Public Health

Masters of Public Health (MPH)
From conducting scientific research to educating about health, people in the field of public health work to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. That can mean vaccinating children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Or educating people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. Public health sets safety standards to protect workers and develops school nutrition programs to ensure kids have access to healthy food.

Why is Public Health Important?

Public health works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems.

Public health saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering.

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.

While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.

Some examples of the many fields of public health:

  • First responders
  • Restaurant inspectors
  • Health educators
  • Scientists and researchers
  • Nutritionists
  • Community planners
  • Social workers
  • Epidemiologists
  • Public health physicians
  • Public health nurses
  • Occupational health and safety professionals
  • Public policymakers

USF offers a BS in Public Health degree and many students interested in a career in public health may pursue a MPH degree. While an undergraduate degree in public health may be helpful, it is not a requirement for graduate programs.

Academic Preparation

While prerequisites can vary, many MPH programs require a breadth of coursework that can differ depending on the specialty you are pursuing. You will most likely be expected to take some coursework in the sciences and social sciences area.

To research programs and their various requirements: 

Sample coursework can include:

  • Mathematics 
  • Biological Sciences 
  • Social Sciences for 
  • Introduction to Public Health course 

Sample prerequisites for:


Work experience in public health fields is highly preferred by most strong MPH programs. This can include community, health promotion, or health-related practice or research, depending on your area of interest. Most students admitted to programs have two years or more of paid work experience. It is strongly urged that you have worked in a professional capacity in public health or related fields.

Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University provides a list of all areas of concentrations for their MPH programs.

Looking to get involved at USF? Check out Health Promotion Services (HPS) for opportunities to volunteer or serve as a resource for your fellow students.

The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) has a list of undergraduate public health internships.

Application Components

Most MPH programs use SOPHAS, a centralized application service. This allows you to apply to multiple schools with one application. While many programs offer multiple start terms, it is still most common to begin in the fall. Many deadlines will occur in the fall. 

This is Public Health walks you through the steps of identifying programs, signing up for a SOPHAS account and researching scholarships.