Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Public Health Nursing Emphasis

Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Public Health Nursing

Offered By: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Focus Your Nursing Studies and Career in Public Health

Grand Canyon University's Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Public Health Nursing can prepare you to be actively involved in the coordination, planning, development, implementation and evaluation of health programs and services. It is designed for nurses interested in disease prevention and community and population health.

Public health nursing is a nursing specialty that focuses on population health in an effort to prevent disease and disability, and promote wellness. As an aspiring public health nurse, you will have the opportunity to define, assess and help create solutions to current public health concerns. You will also have the opportunity to evaluate emerging treatments and policies that can help change the public health landscape and reduce the prevalence of disease, injuries and other medical conditions.

You can explore public health nursing competencies from virtually anywhere with convenient online classes from GCU. Our interactive e-learning platform enables you to access course material digitally and enjoy academically stimulating discussions with your peers and instructors while you continue to meet your current obligations. You can benefit from the same quality of instruction online as you would in a classroom on campus.1

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While many public health nursing students enjoy the convenience of online classes, you could alternatively choose to earn your MSN: public health nursing emphasis by taking evening courses at GCU’s campus. Evening classes could be ideal for you if you enjoy face-to-face interactions with your peers and instructors, yet still need a flexible schedule to accommodate your current professional obligations.

Pursue Potential Career Advancement With Public Health Nursing Courses

In this master’s in nursing program, you will examine content and knowledge from both nursing and public health fields. You will explore public health policies, theories, principles and their applications to practical situations. As part of the program, you will complete an evidence-based practice project tailored to your specific area of interest. This program also culminates with a practicum experience, in which you will apply public health nursing concepts and skills in a public health setting.

Public Health Nurse Competencies

Competencies for this program include:

  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Health policy and advocacy
  • Population assessment
  • Health prevention strategies
  • Program planning and evaluation

As a graduate of the master’s in nursing: public health nursing emphasis, you can provide population-based care that is respectful of human dignity and patient autonomy in accordance with Christian principles. You can recognize the unique role patients’ spirituality and your own spirituality plays in healthcare decision-making processes and management of care. You will be taught to advocate for ethical healthcare policies, and promote public health and wellness in efforts to reduce health disparities, as well as improve the quality of life for diverse communities and populations.

Career Paths for Graduates With a Public Health Nursing Emphasis

Public health nursing courses can prepare you to pursue a broad range of careers in this subfield. Graduates may go on to explore positions in areas such as:2

  • Public health
  • Clinical research
  • Epidemiology
  • Health services
  • Clinical trials
  • Medical writing

Earn Your Master’s in Nursing From an Institutionally Accredited University

As you consider your choice of schools and programs for your master’s in nursing, it’s important to ensure that the school you choose is institutionally accredited. Accreditation is a reflection of the quality of the school. GCU is an institutionally accredited university that pursues academic excellence.

The baccalaureate degree programs in nursing, the master’s degree programs in nursing, the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and the post-graduate APRN certificate programs at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university approvals, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page.

MSN: Public Health Nursing Emphasis FAQs

Before heading back to school, take the time to carefully consider your career path choices so that you can make an informed decision for your future. Read through our frequently asked questions to learn more about public health nursing and earning your MSN.

Public health nurses and community health nurses are both professionals who work to improve the health of communities, with a focus on health education. However, there are some differences. Public health nurses focus on the goal of preventing illnesses across a population, as well as promoting wellness and healthy practices. They work as advocates for populations. In contrast, community health nurses track and review health-related resources that communities have access to, and they work more directly with the public. They function as advocates for individuals within the community.3

Public health nurses work with individuals and families that make up communities and the systems that affect those communities. They work in a variety of settings including health departments, schools, homes, community health centers, clinics, correctional facilities and worksites.4

A public health nurse’s primary focus is to work toward disease and injury prevention, as well as the promotion of health and safety for a population. Working from health departments, clinics and other agencies, public health nurses serve as advocates for entire communities. They design and implement health education campaigns to raise awareness about a particular issue that is affecting the population.5

A public health nurse can have a significant impact on an entire population of people. Through their work, members of a community can be empowered to improve their health by reducing the risk of diseases and injuries, and learning how to make healthier lifestyle choices. Public health nursing is also crucial for increasing access to care and connecting communities to the health services they need.6

As you get ready to begin your master’s in nursing, there are a few things you can do to prepare. First, make any necessary adjustments to your schedule to accommodate your courses, particularly if you’re planning on taking evening classes on campus. It’s also a good idea to set aside time in your schedule for studying and completing assignments.

Prepare to make a positive impact on the health of whole communities as a public health nurse. Apply today for enrollment in GCU’s MSN: public health nursing emphasis program. Learn more by filling out the form on this page.

1 Online courses exclude programs with residencies and field experience.

2 Indeed. (2023, March 16). Jobs you can pursue with a master’s in public health (MPH). Indeed. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2023.

3 Indeed. (2022, June 24). Public health nursing vs. community health nursing. Indeed. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2023.

4 Association of Public Health Nurses. (n.d.). What is a PHN? Association of Public Health Nurses. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2023.

5 CDC NERD Academy. (n.d.). Public health nurse. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2023.

6 White, A. (2022, November 21). Public health nursing and its importance. Nursing CE Central. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2023.

Total Credits: 40
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

40 credits
Degree Requirements:
40 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course examines nursing theory and the role of ethics for advanced registered nurses within the Christian worldview and through a leadership perspective focused on improving health care outcomes. Learners explore the moral/ethical responsibilities and legal and regulatory obligations of advanced registered nurses in health promotion and disease prevention. Learners also review evidence-based practice (EBP) literature and the research process with application to their program of study and learn to navigate scholarly EBP literature, resources, and guidelines.

Course Description

This course examines the role of leadership, organizational science, policy, and informatics in supporting safe, high-quality, cost-effective patient care within interprofessional, dynamic health care environments. Learners explore various organizational relationships within health care systems and prepare to participate in the design of cost-effective, innovative models of care delivery and practice change proposals. Professional leadership theories and how they shape the nurse leader in such things as collaboration, conflict resolution, decision-making, and negotiation are introduced. Learners discuss change management theories and evaluate the ethical, social, legal, economic, and political implications of practice change and health care informatics along with strategies for managing human, fiscal, and health care resources in a variety of organizational systems. Learners also examine the uses of patient-care, information systems, and communication technologies and discuss the design, implementation, and evaluation of electronic health record systems and clinical decision support systems.

Course Description

In this course learners examine the process of scientific inquiry, knowledge generation, utilization, and dissemination of evidence into advanced nursing practice in order to propose quality-improvement initiatives that advance the delivery of safe, high-quality care for patient populations. Learners critically evaluate evidence, including scientific findings from the biopsychosocial fields, epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics, and genomics, and apply levels of evidence and theoretical frameworks to design culturally appropriate clinical prevention interventions and population-based care that reduces risks, prevents disease, and promotes health and well-being. Learners also consider strategies to evaluate health policy and advocacy issues, the state of health care delivery, patient-centered care, and ethical principles related to health beliefs, health promotion, and risk reduction for diverse populations. Learners apply these strategies to work towards recognizing gaps in nursing and health care knowledge, identifying potential solutions or innovations for those gaps, planning and implementing practice changes, and evaluating the outcomes in order to improve practice. Prerequisites: NUR-513 and NUR-514.

Course Description

This course provides an opportunity for learners to complete their evidence-based practice (EBP) project proposal that addresses a problem, issue, or concern in their specialty area of professional practice. Learners previously identified a problem amenable to a research-based intervention, searched the literature, and proposed a solution. Now learners will explore implementation considerations and various evaluation methodologies, complete the project proposal by developing a plan to implement the solution into the intended practice area, and design an evaluation plan that will assess the EBP project proposal's intended outcome(s). Prerequisite: NUR-550.

Course Description

This course examines the evolving landscape of public health nursing, including the various roles and settings for public health nursing practice. Learners learn about the influence of social, behavioral, and cultural factors on health. Learners appraise theoretical frameworks useful for understanding and improving quality and community and population health while considering influential developments in the field and the regulatory, legal, and ethical guidelines that inform practice. Prerequisite: NUR-590.

Course Description

This course introduces epidemiological principles and methods to study, quantify, and assess the distribution and determinants of disease among populations. Learners examine the influence of biological and social factors on population health, including epigenetics, infectious disease, and foodborne illnesses. Learners evaluate epidemiologic study designs and apply measures of association as methods for determining relationships. Prerequisite: PUB-520 or PHN-600.

Course Description

This course introduces learners to the application and interpretation of data to assess, design, and justify public health programs. Learners learn the basics of data management and statistical analysis using real-life public health data sets. Learners consider the implications of crafting a clear research question, identifying available and quality data, applying appropriate data analysis methods, and effectively communicating the results. Research standards and ethics are emphasized in contributing to evidence-based public health practice. Prerequisite: PUB-540.

Course Description

In this course, learners closely examine concepts of population health in order to design health promotion and disease prevention interventions for diverse populations. Beginning with the selection of appropriate models for evidence-based interventions, learners assess a population and propose the most appropriate intervention based on available evidence. Learners also consider the financial, regulatory, legal, and ethical aspects of population-based interventions and methods for evaluating outcomes. Prerequisite: NUR-590.

Course Description

In this course, learners synthesize the impact of globalization on community health and the complexities of partnering with communities for development among resource-constrained populations. Learners review the history of international public health efforts and theories underpinning current global health initiatives. There is an emphasis on the role of faith and ministry-based organizations in global health advocacy and initiatives. Learners examine the challenges of building real collaboration across public, private, and local entities, and explore best practices for the integration of faith-based and professional public health principles to establish sustainable local development. Prerequisite: PUB-540.

Course Description

This course provides learners with the opportunity to apply public health nursing knowledge and skills in various public health settings. Learners formulate public health assessments and interventions for improving quality health outcomes for populations in their selected setting while enhancing their leadership and collaboration skills with professionals in the field. Practicum/field experience hours: 150. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in the program of study and clearance from the Office of Field Experience.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.