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Public Health FAQs

What is Public Health?

The field of Public Health focuses on improving the quality of life and preventing diseases within communities. According to the American Public Health Association, “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play” (APHA, 2020).

Do you need a master's degree? What are the differences in Masters of Public Health (MPH) programs?

A master’s degree is not necessarily required for a career in the Public Health sector. Many jobs in the field may have a master’s degree or even a PhD/doctorate requirement, but many jobs can be had with just a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees in Public Health can differ on the types of things they emphasize in. This can include both a Master’s in Public Health, or a Master’s of Science in Public Health. Each of these have different areas of expertise that can be studied based on the institution attended. Some common emphasis areas are Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Policy, or Education. 

What are the differences in General vs HEP emphasis?

Both of these emphasis areas help to prepare students for a career in the field of Public Health, but focus on different areas. The general Public Health degree allows students to get a general knowledge about each sector in Public Health, and to have more room to explore areas like business and the nonprofit sector. The Health Education and Promotion or HEP emphasis teaches students the in’s and out’s of the world of being a health educator and health policy writer. The courses are more specific to the HEP field compared to the General degree. 

The general public health degree is a broader base, and lays down a more foundational level, while the HEP emphasis focuses on the eight core competencies laid down by the NCHEC:

Area I: Assessment of Needs and Capacity

Area II: Planning

Area III: Implementation

Area IV: Evaluation and Research

Area V: Advocacy

Area VI: Communication

Area VII: Leadership and Management

Area VIII: Ethics and Professionalism

What are the differences between Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Certified Public Health (CPH) certification?

Both the CHES and CPH are types of certifications that can be achieved to show that the knowledge gained from a degree in Public Health has been mastered. Both focus primarily on the topics covered throughout the process of earning a Public Health degree. Both certification exams can be sat for once courses for the degree are completed. Although both of the certifications are offered through the National Committees, The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing does the CHES or “Certified Health Education Specialist ” which is accredited, while the CPH comes from the “National Board of Public Health Examiners”, and is not currently accredited. In order to sit for the CPH, you must have five or more years of work experience in the field. A CHES certification is more for those interested in Health Education and Promotion, while a CPH is more on the General/EOHS route, The CHES requires a degree in the HEP background, and tests on the eight areas of competency covered in the degree path. 

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What kinds of jobs can you get with a Public Health Degree?

Some career options in Public Health include public administrator, community health worker, healthcare administrator, policy analyst, community outreach coordinator, health services manager, health officer, operations manager, public health emergency preparedness coordinator, public health program specialist, and public health information officer. With a General Emphasis, examples of career options may include community health worker, community outreach specialist, or nonprofit program coordinator. With an EOHS emphasis, examples of career options may include environmental compliance officer, environmental health scientist, or occupational safety specialist. And with a HEP emphasis some career options may include health coach or health education specialist.