Graduate and Undergraduate Program Competencies

Competencies for College of Public Health Graduate Programs

The faculty of the College of Public Health has established competencies for all its graduate degrees (MPH; MHA; MS; PhD) and programs and specializations. The competencies are based on information gathered from applicable professional organizations including the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health; Institute of Medicine), information from external advisory committees and employers, and, applicable governmental standards or professional guidelines.

The learning objectives for the required core and specialization courses are aligned with these competencies. The assessment process for assuring that successful learners and graduates meet the desired competencies include objective and subjective quizzes and examinations, research papers, problem-sets, specialized practicum, culminating projects, student/graduate surveys, and employer surveys.

The competencies are listed below, organized by degree program. For the MPH degree, the core competencies for all graduates are listed first, followed by those for the specializations.

Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree

Core competencies for all MPH degree students, regardless of specialization

 Integrative and Interdisciplinary Competencies

 Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates will be prepared to:

1.    apply appropriate descriptive and inferential statistical techniques to public health data and interpret results of statistical analyses in the context of public health research and evaluation;

2.    apply foundational principles of environmental health science to categorize sources and types of contaminants, matrices involved, pathways for and modes of exposure, associated health effects and societal issues, approaches to control, and major regulations;

3.    apply epidemiologic principles to investigate the distribution of risk factors and disease in the population to improve public health;

4.    apply evidence-based concepts of health behavior and health promotion to the design of public health messages and strategies;

5.    discuss the major components of the U.S. health care system and be able to apply their understanding to examine health policy and health program issues;

6.    demonstrate effective written and oral skills for communicating with different audiences in the context of professional public health activities;

7.    develop public health programs and strategies responsive to the diverse cultural values and traditions of the communities being served;

8.    apply the core functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance in the analysis of global public health problems and their solutions;

9.    apply basic principles of ethical analysis to issues of public health practice and policy; and,

10. collaborate with multidisciplinary groups to recognize and evaluate public health issues and develop strategies for intervention.

 Additional competencies for fields of specialization in the MPH degree

 Biomedical Informatics

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in biomedical informatics will be prepared to:

  1. Compare and contrast types of major domestic and international public health issues, including sources/causes of infectious/chronic diseases, transmission, risk factors, morbidity and mortality.
  2. Discuss various approaches/strategies for identification, response and intervention to address and attempt to resolve common public health issues.
  3. Identify genetic, social, political, cultural, behavioral, socioeconomic, demographic and ethical factors and relationships to domestic and international public health issues and determinants of health. 
  4. Use basic tools and apply the fundamental principles of the five core disciplines of public health (biostatistics; environmental health; epidemiology; health administration/policy; health behavior/promotion) for domestic and international population health issues.
  5. Utilize existing knowledge sources (e.g. databases) commonly used for biomedical informatics.
  6. Discuss core biomedical informatics theories, methods, and practice areas from individual and population-based perspectives.
  7. Interpret applicable research articles
  8. Apply principles of ethics for professional practice and responsible conduct of research

 Biostatistics

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in biostatistics will be prepared to:

  1. Critique scientific research articles and assess the appropriateness of statistical applications involved.
  2. Describe preferred methodological alternatives to commonly used statistical methods when assumptions are not met
  3. Develop written and oral presentations based on statistical analyses for both public health professionals and educated lay audiences
  4. Apply appropriate statistical techniques for analyzing public health-related data with specific characteristics
  5. Collaborate with investigators in the design and analysis of data for public health related research
  6. Describe basic concepts of probability random variation and commonly used statistical probability distributions
  7. Use standard statistical software for both data management and data analysis

 Environmental Health Sciences

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in environmental health sciences will be prepared to:

  1. Explain the significance of the community and workplace environment to environmental health.
  2. Outline the health threat that natural and anthropogenic contaminants in the environment and pose to population health.
  3. Compare the fate, transport, and human uptake of chemical and biological agents.
  4. Explain the physiological factors that influence human exposure and the uptake of chemical and biological environmental agents.
  5. Critique and conduct human risk assessments.
  6. Identify and explain individual (e.g., genetic, physiologic, and psychosocial) and community (social, built, economic, race) susceptibility factors that heighten the risk for populations for adverse health outcomes from environmental hazards.
  7. Define, recognize, and explain environmental justice and its significance as a public health issue.
  8. Use various risk management and risk communication approaches for environmental hazards.
  9. Summarize the underlying mechanisms of toxicity resulting from exposure to environmental agents.
  10. Describe federal and state regulatory programs, guidelines, and authorities relevant to environmental and occupational health.
  11. Access state, federal, and local resources for assessing environmental and occupational health.
  12. Work with other public health disciplines (e.g. nurses, physicians, veterinarians, epidemiologists, biostatisticians) to address environmental and occupational health concerns.
  13. Compare the principle components and influencing factors in the exposure continuum from source to disease.
  14. Determine the role of exposure assessment in environmental and occupational health.

 Epidemiology

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in epidemiology will be prepared to:

  1. Design a survey to examine a public health problem or for use in an epidemiologic investigation.
  2. Choose the correct analysis for data obtained from an epidemiologic investigation, including data from surveys, matched and unmatched case-control studies, cohort studies, and clinical trials.
  3. Analyze and interpret data obtained from an epidemiologic investigation, including data from surveys, matched and unmatched case-control studies, cohort studies, and clinical trials.
  4. Assess confounding and effect modification in data from an epidemiologic investigation.
  5. Demonstrate familiarity with the basic content and issues in at least two substantive areas of application in epidemiology (e.g., cardiovascular epidemiology, cancer epidemiology, chronic disease epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, injury epidemiology).
  6. Identify the natural histories of major types of disease and their relevance to epidemiologic investigations.
  7. Use appropriate computer software for the management and analysis of epidemiologic data.

 Health Behavior and Health Promotion

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in health behavior and health promotion will be prepared to:

  1. Explain the history, scope, and philosophical basis of public health education.
  2. Critically assess the evidence linking behavioral and psychosocial factors to health and illness.
  3. Apply behavioral and social science theory to the development and implementation of health promotion and disease prevention programs at multiple targets and different levels of intervention (intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community).
  4. Critically assess the scientific literature describing health promotion interventions.
  5. Assess and summarize the health-related needs and resources of a defined community.
  6. Identify mechanisms to secure funding, manage and administer health promotion and disease prevention programs so as to ensure optimal program delivery.
  7. Design and carry out process evaluation for the improvement of health promotion programs.
  8. Collaboratively design and carry out outcome evaluations of health promotion programs.
  9. Apply ethical principles to the planning and evaluation of social and behavioral change efforts.
  10. Demonstrate cultural competency when planning health promotion and disease prevention activities.
  11. Recognize the importance of health literacy in creating and/or evaluating health promotion and disease prevention materials.
  12. Explain how health promotion efforts enable communities to influence their own well-being.
  13. Anticipate challenges and opportunities in working collaboratively with communities.
  14. Advocate for social and behavioral sciences intervention and policies.

 Health Services Management and Policy

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in health services management and policy will be prepared to:

  1. Summarize public policy processes related to health care, including the creation and implementation of policy and the political aspects of policy.
  2. Describe the types of health care financing methods used by state and federal agencies and private organizations and their implications for health services access, quality, and cost.
  3. Describe the organization, governance, and management structure of typical public and private health care delivery systems in the U.S.
  4. Apply techniques of budgeting and financial analysis related to health care delivery and public health programs.
  5. Apply organizational theories and management principles appropriate for managing in health care delivery and public health settings.
  6. Identify key principles involved in leading and sustaining organizational change.
  7. Apply basic principles of ethical analysis to issues related to management and health policy in communities and organizational settings.
  8. Use relevant economic principles to analyze the structure, management, and performance of organizations and the health system.
  9. Communicate effectively with diverse constituencies, both within and external to health services organizations.

 Veterinary Public Health

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in veterinary public health will be prepared to:

  1. Describe zoonotic and foodborne infectious diseases, especially those that are reportable, bioterrorism threats, or have a major impact on public health.
  2. Design epidemiological and field studies to assess prevalence and distribution of zoonotic and foodborne diseases, as well as surveillance and monitoring methods.
  3. Coordinate data collection and epidemiological database management, including quality control of data.
  4. Tabulate and analyze epidemiological data using standard statistical methods.
  5. Evaluate disease prevention, control and/or eradication programs, including pre- and post-harvest intervention programs.
  6. Provide technical advice and guidance in surveillance methods, study design, and data collection.
  7. Plan, initiate, and conduct case and outbreak investigations of zoonotic and foodborne diseases.
  8. Determine the appropriate human, animal, arthropod, food product, and/or environmental specimens for lab analysis, as well as the proper tests and the right delivery procedures.
  9. Review technical and confidential case reports, scientific publications and different sources of information for accuracy and correctness.
  10. Prepare summaries, reports, and presentations for different target audiences.
  11. Prepare literature reviews in specific topics.
  12. Exhibit teamwork and networking skills in relating with different human resources having different backgrounds, professions, and educational levels.

 Clinical Translational Science

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates with a specialization in clinical translational science will be prepared to:

  1. Design a Clinical Translational Science relevant to the student’s field of clinical specialty, including the definition of study aims and objectives and the creation of an appropriate study design.
  2. Identify and employ data collection strategies and instruments appropriate to the student’s field of clinical specialty.
  3. Select appropriate methods for the analysis of clinical research data.
  4. Collaboratively prepare a grant application to seek funding for a Clinical Translational Science project.
  5. Use decision analysis and relevant evaluation methods to examine issues of appropriate implementation of treatments or technologies.
  6. Recognize ethical issues that are likely to arise in Clinical Translational Sciences, and the procedures for handling them appropriately.
  7. Apply ethical principles to the conduct of Clinical Translational Sciences, with special emphasis on protection of research subjects.
  8. Prepare a manuscript suitable for publication and/or reporting to a sponsor on the conduct and results of a Clinical Translational Science.

 Program for Experienced Professionals

Upon completion of the MPH degree, all graduates in the Program for Experienced Professionals will be prepared to:

  1. Discuss key themes and events in the history and development of public health.
  2. Apply basic management concepts to plan, organize, lead, and motivate workers in a public health setting.
  3. Demonstrate team-building, negotiation, and conflict management skills.
  4. Design and implement process and outcome evaluations of public health interventions.
  5. Manage human and financial resources efficiently and effectively to accomplish goals and objectives.
  6. Develop and present a budget for a public health program.
  7. Participate effectively in the public and organizational policy process, including the creation and implementation of policy and political aspects of policy.
  8. Communicate effectively with a variety of constituencies, internal and external to the organization or agency, and serve as an advocate for public health.
  9. Collaborate with diverse partners to accomplish organizational and community goals.
  10. Conduct simple analyses with an appropriate statistical data analysis package.
  11. Maintain values that are appropriate and relevant to the profession and to the communities and settings in which they work.

Master of Health Administration (MHA) Degree

Upon graduation, a successful student with an MHA degree should be able to:

  1. Assess opportunities to improve health services organizations through application of organizational theories and organization development principles.
  2. Analyze how organizational and environmental factors shape the structure of health care organizations and the roles, responsibilities and influence of governing bodies.
  3. Apply methods and techniques for organizational, employee, and professional staff development that ensure a diverse and high performing work force.
  4. Use systems-thinking and analytic methods to assess operations performance and improve organizational processes.
  5. Apply principles of quality improvement in the context of clinical performance.
  6. Analyze the value, risks and opportunities of information technology and associated data for improving performance of health organizations and the broader health system.
  7. Perform environmental, market, and community needs analyses, develop strategic alternatives, formulate strategic goals, and develop programs, business plans, and implementation strategies to support goal achievement.
  8. Explain financial and accounting information, prepare and manage budgets, and evaluate investment decisions.
  9. Analyze and apply economic theory and concepts for decision-making.
  10. Explain important issues in health care, including circumstances causing major changes and reform in U.S. health care delivery.
  11. Describe the public policy process related to health care, including the creation and implementation of policy and the political aspects of policy and articulate the impact on the delivery of health services.
  12. Recognize legal issues that may arise in health care delivery and business settings and respond appropriately.
  13. Describe how epidemiological, market, patient outcome, and organizational performance data are used to improve quality, and manage financial and other risks associated with defined populations
  14. Develop effective leadership approaches to communicate a vision, motivate stakeholders, build consensus, and lead organizational change efforts.
  15. Shape opinions, processes, or outcomes through example, persuasive communication, or use of informal power.
  16. Demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement through reflection, goal setting, self-assessment, and the cultivation of professional networks.
  17. Work cooperatively with others, create, participate on, and lead teams, including inter-professional.
  18. Apply ethical principles, social and professional values to analyze managerial, organizational and policy situations. Demonstrate professional values and ethics. 
  19. Evaluate a situation, issue, or idea by understanding and challenging assumptions, considering competing points of view, and anticipating potential effects within and beyond the health care system.
  20. Write in a clear, logical manner and prepare effective business communications.
  21. Demonstrate effective oral communication and presentation skills.  
  22. Analyze data and interpret quantitative information for organization decision making.
  23. Design, plan, implement, and assess projects and develop appropriate timelines related to performance, structure and outcomes. 
  24. Identify and use data within organizations to improve performance.
  25. Use multiple methods and sources to seek comprehensive information, generate creative new solutions—or adapt previous solutions—and apply structured decision-making techniques and tools to address health care questions.

Master of Science (MS) Degree

  1. Explain how the core public health concepts of biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health behavior/health promotion, and health administration relate to the student’s area of specialization.
  2. Synthesize literature in student’s area of specialization relative to their thesis topic and its importance for public health.
  3. Summarize relevant theories and conceptual models that inform their research.
  4. Conduct a research project using appropriate research methods and ethical approaches.
  5. Prepare a thesis summarizing the research project and interpreting the results.
  6. Communicate in writing and orally a research project’s methods, results, limitations, conclusions and public health relevance.

Biomedical Informatics

  1. Utilize existing knowledge sources (e.g. databases) commonly used for biomedical informatics research and applications.
  2. Discuss core biomedical informatics concepts, methods, and practice areas from individual and population-based perspectives.
  3. Apply biomedical informatics methods to address challenges in the field of public health.

Biostatistics

  1. Address problems arising in public health and medicine through appropriate statements of hypotheses, study design, data collection, data management, statistical analysis, and interpretation of results.
  2. Recognize strengths and weaknesses of study designs, data sources, and analytic methods.
  3. Explain core concepts of probability, random variation and commonly used statistical probability distributions and how they relate to statistical inference.
  4. Use computational methods to effectively analyze complex public health and medical data.

Environmental Health Sciences

  1. Explain individual and community susceptibility and vulnerability factors that heighten the risk for populations for adverse health outcomes from environmental hazards.
  2. Apply the environmental health paradigm (i.e., EHS Model) to characterizing hazardous physical, chemical and biological agents relative to sources, categories, exposure matrices/pathways, distribution, human exposures, responses, societal/regulatory actions, and technological controls.
  3. Work with various stakeholders and other professions to proactively and reactively address environmental and occupational regulatory and human health issues and concerns.

Epidemiology

  1. Identify and understand the impact of potential sources of bias, including selection bias, measurement error, and confounding, in epidemiological studies.
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the content and issues in at least one substantive epidemiological topic.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree

Upon graduation, a successful student with a PhD degree will be able to:

  1. Explain how the core public health concepts of biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health behavior/health promotion, and health administration relate to the student’s area of specialization.
  2. Synthesize and critique existing literature in student’s area of specialization to identify gaps in the evidence base and justify their importance for public health.
  3. Apply relevant theories and conceptual models to inform and ground research design and interpretation.
  4. Formulate hypotheses, plan and conduct a research study using appropriate research methods, and ethical approaches.
  5. Analyze data and prepare an original manuscript, suitable for publication, summarizing the results and interpreting the findings from a research study.
  6. Communicate in writing and orally a research study’s purpose, methods, results, limitations, conclusions and public health relevance to both informed and lay audiences.

Public Health Biostatistics

  1. Understands the theoretical foundations of statistical methods.
  2. Critique general scientific research articles and assess the appropriateness of the statistical applications and methodology involved.
  3. Work effectively and collaboratively in a team on a biological or health-related scientific question.
  4. Design biological or health-related research studies and construct and implement statistical analysis plans appropriate for such studies.
  5. Communicate the results of statistical analyses to statistical and non-statistical audiences.
  6. Conduct thorough literature reviews to summarize, evaluate and critique the state of the science regarding new topics in the student’s general area of specialization.
  7. Identify gaps in that literature and formulate research questions designed to address those gaps.
  8. Carry out a research project that makes a contribution to biostatistical methodology and/or practice.

Environmental Health Sciences

  1. Explain individual and community susceptibility and vulnerability factors that heighten the risk for populations for adverse health outcomes from environmental hazards.
  2. Apply the environmental health paradigm (i.e., EHS Model) to characterizing hazardous physical, chemical and biological agents relative to sources, categories, exposure matrices/pathways, distribution, human exposures, responses, societal/regulatory actions, and technological controls.
  3. Work with various stakeholders and other professions to proactively and reactively address environmental and occupational regulatory and human health issues and concerns.

Epidemiology

  1. Identify and address potential sources of bias, including selection bias, measurement error, and confounding, in both the design and analysis phases of epidemiological studies.
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the content and issues in at least one specific substantive area of epidemiology.

Health Behavior and Health Promotion

  1. Critically assess methods for involving diverse communities in research.
  2. Apply principles of behavioral science to the design of public health interventions.
  3. Critically assess strengths and limitations of theories used in public health behavior change interventions.

Health Services Management and Policy

  1. Critically assess the key institutions and system relationships within the US health system.
  2. Critically assess relevant health management and policy theories and concepts as applied in health systems research.
  3. Apply appropriate statistical techniques to enhance causal inference and to address the problems that arise in health systems research relying on observational data.

Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) Degree

Core Competencies

All graduates of the BSPH degree program will be prepared to:

  1. Summarize the historic milestones in public health which have influenced current roles and responsibilities of current public health agencies, organizations and systems.
  2. Compare and contrast types of major domestic and international public health issues, including sources/causes of infectious/chronic diseases, transmission, risk factors, morbidity and mortality.
  3. Discuss various approaches/strategies for identification, response and intervention to address and attempt to resolve common public health issues.
  4. Identify genetic, social, political, cultural, behavioral, socioeconomic, demographic and ethical factors and relationships to domestic and international public health issues and determinants of health.
  5. Apply the fundamental principles of the five core disciplines of public health (biostatistics; environmental health; epidemiology; health administration/policy; health behavior/promotion) to domestic and international population health issues.

Public Health Sociology Specialization

The Department of Sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences offers the only undergraduate degree at OSU in sociology. Blending select courses from the existing sociology degree program with select courses from public health will form a relatively unique interdisciplinary undergraduate specialization in Public Health Sociology. This program will provide a broad pre-professional foundation by expanding shared and complimentary principles of sociology and public health relative to population health and intervention.

Specialization Competencies – In addition to the public health core competencies, graduates of the BSPH degree program with interdisciplinary specialization in Public Health Sociology will be prepared to:

  1. Develop quantitative awareness of the multiple-scale and multiple interactions that characterize public health problems.
  2. Summarize major factors that contribute to human disease and compromised quality of life.
  3. Apply theory to public health issues identified within contemporary society.
  4. Summarize issues of social inequality and environmental justice.
  5. Analyze and interpret fundamental statistical and epidemiological data.
  6. Communicate ideas and results that solve community-based public health problems.
  7. Summarize the intervention and disease prevention strategies to sustain and improve quality of life.
  8. Write and communicate applicable case summaries.

Environmental Public Health Specialization

Under the BSPH degree, environmental health science can be strategically blended with courses from the earth sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences to form a relatively unique interdisciplinary undergraduate specialization in Environmental Public Health. This program will provide a broad pre-professional foundation covering basic and applied science and math relative to sources of contaminants from and fate in air, water, soil, and food and the related aspects of human exposure and impact.

Specialization Competencies – In addition to the public health core competencies, graduates of the BSPH degree program with interdisciplinary specialization in Environmental Public Health will be prepared to:

  1. Apply principles of math, chemistry, biology to applied science of environmental public health.
  2. Summarize major sources, hazardous agents, conditions, and other exposure factors that contribute to environmentally-related human diseases.
  3. Describe how the quality of environmental media (air, water, soil, food) are adversely affected by contamination from chemical, biological and physical agents.
  4. Apply theory to environmental public health issues identified within indoor/outdoor and occupational/non-occupational settings.
  5. Calculate, analyze and interpret fundamental statistical, epidemiological, and environmental monitoring/surveillance and risk assessment data.
  6. Summarize management and technical measures and approaches that control human exposure to environmental contaminants.
  7. Identify regulations, policies, standards and guidelines applicable to the quality of air, water, soil and food and the prevention of environmentally-related human exposures and diseases.
  8. Write and communicate applicable scientific and technical summaries.
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