New Graduate Programs in Public Administration and Public Health at UIS Global

University of Illinois Springfield
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By Matt Killorin
Last updated on August 11, 2023

Public health and public administration master’s degrees – some STEM-eligible for OPT extensions – are now available for international students eager to make a difference in communities at home or abroad.

University of Illinois Springfield

Three master of public health graduate students at the University of Illinois Springfield sit at a table in front of an open laptop and hold up a binder during a videoconference

UIS Global at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) is launching three new graduate degree options in public administration and public health for international student applicants. Each program combines high-ranked academics with UIS Global’s exclusive services and one-on-one support for international students.

The Master in Public Administration, Master in Public Health, and Master in Public Health – Environmental Health programs prepare civic-minded students for future community, organizational, and even global challenges. Enroll in UIS Global’s new programs to learn how to run a nonprofit or craft an emergency response plan that keeps communities safe – while also getting the support you need to succeed at a leading university in the United States.

A Top-Ranked Master’s Degree in Public Administration

At the intersection of public service and business, public administration teaches many of the same skill sets that students in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs learn, but from the perspective of the government agency, nonprofit organization, or public program. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)-accredited Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) at UIS combines the prestige of high program rankings with thought-leader faculty and one-of-a-kind work experience opportunities.

Learn more: What is a public administration degree in the US? >

U.S. News & World Report has us at #70 in their ranking. But if you look closer at that number, we are also in the top 25% of accredited programs and ranked 29th overall for budget and finance,” said Professor Tyrone Dooley, director of the School of Public Management and Policy. “And then, we do have some really amazing faculty. Our on-ground, in-person classes are being taught by known innovators in many areas of public administration.”

Professors include thought leaders in social justice, social equity, finance, and budgeting. UIS is also home to many nationally recognized programs, including the university’s Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) program. CAST is run by Betsy Goulet, DPA, whose simulation and training work has served as a model for many statewide and national child welfare programs.

“We also do a lot of applied research,” said Dooley. “I’m leading a research team including graduate students that has a $400,000 grant this year [and] $600,000 over a two-year period. One project students can participate in involves program evaluation work, looking at community health organizations in relation to child advocacy and youth development, where students can make an impact while learning.”

Building Skills that Translate for International Students

The MPA program at UIS combines top-ranked theory with exclusive experiential learning and internship opportunities. The result is an adaptable curriculum that students can apply anywhere in the world.

“The biggest component for international students is that the skills translate. Budgeting and finance is a skill set. Numbers are numbers, and balancing a ledger is not something unique to the United States,” said Dooley. “Applied research work, the nationally recognized simulation training Dr. Goulet is doing, these are clinical applications, and you can take and utilize those skills anywhere.”

Dr. Dooley is currently working with an international graduate student research assistant conducting research into mobility and poverty that could significantly influence legislative policy.

“We’re doing this study, and we’ll be presenting at a conference in February or March,” said Dooley. “This is just one example of an international student doing real, meaningful research with practical applications to it.”

By the Numbers: the MPA Program at UIS

The Master of Public Administration program is part of the School of Public Management and Policy at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Accreditation: Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)

Program Ranking: Top 25% of Best Public Administration programs

Required credits to graduate: 36 total credits

Core curriculum:

Approximate cost per credit: $680

Time to graduation: Most students finish between 16-24 months

Career outcomes: The data below represents students from 2014-15 to 2020-21 graduating classes. Find more graduate enrollment and post-graduate career data on the Public Administration Job Placements page.

Local, state, and federal government: 67%

Nonprofit sector: 17%

Private sector: 10%

Two Graduate Public Health Options Now Available to UIS Global International Students

The world needs public health officials and emergency preparedness professionals more now than in recent memory. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 13% growth in health care occupations between 2021 and 2031. In a post-COVID world, public sector, nonprofit, and even private sector enterprises are employing public health professionals at higher rates than before 2019. The BLS reports that this new focus will create more than two million new jobs in the next 10 years.

“The whole field of public health is in high demand,” said Cheng-Chia (Brian) Chen, chair of Public Health admissions, who is also responsible for all program digital marketing channels. “Our students often graduate with internship experience at state or county-level public health agencies. There are quite a lot of positions – each county has a health department, and Illinois alone has about 90 counties. In addition, we have some students going into the private sector and working at places like Amazon or Microsoft in the environmental and occupational health areas.”

The two new graduate degree options available to international students include a general Master of Public Health and a Master of Public Health–Environmental Health. An added benefit for international students studying in the United States on F-1 visas, the Environmental Health concentration also qualifies as a 24-month STEM extension for Optional Practical Training (OPT) post-graduation.

“Graduates from the MPH-Environmental Health program can legally work in the United States longer after graduation,” said Chen, who pointed out that under normal circumstances, non-STEM majors on an F-1 visa can only work in the US for 12 months. “This is a big selling point for international students.”

Learn more about OPT for F-1 visa holders studying in the United States >

Master of Public Health

Public health is a hands-on pursuit, where students must spend time in the field and demonstrate mastery of specific skills to earn their graduate degree in compliance with the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The MPH program focuses on getting students real-world experience.

“The master’s program is more on the practical side, and that’s also the nature of the Master of Public Health degree in general. Unlike other programs, we do not have a thesis option,” said Chen. “Instead, we require 2,200 hours of internship experience, which matches the national standards.”

Students in the General MPH master’s program take classes in biostatistics, epidemiology of infectious diseases, and public health policy and have access to specialization graduate certificates to customize their education in the following areas: epidemiology, community health education, emergency preparedness, and homeland security, environmental health, and environmental risk assessment.

“Each certificate normally requires five courses,” said Chen. “Students get an MPH General, and then they have access to graduate certificates that will equip them with stronger knowledge and make them more competitive when they go into the job market.”

By the Numbers: the General MPH Program at UIS

The Master of Public Health–General program is part of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Accreditation: Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

Required credits to graduate: 48 total credits

Core curriculum:

Approximate cost per credit: $680

Time to graduation: Most students finish between 16-24 months

Career outcomes: The following salaries are based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates:

  • Biostatisticians: $95,570

  • Epidemiologists: $78,830

  • Social and community service managers: $74,000

Public Health – Environmental Health

University of Illinois Springfield’s nationally ranked online master’s program in environmental health now has an on-campus option specially designed for international students. The cross-disciplinary environmental health program at UIS weaves a STEM-based curriculum with the practical intern experience of the general MPH.

Students in the environmental health specialization can focus their studies on risk assessment, emergency preparedness, or environmental health policy and find careers in occupational health and safety, health education, and as environmental health scientists.

“We have some students with private sector jobs at companies such as Amazon or Microsoft,” said Chen. “MPH-Environmental Health is a STEM program, and graduates are occupational health and safety specialists. Many find roles with companies who need specialists so they can obey health and safety laws in place to protect employees.”

With the addition of the two-year STEM extension to optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 visa holders, the environmental health program offers students extra time to gain experience working or interning in the United States.

By the Numbers: the MPH – Environmental Health Program at UIS

The Master of Public Health–Environmental Health program is part of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Accreditation: National Environmental Health, Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC)

Required credits to graduate: 48 total credits

Core curriculum:

Approximate cost per credit: $680

Time to graduation: Most students finish between 17-24 months

Career outcomes: The following salaries are based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates:

  • Occupational health and safety specialists: $77,560

  • Health education specialist: $60,600

  • Environmental scientists and specialists: $76,530

GPSI Program: Exclusive Internship and Work Experience Opportunities

For international students, developing translatable, real-world skills through experiential learning is a compelling reason for studying public administration in the United States. In addition to hands-on access to applied research projects and private sector internships, the University of Springfield’s MPA and MPH students have one-of-a-kind access to internship programs because of a special relationship with the Illinois state government.

One such opportunity is through the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) program. The GPSI program places students enrolled in graduate school into public sector internship roles working for state government agencies, also located in Springfield, the capital city of Illinois.

“A significant number of our students, anywhere from 10% to 25%, have a GPSI appointment,” said Dooley. “International students can work 20 hours a week during the school year and 40 hours a week during the summers, and they get a tuition waiver. They’re getting compensation, and, more importantly, they are getting experience.”

The GPSI program lasts approximately 21 months, depending on the agency for which you work. Students can access experiential learning opportunities in several government sectors with applicable career development opportunities for both MPH and MPA programs.

“We have a great partnership that’s relatively unique because we’re actually in the state capital and part of the system,” said Dooley. “In fact, approximately 80% of MPA students in the GPSI program are offered an agency job after completing their internship.”

Students work while earning their degree and can earn a tuition waiver worth as much as 10 graduate credit hours per semester, saving students thousands of dollars a year.

“For our on-campus international MPH students, almost 90% of them get funding through GPSI,” said Chen. “Through the 21-month program and the tuition waiver, a substantial percentage of their educational costs could be covered. One of the reasons is this is the capital city, so the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and other state-level agencies are located here in Springfield.”

International students are encouraged to apply and do not need to show proof of F-1 visa status. Students living abroad are encouraged to complete their GPSI application file before arriving on the UIS campus for their first semester. International students can apply for GPSI roles before securing their F-1 visa status.

UIS Global Supports International Students at Every Step

Students enrolled at UIS Global receive support from counselors, advisors, and campus teams from application to graduation at no additional cost.

Application counselors provide resources and help you research the right program for you, be it in public health, public administration, or another unrelated field, and can help answer your visa-related queries.

Once you arrive, campus transition specialists will help you acclimate with tours, orientation, and fun opportunities to explore and discover your new home. Tutors and counselors offer academic support – including English language tutoring – and can help you find the right work-study or internship placement. Career services are also available to help you put your best foot forward as you explore post-grad employment.

Learn more about UIS Global at the University of Illinois Springfield >