Graduate students in public health examine how things like policy and advocacy can be linked to disease prevention. Students also analyze effective strategies for promoting health at the local, national or international level, and they prepare for careers in a variety of fields, including global health care, epidemiology and public health leadership. The best public health programs -- which were ranked by "U.S. News and World Report" in 2011 -- provide in-depth classroom learning, hands-on research and professional practice opportunities to prepare students for leadership and research roles at leading local, federal and international health organizations.

Johns Hopkins University

According to "U.S. News and World Report," the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins has offered the best graduate public health program since 1994. The university offers full-time and part-time Master of Public Health degrees. The full-time degree is an intensive 11-month program completed mostly at the university's East Baltimore campus. In addition to studying fundamental public health concepts, students can also specialize in a variety of areas including Food, Nutrition and Health and Child/Adolescent Health.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health -- which was ranked the second-best in 2013 -- offers MPH programs in three specialized areas, including leadership, occupational health nursing and health care and prevention. All three concentrations can be pursued in-residence, but distance learning programs are offered in the areas of leadership and occupational health nursing. The leadership concentration is focused in four areas and provides hands-on training for the fields of epidemiology, global health, public health nursing, and public health practice.

Harvard University

In 2011, "U.S. News and World Report" named Harvard's public health master's program the third-best in the country. Offered through the university's School of Public Health, the master's program prepares students for careers at health organizations, in research and academics and in the private sector. Harvard's MPH program requires applicants to have advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, osteopathy or law as well as professional experience. Harvard MPH students can specialize in seven areas, including global health and law and public health.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor offers an MPH degree through their School of Public Health. In 2011, "U.S. News and World Report" named the program the fourth-best in the country. The curriculum in based on six competencies that students should have when they leave the program. These include communication, measurement/analysis, law and ethics, leadership and professional development. The university also has an internship program that places students at local, national and international health organizations, including the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., and the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

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