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Public Health Major

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Public Health

15,589 Master's Degrees Annually
975 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#12 in Popularity (Master's)
$75,690 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public Health Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many public health graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 15,589
Graduate Certificate 1,648
Doctor’s Degree 975

What Public Health Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to public health were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Public Health Majors

Public Health majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for Public Health Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to public health:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Public Health Majors

Public Health majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Public Health Major?

People with a public health degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Community Health Workers 17.9% $39,540
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health 11.1% $71,130
Epidemiologists 8.2% $69,660
Health Educators 14.6% $54,220
Health Specialties Professors 25.9% $97,370
Industrial Ecologists 11.1% $71,130
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists 8.1% $73,020
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians 9.9% $50,780
Physicists 14.5% $120,950

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Public Health?

15,589 Master's Degrees Annually
75% Percent Women
42% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen graduate majors. It is the 12th most popular in the country with 15,589 students graduating with a master’s in public health in 2019. This major is dominated by women with about 75% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of public health majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Public Health Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,908
Black or African American 2,378
Hispanic or Latino 1,659
White 6,652
International Students 1,342
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,650

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Public Health, too. About 8.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria
  • Canada

How Much Do Public Health Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in public health have a median salary of $48,300 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $42,200 (25th percentile) and $54,500 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a public health degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Public Health majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $59,660 to $113,730 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Public Health Major  ( 59660 to 113730 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with public health may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for public health careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.7%
Some College Courses 0.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 10.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 42.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.2%
Master’s Degree 27.5%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.4%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.8%
Doctoral Degree 9.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 5.2%

Online Public Health Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 691 schools offered some type of public health program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 59 12
Certificate (1-2 years) 23 3
Certificate (2-4 Years) 2 0
Associate’s Degree 94 10
Bachelor’s Degree 212 83
Post-Baccalaureate 59 12
Master’s Degree 569 170
Post-Master’s 48 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 177 15
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 10 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 5 2

Is a Degree in Public Health Worth It?

The median salary for a public health grad is $75,690 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 90% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $715,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public health.

Major Number of Grads
Nursing 63,380
Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions 23,124
Medicine 19,720
Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences 16,970
Health & Medical Administrative Services 14,633
Mental & Social Health Services 14,322
Allied Health Professions 11,260
Communication Sciences 9,970
Osteopathic Medicine 6,700
Dentistry 6,403
Veterinary Medicine 3,297
Alternative Medicine & Systems 2,714
Chiropractic 2,608
Dietetics & Clinical Nutrition Services 2,301
Optometry 1,747
Advanced Dentistry & Oral Sciences 1,654
Health Sciences & Services 1,526
Medical Illustration & Informatics 1,418
Other Health Professions 1,292
Health/Medical Prep Programs 1,117
Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science 842
Medical Science 809
Podiatry 579
Bioethics/Medical Ethics 553
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 475
Veterinary Biomedical & Clinical Services 455
Alternative Medical Support Services 129
Dental Support Services 83
Movement & Mind-Body Therapies 79
Energy & Biologically Based Therapies 34
Ophthalmic & Optometric Support Services 19
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 3
Health Aids/Attendants/Orderlies 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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