6 Top Differences Between MPH and MSPH

Are you seeking to establish a public health career? If you are a prospective student aiming to pursue a master’s program in the public health sector but are in a dilemma about what degree to opt for, you have come to the right place.

Two main master’s programs offered worldwide are the Master’s in Public Health (MPH) and the Master’s of Science in Public Health (MSPH). Both serve the primary purpose of enabling students to address the health problems faced by communities and their incidences and trends to ultimately figure out solutions. Both take about two years to complete. You can pursue these degrees full-time, part-time, or online.

Data collected from the Association of Schools and Programs showed a total of 40,513 public health graduate respondents from the year 2015-2018.

What is MPH?

MPH is a graduate degree focusing on the community’s role in health matters. It relates to disease, pre-, and post-disaster management, waste and water management, addiction, etc. It is constructed in a way that promotes the hands-on practice and real-time learning.

You will develop the skills needed to conduct public health studies, gather and analyze data, and interpret and report relevant results.

What is MSPH?

MSPH is also a graduate degree that is more academic and research-oriented. A primary focus of MSPH is the environment, and its impact on health, as most individuals spend more than 30% of their lives at work.

MSPH degree holders have it upon them to ensure that workplace safety priorities are in order.

If this interests you, Tulane University’s online masters of public health in industrial hygiene promises to equip you to recognize potential safety hazards and apply ethical principles of community health.

You will also be able to ensure regulatory compliance. Ultimately, you will be able to draft research-backed strategies to strengthen basic safety regulations to protect workers’ health.

Key Differences between MPH and MSPH

The degrees of MPH and MSPH share many similarities, and many areas they cover overlap. For this reason, public health aspirants like you often find themselves at a crossroads.

If you are in a similar situation, here is a breakdown to help you make an informed decision.


An MPH is an applied degree that encourages students to participate actively in the community. The study areas in this program include epidemiology, biostatistics, public health administration, public health policies, behavioral science, social studies, and environmental health. It allows students to deal with the prevention of disease, violence, and injury. You are also required to do internships during the course of your MPH degree.

An MSPH, on the other hand, covers all the areas of study that an MPH covers, with an added focus on research methodology and health informatics. It revolves around research design, collection of data, and apt analysis of findings. This is why it is considered to be more academic as compared to an MPH.

Specialization of Fields

The main difference between these two degrees is in research specialization. Either degree is more inclined towards a distinctive set of skills.

Students can obtain an MPH in these areas of specialization:

  • Behavioral and social sciences
  • Health Education
  • Global Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Health Policy
  • Global Health
  • Health Care Management

Students of MSPH can achieve research specialization in one of the following fields:

  • Epidemiology
  • Global Epidemiology
  • Research Design
  • Biostatistics
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research and Informatics

Previous Work Experience

The educational requirement for both an MPH and an MSPH is a bachelor’s degree.

While universities offering an MPH degree encourage and prefer applicants with previous work experience in the field of public health, you can enroll in an MSPH program without any prior work experience.

But if you possess good quantitative and qualitative skills, you will be given preference over other candidates. An experience in research might also be a bonus.

Final Requirements for Completion of Degree

As an MPH student, you are expected to conduct field-based research. By the end of your program, it needs to have passed ethical review, and its results need to have been published.

You may also opt for a capstone project instead. In order to graduate, your project needs to be completed and approved by your supervisor.

Since an MSPH is more academically-centered, you need to write a thesis. You need to present and defend it before a set of judges. A cleared thesis is necessary for the completion of your degree.

Expected Career Paths and Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that job prospects for people with MSPH or MPH degrees are expected to rise by 5% between 2018 and 2028. Keeping this in mind, we can safely assume that the chances of gaining suitable employment in the public health sector are pretty good.

If you are an MPH degree holder, you can expect to find a career path in one or more of the following departments:

  • Industry
  • Government
  • NPOs

After MPH, you can find a job as a Community and Social Service Manager, a Biosecurity Specialist, or a Disaster Preparedness Coordinator.

On the other hand, as an MSPH degree holder, you will find yourself in an academic domain. You can expect to find your place in one or more of the following departments:

  • Industry
  • Education
  • Government
  • Research
  • Consultation

After MSPH, you can find a job as a Research Coordinator, an Emergency Response Coordinator, or an Epidemiologist.

With both MPH and MSPH, you can safely anticipate a starting annual salary of about $46000.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows hardly any difference in job satisfaction ratings between MSPH and MPH degree holders. Around 91% people with a master’s degree in public health claim to be satisfied with their career path.

So no matter which degree you choose, you will be a valuable public health worker with crucial responsibility and duty to the community. So it all comes down to personal interest, educational background, and future career goals.

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