Graduate Student Handbook

5.1 The MPH Degree Program

The curriculum for the MPH consists of a minimum of 45-48 credits depending on the specific program.

Public Health Core Courses

Every student in an MPH degree program must complete the courses in the areas of knowledge basic to public health.

Additional Courses

There are seven areas of specialization in the MPH: biomedical informatics, biostatistics, clinical translational science, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior & health promotion, and veterinary public health. There is also a Program for Experienced Professionals within the MPH degree with a specialization in population health leadership and management. The required courses for each area are found on the curriculum guides.

MPH Practicum

The College requires two credit hours of formal practice placement experience (practicum) for all students in a MPH degree program. Students may accumulate more than two hours with permission of their advisors, but only two hours may count towards the degree. Students must spend at least 120 hours onsite in the experience to meet the minimum requirement (60 hours on site equals one credit hour). Each student chooses a practicum that fits his/her career goals. An on-site preceptor supervises the student’s experience, and the faculty advisor collaborates in designing and approving the learning content, tracks the progress, consults with the student, and evaluates the student’s learning. The majority of students complete this requirement during the summer following the first academic year, though some may choose to delay it until later in their second year. Part-time students may schedule the practicum after completing a minimum of 20 credits. Employed students are encouraged to select a practicum in an organization different than their current employment; however, it is permissible to complete the practicum in the student's place of employment if the experience is significantly different thn the student's regularly assigned duties, takes place outside the student's usual work area, and the preceptor is someone other than the student's regular work superivsor.

Students should be active participants in the arrangement for the practicum. The Office of Academic Programs and Student Services assists students in locating appropriate field sites and provides support throughout the experience. Students are encouraged to consult with their advisors and other CPH faculty. Complete details on the process for seeking and confirming the placement, as well as the expectations for the practicum, are found in the Practicum Student Handbook.

Culminating Project/Master’s Examination

There are several options for MPH students completing the required culminating project. Students may complete a traditional based master's thesis as the MPH culminating project. Students who expect to pursue an academic degree program such as the PhD, or those with an interest in research, are encouraged to consider a thesis. The details concerning Graduate School policies regarding the thesis, including format, typing, deadline, etc., are available online.

For those students who prefer an alternative to the thesis, the options are designated by the division/program. In many areas, the principal thesis alternative is an applied research project, which also may include a grant proposal. Students should begin planning their culminating projects in consultation with their faculty advisors at least two terms prior to the expected term of graduation. More detailed descriptions of the culminating project requirements and a timeline are available on the culminating project webpage. Upon successful completion of the culminating project, students must provide an electronic copy of the final report to the Office of Academic Programs and Student Services.

The MPH Degree Program for Experienced Professionals

Master of Public Health – Program for Experienced Professionals (MPH-PEP) class assignments, schedule, and attendance policy
As opposed to the other MPH programs, the MPH-PEP includes a mix of distance-based and weekend on-campus courses. Students are therefore required to pay particular attention to each course’s requirements for readings, activities and assignments to be completed before the first class meeting of the term and in the intervals between sessions. Each instructor will detail these expectations as part of the course syllabus.

PEP Class Schedule
The Program for Experienced Professionals consists of a combination of on-campus and distance-based sessions and a variety of assignments and distance learning activities. The program begins in the Summer Term, typically with three weekend sessions, one each month. The remaining on-campus sessions are offered on four weekends per semester in Autumn and Spring Semesters. Students usually enroll for two courses during each semester. Distance-based courses may be either synchronous (weekly web-based meetings after work hours with the instructor) or asynchronous (course is completed at the student’s own pace). The schedule of distance-based courses may vary depending upon the subject and the nature of the learning components of the courses.

PEP Attendance Policy
Students must attend all on campus sessions and all synchronous web-based sessions in a semester for credit. Exceptions may be possible for legitimate extenuating circumstances (it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this with the instructor in advance); however, no more than the equivalent of one weekend in a semester may be missed, and all assignments must be completed. Individual instructors may have more specific attendance requirements because of the structure of the course (e.g., a scheduled presentation by the student, a laboratory experience, etc.). Any departures from the standard attendance policy should be in the course syllabus, and any questions should be discussed with the instructor.

Changes of Specialization in the MPH

Each applicant for the Master of Public Health indicates a desired area of specialization on the admissions application. The admission committee’s review of the application is based on the characteristics desired for that area of specialization and its capacity in terms of faculty and other resources. Thus, the student’s admission is effectively to a specialization within the College rather than to the College in general. Students may petition to change their field of specialization after admission, but permission to change is contingent upon review and acceptance by the specialization into which the student wishes to transfer. This is to prevent students from entering a field for which their academic or other background is not adequate, and also minimizes last-minute changes in the resource demands on a division as its enrollment fluctuates. A student requesting such a transfer must complete the appropriate form (in Appendix J). The proposed new division/program will review the form and the student’s file and indicate whether it accepts the transfer, denies the transfer, or accepts the transfer conditionally. Denial of a transfer would generally mean that the program is at its capacity and cannot accept more students or that the student lacks preparation for the proposed field. Conditional transfer means that the student is potentially acceptable, but must meet some specific criterion such as a prerequisite course before the transfer is finalized. Depending upon the timing, any student transferring between specializations may find that it is necessary to take more than the credit hour minimum for the MPH in order to meet the requirements of the new specialization.