Healthcare is one of the quickest growing sectors of the American economy and is expected to see an 18% growth between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average.
Public Health professionals are desperately needed in Pennsylvania, where wealth inequality disproportionately impacts minorities and children. Pennsylvania was ranked 29th of the 50 states in the United Health Foundation’s report, America’s Health Rankings 2015. The state also has heart disease and drug-related mortality rates above national averages, which are two trends you could help reverse by working in Public Health in PA. Far too many people in the state don’t have access to proper healthcare, and the outreach work you could do as a PH professional can make a real difference in their lives. In 2014, 36% of Hispanic residents reported having no usual source of care, compared to 18% of black people and 12% of white people.
The following schools were assessed for their affordability, flexibility, national rankings, special features, and their ability to deliver high-quality undergraduate Public Health programs.
In order to complete the ranking for The 5 Best Public Health Degree Programs in Pennsylvania, we inspected all of the MPH programs in the state. We factored in whether programs could be completed online, partially online, or if the programs were on-campus. We then followed a standard methodology that can be found below.
1) Pennsylvania State University
Penn State is a public, research university that has campuses throughout Pennsylvania, in addition to a large online wing (the Penn State World Campus). The school offers over 160 majors through all its campuses and schools. PSU was founded in 1855. It’s considered a “Public Ivy” because it offers comparable education to Ivy League schools without charging quite as much for it. The Penn State Nittany Lions offer 31 varsity sports to its male and female athletes. Notable alumni include congressmen Charlie Dent, Jake Corman, Michael F. Doyle, outed CIA officer Valerie Plame, and many, many others.
Penn State offers a number of diverse and stimulating public health programs. They include a signature MPH program, in which students specialize in community and behavioral health, epidemiology and biostatistics, or health systems organization and policy. This can be followed with a DrPH that focuses on intervention, preparedness, social marketing and behavior and much more. PSU offers an MD/MPH five-year program that allows students to take 27 MPH credits, a practicum and capstone project between their third and fourth years of medical school. Related degrees include an MS in Public Health Sciences, a Public Health Preparedness MPS, and several public health certificate programs, in addition to other adjacent degrees less directly concerned with public health.
2) University of Pittsburgh
Pitt is a state-related research university based in its namesake. It was founded in 1787. Over 28,000 students attend Pitt, which has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s known for its curriculum in the arts, humanities and sciences. USNR ranked the school 24th among public schools in America and 68th among national universities. Its Pittsburgh Panthers compete in 8 men’s sports and 9 women’s in NCAA Division I and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notable alumni include Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, Academy Award winner Gene Kelly, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai and many others. Its Public Health school was founded in 1948.
Pitt offers an MPH and a DrPH. The MPH comes in seven concentrations, including Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Human Genetics, Infectious Disease Pathogenesis, Eradication, and Laboratory Practice, Infectious Disease Management, Intervention, and Community Practice, and a Multidisciplinary Master of Public Health. There are also many other Pitt Master degrees that are related to public health. Pitt’s DrPH programs include Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Epidemiology.
3) University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)
UPenn is a private, Ivy League research university headquartered in Philadelphia. It was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin. It is one of 14 founding members of the Association of American Universities and one of nine colonial colleges that began before the American Revolution. Nearly 25,000 students attend the school, which somehow offers a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Notable alumni include 14 heads of state (including two U.S. Presidents), 25 billionaires and a host of Judges and politicians at all levels of American government. The school is known for its health-related degrees through its Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine, in addition to programs in bioengineering (School of Engineering), biology (School of Arts and Sciences), and health management (the Wharton School). In 2018 it ranked 8th among national universities in the country. Its athletic teams are known as The Quakers and compete in 33 varsity sports in the Ivy League conference of NCAA Division I.
Penn offers a Master of Public Health program. It can be taken in a dual degree BA/BS into MPH program, in which students interested in public health apply as juniors to continue their education in the MPH program. The MPH program has an even lower student-to-faculty ratio (4:1) to ensure the quality and integrity of each student’s experience. Some of Penn’s top schools combined to offer this program, including its School of Medicine, and faculty from Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Wharton School of Business, Dental Medicine, and Social Policy and Practice. It can be taken either full-time or part-time. The program was designed to create public health leaders by training them in theory, practice, research, and much more. The program culminates in a Capstone project. Penn also offers a plethora of dual degree public health programs, including an MD-MPH, MSN-MPH, MSW-MPH, MES-MPH, MPA-MPH, MSSP-MPH, MS Nonprofit Leadership-MPH, DMD-MPH, JD-MPH, MPH-MBE, and PhD-MPH to round it out.
4) Franklin & Marshall College
Franklin & Marshall is a private, liberal arts college based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1787. F&M is an intimate school, with just over 2,200 students and a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Since 2011 the school has built a comprehensive summer immersion program for underserved high school students from across the country. Notable alumni include Nobel Prize-nominated medical researcher Theodore E. Woodward, Academy Award-winning film director Franklin Schaffner, White House Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan, Kenneth Duberstein, and many others. F&M’s athletic teams are known as The Diplomats. They compete in 14 men’s and women’s sports in NCAA Division III.
F&M offers a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. It comes in two track cores, Biology and Government. The program is designed with an inquisitive, liberal arts spirit, and covers, “how to measure and improve health systems, the influence of culture on health, and the organizational actors in local, national, and global public health. We draw on the science underlying health in human communities and examine the use of such knowledge in a political arena that is central to getting things done.” The program is also designed from an international perspective and will help students build a comprehensive moral intelligence within the field of Public Health.
5) Temple University
Temple is a state-affiliated research university based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1884. Nearly 39,300 students attend the school, which maintains a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Temple is especially known for its professional programs in law, medicine, podiatry, pharmacy, dentistry, and architecture. Its athletic programs are called The Owls and offer 8 men’s varsity sports and 11 for women. The Owls compete in the NCAA Division I. Notable alumni include writer and activist Noam Chomsky, comedian Tim Heidecker, producer and musician Diplo, and Sledge Sisters Debbie, Kathy, Joni and Kim Sledge, among many others. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Temple tied for 56th among U.S. public universities, tied for 118th among all national universities and ranked tied for 403rd in the world.
Temple’s Public Health programs are a collaboration between their departments in Communications Sciences and Disorders, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Health Services Administration and Policy, Kinesiology, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences and the School of Social Work. It’s one of the largest public health colleges in the country, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs. Temple offers a 4+1 BS/MPH program that can be completed in 5 years, as opposed to the 6 it generally takes. They also offer a BS in Public Health, covering “individual disease prevention and injury/harm reduction behaviors, distribution and development of disease through epidemiological assessment and community program development, implementation, and evaluation.” The MPH program comes in six potential dual-degree programs (DMD/MPH, DO/MPH, DPM/MPH, JD/MPH, MD/MPH, and MSW/MPH). Finally, Temple offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social and Behavioral Health Science. This prepares students for advanced research in the field.