General Information for Graduate Students

What is the difference between the M.P.H. and M.S. degree programs?

The M.P.H. degree is sometimes called a "professional" or "terminal" degree, which means that students are expected to terminate their education and work in their professions for the rest of their careers. In contrast, the M.S. degree is designed for students who are interested in pursuing their doctorate. The M.S. degree is research-oriented, whereas the M.P.H. degree is oriented toward practitioners. The M.S. degree program is highly recommended for students who think that they will pursue their doctorate, as completing a thesis provides invaluable experience in preparing for one's doctoral dissertation.

It is important to note that having an M.P.H. degree does not preclude one from applying for doctoral level studies, should you change your mind at some later point in your life. The M.S. degree provides certain advantages in applying to Ph.D. programs, but it is quite common for applicants with an M.P.H. degree to be accepted into doctoral programs.

If you have any further questions, please contact our department administrative assistant, Ms. Gloria Seaman, by email at or by phone at (413) 545-4603.

Where do people go to work after completing your program?

Graduates work in a variety of settings, including state and local health departments, hospitals and community health centers, private non-profit agencies that deliver public health services, HMOs, educational institutions, in particular in student health services on college campuses and health programs in secondary schools, private business in wellness programs and employee assistance programs, and international health settings.

The largest employer of public health graduates across the country is probably state and local health departments. In Massachusetts, however, due to our unique historical circumstances, public health services are largely delivered through a privatized “purchase-of-services” system, where contracts for implementing programs are put out to bid in a competitive application process. In this system, most public health services are delivered by private non-profit agencies, and hence, in Massachusetts, most of our graduates find jobs working at these types of agencies.