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MPH Curriculum

The MPH program provides inter-professional education and training in public health concepts targeted to working health professionals and traditional students alike. It provides a practice-oriented program for students in all of the health professions who want to strengthen general knowledge and skills in public health.

Requirement Credits
Total Credits 42
6 Required Courses 18
2 Required 1-Credit Seminars 2
1 Methods Course (chosen from a list of 10 Curriculum Committee-approved courses) 3
Field Experience 6
Electives (chosen from across the University’s schools and programs) 13

MPH Core Courses

There are six, required, three-credit core courses that must be completed as part of the MPH Program. Five of the MPH program’s 6 required courses address the five core areas of knowledge basic to public health. The sixth required course provides an overview of the core functions of public health and introduces the students to cross-cutting competencies such as public health communication, diversity and culture, leadership, program planning, and systems thinking.

A brief description of each course, followed by a link to the syllabi from the most recent offering of the course is included.

BMI 511 Introduction to Statistics for Public Health

This course provides a breadth in biostatistical methods for public health practitioners. Topics will include research design, data collection methods and database management, statistical computing and programming, descriptive statistics in tables and graphics, and biostatistical methods for summary measures, probability and distributions, sampling distributions, statistical inference, hypothesis testing and statistical comparison, nonparametrics, correlation, regression analysis and survey sampling.

PHS 780 Public Health Principles and Practice

This course provides an opportunity to learn about evidence-based public health and the difference between individual- and population-based strategies for improving health. The format will include lectures, discussions, and problem-based learning. Students will examine a contemporary public health issue using a case study approach, and understand the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to public health improvement. Download Syllabus

PHS 785 Health Systems, Management & Policy

This course focuses on topics related to the healthcare system structure, management and organizations, health policy, and healthcare reform and international policies. Download Syllabus

PHS 786 Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health

In this course, students analyze public health issues from a social and behavioral sciences perspective, and critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of particular theories for developing effective population and community-based intervention programs. Course content is separated into three modules: (a) examination of the prevailing social and behavioral theories, (b) application of social and behavioral theory to develop effective programs that address public health problems, (c) bridging the gaps from theory and research to practice and policy. Download Syllabus

PHS 789 Principles of Environmental Health for Public Health Practice

Students in this course will define environmental health and describe its’ history as a crucial aspect of the history of public health, describe unique elements of environmental health as a public health discipline, describe the U.S. and world health status and issues as background framework to environmental health, describe the major classes of toxic substances and regulations currently in place to manage risks, learn to apply risk principles and weight of evidence to develop environmental health metrics/indicators for environmental management and decision-making, learn to communicate indicator findings using multiple modes, text, data and maps, develop three environmental health indicators for use in environmental health management and policy/decision-making including understanding the genetic, physiologic, and psychosocial factors that affect susceptibility to adverse outcomes, understand differences in scale of use and its impact on availability and use of environmental health data, discuss solutions to environmental health problems: risk assessment and HIA that integrate across disciplines and account for feedbacks and side-effects of interventions, and develop effective risk communication strategies related to environmental health. Syllabus

PHS 797 Introduction to Epidemiology

This course incorporates lectures and discussions on design, implementation and interpretation of epidemiologic studies; emphasis on methodologic problems in the measurement of disease frequency, natural history and risk factors. Download Syllabus

Required Seminars

All students in the MPH Program must complete two, one-credit seminars. A brief description and a link to the syllabus of the most recent course offering is included below.

PHS 787 Field Work Seminar

This one-credit seminar, that is completed completely on-line, outlines the policies, procedures and expectations for students preparing for the MPH field work requirement. Students gain knowledge and learn basic skills to assist them in the implementation of a field placement and/or capstone project. The course is offered each semester and session for an eight-week period. During the eight weeks, there is an assignment due each week. Syllabus

PHS 795 Principles of Population Health Science

This course provides a foundation for studying population health science. The course introduces students to the multiple determinants of health including medical care, socioeconomic status, the physical environment and individual behavior, and their interactions. MPH students take the course for 1 credit during the first 8 weeks of the Fall semester. Download Syllabus

Methods Courses

Methods courses allow students to develop public health skills. Students are required to complete one 3-credit course chosen from the following list of approved courses:

Civil Society & Community Studies 501: Evaluation Research in Practice

This course introduces students to the design and use of evaluation to understand and assess those places within communities (e.g., groups, organizations, networks, associations) that are critical to civil society. The course combines community-based experiential learning (i.e., collaborative action research and/or descriptive analysis of selected settings) with classroom instruction.

Counseling Psychology 719: Introduction to Qualitative Methods

In this course we will explore the philosophical foundations of qualitative methods, connecting them to their homes in education and other disciplines. In addition, we will look across a variety of qualitative methods to examine assumptions about the nature of knowledge and reality, the relationship between the researcher and the researched, issues of standards and ethics, and methods for generating and communicating data and interpretation. We will read methodological and theoretical works that represent various genres of qualitative research and exemplars of qualitative studies in education. Among the types of qualitative work we will explore are case study, ethnography, grounded theory, narrative analysis, discourse analysis and practitioner research.

Nursing 761: Health Program Planning, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement

This course provides content in the concepts and methods of program planning and evaluation in the context of healthcare and community health organizations. Provides basic content related to designing and implementing health services quality improvement projects.

Public Affairs 871: Public Program Evaluation

(capacity limited - priority given to MPA and MPA-MPH students)
In this course graduate students study strategies for evaluating the efficacy of public programs, as well as strategies for addressing the challenges of applying program evaluation methods in “real world” policy settings. The estimation of a policy or program’s impact—based on observation and measurement of the program over time, the careful construction of a counterfactual state (what would have happened in the absence of the program), and hypothesis testing and estimation using experimental or non-experimental methods—is often a long and involved process if done well. As capacities for data collection and storage have expanded and tools for evaluation have advanced, the demands for program evaluation have grown exponentially. At the same time, however, expectations for using information that is readily and regularly collected to inform decision making and to make adjustments to programs as needed to increase their effectiveness have also risen, creating new challenges for the evaluation field. It is a goal of this course to expose students to “state of the art” methods in program evaluation and to provide them with an understanding of when and how they can be most usefully applied to produce knowledge and evidence of program effectiveness to guide program and policy decision making. This course focuses primarily on quantitative methods of program evaluation, although we will discuss the role and importance of qualitative research methods as well in the various stages of program evaluation. The course also address the relationship between program theory and evaluation design, ethical issues in program evaluation, the use of data for continuous quality improvement, interpretation of research findings, and the role of evaluation results in program and policy development.

Population Health Sciences 552: Regression Methods for Population Health

This course serves as an introduction to the primary statistical tools used in epidemiology and health services research; multiple linear regression, logistic regression, and survival analysis. Download Syllabus

POP HLTH 819: Social Network Analysis and Health

This course provides an overview and synthesis of research utilizing social network analysis in relation to health, drawing on studies by sociologists, economists, computer scientists, physicians and health services researchers. The course enables students to understand how social network data are collected and processed; how to calculate appropriate network measures; how to apply statistical modeling of social network effects on health behavior. The course will survey social network studies related to substance use, smoking, contraception, HIV/AIDS, obesity and many other health conditions. The course will also look at the social networks of health organizations in relation to patient outcomes.

Population Health Sciences 796: Introduction to Health Services Research

This course introduces students to a variety of perspectives, substantive areas and methodological approaches to health services research that provide the foundation for understanding the structure, process and outcomes of the U.S. health care system. PHS 795 Introduction to Population Health is a prerequisite for this course. Syllabus

Population Health Sciences 798: Epidemiologic Methods

The main emphasis of this course is the design and interpretation of epidemiologic studies. The course includes hands-on experience in the evaluation of epidemiologic evidence, the analysis of epidemiologic data, and the discussion of strategies aimed to improve study validity and efficiency. PHS 797 Introduction to Epidemiology is a prerequisite for this course. Download Syllabus

Population Health Sciences 803: Monitoring Population Health

This course is designed to help you learn about using and collecting both quantitative and qualitative data to inform your public health/population health work. The course will provide a very practical approach to analyzing and using existing data sources such as the census, BRFSS, the state's searchable health data system, and others. Download Syllabus

Population Health Sciences 875: Cost Effectiveness Analysis in Health and Healthcare

The overall goal of this course is to introduce you to the key concepts of health technology assessment, with a focus on cost-effectiveness analysis. This field is multidisciplinary and policy-oriented: this means that there are many possible angles from which to teach the material, and a fair deal of context (and pretext) behind it. It also means, quite simply, that there is a lot of challenging material and many different ways to do basically the same thing and substantial disagreement about what is the “best” way. It is impossible to cover every interesting topic (much less every important one!) from every angle in a single course. Upon completing this course, you should have enough understanding of the methods and practice of technology assessment to be able to critically assess technology appraisals and their related academic literature. Beyond that, you should also become equipped with the tools necessary to begin to do your own technology assessment research and to be able to find further information and reach out to collaborators (and perhaps most importantly, to know when it is necessary to find further information and reach out to collaborators!). Download Syllabus

Population Health Sciences/Public Affairs 881: Benefit Cost Analysis

This course will present the welfare economics underpinnings for evaluating the social benefits and costs of government activities. Issues such as uncertainty, the social discount rate, and welfare weights will be discussed; case studies from the environmental, social policy, and agricultural areas will be studied. Download Syllabus

Course Grids

MPH Core and Methods Spring 2018 (1184) - All PHS Courses Spring 2018 (1184)

Population Health Summer 2018 Course Offerings (1186)

Population Health Fall 2018 Course Offerings (1192)

Field Experience

The field experience is a required component for all students in the MPH program. This requirement provides students with practical experience allowing them to apply and incorporate skills and knowledge learned from the classroom in a public health setting. Students participate in a population-focused field experience following the completion of the majority of their coursework.


Elective courses are intended to deepen a student’s knowledge in one or more areas of public health: epidemiology, health policy and administration, methods, biostatistics, global health, communication, environmental health, cultural competence and community health. Find a list of approved electives here.

POP HLTH 650: Social Network Analysis and Health

This course provides an overview and synthesis of research utilizing social network analysis in relation to health, drawing on studies by sociologists, economists, computer scientists, physicians and health services researchers. The course enables students to understand how social network data are collected and processed; how to calculate appropriate network measures; how to apply statistical modeling of social network effects on health behavior. The course will survey social network studies related to substance use, smoking, contraception, HIV/AIDS, obesity and many other health conditions. The course will also look at the social networks of health organizations in relation to patient outcomes.

Capstone Requirement

Each student must complete a Capstone Project prior to graduation. It is the final requirement for the MPH degree. The Capstone Project is based on a non-thesis, culminating MPH experience. Students demonstrate their mastery of public health competencies through:

  • A choice of a formal paper
    • 20-30 page research paper/report
    • manuscript prepared for peer-reviewed public health journal
  • A choice of an oral presentation
    • 10 minute presentation at a community organization
    • Poster presenation at Department of Population Health Sciences annual event
    • 2-3 minute digital story
  • An oral defense (meeting with the student's Capstone Committee to discuss paper)