Can I Pursue a Master’s in Public Health with a Nursing Degree?

Can I Pursue a Master's in Public Health with a Nursing Degree?Pursuing a master’s in public health with a nursing degree is an ideal way for nurses to advance their education and work in a field where they can help to improve the quality of healthcare and teach others to do the same. Community health workers and health educators, such as public health nurses, are very much in demand today as healthcare costs continue to escalate. Their knowledge of public health issues allows them to teach others how to live and stay healthy. Learn about the role of a public health nurse or administrator, what it takes to become one, and how registered nurses can easily advance to this profession.

How Can I Become a Public Health Professional?

To become a public health professional, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field. Although this career is possible with a bachelor’s degree, most students pursuing a career in public health earn a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs with specializations in public health are often the path for this career. Many of these graduate programs are offered online with the exception of any internship that may be required.

Some of the course topics the public health student must complete include environmental health, statistical methods in public health, statistical reasoning in public health, fundamentals in epidemiology, managing health service organizations, program planning for health behavior change and human development across the lifespan.

Once you’ve successfully completed the training, you can obtain certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. You can earn the Public/Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist credential and/or the Advanced Public Health Nursing credential. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. also offers certification to public health professionals.

Can a Registered Nurse Pursue a Master’s in Public Health?

An individual can definitely pursue a master’s in public health with a nursing degree. In fact, many public health administrators or directors are also registered nurses. However, the registered nurse is generally required to have a bachelor’s degree. Once the registered nurse earns the bachelor’s degree, he or she can enroll in graduate program that specializes in public health or public health nursing (see: Top 10 Best Online RN to BSN Programs).

The most common program is the baccalaureate to master’s degree program. A dual master’s degree program is also available for students who want have a graduate degree with a focus on public health or public health administration. Currently, there are about 120 dual master’s degree nursing programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Career Outlook for a Public Health Nurse

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that health educators and community health workers (a category that includes public health nurses) will see an employment growth of twenty-one percent from 2012-2022. Graduates of public health programs may work in various specialty areas and settings, including health services administration, international health, state public health agencies, and public school health departments, among others. According to, public health nurses earned an average annual salary of $49,317 as of September 2014.

If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career, you may want to check into pursuing a master’s in public health with a nursing degree (please also see: What is the Best Way to Choose a Nursing Speciality?). It will not only improve your earning potential but will put you in a career where your knowledge can enhance the quality of healthcare available to the public in every type of patient population.