Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most common questions relating to the Master of Public Health full-time programme.

What is public health?

Public health is often defined as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society” (Acheson, 1988).  It involves a range of activities aimed at improving the health of the population through education, policy-making and research.  It draws on a range of different disciplines, including epidemiology, health economics, sociology, psychology, social policy, biostatistics and management.    

What is a Masters in public health?

In the UK, the terms 'Master of Public Health' and 'MSc in Public Health' are used interchangeably to mean a postgraduate degree, which will introduce you to a range of public health approaches and equip you for careers in public health practice and research.

What background should I have?

The programme is for those interested in a career in public health practice or research. We accept students from a wide range of backgrounds, with a 2:1 degree in a variety of subjects. You can be from a clinical or from a non-clinical background. Whether you are already working in a public health role, keen to move into such a role in the future, or simply interested in public health for its own sake, our programme is designed for you. In addition to considering your degree subject and grades, we also place a strong emphasis on enthusiasm and willingness to learn new subjects that might be outside your "comfort zone".

How difficult is the programme?

Most students find this degree both challenging and rewarding. Whatever your background, you will find some parts easier and some much harder.

I want to work and study, is it possible?

The workload is relatively high: we pack a lot of material into this intensive, one-year programme, including an individual research project. It is not advisable to work full time alongside your studies. For students who wish to continue working on a part time basis, we offer a two-year study option, however, there are limitations for international students seeking study visas. Please see the next FAQ for more details.

I am interested in a part-time on-campus MPH

We offer a two-year part-time on-campus MPH, you can access both full time and part time applications by clicking on the link below and selecting the option you prefer. Please note: The part-time programme can only be offered to Home students as part-time study does not qualify for a Tier 4 visa.

Link to applications, details on application dates and entry requirements

The Usher institute also offers a three-year online part-time Master of Public Health which may be more suited to a full-time job and/or other personal responsibilities.

Link to online, part-time Master of Public Health

What is the difference between an online public health degree and an on-campus degree?

At the University of Edinburgh, we offer both online and on-campus Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees. The two have some differences in content but are of equal academic value and standard. Attracting students from all over the world, the Master of Public Health programmes have a strong global health theme and are designed to be relevant to students from across the world. 

What is the cost of a Master of Public Health degree?

You can find information on our fees using the links below.

Link to more information about fees

Type "Public Health (MPH) (Full Time)" in the Search box and click 'Filter' to find more information about fees for our Part-Time option.

Type "Public Health (MPH) (Part Time)" in the Search box and click 'Filter' to find more information about fees for our Part-Time option.

What are the semester dates?

The academic year is divided into two semesters. Students will undertake a dissertation project between May and August. 

Semester 1 September - December 
Semester 2 January - April 
Dissertation May - August 

Link to Future Semester Dates

How many applications are received and how many places are available?

Our MPH campus programme is one of our most popular and we tend to get hundreds of applications for it each year. However, due to practical aspects of facilities, etc, and the importance of engaging meaningfully with our students to help them get the most out of the programme, we aim to have about 60 students join us each year. This number may change from year to year.

Can I apply to the programme before my current degree is finished?

Applicants are welcome to apply for the programme before meeting the required academic minimum qualifications, this means that the admissions team will assess your application on the basis of any documents you have submitted. Any offer you then receive for a place on the programme would be conditional on providing documents proving you have met our minimum requirements.

For international equivalents to a UK 2:1 degree please see the link below for more information.

Link to international equivalents

What GPA do I need to apply to this programme?

We accept a grade of UK 2:1 or its international equivalent as a minimum requirement. There is a guide of equivalent grades which can be found using the link below.

Link to international equivalents

Which scholarships I can apply for?

The programme does not hold any funding, but there are limited funding opportunities available for Postgraduate programmes, which can be found using our funding search tool. 

Link to funding search tool

Alternatively, you can email the funding and scholarships team directly to get advice:

We have no control over the outcome of scholarship applications. Unfortunately, if your scholarship applications have been unsuccessful and our Student Funding team are unable to recommend additional funding options, then you would need to secure your own funding, or apply at a later date when your scholarship applications may be successful. If you choose to withdraw from any offers you may have been sent, please email us at 

I don’t have an English qualification, can I still apply?

Applicants are welcome to apply for the programme before passing any of the required English tests, should you need one. This means the admissions team will assess your application on the basis of any documents you have submitted. Any offer you then receive for a place on the programme would be conditional and could only progress once you submit the required documents to prove you have met our minimum requirements.

Link to further guidance on English Language requirements

I come from a background outside of health/medicine/not listed on your entry requirement. Can I still apply?

Applicants who come from backgrounds not included in the entry requirements will be considered if they are able to demonstrate that they have completed some independent study of Medical or Public Health related subjects, or have work experience in the field. Your personal statement would also be particularly important in this case, as the programme is extremely competitive. 

Link to more information on personal statements, relevant knowledge and work experience

I did my degree a while ago and can’t get an academic reference

We understand that for some applicants it’s difficult to get academic references and we are happy to accept references from a line manager or someone of a similar standing.

Link to more information on references

My degree does not meet your minimum requirements

Our MPH programme has set a UK 2:1 or international equivalent as the minimum requirement for entry to the programme. Unfortunately due to the high number of applications we see each year, we cannot accept applications which fall below minimum entry requirements. For more information on our entry requirements and international equivalents, please see our application page.

Link to application page

I would like to defer

The Master of Public Health does not offer deferrals. If you would like to join the programme in a later year, please withdraw your application and reapply when you are ready to begin your studies. Your details will be saved in the University Applications Hub for a period of time, which means you won’t need to completely re-write your application, depending on how soon you reapply.

Can I come as an International Student?

We welcome students from any country, and our cohort is a mix of multicultural students.

Please note: Any international student wishing to join the programme will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa as this programme is taught on campus in Edinburgh, U.K. 

Link to Student Immigration Service

How is the programme structured?

The first and second semesters cover 120 credits of taught courses: 80 credits of compulsory study and 40 credits of which students are free to choose from a number of courses which reflect their interests or specialism in Public Health. In the third semester, students move to a dissertation which will be supported by a supervisor who will advise on research design and give advice on draft chapters.

There will also be a number of talks and seminars arranged by the programme outside of this, including academic writing for public health and academic tutorial groups.

Link to more information about our programme structure

What careers can I go on to?

Graduates of the MPH go on to a wide variety of careers. Some continue with their studies, some go into research and some work in policy. This is shaped by your previous experience and interests.

Can I book accommodation to bring my partner with me while I study?

The University provide accommodation for couples and families, and more on this can be found using the link below. However, accommodation is booked on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you need to apply early to secure this.

Link to more information about University accommodation

Where can I read news and learn about upcoming events?

The Usher Institute's monthly newsletter is called Illuminate, and features news and future events. You can also read past issues to decide if this subscription is right for you.

Link to read more about Illuminate

What is the Usher Institute?

Our Master of Family Medicine programme sits in the Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, which sits within the Edinburgh Medical School in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The Usher Institute also sits within the Deanery and focuses on transforming health in society by working with people, populations and data. Many of our colleagues who work with health-related research are based in the Usher Institute.

Link to the Usher Institute

Further questions and information

If you have further questions, please contact the programme team at