MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s online Master of Public Health degree has been named the No. 2 most affordable program in the country for 2021 by a national ranking organization.
When making its rankings of the 25 Most Affordable Online MPH Programs, MPH Online said it searched exclusively for regionally accredited, Council on Education for Public Health-recognized programs that provide a robust and economical public health program. CEPH is an independent accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Tony Ward, chair and professor of UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, said this ranking reflects the growing reputation of UM’s MPH online program, which was launched more than a decade ago and has seen enrollment numbers grow dramatically in the past few years. Today, 90 students are enrolled in the program. Most live in the region, but one is studying from New Zealand.
“This has certainly been an important time to be a health professional because of the pandemic and the need to keep people safe,” Ward said. “The students in our program are genuinely interested in improving the overall health of their communities.”
Ward said MPH students are typically mid-career health care professionals looking to refine and augment their career skills. A number of them apply to the MPH program after completing one of the school’s online certificate programs, such global health and epidemiology. Ward said these programs act as a “feeder” for further studies at UM.
For Julia Ryder, a registered nurse in Bozeman, working toward a certificate in environmental health sciences served as the perfect introduction to the master’s program. Ryder eventually wants to work in the area of health and climate change.
“I thought if I can do well in the certificate program while still working, I would apply for the master’s,” said Ryder, noting that her studies had to sync well with her busy schedule as a mother, emergency room nurse and community volunteer.
“There are really good people at UM who are responsive to your needs and have a very real awareness about life’s demands,” she said. “My classmates are really interesting, and we have lively discussions.”
Students pursuing the MPH degree on a full-time basis should be able to complete the course work in two years, with most working professionals needing a minimum of three and a half years, Ward said. Core coursework includes subjects ranging from ethical issues in public health to statistical methods and biostatistics. The curriculum also includes an integrative or practicum capstone project.
Ryder hopes to complete her studies by 2024 and is looking forward to working with low-income communities that often face disproportionately negative health effects from pollution and climate change.
While UM’s lower tuition costs were certainly a factor in her continuing her studies, she said no one should mistake affordable for low quality.
“My experience has been amazing,” she said. “Everyone is accessible when you need help, and there is great interaction with your fellow students. They care about you as whole person, and you can feel that even long distance.”
More information on the MPH program is available at UM’s Master in Public Health.
Contact: Tony Ward, chair and professor, UM School of Public and Community Health Sciences, 406-243-4092, firstname.lastname@example.org.