The general populace doesn’t pay much attention to Public Health until there’s a health danger to the general public. With the 2020 COVID pandemic, many Public Health professionals stepped in to navigate, and mitigate, the spread of the virus. Communities and political leaders across the country, and the world, turned to Public Health Departments for recommendations. Infection and death rates began to rise and then decline as a result of the work of Public Health officials, virologists, epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, and others.
Public Health careers range from educator, epidemiologists, medical and health professionals, public policy makers, health program coordinator, and several others. The bachelor’s degree is the foundational education needed to work in the field where salaries range from $41,000-$60,000 annually, depending on the location and concentration.
Best Health Degrees looked at some of the best bachelor’s programs in Public Health to develop this ranking. We reviewed program courses, length of the program, program accreditation, admission requirements, as well as estimated cost. This ranking focuses on first-time students but all schools offer admission for a variety of student groups, such as transfer students. These programs are accredited, most by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Be sure to apply for aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® to see if you qualify for grants and loans. Many schools use the FAFSA for scholarship consideration. As an online program, you’ll also want to check that the school you choose has a state reciprocity agreement with your home state.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Public Health Bachelor’s Programs
To rank the 15 Best Online Public Health Bachelor’s Programs, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. Brigham Young University-Idaho
You can earn this online BS in Public Health that can prepare you for entry-level positions in Community Health, Environmental Health, Emergency Preparedness and Management, Epidemiology and Analysis, or for a graduate program. You can choose from Health Education and Promotion or Health Science concentrations.
The curriculum calls for general education studies and core coursework in Public Health. Among those core classes are studies in Epidemiology, Hospital and Health Administration, Program Planning/Implementation, Environmental Health, as well as Biostatistics. An Internship is a part of the curriculum, regardless of concentration. Depending on your choice of emphasis, you’ll take classes in Human Anatomy and Physiology, Emergency Management, Essentials of Human Nutrition, Introduction to Public Health, Research Methods, and more.
Brigham Young University has two admission tracks. One, the Preferred Path using Pathway Connect, which is recommended for most online students and doesn’t require ACT/SAT tests. The second track, the Advanced Path, is for students who have college and/or online experience. It requires a more detailed application and ACT/SAT scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,240-$15,720/per program
Fast Fact: This university ranked #86 in Forbes America’s Best Value Colleges 2019
2. Mississippi University for Women
Students call this school “The W.” Don’t let the name fool you, this university has been coed since 1982, and offers a completely online B.S. in Public Health.
According to the university’s catalog, classes in this major include studies in Introduction to Public Health, Professional Foundations of Public Health Education, Aging in Public Health, Environmental Public Health, Research in Public Health, as well as Public Health Interventions. Other courses offered are in Infectious Disease and Public Health, Global Health, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Public Health, etc. An internship is also part of your curriculum. General education classes are required to meet the minimum 120 credit hours necessary for the baccalaureate.
As is standard with most school admission policies, you’ll complete an application, provide academic transcripts, official ACT/SAT test scores, and more. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $3,712/per semester ($309 for part-time students per credit hour)
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks The W #18 in Best Value Schools and #21 in Top Public Schools
3. University of North Carolina-Greensboro
If you have an Associate degree or higher, you may want to explore this online B.S. in Public Health from this highly ranked North Carolina university. The 120 credit-hour degree requires you have a prior degree and have prior courses that meet this program’s general education studies.
This program’s curriculum concentrates on disparities in health such as ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status. You’ll take classes in Introduction to Public Health, Race, Ethnicity, & Health, Public Health Diseases, Public Health & Health Care Systems in the US, Gender & Health, Public Health Data Analysis, etc. The program offers a robust listing of electives to complement your major. A Capstone Project culminates the degree and is designed to present your skills and understanding of the discipline.
Admission is simple, asking for academic transcripts (demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA), completion of a UNC-G application and fee, as well as a prior degree. This university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $3,326-$6,089/per semester
Fast Fact: UNC-G is ranked #67 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
4. Murray State University
Located in Kentucky, Murray State University has been in existence since 1922. You can earn a B.S. in Public and Community Health online. Murray State University offers three academic tracks in this major: Healthcare Administration, Health Education and Promotion, and Health Informatics Administration.
As with all bachelor programs, you’ll take general education classes as well as coursework in your major. Core subjects listed in the catalog, show you’ll study include Personal Health, Epidemiology, Chronic and Communicable Diseases, Consumer Health, Senior Seminar in Public and Community Health, Statistics, Biostatistics, and more. You’ll study specific classes depending on your particular academic track to complete this 120-credit hour degree.
You’ll complete an application with a $40 fee, ACT/SAT test scores may be required depending on your high school, or GED, Grade Point Average (2.0-2.99), and you’re encouraged to submit the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FASFA®) as well as apply for university and departmental scholarships.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $382-$580/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Murray State University ranks #823/1,572 in Niche’s Best Value Colleges in America
5. Youngstown State University
You’ll choose between two academic tracks with this online B.S. in Applied Science Public Health (BSAS) program at Youngstown State University, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). (Note: you’ll also want to explore the school’s 4+ 1 Bachelor of Science in Applied Science/Master of Public
Academic tracks options are in Environmental Health and Safety or in Public Health, Promotion/Health Protection. You’re expected to complete general education studies during your first and second years. Following those courses, you’ll begin to take core requirements in subjects such as Health and Disease, Community Health Planning and Promotion, Ethical Issues in Public Health, Crisis Management in Public Health, Community Health, as well as Topics in Public Health. An internship may be required as well. The program can take from 128-130 credit hours for completion.
YSU has several admission categories and you can choose the one that best suits your situation. YSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). (Note: YSU’s Master of Public Health program part of the Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health (CEOMPH). As part of this consortium, the MPH is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $829-$859/per credit hour
Fast Fact: YSU is ranked by Niche at #310/676 in its Top Public Universities in America
6. University of South Florida
The University of Florida has the first CEPH accredited College of Public Health BS in Public Health degree offered in the state. You’ll gain the tools needed for entry into public health positions in government, non-profit organizations, healthcare facilities and others.
The online, 120 credit hours curriculum covers introductory courses in Public Health, US Healthcare, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, Human Diseases, etc. This program offers the ability to declare a minor in Nutrition, Environmental Health, Infection Control, or Community Engaged Homeland Security & Emergency Management.
Admission applications are accepted from the Common, Coalition, or Institution forms with a $30 application processing fee. Other documents requested are SAT/ACT scores, academic transcripts, etc.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,410-$17,324/per academic year
Fast Fact: USF has the #19/222 Best Colleges for Public Health in America from Niche
7. Monroe College
This Bronx, NY college, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), awards a BS in Public Health you can earn online.
Concentrating on injury and disease prevention, public health education, and healthy lifestyle changes. Among the 60 hours required for the major, the curriculum examines Public Health, Medical Terminology, Community Health Program Planning, Research Methodologies in Health Care, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Issues, as well as a Field Experience in Public Health. General education courses are part of the 120-credit hour coursework needed for degree completion.
Online students apply for admission by completing an online application (with a $35 fee), proof of high school diploma (or GED), academic transcripts, as well as a personal essay. All students applying for admission will participate in an interview, which can be done via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or phone.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $7,488/per semester
Fast Fact: Monroe College is included in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
8. Arizona State University
This BS in International Public Health online degree is a collaborative effort between ASU and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. You’ll want to explore this program if your career goals include working globally to improve the health of international communities.
You’ll complete general education classes, typically in your first and second years, and then enroll for courses in your major. Some of those courses include International Indigenous Health, Health Promotion, Public Health and Programs, Ethics in Public Health, Epidemiology for International Public Health, as well as several other classes specifically designed for international health concerns.
There are three admission application options at ASU, the ASU application, the Common Application, or Coalition application. Application fees range from $50-$70. You’ll submit official academic transcripts, the FASFA®, with SAT/ACT scores are optional.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,355-$6,492/per semester
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates ASU #6 in its Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
9. Oakland University
This California school awards a BS in Environmental Health and Safety which will give you a good foundation in the field and prepare you for occupational medicine and environmental engineers.
All courses needed for this 125 credit hours degree are offered online. You’ll complete the university’s general education requirements and core courses in the major. Among those classes are studies in human biology, chemical principles, health sciences statistics, organic and biological chemistry, etc. An internship is recommended. (Note: Oakland University also offers BS Wellness and Health Promotion as well as an accelerated BS to MPH program allowing you to earn both degrees simultaneously.)
You’ll create an admission account by completing a free university application and provide official academic transcripts. Admission for Fall 2021 and 2022 does not require ACT/SAT test scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $449-540/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Oakland University ranks in the top 150 schools with the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs as determined by U.S. News and World Report
10. San Diego State University Global Campus
The School of Public Health at SDSU began in 1976 and awards an online BS in Public Health.
General Education studies are taken in the first two years and the Public Health curriculum requires prerequisite courses in biology, sociology, chemistry, and psychology. The school offers a wide choice of courses in the major from Professionalism & Public Health, Public Health Research, Principles of Human Physiology, Environment and Public Health, and more. Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response, Public Health and Food Safety, Nutrition, and other electives such as Human Sexuality and Disease and Applied International Public Health (Meets International Experience Requirement – In-Person) are offered. Research and field experience/internship is required for program completion.
Admission to San Diego University is simple and straightforward, utilizing the Common application with a $55 fee, academic transcripts, essay, and an academic letter of recommendation. Admission to the Public Health degree program will require you have a specific GPA in several courses.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $7,720-$19,600/per academic year
Fast Fact: The program ranks #31 in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Health programs for 2021
11. Northern Arizona University
Here’s an online BS in Public Health that will give you the fundamental public health concepts to prepare you for an advanced degree or entry-level employment position.
The degree requires the typical 120 credit hours which includes general education studies as well as public health classes. The core studies are in biological science, human anatomy and physiology with a lab, healthy lifestyles, issue in health, active living, and nutrition. You’ll take Foundations of Public Health, Organization and Administration of Health Services, Human Diseases, Future Direction In Public Health, etc. The curriculum also examines public health issues in specific populations (i.e., Asian, Native Americans, etc.) and requires a capstone project.
You can choose admission for a Traditional Online or Competency Based degree and will submit an application (with a $25 fee), ACT/SAT test scores, and academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,460/per semester
Fast Fact: This university ranks #67 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
12. University of Arizona Online
This CEPH accredited curriculum requires core classes. Regardless of your chosen track, courses in Health Care in the US, Introduction to Epidemiology, Principles of Health Education and Health Promotion, Biology in Public Health, Global Health, and Public Health Nutrition are needed before beginning your major classes. Public Health classes in Introduction to Public Health Law and Ethics, Health Economics and Policy, as well as Program Evaluation are examples of the curriculum. An internship is part of the program.
As with most schools, an application and fee and academic transcripts are needed for admission. The university does not require ACT/SAT test scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $500-$610/per credit hour
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates the Public Health program at the University of Arizona #41 in the nation and online programs rank #7 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
13. Kent State University Online
Here’s a CEPH accredited, 100% online, BSPH in Public Health from a well respected Public Health program which offers multiple specialty options.
Kent State University Online offers four online concentrations in Allied Health, Clinical Trials Research, Community Health Outreach and Development, and Health Services Administration. Before studies in your concentration, you’ll need to complete core courses. Some of the topics are Introduction to Public Health, Essentials of Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral Science Theories in Public Health, Health Disparities, as well as a Capstone Experience. General education classes are included in the 120 credit-hours curriculum, too. You’ll find a comprehensive course outline for your chosen concentration.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $46,000-$48,000/program total
Fast Fact: KSU ranks #114 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Health Schools
14. Oregon State University
Known as offering one of the country’s best online bachelor’s programs, Oregon State University awards a CEPH accredited, BS in Public Health.
You’ll take core courses in a variety of subjects such as epidemiology, human disease, public health introduction, health policy, and more. There are two concentrations offered with this degree in Health Management and Policy and Health Promotion and Health Behavior. An internship is required and it’s assumed you’ll be able to do that in your home community under specific guidelines. If you want, you can add a minor to your degree from OSU’s variety of studies. OSU is on the quarter system and this program requires 180 quarter hours for completion.
You’ll apply online for admission and submit a $65 application fee and provide official academic transcripts as well as official ACT/SAT test scores sent directly to Oregon State University.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $331/per academic year
Fast Fact: OSU ranks #60 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Health Schools as well as rating the university as having one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in the nation
15. University of Cincinnati
You’ll not need to go to UC’s campus for this BS in Public Health degree and its Health Promotion and Education concentration (more program concentrations are being developed).
This curriculum is designed with the 10 Essential Public Health Services activities as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. You’ll take classes in Introduction to Public Health, Global Health, Health Politics and Policy in the U.S., Community Health and Minorities, Social and Behavioral Foundations in Public Health, Introduction to Epidemiology, and others. A Health Education Internship is required along with core and general education courses. This degree needs 120 credit-hours for completion.
Steps in UC’s admission process for first year students submission of a UC application, completion of specific coursework to meet Ohio college preparatory classes, as well as a 2.7 GPA. Academic transcripts from all schools attended are expected. The school website doesn’t mention ACT/SAT test scores requirements, so you’ll want to check with an admission advisor.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $512-$527/per credit hour
Fast Fact: UC ranks in the top 100 of Best Public Health Schools by U.S. News and World Report as well as the publications Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
Why Should I Get My Public Health Degree Online?
Distance education has been an effective mode of learning since the 1800s when correspondence courses were available in the rural areas of the United States. In the 21st century the U.S. Postal Service has been replaced by Internet websites. The COVID pandemic found schools beefing up their online degree offerings as students weren’t able to attend on campus classes.
Colleges and universities provide (at minimum) regionally accredited undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees online. These programs are the same on-campus degree programs, using the same faculty and program curriculum.
Usually, online degree programs are more intensive and classes are shorter in duration. Classes are frequently offered in relatively short 5-8 weeks in length (depending on the subject and degree). Online programs allow you easier contact with professors and other students.
You’ll find many schools offer in-state tuition for their online degrees, regardless of your state of residence. This is a major draw if you’re interested in a degree from a university outside of your state and will may allow you to earn a degree from a school that otherwise would be outside of your budget.
You’ll find that online degree programs will allow you to have an improved and balanced work-home life while you study..
Why Should I Choose a Career in Public Health?
Public Health began in the U.S. in 1798 with Congress passing the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen which established the US Marine Hospital Service (MHS). Since then, Public Health professionals have investigated and controlled many communicable diseases. By the beginning of the 20th century, Public Health officials organized and oversaw community services, such as sanitation, clean water, and improved living conditions. Diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza, polio, HIV, and now, the coronavirus have been managed by Public Health experts who track and follow-up on health initiatives.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) predicts a dangerous shortage of over a quarter of a million BSPH, MSPH, or PhD educated Public Health trained professionals.
A bachelor’s in the field will prepare you for entry-level positions as a health educator, program director, policy administration, etc. A BS or BA in Public Health will also provide you the educational platform to enter a graduate program in Master of Public Health (MPH) degree or preparation for study in a medical, clinical field. Earning a MPH will increase your salary and employment opportunities.
What Will I Learn in a Public Health Bachelor’s Program?
You’ll want to explore programs that provide a solid, undergraduate foundation in public health topics. Undergraduate programs will acquaint you with topics in epidemiology, environmental health sciences, social and behavioral sciences, biostatistics, and local, state, or federal health policy. You’ll benefit from internships or field placements and gain real world experience, working in a Public Health department or agency under the supervision of a working professional in the field. Some schools offer international field placements to work in public health organizations across the globe.
Many programs will allow you to choose a concentration, which will give you more intense studies in a particular Public Health area.