A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will teach you to work in the public sphere of health and safety. Your MPH will prepare you to work in a wide range of healthcare settings such as government agencies, non-profit organizations, and traditional healthcare providers such as hospitals and clinics.
An emphasis in administration means you will work for the most part behind the scenes: running the organization in a managerial position. Once you have earned your master's in public health-administrative emphasis you will be qualified to oversee hospitals, clinics, medical practices, and other organizations within the healthcare industry.
A master’s in public health with an emphasis on administration will give you the skills to direct, coordinate, and plan public health services. Many with this degree work for state or federal organizations as well as non-governmental and non-profit organizations that focus on the health of the public in general. You might also decide to work with a specific demographic of the public such as low income, preschool children, or senior citizens as a special focus group.
The healthcare industry in general is expanding rapidly and public health administrators are no exception. Once you earn your degree and have a few years experience you can expect to be in high demand and you'll earn an excellent income.
Administration in public health covers a wide range of duties and the ideal candidate must have or learn many different skills to perform efficiently in this role. Because of this the school curriculum is both varied and rigorous in order to assure you have mastered all of the various aspects of the administrative field.
Not all schools are created equal, so you'll need to learn what to look for in a college or university before enrolling. One of the most important things to verify before enrollment is that your school of choice is properly accredited, so your degree has value to your future employers.
What is a Master’s in Public Health?
A master’s in public health concentrates on health on the local community or state level through research, education, and good health promotion. In public health the emphasis is on prevention rather than treatment of illnesses so in your role as administrator you might be involved in emergency preparation, the promotion of vaccinations, environmental health, prenatal health, and similar areas where the health of the public is practiced.
Although you've chosen the administrative emphasis a master’s in public health is a perfect career choice if you wish to specialize in a certain area of the public. This degree emphasis focuses on overseeing practice rather than research or education but may overlap if you wish to manage a research center or public health school.
Your MPH prepares you primarily for a leadership or management role within the public health system. You may be in charge of an entire organization or one area within a state government; a role within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is an excellent example of a field you might pursue.
Career and Salary Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) public health administrators fall under the category of medical and health services managers and are going to be in very high demand over the next decade. The field as a whole is expected to grow at an astounding rate of 20 percent, for the most part due to the aging baby boomer population.
While the median annual salary in 2017 was $98,350 the highest 10 percent, which typically represents those with a Master’s degree or higher and some experience, earned a robust salary of $176,130 per year. Your own possible salary range will depend on the field you choose to specialize in.
Your MPH will qualify you for an extensive range of jobs so it's important that you narrow your choices during your degree program if at all possible. That way you can add specialty subjects to your curriculum for the field you'd like to enter. Here are some examples of jobs you'll be able to qualify for once you earn your degree:
- Correctional medicine administrator: manage the medical department within a correctional system.
- Director of emergency medical services: oversee the emergency services system within a health care organization.
- Disaster preparedness coordinator: coordinate and develop disaster plans and emergency responses.
- Environmental health director: manage a variety of different fields to lead on the environmental impact on health.
- Health commissioner: oversee the development of new products and services to enhance the overall health care delivery system.
- Health legislative assistant: work with lobbying senators and congressmen to manage their interests in public health issues when asking for new legislation
- NGO Manager: Lead a non-government organization that focuses on public health
- Population health manager: focus is on whole populations and the issues that affect their health and help them devise strategies to improve their overall health.
- Public health administrator: manage and oversee hospitals to identify areas within the administration where improvements can be made
- Water resource management specialist: manage a community’s water supply
- Regulatory coordinator: oversee clinical trials to ensure better outcomes in public health
- Public health project manager: focus on new projects, implement, develop, and monitor the effects of new projects
Although your MPH is directed to the public your degree will also qualify you for jobs in the private sector. Here are some examples of careers in private healthcare administration:
- Hospital administrator: run the day-to-day business of a hospital
- Health administrator: administration of health services including hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities
- Chief medical officer: oversee programs and staff within various health care institutions
- Communications director: oversee the communications department within a large health care organization
Because public health administrators must learn a wide range of information they must also have a diverse set of skills and talents in order to absorb and implement what they learn. Here are some of the skills you should have if you want to pursue this career field:
- Analytical: be able to analyze the current and changes in rules and regulations that affect the industry and your organization
- Communication: you'll need to be able to communicate with peers, professionals, and employees in both oral and written format
- Interpersonal: administrators are usually in charge of personnel and also interact with doctors and other professionals
- Leadership: as manager or administrator you'll be the one in charge so you'll need to have problem solving skills and be able to hire, train, evaluate, and motivate your staff
- Technology: learn the latest programs that are used in your industry. Medical coding, classification, and electronic health records are a few examples
There are many traits you'll need to have or learn by the time you receive your degree. Here are some qualities of a good healthcare administrator:
- Attention to detail
- Able to collaborate
- Financial and accounting skills
- Innovative thinker
- Team leader
As mentioned above the curriculum for a master's in public health-administration emphasis is rigorous. Although each school will have a different curriculum with different course names the following will give you a good idea of the type and variety of courses you'll be required to take in order to earn your degree:
- Advanced Health Policy
- Advanced Health Quality
- Advanced Organizational Behavior
- Budgeting and Cost-Cutting
- Business Policy and Decision Making
- Community Health Assessment
- Evidence Based Decision Making for Management
- Facility Networking
- Financial Allocations and Purchases
- Healthcare Economics
- Human Resource Management
- Influencing Healthcare Policy
- Introduction to US Healthcare Systems
- Leadership Skills for Managers
- Laws and Regulation
- Maximizing Facility Efficiency
- Planning and Coordinating of Healthcare Services
- Principles of Epidemiology
- Public Health Administration Practices
- Research Methods in Public Health
- Staff Management and Scheduling
- Strategic Success
- Public Health Administration Capstone Course
Your school may also require you to do an internship as part of your degree program. Many internships are available at the state and federal level and you should look for one that showcases your knowledge and abilities as it will influence your prospective employers after you graduate and are ready to enter the field. For example, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has a Public Health Internship program where you can work in your field of choice; after you finish school you can put this experience on your resume.
Choosing the Right Program
Your personal circumstances may have a lot to do with your school of choice. If you're already working in the field of healthcare, you may need to take online or night classes in order to meet your employment obligations. If you plan to attend a traditional college or university you may be limited by distance or transportation. The important thing to remember is to choose a school that meets your education goals and will be recognized when you're ready to enter the field of administration.
If you already have a specialty in mind you can narrow your choice of schools to those who offer courses in that area. For example, if you plan to work in emergency preparation you'll want a school that offers insight into that field. Likewise, if your goal is to work with disadvantaged populations you'll want to take additional classes on diversity and the special needs of your focus group.
If you think you may continue your education to earn your doctorate degree look for a program that is accepted for a PhD. It's a good idea to ask advice from several people who work in your field of choice and find out where they earned their degree and what they liked and disliked about the program they took.
The most important thing to look for when choosing a Master of Public Health Administration program is to verify it is accredited. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) as an accreditation agency for schools of public health. This means the school has met the standard criteria for the programs it offers. Accreditation is important because it will be considered by your future employers and will also be necessary if you choose to continue your education.
The Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health accredits the specific programs of a school. They are the nationally recognized agency that assures a program meets national standards.
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) offers accreditation specific to healthcare administration.
Although not an accreditation the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) is a U.S. credentialing board that offers a certification exam for public health. Look for a school that is affiliated with the NBPHE so you can add this credential to your resume once you enter the field.