How Long Does It Take to Get a Public Health Degree?

Doctors and nurses forming hands together in circle

Public health is a dynamic field that involves studying health behaviors, risk factors and other conditions that impact an entire population. Whereas a doctor and direct care nursing staff work directly with patients, a public health professional works with a community to investigate health trends and promote proactive, disease-preventive behaviors. Public health professionals strive to make impactful, positive differences in the health outcomes of communities and populations by promoting evidence-based public health interventions at the individual, system and societal levels. The length of time it will take you to earn your public health degree depends on several factors, including whether you are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree In Public Health?

Four years is the standard timeframe for earning a bachelor’s degree in any subject, including public health. However, in some situations, it may take longer than four years. For some students, attending part-time may be necessary to balance personal and professional demands with educational expectations, which can lengthen the time to complete a degree. For students who attend full-time, time to completion of a bachelor’s degree may be closer to the standard four year timeframe.

Alternatively, some students may complete a bachelor’s degree in fewer than four years. It is possible to take summer classes and extra courses online to accelerate your graduation date. Some institutions may transfer in credit awarded to students who completed Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses allow high school students to earn college credit without being enrolled in a higher education institution. If your university accepts the AP credit toward your graduation requirements, it may take you less time to graduate.

It is always wise to make sure you understand the degree requirements before enrolling in a program. Check with your academic advisor to ensure you stay on track to graduate within your preferred timeframe. It is customary for different colleges to require students to complete a set number of general education credits, major-specific courses and electives. In a bachelor’s in public health degree program, students can expect to study some of the following topics:

  • Epidemiological research design and methods
  • Community assessment and planning
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Public health policy and financing
  • Implementation and evaluation of public health interventions

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree In Public Health?

Master’s degrees in public health typically take students an average of two years to complete. This is generally true for a Master of Public Health degree program, although this is dependent on university requirements. As with a bachelor’s degree program, you should always check the degree requirements before enrolling in a master’s program.

You will typically begin with an introductory course designed to familiarize you with graduate-level work and introduce you to public health concepts and frameworks before exploring degree-specific courses that cover topics such as the following:

  • Principles of epidemiology
  • Interpretation and application of public health data
  • Public health advocacy and policy
  • International perspectives in community health

Should Professionals Take the Time to Earn a Graduate-Level Public Health Degree?

The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is the flagship degree for public health professionals. Earning a master’s degree in public health can become a heavy investment for working professionals. However, it can provide opportunities for advancement in the field of public health. If you want to move forward in your career trajectory and apply for higher-level positions, earning your master’s degree can make you a more competitive candidate for those jobs. Further, you will have the opportunity to make an in-depth exploration of public health topics to better serve your community through your work.

Grand Canyon University is a leader in healthcare education, with a focus on 21st century healthcare technologies and evidence-based practices. To learn about the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions or our Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Master of Public Health, please visit our website or click on the Request Information button on this page.

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