One Year MPH Programs: An Accelerated Master of Public Health Graduate Degree

Published on: Oct 10, 2023

Graduate degree programs, specifically Masters of Public Health, have become (for better or for worse) commonplace to have for a specific caliber of roles one might apply to, and in the world of public health often are a requirement that many tip-toe around. The vast offerings of programs portray just how vibrant of a landscape the public health space continues to become, with varying reasons and contributing factors for which natured program might be right for you (i.e. school or program, full-time or part-time, general concentration, or specific/targeted concentration). 

Of the many choices, there is one that seemingly is a gateway decision into the rest: that of whether or not you seek out options that are solely an accelerated one-year program or if you choose the 2 to 3-year options that previously have been more common. If that decision is one that you are likely in need of consideration, we are happily here to help!

So, why a one-year public health program instead of a longer one?

Here, we hope to provide a paradigm to help navigate this decision and go deeper into what makes an accelerated MPH appealing. As confident as we are in our assessment and with the evidence we provide to help make your decision, we must still provide a disclaimer to remind you that this is a significantly weighted choice, and it is one that at the end of the day revolves around what you feel is most beneficial for your public health career trajectory and current place in life.

What are One Year MPH Programs?

One-year MPH programs, or Accelerated MPH programs, like other graduate programs that are offered in a shorter-than-usual timeframe, are just what they sound like: a shortened program that aims to provide the full background one needs to have a robust background in the field of choice or help prepare you for a specific kind of role in said field. One-year MPH programs have the same type of offerings and structure to other longer MPH programs, yet often have a few modifications to ensure that the program is completable within the stated time frame, especially those programs that are accredited1.

Many graduate programs have a longer duration such as two and sometimes three years. Programs that are shorter tend to be more narrow in their focus and offerings, while longer programs provide a broader offering. These two to three year programs are typically tailored to individuals who are recently out of an undergraduate degree and looking to hone in on one key area of study in order to best prepare themselves for their next steps within their career. 

Graduate programs that have longer two-to-three-year durations often are specifically tailored to students who might seek a more widespread knowledge of public health, or have another reason such as concurrent full-time employment. However, a trend is emerging where the industry is questioning if programs need to be that long. The idea to have these programs increase in duration and requirements has led to an important unignorable moment in higher education globally that questions the utility of each component of these programs. As a result, many in academia have begun to raise the question of whether there might be a need for programs that are less of a time commitment.

One-year MPH programs have emerged as an appealing option for many individuals seeking out public health higher education. It serves as an option to add on an MPH in a manageable timeframe if working full-time or working in an adjacent profession and also supports those who might be transitioning from one career path to another and do not have the capacity to take time off from a regular paycheck. These programs allow for additional opportunities to be exposed to a growing field that is increasingly relevant and useful to have an understanding of.

Read on to see the ins- and outs- of these programs and determine if it might be the right fit for you or a loved one considering it.

When Should You Consider a One Year MPH Program?

Although only you can know if a one-year MPH program is the right next step for you given the many factors that go into such a decision, we aim to help guide you in the right direction by delineating some trends, commonalities, and frequent situations that might apply or be similar to your own.

Below are some situations that warrant consideration of the option to pursue an accelerated program. This list is certainly not exhaustive but might support your reflection process.

  • You are already working in a similar field and believe this knowledge would support and supplement your current career or a future career path of interest to you.
  • You already have training that parallels public health work and decide this addition will add a new dimension to your work or to your resume.
  • You have researched a certain career or career trajectory and have found that recent trends suggest for experience, an accelerated MPH is considered just as useful as a longer MPH program.

  • You cannot pursue a program longer than one year due to family, financial, health, or other related concerns, and completing a one-year program will give you a leg up for job-hunting and future work.

What Differences Exist for One Year MPH Programs vs Traditional?

The most simple way to detail key differences between a One Year MPH and a Traditional MPH is that there is often some kind of tradeoff that is swapped from one experience to the next. Some potential tradeoffs will be the result of the shortened time (less time to experience the work), a general concentration to try to hit many topics in less time (and therefore providing less potential time for you to determine what area of study if most of interest), or the nature of the program (i.e., an online experience instead of an in-person one). 

The tradeoffs from each difference present alternatives to consider. These are not negative tradeoffs by any means, and should be seen as an opportunity. Navigating this decision and determining which experience is right for you will build resilience, help to prioritize key areas and goals, and allow you to highlight the aspects that might be most uniquely fit for you within public health.

This process of choosing which program is right for you is fully subjective, approaching these decisions and opportunities requires reflection and time. For example, hands-on experience in some capacity has evolved to be a quintessential aspect of a graduate program. This is because many students choose to go straight from their undergraduate careers into their graduate programs, and therefore have yet to experience any true real-world experience. The result is that it can often be hard to know all of the relevant nuances about a type of work or a certain field given that much of this is learned in a hands-on way. 

Considering the right path forward is empowering albeit monumental. It is in your hands to choose what circumstances in your life might be worth certain tradeoffs. One year programs offer a great avenue towards pursuing an area swiftly and in a focused fashion. We encourage you to avoid letting others influence your decision-making process as it is only you who can know what feels right for the next step.

All MPH programs require the completion of a Bachelor’s degree, although it does not have to be in a specific field. Many have stopped requiring the GRE (or any graduate-level testing) with some saying they are still suggested. The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) maintains a search engine that can be filtered by this requirement2.

MPH Making an Impact

Introduction to One Year MPH Programs

Of the greater than 140 (and growing) MPH programs that are accredited by CEPH, many offer a version of a one-year accelerated MPH program1. Some programs offer one option, while others have a few alternate variations of the one-year program.

We have selected a handful of established programs to serve as examples, and have listed these alphabetically for ease in reviewing (with a quick tweak for those starting with “University Of”).

Next steps

We hope the process of considering one year MPH programs is clearer now that you have reviewed the various options and offerings. Exposing yourself to the long list of programs is a great first step in understanding what might be the best fit for you. It is exciting to see how much these programs continue to evolve and shift with the need of the public health field!

This is a significantly weighted choice, and it is one that at the end of the day revolves around what you feel is most beneficial for your career trajectory and current place in life. Believe in yourself and the process before you – we are here whenever you need more resources!

About the Authors

Written by:

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld, MPH

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld, MPH, is a burgeoning health policy professional currently conducting research as a project manager of health policy and behavioral economics for one of the top universities in Philadelphia. Maura received her Masters of Public Health from Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health in 2020, concentrating in Health Management & Policy (with a specific focus on Health Policy). She began her public health career in 2016 after graduating from Brandeis University and has worked for the local health department practicing public health data analysis for the city, as well as supporting research for a prominent non-profit public health institute. 

Maura shifted into health policy research and is now working to understand and develop effective policies for health insurance companies, through both the provider and member lens, with an aim of improving disparities and establishing equitable practices. Maura serves as President-Elect for her local branch of APHA, assists in course support and development for a Master of Healthcare Innovation program, and is a Managing Assistant Editor for a Healthcare Delivery journal.

Opinions and information published by the author here on are of my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of my employer or other organizations for my designated roles.

Maura Boughter Dornfeld portrait photograph

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld, MPH

Education: Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Reviewed by:

Katherine Paul, MPH

Katherine Paul, MPH is a senior project manager at a leading medical communications and publications organization. She supports multidisciplinary teams handling large-scale accounts, the deliverables of which improve health outcomes and patient well-being. Ms. Paul holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Promotion from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health and passed the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) shortly after graduation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Dickinson College.

Ms. Paul previously worked at a public health non-profit where she managed all aspects of diverse health-related projects, including the implementation of a randomized controlled clinical trial on sexual health for teens with developmental disabilities, as well as the evaluation of a statewide tobacco cessation program with more than 20,000 annual cases. She has developed and delivered posters and presentations at national conferences including the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting. 

Opinions and information published by the author here on are of my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of my employer or other organizations for my designated roles.

Katherine Paul

Katherine Paul, MPH

Editorial Lead

Education: Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

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