Milken Institute School of Public Health
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Are you considering getting your master’s degree in public health (MPH)? You also may be considering getting your master’s of science in nursing (MSN). Most people who are interested in public health will choose the MPH, but note that more nursing programs are now including a nursing in public health component for those who want to combine their passion for both the nursing profession and serving public health.
An MPH is a degree that focuses intensely on the concept of public health practice. This degree is not generally focused on teaching or research. With a master’s degree in public health, you will be eligible for all sorts of job possibilities in the area of public health. For example, you can find work doing research, working with people with community health problems, and also in just crunching numbers for a government agency concerned with public health.
Generally, the MPH is thought to be the #1 professional credential for professionals who work in the public health. This is the degree you should get if you want to get a high end public health position in many state, federal and international government agencies and health organizations.
The topics you will study the most during your master’s in public health studies are:
- Environmental health sciences
- Healthcare systems and financing
- Social and behavioral aspect of health
- Program evaluation
- Quantitative and qualitative research methods
- Law and ethical issues in public health
If you choose to get your master’s in nursing, you also will be working in public health, but you will be training to become a leader or a manager in a professional nursing practice, or in a hospital or medical center. Some of the leading MSN programs, such as at Johns Hopkins, allow you to focus in many different areas of nursing, such as adult/geriatric primary care, family primary care, pediatric primary care, health systems management, and also public health nursing.
Generally, the focus of the MSN curriculum is the process of nursing with very strong components of clinical medicine knowledge, and also concepts of behavioral science. You also should expect to have a lot of work in research skills in nursing and nursing theory application.
If serving as a nurse is as important to you as serving the public health, you may want to consider a MSN and focus on public health nursing. If you are not as interested in the daily routine of nursing, you would want to consider just getting an MPH.