Choosing A Public Health Concentration: What You Need to Know

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The need for quality education and specialized training continues to grow as health trends become more complex. Likewise, the need for increased access to advanced education as health trends become more widespread and region-specific.

The Keck School of Medicine is dedicated to the growing need for increased access to professional education and the study of public health development. The online Master of Public Health program allows students and working professionals to complete intensive curricula while being attentive to the needs of their communities. The coursework is designed to prepare individuals for what to expect when they enter the field as professionals and create opportunities to work among world leaders in public health. Students will learn to think critically in a challenging health environment and apply their knowledge to future work in non-profits, hospitals, and government agencies.

One of the unique qualities of the Master of Public Health program is the selection of a public health concentration. Students choose from six focus areas to add specificity and personalized instruction to their studies as they earn their MPH degree online. These concentrations include the following:

  • Biostatistics and Epidemiology
  • Community Health Promotion
  • Global Health
  • GeoHealth
  • Health Services and Policy
  • Generalist

Each concentration offers specialized coursework that informs students of the varying approaches to public health. Biostatistics and Epidemiology, for example, emphasizes the use of statistics and statistical data in the study of global health trends. Below is a description of the characteristics of each concentration to ensure that current and prospective students pursue the path that best accounts for their personal interests and potential.

Biostatistics and Epidemiology

The Biostatistics and Epidemiology concentration highlights quantitative aspects of public health. Students will learn to analyze past and current health trends and use evidence-based statistical methodologies to predict future ones. These patterns and predictions will be used to brainstorm and evaluate disease prevention and treatment measures. Addressing the public’s inquiry of the effectiveness of immunizations, for example, would involve studying disease origins and following past treatment outcomes to determine the formulas needed to increase the utilization of vaccination services.

Students with a strong quantitative background and interest in health trend surveillance and assessment will appreciate the concentration-specific coursework included in the Biostatistics and Epidemiology curriculum. They will learn to analyze data and follow acute and chronic disease lifetimes. From collegiate health departments to government health agencies, students may find work as professional analysts, researchers, and epidemiologists upon satisfying the requirements of the Biostatistics and Epidemiology concentration. The National Institute of Health, for example, has an entire departmental staff that makes up its Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology Service (BCES).

Community Health Promotion

The Community Health Promotion concentration is where public health and public relations intersect. Students will learn how to empower and inform communities about health-related topics through the development of effective delivery strategies and communication modalities. This could range from designing effective sex-ed programs to bridging the gap between quality health services and low-income families. Health education is at the core of this concentration, as students will learn to recognize and address gaps in a community’s public health knowledge.

The Community Health Promotion coursework is heavily based on communication, evaluation, and intervention, preparing students to work in capacities with high public exposure. These include medical, educational, and public service settings in need of health educators. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion sponsors educational and community-based programs, such as HealthyPeople, to promote public well-being.

Students may work as professional health directors, trainers, program managers, and coordinators upon satisfying the requirements of the Community Health Promotion concentration.


USC MPH Students in Geneva

Global Health

Though the Global Health concentration you will to learn about the interplay of public health with politics and socioeconomic issues and become particularly knowledgeable of the important role of culture in promoting health and preventing diseases at a global level. Red Cross, for example, hosted hundreds of volunteers at their camps during the Syrian refugee crisis that began in 2015, bringing services to those who are a part of the mass migration. This may be the ideal concentration for students who enjoy travel and new experiences, as it is common for Global Health leaders to closely study cultural differences in public health.

The Global Health coursework places special emphasis on law and ethics, global health trends, and culture. It will equip students to observe cultural differences in public health and empower state, national, and global communities with health-related knowledge aimed to improve their overall quality of life. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a prime example of how public health is used for global impact. Students may work as health care consultants, managers, and analysts at world-renowned health organizations upon satisfying the requirements of the Global Health Leadership concentration.


The GeoHealth concentration focuses on the study of geographic patterns and their impact on health and wellness. This concentration incorporates the use of spatial sciences through its focus on how global health trends are interconnected based on specific geographic locations.  Students will learn to interpret and document these trends as spatial data. Effective address health challenges which may span from mapping outbreaks like Zika, to characterizing environmental conditions such as traffic, poverty, climate and water quality.

Thus, this concentration is well suited for students who are interested in studying public health through a geographic lens. Students who thrive in big-picture work environments will appreciate the emphasis that GeoHealth coursework places on spatial thinking.

The GeoHealth concentration will sharpen students’ spatial and analytical skills as they study the interconnectedness between global health trends. This could include following a hurricane’s path to predict where health care interventions will be needed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an entire platform dedicated to GeoHealth and the incorporation of spatial science into public wellness. Students may work as geographical analysts, managers, and researchers for organizations in various locations around the globe upon satisfying the requirements of the GeoHealth concentration.

Health Services and Policy

The Health Services and Policy concentration highlights the legal aspect of public health. Students will familiarize themselves with former and current health policy trends to assess the public need for new or improved policies. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes an average of 10,750 pages of regulations each year, placing an undue burden on healthcare providers who need to navigate these rules and make sure their offices, staff, and patients are compliant.

This concentration will be a fit for students who are passionate about law and policymaking in the context of public health. The Health Services and Policy curriculum studies the politics and economics of public health.

The Health Service and Policy concentration will educate students on how health care policies are proposed and established and how they contribute to a functioning society. This requires staying up-to-date on changes in national health care policies and being aware of how public needs influence their development. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services raises awareness for several health service programs devoted to the public intervention of health knowledge. Students specializing in Health Services and Policy may pursue policymaking and advocacy roles in a government or medical setting upon satisfying the requirements of the Health Services and Policy concentration.


A customizable concentration for students with advanced graduate or professional degrees or those currently enrolled in an accredited U.S.-based medical degree program.

Coursework is designed to incorporate the Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Community Health Promotion, Global Health, GeoHealth, and Health Services and Policy specializations into one framework.

The Generalist concentration will further students’ knowledge of the concentrations offered through the MPH program and prepare students to work in specialized areas and management positions in the public health profession.

All concentrations include a program evaluation and research focus that each specialization can use.

The Keck School of Medicine’s Master of Public Health program is ranked nationally top 25 by US News World Report and accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

USC now offers an online fast track one-year MPH which covers the same rigorous material as the six semester program, but with the ability to develop your public health expertise in as little as one year. To learn more, visit the MPH degree program online today.





Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

GeoHealth Platform

National Institute of Health

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services