Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's the value of an online degree? (MPH)


Have you considered an online degree? Maybe you're even pursuing one right now. What's the value of an online degree like an MBA? These degrees are not inexpensive. You may easily spend over $150,000 for an Executive MBA (or EMBA if you prefer). An MPH may still end up costing $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the school. Can you calculate an ROI (return on investment) on your education? (it should be ROE = return on education)

I personally think the value of an online degree ultimately depends on several different factors:
  • The type of degree
  • Why you're getting that degree
  • Where you go to school
  • How you plan to leverage your degree
Let's evaluate a few examples that are highly relevant for physicians who are interested in a career transition into the non-clinical sector:
  • MPH (master of public health)
  • MMM (master of medical management)
  • MBA (master of business administration)
People often pursue an MPH because they want to work in public health. There is a national shortage of public health professionals, so there is a growing demand in this specific industry. Johns Hopkins University has repeatedly been ranked as the #1 public health program by US News. Now, if Hopkins offers a distance learning MPH, then what does this say about online MPH programs? Also, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Emory University (ranked among the top programs on US News) also offer distance learning MPH programs.

My personal opinion is this: if you want to pursue an MPH, as long as you get your degree from an institution that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), you will probably be OK with an online program. By the way, you will NOT find schools like Strayer University, Walden University, Benedictine University, Capella University, Kaplan University, or University of Phoenix on that CEPH list of accredited schools. (to clarify: Some of these schools may not offer an MPH, but if you type "online MPH" into search engines like Google and Yahoo, you will see some of these schools featured even though they do not offer an MPH degree. Some of these universities are accredited by other organizations, so I am not suggesting that these are not accredited universities. For example, the University of Phoenix is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree.)

Many health care professionals pursue an MPH while they are working full-time, so they end up taking courses part-time. Others get an MPH by taking one intense full-time year of study. Some may take a year off from residency.

If you already have an advanced degree, then the MPH will add some value, but it won't be your primary degree, so you need to answer the next critical question: "how do you plan to leverage your MPH degree?" Do you really need an MPH or are you looking for something that will improve your qualifications for some type of position or career opportunity?

A distance learning MPH is a great option because it offers flexibility and you still have the opportunity to learn, interact with students, and write your papers. Most MPH programs are not filled with exams and quizzes. Instead, you're expected to generate papers, have facilitated group discussions, and work on some team projects. You can do all of this online.

Well, I've run out of time. Tomorrow (or the next day), I'll address my thoughts on two other degrees that often interest physicians: MMM and MBA.

6 comments:

  1. Dr. Kim,
    I would be interested in how you are leveraging your MPH, if you are at present.

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  2. Dr. Kim,
    I stumbled across your web site while exploring the topic of Medical writing. I am an RN, a freelance medical writer, educator and clinician. I was dissapointed in your post about the University of Phoenix and how you stated it was not accredited. As a graduate of University of Phoenix, I know it is fully accredited by the the AACN http://www.aacn.nche.edu/CCNE/reports/rptAccreditedPrograms_New.asp?state=AZ&sFullName=Arizona&sProgramType=2. You are correct that they are not accredited by the organization you reffered too, but University of Phoenix does not offer a MPH, so why would they be?
    I was encouraged by your initial praise of online programs, as there is much bias against them, but I think it would be more productive for your readers to point out the programs that do offer the degrees you are talking about, rather than point out the ones who don't.
    AnnMarie Chase MSN, RN, CEN

    ReplyDelete
  3. AnnMarie, thanks for your comment. I have amended my entry to add clarification and to remind my readers that many of these universities are accredited by different groups.

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  4. I'm really considering going for an MPH. Are there cheaper ones out there or are there ways one can save cost while doing an online MPH? Thanks pls...

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  5. I'd encourage you to spend some time looking through the list of schools at the Association of Schools of Public Health http://www.asph.org/ and then do some price comparisons. I found that the program at UMass Amherst is a very cost-effective and flexible option.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Google and Yahoo, you will see some of these schools featured even though they do not offer an MPH degree. Some of these universities are accredited by other organizations, so I am not suggesting that these are not accredited universities. For example, the University of Phoenix is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree.)

    ReplyDelete

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