are as follows:
- Tuition Costs: This may seem obvious, but a lot of national rankings don’t include tuition in their metrics. Some rating agencies have a separate list of colleges that give the best value per dollar, but this crucial number isn’t incorporated into the main list.
- Graduation Rate: While it is normal for any school to have some students drop out or transfer away, consider it a warning sign if this number is too high. Good schools work hard to keep their students, and if a college has a lot of students enrolling and only a few graduating, that means something is going wrong in-between. If you can’t find your chosen school’s graduation rate online, ask them for it, and if they won’t divulge it, be wary.
- Employment After Graduation: Some colleges like to boast about the high paying jobs that their students get after graduation. Even colleges who don’t use this as an overt marketing tactic probably track the percentage of their graduates who are gainfully employed within a year of leaving school, and knowing how high the percentage is can help you.
- Retention Rate: The number of students who stay on from year to year is a huge indicator of how good a college is. Most popular rankings use this number as part of their formula, and any college worth its salt will publish this number. If a high percentage of students who enroll at a school don’t come back the next year, that looks bad for the school, and you might want to dig a little deeper to find out why before enrolling there.
- Accreditation: Only apply to accredited schools. The process of accreditation allows colleges to prove that the education they provide is valuable and competitive with that offered by other schools. Accrediting bodies, those organizations that test colleges and universities, must be approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education, so a college that is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission or one of its regional partners essentially has the governmental seal of approval, although the government itself does not directly accredit colleges.
College Rankings Aren’t Everything
Your college choice is deeply subjective. There is no way for a popular rating agency to measure all of the aspects of a school that might make it right for you. A few angles to consider that might make or break a school for you, but that won’t be included on popular ratings, include:
- Schedule Flexibility: Most people who are looking into online colleges are doing so because they’ve got other things on their schedule that can’t be put on pause. If you need a school that will let you take your online courses when you want, and doesn’t require you to be a certain place at a certain time very often, make sure that’s what you’re getting before you even apply.
- Curriculum: If you have a desired specialty in the public health field, you’ll want to take courses that prepare you to work in that specialty. Master of Public Health programs have diverse course offerings, and you’ll want to make sure there’s enough space for electives in your class schedule that you can get the custom education you’re paying for.
- Reputation: If you know someone personally who attended a certain college, and has gone on to use their degree successfully, that’s a much better endorsement than anything you’ll find in print or on the web. Use your personal network of friends and acquaintances to learn more about a school and find out what it is like from people you trust.
Online Resources for Researching Schools
More and more people are doing all of their college research online, especially people who want to go to an online college. Below is a list of online resources that can provide trustworthy information about online and campus colleges, so have the most complete knowledge possible before you start applying.
- College.gov: This is the U.S. government’s one-stop hub for all kinds of information about higher education. The site features links to governmental financial aid options and other college info.
- USA.gov: This site offers an array of information about education and training and how to find a job. Job opportunities within the government, self-employment advice, and tips on how to manage a career in general are all available here.
- National Center for Education Statistics: If you like keeping your finger on the pulse of national trends, and if you’re going into public health, you probably do, then the National Center for Education Statistics can be a goldmine for you. The government compiles all kinds of statistics on every aspect of education, and has made them easily accessible to curious citizens like you.
- U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges List: Take all college ranking lists with a grain of salt. But still take them! These lists contain dense information about a lot of colleges, and they’re a fine place to start your research, as long as it doesn’t stop there.
- Wall Street Journal College Rankings: This college list is based mostly on data about employment after graduation. The WSJ asked a bunch of companies which colleges their best employees came from, and used that to generate a list of schools that actually prepare people to excel in the world of work.
Maximizing Your Master of Public Health Education
There are many schools that don’t make the “Top Three” or even “Top 10” lists that are accredited and have proven they can provide a high quality education. Even if the school you go to is great, though, the quality of your education depends on how much energy you put into it. Here are a few tips for how to squeeze every bit of learning and networking potential out of your online public health program.
- Online classes are a great place to learn what the public health field is like in other parts of the country. Ask your classmates what kind of jobs they’re planning to get, and where. You can learn just as much from your fellow students in online classes as you do from the course materials themselves, if you know how to ask, and do it often.
- Volunteering in a position related to your desired career looks great on a resume, especially if you do it while you’re in school! Show that you’re dedicated to the public health cause by finding somewhere to volunteer, even if it is only one day a week for a few hours. This will also help you get a job later on.
- Financing is a major concern for students at every level of higher education. Make sure you don’t stop looking into financial aid possibilities once you’re in school. Each year, reassess your financial need and do more exploring into sources of outside funding for your education. The graph below shows a slow, general decline in the amount of financial concern incoming freshmen have about their ability to pay for school, courtesy of CollegeBoard.
Make Leaps Toward Getting Your Master of Public Health Degree
Sometimes the hardest thing about going back to school for a master’s degree is just getting started. Once you’ve got momentum and you’re in a routine, you’re set, but that first initial push to get you on your way can be hard to come by, so here it is. People with master’s degrees earn more money, have lower unemployment rates, and have better options for getting a job they want and guiding the direction of their own careers than people who don’t. The sacrifices you have to make to go back to school will only seem more intimidating the longer you wait. Finding out more about a few degree programs and at least taking baby steps toward getting your master’s degree will feel great, and will open your mind to the huge career potential that a graduate degree can unlock.
You can use the widget below to get in touch directly with schools offering accredited online Master of Public Health programs that other students have showed a great deal of interest in. If you aren’t quite ready for that yet, keep reading about the career options, salaries, and other opportunities that are associated with Master of Public Health programs.
Online Degrees in Public Health
Public health is the science of preventing disease and promoting health at the population level. Programs prepare students to become leading public health professionals capable of addressing current global public health problems. By clicking on the logos below, you can receive more information regarding your degree and school of choice.
MS: Public Health
||Southern New Hampshire University – Southern New Hampshire University offers an MS in Public Health that readies graduate students for the business, programming, planning, and policy aspects of public healthcare management. This degree is a 46-credit hour program that includes a compulsory healthcare practicum.|
MPH: Health Promotion
MPH: Global Health
|Liberty University – The Master of Public Health program at Liberty University is focused on the study of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, hazardous materials, natural disasters, psychological effects of disasters, stress intervention, and disaster research. Liberty offers two specializations, Health Promotion and Global Health.|
Master of Public Health
MPH: Health Education
|Kaplan University – Graduates of the Kaplan University MPH program are ready to take their careers to the next stage at the government, nonprofit, or private level. The online program provides students with an education on how to analyze and apply scientific research, prepare public health policies, develop health education programs, and review the impact of occupational and environmental factors. Kaplan offers several specializations within their MPH program, including health education.|
Master of Public Health
MPA: Health Policy
|Walden University – The Walden University MPH degree teaches the development of healthy individuals, organizations, and communities. The program provides core study in the public health field, using real-world teaching methodology, industry leading professors, and a capstone fieldwork practicum. Those interested in policymaking may find Walden's MPA in health policy to be of interest.|
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