The Best Online MSN/MPH Dual Degree Programs

October 27, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Earning an MSN/MPH dual degree is a great way to take advantage of rapid job growth in the nursing and public health fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for advanced practice registered nurses is projected to...

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Earning an MSN/MPH dual degree is a great way to take advantage of rapid job growth in the nursing and public health fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for advanced practice registered nurses is projected to grow 31% by 2026, leading to over 64,000 new jobs. The BLS also projects a 16% job growth rate for health educators and community health workers during the same period, with close to 20,000 positions opening up nationwide. Earning an MSN/MPH dual degree equips candidates with the skills to excel in both sectors. While an MSN provides advanced clinical training, an MPH lets students explore crucial community health issues in depth.

Read on to learn more about MSN/MPH dual degree programs online, including typical coursework, admission requirements, and internship components. We also take a look at some potential career paths for MSN/MPH graduates, as well as financial aid opportunities like scholarships and grants.

Why Get an MSN/MPH Dual Degree?

Earning an MSN/MPH dual degree online presents a great option for nursing students who wish to supplement their medical education. MSN programs present advanced patient care techniques, while an MPH curriculum offers crucial insights into community health and epidemiology. MPH candidates build foundational public health knowledge that can enhance their assessment and diagnostic skills. By understanding the factors that influence community health, nurses develop accurate, context-appropriate treatment methods and disease prevention measures. Online MSN/MPH dual degree programs also provide nurses with the administrative skills needed to develop health initiatives and improve wellness across entire populations.

Featured Online Programs

MSN/MPH Online Programs: An Overview

While admission requirements, course offerings, concentrations, and other characteristics vary from school to school, most MSN/MPH online programs share a few common traits. Although the information below applies to many programs, it is important to carefully research potential schools, keeping an eye out for unusual program features or requirements.

What is a Dual Degree Program?

Dual degree programs, also known as joint degree programs, allow students to earn two degrees simultaneously. Not to be confused with a double major, dual degree programs are more commonly offered at the graduate level. One of the most common dual degree programs is the JD/MBA. These programs enable students to complete two separate degrees from two distinct departments in a time-efficient, cost-effective manner. Dual degree candidates typically spend less time and money on their education than those who earn two degrees back-to-back. However, dual degree programs are typically more academically strenuous than their traditional, single-subject counterparts, and require a significant time investment.

Admission Requirements for an Online MSN/MPH Dual Degree Program

Like other candidates, prospective dual degree students must satisfy their chosen school’s MSN and MPH programs’ admission requirements. Applicants are usually required to submit official postsecondary transcripts and meet a minimum GPA requirement; typically, 3.0 or better. In addition, many online MSN/MPH degree programs request standardized test scores from exams such as the GRE or MCAT.

Most schools expect applicants to hold a BSN degree from an accredited university. However, some programs accept BA- or BS-holders who have completed prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, and related fields. MSN applicants must also hold a current registered nurse (RN) license, and should demonstrate some professional nursing experience.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online MSN/MPH Dual Degree Program?

An online MSN/MPH dual degree program’s length depends on several variables, including credit requirements and clinical components. Full-time students may take anywhere from 18 months to three years to earn their degree, with most programs requiring 60-90 credits. In addition, nearly every MSN program includes a clinical practicum component. These hands-on experiences vary in length and can greatly affect the time needed to earn an MSN/MPH degree.

Structure and format may also influence the duration of an online MSN/MPH program. Asynchronous, self-paced programs allow students to progress through the curriculum at their own speed, viewing lectures and completing assignments when convenient. In contrast, learners enrolled in cohort-based programs complete coursework alongside classmates and attend web courses at scheduled times each week. Most self-paced degrees take less time to complete than cohort programs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online MSN/MPH Degree

Health Services Leadership and Management
This concentration readies students for senior leadership roles in healthcare settings. Learners develop a personal leadership style as they hone their problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution skills. They also build business and administrative competencies through coursework in fiscal management, strategic planning, and human resources management.  


Careers this concentration prepares for: Nursing director; nurse manager

Epidemiology students learn how diseases spread through populations and examine context-appropriate disease control methods. They often employ advanced quantitative methods to analyze population health and evaluate disease prevention measures. Students gain experience with statistical methodologies, using specialized software to manage large datasets and analyze demographics.  


Careers this concentration prepares for: Epidemiologist; infection control practitioner

Global Health
Students focusing on global health learn to apply public health skills and knowledge to world health issues. Coursework builds familiarity with major international nonprofits like the World Health Organization. Candidates learn to analyze location-specific health challenges and develop appropriate strategies in response.  


Careers this concentration prepares for: Public health nurse; public health program coordinator

Example Courses for Online MSN/MPH Students

Online MSN/MPH degree programs vary considerably between institutions. While most MSN/MPH programs address similar nursing and public health topics, each program offers a slightly different curriculum, including elective courses, specializations, and course offerings. However, most online MSN and online MPH programs include one or more of the foundational classes described below.

Online MSN Courses:

  • Health Policy, Ethics, and Law: Students explore the major ethical principles related to caring for communities, individuals, and families. Coursework addresses the legal challenges involved in decision-making for advanced nurses and healthcare leaders, as well as health policy and its role in care delivery.
  • Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology: This high-level course covers the way that the body functions throughout the lifespan and during illness. Students learn about organ system operation from the cellular level, and study system function and dysfunction. Students also study the physiological factors that affect acute and chronic diseases in various populations.
  • Healthcare Finance, Strategic Planning, and Budgeting: This course deals with financial decision making in nonprofit and for-profit healthcare enterprises. Students analyze case studies to become familiar with common budgeting practices. In addition, students examine common approaches and emerging trends in strategic planning. The course prepares students for senior, leadership, or executive roles in healthcare settings.

Online MPH Courses:

  • Public Policy and Health: This course provides an overview of the various factors impacting health policy development in the United States. Students explore how both values and evidence play a role in advancing health policy, and explore the ways local and federal governments affect policy development processes.
  • Qualitative Methods in Public Health: This introductory course instills skills and strategies for conducting qualitative social research. Students learn to analyze human behavior, building familiarity with many ethical and political problems associated with population research. Candidates also examine the typical research process and learn to incorporate observation, interviews, and behavioral analysis into their findings.
  • Social Determinants of Health: Students explore the economic, societal, and political influences on general population health and access to healthcare. Lectures cover health disparities and emphasizes the role of health professionals in improving medical access for disadvantaged groups. Coursework may also address the behavioral and psychological factors that lead to these disparities.

Internship Component

In addition to online coursework, most MSN/MPH programs include clinical or practicum components. These hands-on experiences ensure that candidates obtain significant supervised nursing experience before pursuing advanced positions. While internship guidelines vary from school to school, most programs require 400-750 clinical hours. Some curricula include several different, shorter practicums, allowing students to gain experience in multiple nursing areas.

Online students must fulfill the same internship requirements as on-campus learners. Distance learners who live near their school may complete clinical hours at the university’s medical center, while those unable to do so usually work with faculty to find local internship locations.

Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For

  • Family Nurse Practitioner: Offered by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board, this credential is intended for aspiring nurse practitioners with graduate degrees. Candidates must pass a 150-question exam that covers clinical knowledge relating to all human life stages. All state licensing boards recognize the certification, and it can help satisfy state licensing requirements.
  • Certified in Public Health: The National Board of Public Health Examiners bestows this credential on public health professionals who demonstrate advanced competence in their field. Candidates must pass a computer-based, 200-question exam. Graduates of master’s programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health are eligible to apply.
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife: The American Midwifery Certification Board awards this certification to licensed registered nurses who have graduated from programs assessed by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Candidates must log adequate clinical experience hours and pass a certification exam. Once certified, they are licensed to practice in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Accreditation for Online MSN/MPH Programs

Attending an accredited school is essential for nursing students. Accreditation signifies that a school adheres to academic guidelines and provides students with the highest quality education. Most state licensing boards and other certifying organizations exclusively recognize accredited nursing programs. In addition, only students enrolled at accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid programs and most scholarships.

Institutions may hold regional or national accreditation, which certifies that a school meets universal standards of academic excellence. The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation regulate all accrediting bodies in the United States. Along with institutional accreditation, prospective students should look for programmatic accreditation from nursing-specific accrediting bodies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Job and Salary Outlook

Job Opportunities for MSN/MPH Graduates

Graduates of online MSN/MPH degree programs pursue a variety of careers. Some become public health nurses, applying their medical expertise in public health organizations and government agencies. Others work as epidemiologists and conduct important research on the spread of disease. Fortunately, job opportunities for MSN/MPH graduates are growing rapidly. The BLS projects 18% job growth for healthcare occupations by 2026, or 2.4 million new jobs.


Public Health Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $56,787

Public health nurses educate individuals, groups, and communities on health and disease issues. They coordinate public health programs for government agencies, healthcare providers, and nonprofit organizations.

Nurse Practitioner

Median Annual Salary: $92,392

Nurse practitioners hold many of the same responsibilities as licensed physicians. They are permitted to diagnose and treat medical conditions and prescribe medications.

Nursing Director

Median Annual Salary: $88,397

These nurses manage nursing activities within healthcare facilities. They oversee patient care, supervise staff, and hire new nurses. They also create budgets and coordinate plans with physicians.


Median Annual Salary: $62,244

Epidemiologists study the spread of disease. They identify public health challenges, collect data, and record observations that help healthcare professionals improve care and prevent illness.

Infection Control Practitioner

Median Annual Salary: $72,780

These professionals investigate infections and observe hospital patients. Using epidemiological principles, they determine infection trends and work with physicians to develop disease control measures.

Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018

How Much Do MSN/MPH Graduates Make?

Several factors can influence MSN/MPH graduates’ earning power, including occupation, experience level, and geographic location. In addition, MSN/MPH-holders with the same job title often earn drastically different salaries depending on the industry they work in. The table below outlines the highest paying industries for epidemiologists.

Top-Paying Industries for Epidemiologists

Scientific Research and Development Services$122,190
Offices of Physicians$95,450
Outpatient Care Centers$93,490
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals$84,540
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing$84,150

Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations provide both current MSN/MPH students and recent graduates with access to valuable professional development, networking, and continuing education resources. These associations help candidates look for jobs, connect with experienced practitioners, and learn about the latest nursing and public health news. Groups like the Association of Public Health Nurses offer members-only papers, surveys, articles, and publications, and many organizations host networking conference calls, meetings, and webinars.

Association of Public Health Nurses: APHN improves community wellness by supporting public health nursing initiatives. The organization promotes public health nursing standards, provides continuing education opportunities, and maintains an online discussion forum.

American Nurses Association: ANA works to advance the nursing profession by promoting high ethical and practical standards. Members gain access to webinars, a monthly journal, a mentorship program, and nursing conferences.

American Public Health Association: APHA supports public health professionals from all fields. The organization seeks to improve public health and eliminate health inequity through research, professional development, networking opportunities, and advocacy.

Financing Your Online MSN/MPH Program

Graduate students enjoy a variety of financial aid options to help fund their studies, including scholarships, grants, loans, and research assistantships. As the country’s largest source of student funding, the federal government offers numerous financial aid opportunities. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can help determine what type of aid you may be eligible to receive. In addition, many professional associations support nursing students through scholarships and grants.

Scholarships for MSN/MPH Students

Liesel M. Hiemenz Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. sponsors this graduate scholarship for registered nurses who hold membership in a national professional nursing association. Candidates interested in public health careers receive preference. All candidates must demonstrate a GPA of 3.6 or higher.

Amount: Varies

Barbara A. Cooley Master’s Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Each year, the Society of Health and Physical Educators awards this scholarship to one master’s student enrolled in an accredited health education program. Applicants must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and submit a resume, essay, and letters of recommendation.

Amount: $1,000

Bill and Mary Russell Health Care Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship offered through the Heartland Foundation supports students pursuing degrees in nursing or other healthcare fields. Qualifying applicants must live in specified Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, or Nebraska counties. They should also provide a transcript, proof of enrollment, and letters of recommendation.

Amount: Varies

Promise of Nursing Faculty Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association offers this scholarship to registered nurses enrolled at approved graduate schools. Applicants should plan to work as a nurse educator after graduation, and must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $1,000-$7,500 per year

American Association for Men in Nursing Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Members of the American Association for Men in Nursing who have completed one academic term at an accredited nursing program qualify for this award. Applicants must submit proof of acceptance and enrollment.

Amount: $1,500

Charlotte McGuire Education Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Administered by the American Holistic Nurses Association, this award is intended for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing holistic nursing education. Applicants must hold RN licensure and AHNA membership for at least one year.

Amount: Varies

CastleBranch-GNSA Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be graduate students at an American Association of Colleges of Nursing member school. To qualify, candidates’ GPA must be higher than 3.5; they must also belong to the Graduate Nursing Student Academy.

Amount: $2,500

APIC Graduate Student Award

Who Can Apply: The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology sponsors this award for graduate students researching infectious disease prevention and implementation science. Applicants must be APIC members studying at an accredited institution.

Amount: $5,000

Explore Online MSN/MPH Programs and Schools

Emory University View School Profile Atlanta, GA

Emory University, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has collaborative relationships with the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Veterans Healthcare Administration, and other premier healthcare organizations.

Emory offers one of the premier MSN-MPH dual degree programs online. While the program includes extensive residential requirements, some courses are completed online. Students choose from nine specialties in nursing and seven departments in public health, allowing for a highly specialized career focus. Degree requirements vary depending on the specialty, but a minimum of 32 credits in public health is required. The program can be completed in two years. A capstone experience completes your program.

Applicants apply to the school of nursing and the school of public health. Requirements include a bachelor of science in nursing, one year of work experience, GRE scores, and a commitment to working in public health.

  • Campus: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: ACME/CCNE
  • Tuition: $32,984 per term
  • Minimum time commitment: Six semesters
  • Degree requirements: Introductory statistics, BSN, health assessment
  • Programs: MSN-MPH
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
Johns Hopkins University View School Profile Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins is a highly respected university with extensive research opportunities. The school of nursing hosts three centers: cardiovascular and chronic care, global Initiatives, and innovative care in aging, where scholars engage in research, practice, and mentoring.

The MSN-MPH dual degree online can be completed in 18 months. Students earn 36 credits in nursing and 60 credits in public health. Nursing requirements include 14 credits in core curriculum, 12 credits in public health nursing, and at least four credits in biostatistics. Public health coursework includes environmental health, epidemiology, and care of marginalized populations. Students also select from 42 courses in public health biology, management, and behavioral science. Students complete 504 clinical hours, which include one practicum and one capstone. Practicums can be completed in your state of residence or through global placements.

Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, acceptable GRE scores, and be able to demonstrate a professional commitment to scholarship and public service.

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