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Questions to Ask When Considering Earning an Online MPH Degree

Health care jobs are expected to soar 19 percent through 2024, nearly three times the growth for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(1) As a result, making a decision to obtain a graduate degree in public heath may be a relatively easy first step.

Selecting which university to earn the coveted Master of Public Health (MPH) can be a bit more challenging. Prospective students need to ask themselves some basic questions. The answers to those questions may affect their choices as to which university is right for them.

To ease the journey, Benedictine University offers these crucial questions to ask yourself as you evaluate which university is the right fit for you.

1.) How long does it take to earn an MPH degree?

Most institutions offer an online MPH degree that takes two to two-and-a-half years to complete, but some have an accelerated program that can be completed in less time.(2) In addition to the coursework, students may be required to devote a certain amount of time to gaining practical experience in their fields of concentration.(3) For some, it could include at least 200 hours of supervised work.(2)

2.) How long has the institution been offering the program online?

Should you decide to earn your MPH online, this question is crucial because it may indicate how experienced the faculty and institution are with online learning. It also affects the alumni network as a school that has offered an online program longer may have a broader geographic network. A school with more time in market also likely has more experience with more preceptors. A number of universities are new to offering online degree programs, so it is a question worth asking.

3.) How will I interact with the faculty as an online student?

There is often a misconception about online learning that interaction with faculty isn’t as frequent as it is for a campus program. This is not necessarily true for all online programs. Some universities require online faculty to hold weekly office hours, respond to student questions within a certain amount of time and comment on discussion board posts. Prospective students should ask what is required of faculty in terms of student engagement.

4.) Is the institution accredited?

The Institute of Medicine has been pressuring U.S. universities and colleges to add accreditation to their MPH programs, a move to have an appropriate degree of training and education passed on to the students.(3)

The Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH) is the only independent agency recognized to accredit graduate schools of public health as well as the graduate public health programs.

Benedictine University’s online Master of Public Health degree is among those programs that are accredited by the CEPH. 

Read more about why CEPH accreditation is important to MPH students.

5.) What support and resources do you offer online students?

It’s critical to understand what resources will be available to you as an online student. For example, who should you contact if you are not able to log on to the class? Will 24/7 tech support be offered? Outside of support questions, there are also the resource questions such as whether there is access to a librarian, career center, tutoring service and writing center.

Armed with this information, now it’s time to put that knowledge to use and interview prospective colleges and universities.

Read more about the support services offered to Benedictine online students. 

6.) What is the advantage of doing an internship versus a thesis?

With a thesis, students will generally do extensive research on a project that will give them deep knowledge about a particular topic. However, an internship provides actual working experience. That experience could give you an edge over other candidates when applying for positions because employers tend to favor actual hands-on experience rather than theoretical experience. As a result, it is wise to inquire whether an online degree program offers an internship.&;

7.) What are your career interests?

Do you want to perform the various tasks required in a public health position, or would you prefer doing research and teaching?

If it’s the latter, be aware only a smattering of colleges and universities offer a master’s or Ph.D. in Public Health that would set you on a course to become a professor or researcher.(2) As a result, it is good to inquire if such a track is provided at the institution you’re considering.

8.) What are your areas of interest?

A number of public health colleges and universities offer areas of concentration: epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, health care administration, environmental health, and health policy and management. In addition, some institutions have sub-specialties such as infectious diseases, child and adolescent health, and health systems and policy.(2) You should make sure to ask if the college you are considering offers the concentration that interests you.


(1) Healthcare Occupations, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

(2) How to Choose the Best MPH Degree, Careers in Public

(3) Master’s /MPH in Public Health Degree Programs, Public Health