Can I Use My Public Health Degree Internationally?

Human health is a universal concept. No matter where you are on Earth, humans are the same; the only things that change are the problems and challenges that different communities face. An advanced public health degree, with some extra steps, can be used around the world to improve the general health of the population.

A 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the overall state of public health has improved over the last decade. However, international public health jobs continue to be in high demand as developing countries struggle to improve.

Using Your Public Health Degree to Help Communities Around the World

Many of the best public health positions require some population-specific experience in the fields of:

  • AIDS
  • Women’s health
  • Extreme poverty
  • Coordination, administration, and deployment of specific programs

Fellowship, internship, and volunteer programs help graduates gain real-world experience to build on the skills learned in college – but not all of them are paid positions. 

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) offers internships around the world, but there is no compensation for your time, travel arrangements, and living accommodations are often the individual’s responsibility. On the other hand, the Global Health Fellows Program from the Public Health Institute offers paid fellowship opportunities for public health graduates seeking hands-on experience. The GHFP offers placements within the U.S. and in developing countries, along with a comprehensive benefits package.

Volunteer opportunities are a strong way to provide for the health of the global community while gaining valuable experience. However, paid positions may be more realistic for new graduates who are trying to establish a career and financial security. 

Public Health Organizations

International public health agencies are another way to use your Masters of Public Health degree and find positions overseas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers temporary international appointments in a variety of areas. They also offer permanent positions that provide Federal Civil Service status and may require passing the Civil Service Exam. The CDC also contracts with two international organizations, CTS Global and QED Group, that place skilled public health workers into vital positions around the world.

Along with its unpaid internships, WHO is another group with international MPH career opportunities in public health, especially for anyone who has a good working knowledge of Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, or Spanish. Their positions are also temporary / contractual or permanent in nature, and range from professional leadership positions to general service and support staff.

Geographic Areas to Consider for Public Health

If interest in a particular country or region is what piqued your focus on public health, the International Association of National Public Health Institutions (IANPHI) connects public health organizations across more than 85 countries. Some examples include:

  • Institute of Public Health, Ireland. This agency promotes the cooperation of health efforts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Their focus toward this challenging goal is to bring together various efforts throughout Ireland into collective action. They have also recently established a national research center to provide evidence-based policy for diet and nutrition.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada. Seeking to prevent and control chronic diseases, infectious diseases, injuries, and health emergencies domestically and abroad, this agency provides employment through the Canadian government for public health workers. 
  • Public Health Institute of Malawi. As a developing country, Malawi's Public Health Institute focuses on providing long-term health improvements along with disease prevention and outbreak response. The Institute also focuses on improving the technical capacity of its international public health careers workforce while researching location-specific health problems and solutions.
  • Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Use your browser translation tool to read) Much like the domestic CDC, the Chinese CDC is the country’s primary health agency and advises governmental policy makers and public health workers. They lead research initiatives, organize disease prevention plans, provide specific guidance for public health services, and provide emergency relief when necessary.

Getting Started on the Right Foot

An MPH equips graduates with the skills needed to identify local and global issues and evaluate mechanisms and initiatives for solving these challenges.

Public health is often at the heart of every country’s goals and initiatives. From cleaning the air and water to foodborne illness to natural disasters, every area of the world needs educated professionals who can understand the needs of its people and implement strategies to bring results.

A master's in public health degree from Creighton University provides skills that can be applied at an international level, especially in areas of the world experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals.

What Is Public Health? - Learn More

© 2016 Wiley. All Rights Reserved.