master’s in nursing public health online

What Does it Mean to Get a Master’s in Nursing in Public Health?

Earning a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) with a public health focus is a gratifying way to make an impact on your community and blaze a future for yourself in the field of healthcare. An MSN in public health nursing is an advanced pathway during which students learn about infectious diseases, healthcare vulnerabilities in myriad populations, and the impact of healthcare access on community well-being. Students who graduate with an MSN in public health nursing are prepared to evaluate populations and conduct field studies and hands-on research to ameliorate risk factors and address problems at their root. What details should you know about getting your MSN in public health nursing? Let’s find out!

How do I get into an MSN public health nursing program?

Program requirements vary by institution. Generally, the prerequisites required of prospective MSN students include the accomplishment of a bachelor’s degree in Nursing with at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Typically, MSN applicants must also have an active RN license. As part of the interview process, they must submit a personal essay on their nursing career goals and interview with the program director. While some programs require applicants to submit GRE scores, Goodwin University does not! However, two years of work experience in nursing is strongly recommended.

What curriculum should I expect?

An MSN with a focus on public health will have career-oriented coursework in this field of work. At Goodwin, the MSN program is concentrated in population health. It is a 30-credit program that can be achieved in 20 months part-time. The wonderful thing about an online curriculum is that there are no set class times! Coursework can be taken on your schedule, anytime you’re available. You can expect classes to include a mixture of clinical and theoretical work, including:

  • Policy, Politics, and Organization of Healthcare How are health care policies created? This course investigates the politics and advocacy elements intertwined with their development. How can nurses ensure that leaders take an ethical approach? With the knowledge obtained here, the next generation of nurses can learn how to be affective activists.


  • Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, and Physical Assessment for Advanced Nursing Practice – These three distinct clinical classes ensure that students are prepared to assume advanced practice nursing job duties. Pharmacology relates to the usage and distribution of medications, including cultural and economic nuances. Pathophysiology increases student mastery of understanding of illnesses, from acute to chronic. Physical Assessment includes advanced techniques for evaluating diverse patients, including comprehensive and holistic perspectives, across the lifespan.


  • Theoretical Foundations of Public Health How are the quality and costs of health care services distributed to different geographic areas and socioeconomic groups? This course on population health theory is designed around planning for population health projects, collecting data, and analyzing results.

Better yet, the credits earned in Goodwin University’s MSN are easy to transfer into specialized areas of MSN practice, or even doctoral programs should graduates decide to take their careers to new heights!

What career options are available to people with an MSN in public health?

An MSN education helps nurses gain a more advanced skillset, which leads to increased career options. RNs with an MSN in public or population health might find jobs in:

  • Hospitals
  • Government sector
  • State or regional health departments
  • Nursing homes and residential care facilities
  • Universities
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physician’s offices

In these settings and more, nurses with their master’s degree work to provide healthcare to vulnerable populations. With a breadth of knowledge in population health, they partner with community services and social services as well as policy-making agencies and local and regional governments to help improve the lives of the people they see in clinical settings. Besides providing treatment, MSN public health nurses serve an important role as educators, advocates, and partners.

The advanced level of an MSN in public health also offers leadership potential to graduates, who might become Nurse Managers, Community Health Directors, or Nurse Educators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers make on average $101,340 annually, which is a potential outcome of earning an MSN in population health.

Requirements for the Medical and Health Services Manager position include experience as an RN in an administrative or clinical role, as well as a preferred master’s degree including coursework in health leadership and management. These are all satisfied by the MSN program at Goodwin University.

How does this degree compare to other MSN or MPH degree options?

An MSN focused on public health is different from other MSN programs in terms of educational scope, program length, credit amount, and curriculum. Take a closer look at degrees like the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) or the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). The PMHNP program prepares students to diagnose, advocate for, and treat patients with acute to chronic psychiatric challenges. It takes seven semesters to gain the 50 credits required to earn a PMHNP. The FNP program focuses on training nurses to promote holistic health across the lifespan of patients. Over 27 months year-round and part-time, FNP students earn 47 credits. Meanwhile, the MSN program can be achieved at a faster rate of 20 months, and students earn 30 credits. The population health focus is a major difference between these three programs and should be a primary deciding factor for prospective MSN students.

If public health is primarily your passion, you might also be deciding between the MSN in population health and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH). The MPH takes 12-15 months in an accelerated format, and students earn 42 credits. Consider whether research or clinical work, policy-writing, or program implementation are for you. Do you want to spend more of your time after your master’s degree program on data collection, or working hands-on with patients? Questions like these can help you decide whether the MSN or MPH pathway makes more sense for your long-term career goals.

To find out more about how an MSN in public health can take your nursing career to new heights, contact Goodwin University at 800-899-3282, or Apply Now for graduate studies and get started with little to no wait time!