The Best Online Public Health Nursing Programs of 2022

Updated September 21, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Public health nursing is a growing field and presents a great opportunity to make a difference. Find the best master's in public health nursing program for your career goals.

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Best Online Public Health Nursing Programs of 2022
Credit: Courtney Hale / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Public health nurses work to improve a community's health by designing and delivering programs that reduce injury and illnesses.

If you enjoy problem-solving, collaboration, and systems thinking, public health nursing is an excellent career option. This guide explores how to find the right MSN public health program for your career goals and how to apply and pay for your degree.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online public health nursing programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about public health nursing programs, or go straight to our list of the best online public health nursing programs.

Featured Online Public Health Nursing Programs

Learn More About the Best Online Public Health Nursing Programs and Schools

#1

Cedarville University

School Information
Location Cedarville, Ohio
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 75%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Cedarville, a Christian university, offers an online master of science in nursing (MSN) in global public health nursing. Learners can enroll full or part time. 

The core curriculum covers Bible studies, nursing, and direct care. Students also take four global public health nursing speciality courses. Degree-seekers complete 300 practicum hours to earn this master's in public health nursing. A clinical placement coordinator helps match learners with practicum opportunities. This MSN in public health program offers three annual start dates.

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#2

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

School Information
Location Omaha, Nebraska
Admission Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

NMC offers an online MSN/MHP to doctor of nursing practice (DNP) in public health policy. Enrollees complete at least 50 credits and 960 clinical practice hours. This MSN in public health program offers courses in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Learners complete one on-campus weekend intensive.

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What Can You Do as a Public Health Nurse?

Public health involves improving health at the macro level by changing conditions in a community. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of infectious disease prevention, but public health includes all measures that reduce the likelihood of injury or illness. Examples include fostering physical activity by creating inviting outdoor areas, promoting child safety through advertising campaigns, and managing vaccination drives.

Public health nurses work for government agencies, nonprofits, hospitals and health systems, and other stakeholders in public health. The median salary for public health nurses, according to Payscale data from November 2021, is $61,070. For nurses with the (renewal-only) advanced public health nurse (APHN/PHNA-BC) certification, the average salary is $70,030, according to ZipRecruiter.

A career in public health can be exceptionally rewarding and presents opportunities to make a difference community-wide, as well as in individual lives.

What to Look for in an Online Public Health Nursing Program

The right master's in public health nursing for you depends on the types of public health issues you value most, program quality, program logistics, cost, and your background and experience. Some factors to consider include:

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements tell you how likely you are to be admitted and to succeed in the program. They also demonstrate what qualities the school values in its students.

Program Curriculum

Because public health covers a broad area, make sure that the program matches your interests. Does it offer courses in the populations and public health interventions that interest you most?

Clinical Experience

Every MSN public health program requires clinical experience, but the logistics vary by program. How will the clinical experience fit with your other responsibilities? Are you likely to get placement in your community? Does the school offer placement assistance?

Accreditation

Most employers only consider graduates of accredited master's in public health nursing programs. The fastest pathways to a certificate in public health (CPH) require a degree from an accredited school.

Program Length

Does the program length work for your existing schedule and goals?

School NCLEX Pass Rate

The NCLEX-RN pass rate tells you about the nursing school's effectiveness, which demonstrates program quality.

School Graduation Rate

A high graduation rate, combined with high pass rates, indicates how well the school prepares students for success and if students are satisfied with the MSN public health program.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Especially if you plan to work while earning your master's in public health nursing, make sure that the formats for attending classes, using the library, and interacting with faculty, staff, and other students work for you.

Applying to an Online Public Health Nursing Program

Make sure you give yourself time to apply. Contact references early who can demonstrate your strengths. Personalize your application and essay for each school.

Admission Materials

Materials may include an undergraduate transcript, a current and unencumbered nursing license, a resume/CV, at least two references, and an application that includes an essay or personal statement.

GPA Requirement

Most schools require a 3.0 GPA. However, if your GPA is lower, you can speak to an admissions counselor to find out if you have other strengths that may offset this requirement.

Other Requirements

Many programs require or strongly prefer at least two years of experience as an RN.

Why is Online Public Health Nursing Program Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is your best assurance that a master's in public health nursing program can prepare you to become a successful public health nurse. This guide only lists accredited MSN public health programs.

  • Accreditation means that an independent group of academics and practitioners agrees the program meets quality standards.
  • Most employers only consider graduates of accredited programs.
  • Almost no accredited programs accept transfer credits from unaccredited programs.
  • Attending an accredited program makes CPH certification easier and faster.
  • Most government funding is available only to attend accredited programs.

Paying for Online Public Health Nursing Programs

To develop your financial plan, consider whether you can work while attending your MSN public health program; tuition and other costs, such as books; travel to any on-campus requirements and commuting to clinical; program length; your savings; and financial aid options.

A range of associations, corporations, foundations, government agencies, and other organizations offer grants and scholarships. Your current employer may offer tuition assistance, especially if you agree to work for them after you graduate. If you commit to work in an under-served area, some government programs may cover your education costs or provide loan forgiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Health Nursing Programs


What is the best degree for public health nurses?

This can vary based on your goals. You can be a public health nurse with an ADN or a BSN, but MSNs, especially with CPH certification or the PHNA-BC, have the widest range of career options. Many employers require or strongly prefer an MSN for higher-level positions.

How long does it take to complete an online public health nursing program?

An online master's in public health nursing program typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. If you don't have a BSN, a bridge program option can take three years. Part-time programs also require more time to complete.

What career advancement opportunities are available for public health nurses?

Public health nurses can advance to leadership roles in hospital or healthcare administration, government, or nonprofit organizations. They can also teach, especially if they earn a doctorate. Many employers require or prefer CPH or APHN certification. APHN certification is now renewal-only.

What is the difference between public health nursing and community nursing?

These two roles overlap, but the primary difference between public health nursing and community nursing is that community nursing regularly involves direct contact with the public, providing nursing care or teaching, while public health nursing focuses on planning and administration.

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