MPH programs - the finer details

Why MPH program is right for meWhich MPH program is right for me?

There are a number of Master's of Public Health course variations that offer flexibility to match your interests. You could study Public Health Law or Public Health and Law. Alternatively there are LLMs in Health or Medical Law and even LLM Medical Law and Ethics.

If you’re interested in the policy and socio-economic issues around public health, a Master’s in Public Health could put you on the path to a management, advisory or consultancy position in government or other health-related organisations, national or international. It is also possible to combine the study of Public Health with other subjects for instance with Communication or with Law.

If you’re interested in the legal, regulatory and litigious side of things, an LLM in Health Law or Medical Law & Ethics enables you to specialise in the niche field of health, while primarily remaining a legal professional. You could become a Public Health lawyer or work in a law firm that has a medical practice.

What qualifications do I need to study an MPH degree?

You would imagine that if you were applying to do a Master’s degree in Public Health you’d be expected to have a clinical or related background. However, as mentioned earlier, if you have other relevant experience that is not necessarily clinical, you could be accepted onto an MPH program.

To study a law-related public health degree – for instance a combination degree like Public Health and Law – you would need a first degree in a social science subject or in medicine, science or nursing. In some universities, courses structured around healthcare ethics could accept a first degree in religious studies or philosophy.

To do the LLM in Health or Medical Law, many institutions prefer you to have a qualifying first degree in law, which is a law degree that makes you eligible to go on to the other stages required to qualify as a solicitor or barrister. If your first degree was not in law, you would need to take a law conversion qualification such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Practice Examination (CPE). If you don’t have a qualifying law degree and aren’t keen to go through the palaver of taking a law conversion course, again some institutions will consider your application if you have experience that is relevant to the program.   

In terms of the class of your first degree, most universities require you to hold a 2:1 (second class upper) but some may accept a minimum of 2:2 (second class lower.)

What skill base do I need to study an MPH degree?

Your qualifications aren’t the only thing to be considered. Think about the skills you would need to succeed. The management of public health is evidence-based and relies heavily on statistics so it would help if you have strong analytical skills and some interest in statistics.

What can I do with my postgrad public health degree?

Whether you choose to do an MPH or health-related LLM, the career prospects are quite promising. Healthcare dominates the agendas of governments around the world, with significant portions of national budgets allocated to public health issues. You could become a consultant to governments and policy makers, work in an advisory role to legislators and regulators, work in health and social care or work for international organisations such as the World Health Organisation or humanitarian bodies like the Red Cross or Red Crescent. You could also work for charities, non profit organisations, pharmaceutical companies of the food and beverage industry, particularly with the current concerns around obesity. Food safety, education and research are other areas where your qualifications could be relevant. This is certainly a field where you can do your bit to save the world, everyday!

Online MPH: Can I study public health via distance learning?

Master's of Public Health and LLM programs in health can be found as web-based distance learning degree courses; full time and part time. The ‘stigma’ once associated with online degree courses has all but faded, particularly now that well-established universities and educational institutions offer distance learning courses. In fact online study is now recognised as a great way to study for a postgraduate law program while continuing with your everyday life.

Thousands of students around the world take advantage of the internet to earn a postgrad qualification without leaving home and work, so if your commitments will keep you from travelling, consider taking an online MPH course.

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Birmingham City University
Nottingham Trent University, School of Law