5 Ideas for a Master's in Public Health Thesis

  • Disease-Specific Research
  • Healthcare Policy
  • International Topics
  • Minority and At-Risk Communities
  • Personal Passions

Not every Master's in Public Health (MPH) degree requires a thesis. Some programs require internships or applied research projects instead. For students of public health who are interested in completing a master's dissertation, choosing the right topic is important. A well-written, well-researched MPH dissertation can lead to a great job offer right after graduation. Here are a few thesis topics to consider.

Related Resource: 50 Most Affordable Master in Public Health Degree Programs 2018

1. Disease-Specific Research

Writing a dissertation is a time-consuming effort: Students must conduct literature reviews, collect data, analyze their results and write hundreds of dense pages. This makes it challenging for full-time students to also be full-time employees. Grant funding can help students concentrate on completing their degree, but it's rare for master's theses to receive grant funding outside of the natural sciences. An easy way for MPH students to tap into available funding options is to focus their research efforts on a specific disease like cancer, HIV/AIDS or heart disease. Students concentrating in epidemiology or biostatistics will have the easiest time connecting specific diseases with their area of concentration.

2. Healthcare Policy

With constant changes to American healthcare policy, students always have access to a variety of policy-related topics for their master's theses. Students could analyze national issues, like the new policies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, reported on by The Washington Post. State and local health policy topics give students a chance to establish themselves as leading experts in specialized fields.

3. International Topics

Global health is a hot field in schools of public health. Thousands of students have been inspired by public health leaders,like Dr. Paul Farmer and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, to apply public health knowledge to developing countries. However, students should take care when pursuing an MPH research project in an international topic. Overseas programs can rack up big charges while providing limited benefits, and employers aren't as interested in dissertations as universities are. Oftentimes, international health students would be better served by completing a domestic research project and using any extra cash to volunteer or intern abroad.

4. Minority and At-Risk Communities

Public health schools are often enmeshed in local communities. This means MPH students can partner with professors to build theses off of existing research and local connections. Possible opportunities include using Hispanic churches to promote nutrition education to Hispanic populations, partnering with barbershops to encourage African American men to test their blood pressure or creating a profile on Grindr to advertise HIV/AID testing events to LBGTQ populations.

5. Personal Passions

The best theses topics for MPH students are driven by personal passion. That's because writing a master's dissertation takes many months of effort. Students must fully immerse themselves in the scientific discourse around their chosen topic and be prepared to constantly revise their writing and research until it's perfect. Without passion, motivation will fade. It's better for students to select a so-so topic they can write an excellent paper on than to settle for a top-tier subject and deliver a ho-hum dissertation.

Few students head to graduate school with fully formed research agendas. That's why public health programs teach the research methods and subject matter expertise necessary to develop and complete a strong Master's in Public Health thesis.