The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) and the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) are interdisciplinary professional degrees awarded for studies in areas related to public health. The MPH degree focuses on public health practice, as opposed to research or teaching. Master of Public Health programs are available throughout the world in Schools of Public Health, Programs in Public Health, Medical Schools, and Schools of Public Affairs. MPH degrees, in addition to including a core curriculum, will usually also let students pursue a specialization in a specific field, such as epidemiology, biostatistics, or health management.
A professional degree is one that, based on its learning objectives and types of positions its graduates pursue, prepares students with a broad mastery of the subject matter and methods necessary in a field of practice; it typically requires students to develop the capacity to organize, analyze, interpret and communicate knowledge in an applied manner.
In some countries the MPH program is only available for physician graduates (MBBS, MD, DO, or equivalent). In those countries, individuals without a medical degree may enter a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) or Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) programs.
The DrPH degree is for those who intend to pursue or advance a professional practice career in public health and for leaders and future leaders in public health practice. They face the particular challenge of understanding and adapting scientific knowledge in order to achieve health gain and results. This degree leads to a career in high-level administration, teaching, or practice, where advanced analytical and conceptual capabilities are required. The usual requirement for entry into this program is a master's degree in Public Health (MPH). The DrPH program develops in its candidates all competencies included in MPH programs, with increased emphasis on high level skills in problem-solving and the application of public health concepts.
In the United States, any person with an accredited undergraduate degree may pursue an MPH or MSPH and usually takes two-years of full-time work to complete. Based on the accreditation of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an MPH or MSPH is not a clinical degree. However, some states in the United States recognize MPH holders as ancillary clinical professionals (and patient-facing clinical staff) especially with regard to preventive medicine, health education, and other functions in the clinical and hospital environments. In fact, most hospital systems have MPH public health staff to study disease trends and help to combat hospital-acquired infections (nosocomial infections) and immediately determine epidemiologic trends, for example, flu outbreak tendencies, etc.
The traditional MPH degree is designed to expose candidates to five core discipline areas of public health:
CPH is the only public health board certification available in the United States for public health professionals. In 2008, the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE), United States-based credentialing board, began offering the certification exam (CPH) designed to test mastery of the core competencies of the public health professionals.
The NBPHE's Board of Directors primarily represents five key collaborating organizations: the American Public Health Association, the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, the Association of Schools of Public Health, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The board is dedicated to increasing recognition of the public health profession, raising the visibility of public health, and measuring and improving the competency of public health workers across the nation and around the world.
The Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health represents the accredited and emerging graduate programs across the United States that grant public health degrees and therefore prepare students for professional careers in public health. The Council encourages, promotes and supports universities, schools and colleges in developing, maintaining, and advancing graduate programs in the disciplines of preventive medicine, social medicine, community health and public health. The Council is sponsored by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research.
In the United Kingdom, the MPH or MSc in Public Health is usually a one-year full-time program. Taught modules typically account for two thirds of the MPH and a project one third. Students may be medical or non-medical graduates. Degrees vary in their content, but most cover similar areas of public health. Because of the key role played by public health practitioners in the NHS a UK MPH also often includes health economics.
Degrees that include a substantial epidemiological component are more selective and some require applicants to demonstrate ability before applying, by completion of an online test MPH Selection Test.
In the UK specialist accreditation in public health is provided by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH). Specialist accreditation is through participation in a four-year program analogous to specialist training for doctors. Specialist trainees must pass an examination, demonstrably achieve certain skills and submit a portfolio of work. However specialist training in public health is also open to non-doctors.
In India, the MPH degree course is a two-year Post graduate course or a post graduate diploma of one year (DPH), approved by the Medical council of India, which is open to candidates with a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university, with at least 50% marks. But preference is given to applicants having a bachelor's degree in any of the health related fields - Medical, dental, pharmacy, physiotherapy, nursing, AYUSH and paramedical sciences; veterinary sciences and from management; natural sciences (incl. biology); social sciences and social work; statistics; engineering; law; commerce or accounting, communication etc. In some institutions preference will be given to MBBS doctors. Relevant work experience in health or development sector will be an advantage but not mandatory. In India, job opportunities for MPH graduates with a medical degree is generally good, but for others (non medical MPH graduates) it is not clear.
The MPH degree in India is covers all major disciplines of public health including Environment and Health, Gender issues, Public Health Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health but some institutes offer specialization such as Social epidemiology, Health Policy, Health and Development, Health System Management, Economics or Finance. .
Topics covered during the course include Social Epidemiology including Chronic and Infectious disease Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, Gender Issues in Health, Health Policy Analysis and Health Administration, Social and behavioral sciences, Health System Management, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Health and Development, Health Economics, Public Health Nutrition, National Health Programs, Medical Anthropology, Research Methodology, Public Health Ethics and Law.