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Master’s in Global Health vs. Master’s in Public Health: Is There a Difference?

Do you remember, just a few years ago in 2014, when the Ebola virus was on the front page of all the major newspapers, and the top trending news channel story? Images of doctors, nurses, and aid workers in white hazmat suits, families separated by quarantine, heartbreak and tragedy as loved ones became infected. This terrible outbreak in West Africa struck counties including Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and by Winter 2016, it had claimed 11,325 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

This is just one instance in which local healthcare professionals, government officials, community organizations, and emergency health organizations needed to work together (and act fast) to help contain, treat, and prevent the spread of this virus. At the same time, they worked to educate the public and conduct risk assessments to ensure everyone’s safety. With a master’s degree, this is the type of job you might be able to earn. This is the type of impact you could make on the world. 

Fights like those against Ebola are far from over, and as the world grows smaller and more globalized, issues that become, in part, the responsibility of a global health worker will continue to grow more numerous and dire.

Did you know that by 2030, there will be a demand for 80 million health workers worldwide? The expectation, however, is that we will only have 65 million of those workers available. That’s an extreme shortage of 15 million qualified workers. The Human Resources for Health journal urges for scalability of healthcare systems, specifically in low and middle income countries, in order to deliver just the necessary services on a need-based output, to combat the fact that demand will exceed supply. Healthcare professionals who can start building infrastructure now, before we reach this tipping point, are vital for such countries’ healthcare success.

Big problems like these can actually be very inspiring, for the right individual! Choosing a career path that makes a true difference in others’ lives and well-being is one of the best things you can do on this Earth. The question is, for jobs in global health, does it take a master’s degree specifically in global health? Does a master’s degree in public health (MPH) cover the same bases, and allow you to be eligible for the same roles? The answer is simple:

Both a master’s in global health and a master’s in public health will help you develop the skills to improve the quality of life for communities worldwide. Both degrees will teach you about disease prevention, management, and treatment. It all depends on the methodology, setting, and scale on which you want to provide this type of administration and care. 

With either a degree in public health, or a master’s in global health, you’ll gain an education about pertinent global health threats. Beyond Ebola, some other examples are measles, polio, Zika, HIV, Cholera, influenza, and malaria. Non-virus related threats to public health include opioid addiction and overdose, the dangers of tobacco and vape product use, sanitation, and health issues for refugee populations, just to name a few.

As a public health professional, you might come at these issues from a federally funded agency like the CDC, or, from a global health agency like the World Health Organization (WHO). You might be interested in providing aide at the grassroots’ level, through education and local community organizing. Maybe front-line disaster specialist is where your heart is set. Or, you may want to be on the team of policy writers – the planners behind the curtain who map out a course of action. Regardless, the flexible curriculum, including no fewer than five electives plus a personal capstone project, in a public health master’s degree program like Goodwin’s, allows you to figure out where your passions lie, and what you want to pursue professionally. Most importantly, upon completion of your program, you’ll be eligible for jobs like these.

The career options that will be available to you, with a master’s in public health, include:

  • Disaster and Emergency Specialist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Biostatistician
  • Public Health Educator
  • Public Health Director
  • Sanitarian

Applying any of these professional titles to a career in global health, through a master’s in public health degree program, is a possibility. In a global health career, you can expect to grapple with topics like equitability, resource alignment and alliances, and geopolitics. No matter whether you work nationally, in the United States, or internationally, around the globe, a master’s in public health will help you find a great job within this in-demand field. Want to find out more? Give Goodwin College a call, at 800-889-3282, or visit us online today.