Master of Public Health Scholarships for 2024: Funding Your Degree and Improving Public Health

Public health is increasingly important as we face unprecedented challenges from diseases, disasters, and health inequities exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, highly trained public health professionals are needed to protect communities and save lives. A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree opens doors to a rewarding career improving population health through research, policy, program development, and leadership. However, the cost of graduate school can be daunting.

Fortunately, many organizations offer scholarships specifically for students seeking an MPH. 

Why Pursue an MPH? An Overview of Careers in Public Health

Before delving into specific scholarships, it is helpful to understand the diversity of career paths an MPH can lead to. Graduates with a Master of Public Health work in government health agencies, non-profits, hospitals, academic institutions, and private industry. Some of the most common public health roles include:

  • Epidemiologist: Analyzes patterns of disease occurrence to prevent and control health issues. Works with data to detect outbreaks and inform responses.
  • Health educator/promoter: Develop programs and educational materials to encourage healthy behaviors. Focuses on prevention through community outreach and policy advocacy.
  • Program manager/planner: Oversees implementation of initiatives addressing priority health problems. Ensures goals and metrics are met through efficient management of resources.
  • Research scientist: Conducts studies to evaluate public health interventions and uncover social determinants of health disparities. Contributes to the evidence base for better policies and practices.
  • Policy analyst: Informs policymaking through research, cost-benefit analyses, and stakeholder engagement. Proposes data-driven solutions to strengthen laws and systems impacting wellness.
  • Global health specialist: Works internationally on issues like maternal/child health, infectious diseases, humanitarian crises, and healthcare systems strengthening. Often with NGOs or in low-resource settings.
  • Healthcare administrator: Manages clinical and public health services within healthcare organizations. Focuses on quality, access, community benefit efforts, and achieving optimal population outcomes.

An MPH prepares graduates for these diverse paths through a well-rounded curriculum emphasizing biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral science, environmental health, health policy, and management. Hands-on fieldwork provides real-world experience applying classroom lessons. Public health offers rewarding career options – now let’s explore how to fund your education through scholarships.

Federal Scholarship Opportunities for MPH Students

The federal government sponsors various loan repayment and scholarship programs to motivate students to pursue careers in public health practice, research, and teaching. Several excellent options are available:

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Scholarships

HRSA offers multiple scholarships. The Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) provides up to $30,000 per year for disadvantaged students. The Students to Service Loan Repayment Program repays up to $120,000 of loans over 3 years for those who serve in underserved communities after graduation.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Scholarships

The prestigious CDC/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Applied Epidemiology Fellowship fully funds a 2-year post-MPH applied epidemiology experience. Awardees work on disease surveillance and outbreak response. The Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) is an excellent 2-year paid fellowship for early career professionals.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

This program offers substantial scholarship assistance up to $120,000 in exchange for service in Health Professional Shortage Areas after graduation. Scholarship recipients have their tuition paid and receive a monthly living stipend.

Indian Health Service Scholarship Program

Tribal and urban Indian health programs face severe provider shortages. This program recruits and trains Native American and Alaska Native students, fully funding their education. Commitment is 1 or 2 years of full-time service for each year of support received.

Federal scholarship opportunities usually have strict eligibility requirements but provide excellent experience, career preparation, and financial relief in exchange for service. Thoroughly researching options and carefully planning your application are essential for success. Committing to underserved populations directly addresses vital public health workforce needs.

State-Sponsored Scholarships and Fellowships

Many states offer funding specifically for residents pursuing degrees critical to state and local public health priorities. Programs and requirements vary widely by location, so researching your state health department and education websites is imperative. A few examples of excellent state opportunities:

California Student Aid Commission Programs

California residents should seek the state’s Graduate Medical Education and Graduate Nursing Education stipends, providing up to $10,000 per academic year through participating California universities.

New York Health Service Corps Scholarship

This program offers up to 4 years of tuition assistance for New York state residents who commit to working in underserved communities after graduation. Funding amounts are based on school/program costs.

Illinois Public Health Association Scholarship

IPHA awards multiple $2,500 scholarships each year to Illinois residents studying community and public health topics. Essays on a specific health issue are required.

Nebraska Health Care Professional Incentive Program

Nebraska residents are eligible for up to $25,000 per year to cover tuition and expenses. A commitment to practice in a rural community for 4 years is required after graduation.

Check with your state health department directly to identify any financial support available, which often gives application priority to residents. Fulfilling state service obligations is a meaningful way to give back while earning funding for your degree.

Scholarships from Public Health Organizations

Numerous non-profit foundations and professional associations provide generous grants specifically for MPH students and related fields. The following scholarships awarded each year are highly competitive:

American Public Health Association (APHA) Scholarships

APHA funds many scholarships including the $10,000 Clifford D. Duggan Epidemiology Scholarship and the $5,000 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. Essays focus on important public health issues.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholarships

RWJF offers over 15 programs ranging from $5,000-$30,000, with special opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students pursuing careers in public health practice and policy. Priority is given to community-based experience and leadership potential.

American Water Works Association Scholarships: 

AWWA awards over 150 scholarships between $1,000 and $12,000 to students studying environmental and public health engineering topics impacting water quality and treatment. Strong consideration goes to members and family members.

Association of State & Territorial Health Officials Scholarships

ASTHO scholarships ranging from $2,500-$7,500 are open to those pursuing state and local public health leadership positions. Applicants must demonstrate excellence and vision for the future of public health.

Council of State & Territorial Epidemiologists Scholarships

CSTE scholarships typically range between $5,000-$10,000. Applicants must be interested in applied public health epidemiology careers serving communities through outbreak investigations, surveillance systems, and evidence-based policy guidance.

Thoroughly researching organizational mission alignment and meeting rigorous academic and leadership criteria are keys to standing out among highly competitive applicants for Public Health Association scholarships.

Foundation Funding and Fellowships

Foundations across the country generously support students committed to improving health through various causes. Many offer named, multi-year fellowships providing substantial stipends, tuition assistance, research support, and career networking throughout your graduate program and beyond. Consider opportunities from:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program

One of the most prestigious programs, fully funding 2 years of study focused on research influencing health policy and practice. Commitment is to evidence-based solutions through leadership roles.

American Heart Association Grants and Fellowships

AHA has funding opportunities highly relevant for students integrating cardiovascular epidemiology, community outreach, health disparities research, and policy work into their degrees. Amounts vary based on project.

Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Public Health Scholarships

Exclusive funding for Nebraska residents provides up to $50,000 for a 2-year MPH, with priority given to rural and global health focus areas and underserved community goals.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Scholarship

This named competitive fellowship provides full tuition, living stipends, and international fieldwork support for 2 years of study preparing graduates to strengthen health systems in low-income countries through service or research careers.

Foundation support involves lengthy applications showcasing your leadership potential and vision for making an impact. Taking time to thoroughly research strategic alignment pays off through these influential funding opportunities.

University and Program-Specific Scholarships

Applying directly to your MPH program or affiliated university is worth pursuing, as internal funding opportunities are abundant. Eligibility often requires a demonstrated commitment while not obligating future employment or service:

  • Dean’s Scholarships: Full or partial tuition awards based on academic excellence, leadership skills, and intended field of study.
  • Diversity Scholarships: Many schools offer need-based or achievement awards specifically for students increasing diversity within public health including those who are first-generation, from disadvantaged backgrounds, or students of color.
  • Research Assistantships: Work alongside faculty as you gain hands-on training and earn a stipend or tuition waiver assisting with studies. Build your resume and connections.
  • Teaching Assistantships: Help professors inside and outside the classroom while developing instruction skills valuable for academic and practice careers later.
  • Endowed Scholarships: Privately funded and sometimes need-based awards provided by alumni and supporters to enable attendance.
  • Government and Healthcare Employer tie-ins: Some state and local agencies or hospitals underwrite education costs for high-achieving students who commit to working there post-graduation.

Check with your school financial aid office year-round as new internal awards are regularly established. Having stellar grades, test scores, personal statements, and faculty referrals strengthens university scholarship candidacy. Layer these with outside funding to minimize tuition responsibilities.


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