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Sattha Riyapan and Austin Cohrs, both alumni of the Master of Public Health program in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, discuss a poster being presented. The two men are at left in the photo, pointing toward a large research poster.

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Master of Public Health (MPH) Program Details

Penn State College of Medicine's Master of Public Health (MPH) Program aims to advance theory and practice that prepare future public health leaders, improve population health, and reduce health disparities – across Pennsylvania’s communities, the nation, and the world – through excellence in education, research, and service

We take an individualized, student-centered approach to learning to meet the needs and interests of those in the program.

Students may attend the program on a full- or part-time basis. Courses are held in the late afternoons and early evenings to accommodate working students.

Program Overview

The Penn State College of Medicine Master of Public Health (MPH) is a 42-credit degree program preparing students for exciting careers in public health. Students gain knowledge and skills in the five core areas of public health: biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health services administration, and social and behavioral sciences.

Core Curriculum

All Penn State MPH students take the following core courses, generally offered in residence at the Penn State College of Medicine campus in Hershey, PA:

PHS 504, PHS 520, PHS 550 and PHS 571 have substitutions available at other campuses for certain students. PHS 504, PHS 520, PHS 550 and PHS 571 are offered online through World Campus.

Admitted students should work with their advisor on a specific program of study.

Competencies

The core curriculum of the MPH program supports student attainment of the 22 foundational competencies.

See all core areas and foundational competencies in the MPH program.

Electives

A number of electives are available in topics ranging from human development and family studies to nutrition to public health preparedness to statistics.

The Penn State University Bulletin offers descriptions of Public Health Sciences courses, Health Administration courses, Health Education courses and Statistics courses.

Four students in the Penn State College of Medicine Master of Public Health (MPH) Program are pictured holding signs answering the following question: What does public health mean to Penn State MPH students? The chalkboard signs, from left, say: Community, Universal (with a drawing of a globe), well-being, and equitability.
Four students in the Penn State College of Medicine Master of Public Health (MPH) Program hold signs answering the question "What does public health mean to Penn State MPH students?"

Practice-Based Learning

Practice-based learning experiences are built into the curriculum to reinforce students’ academic and professional development and their ability to become competent in the practice of public health.

An individualized, student-centered approach and small class sizes provide a high level of faculty-student interaction.

See details on the Practicum and Capstone experiences.

Curriculum Tracks

Community & Behavioral Health Track

Students within the Penn State College of Medicine MPH Community & Behavioral Health Track will build skills necessary to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate public health interventions.

This concentration provides advanced instruction in health promotion and disease prevention, with a focus on the impact of behavior on health in rural to mid-size communities. This concentration builds skills necessary to conduct a needs assessment, identify strategies for addressing unmet needs, design interventions for the community, and effectively communicate health information in a way that is meaningful to different target audiences.

Students who select the Community & Behavioral Health Track must take the following courses:

  • PHS 505: Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • PHS 506: Advanced Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies II (3 credits)
  • PHS 807: Public Health Methods (3 credits)
  • Electives (9 credits)

See the Penn State University Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions on all Public Health Sciences courses.

Track Competencies

Courses within the Community & Behavioral Health Track support MPH student attainment of the following competencies:

  • Identify critical stakeholders for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs, policies, and interventions.
  • Utilize community assessments identifying needs, assets, capacity, and priorities.
  • Write mission statements, goals, and objectives.
  • Apply the principles of program planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs, policies, and interventions.
  • Prepare evidence-based public health interventions to influence health outcomes.
  • Prepare health communication campaigns and information for diverse priority populations.
  • Demonstrate ability to conduct process, impact, and outcome evaluations of public health programs, policies, and interventions.
  • Critically review and modify health behavior change programs and policies.
  • Identify factors that influence the sustainability of public health programs, policies, and interventions.
  • Apply ethical principles to public health program planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Epidemiology & Biostatistics Track

Students within the Penn State College of Medicine MPH Epidemiology and Biostatistics Track will build analytical and statistical skills necessary to conduct epidemiological studies and test hypotheses regarding the association or causality of risk factors and health outcomes in populations.

This concentration provides advanced instruction in the quantitative sciences, with a focus on applied epidemiological methods and practice. The Epidemiology & Biostatistics concentration builds analytical and statistical skills necessary to conduct epidemiological studies and to test hypotheses regarding the association or causality of risk factors and health outcomes in populations.

The track is designed for both early- and mid-career health professionals. This concentration is best suited for students who wish to conduct population-based health research in government, health care institutions, academic medicine and private industry.

Students who select the Epidemiology & Biostatistics Track must take the following courses:

  • PHS 521: Applied Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 522: Multivariate Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 551: Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 580: Clinical Trials: Design and Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 801: Data Management (1 credit)
  • Electives (5 credits)

See the Penn State University Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions on all Public Health Sciences courses.

Track Competencies

Courses within the Epidemiology & Biostatistics Track support MPH student attainment of the following competencies:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in the methods most frequently used in epidemiological studies, including study design, focus on case-control study.
  • Describe the strengths and limitations of observational studies.
  • Describe the concept of biases, confounding, and effect modification in epidemiological studies and be able to apply these concepts in the conduct and interpretation of epidemiological studies.
  • Apply various multivariable analysis methods to epidemiological study data.
  • Interpret and communicate study results to various audiences.
  • Identify and apply appropriate descriptive and inferential methodologies to the type of study design for answering a particular research question.
  • Communicate inferential results to collaborating and other non-statistician scientists.
  • Apply multivariable regression modeling for continuous, categorical, and time-to-event outcomes.
  • Apply multivariate analytic methods, including longitudinal analysis, for estimation, hypothesis testing, and exploratory data analysis.
  • Apply a comprehensive statistical software program for advanced statistical analysis and interpretation of public health datasets.
  • Describe the study design and analytic methods used for interventional research and interpret the results.
  • Review published public health research and assess the validity of the design and inference.
  • Develop a data management plan for the collection, processing, maintenance, and archiving of public health data.
  • Utilize best practices in data error detection, quality control, and quality assurance.

Health Systems Organization & Policy Track

Students within the Penn State College of Medicine MPH Health Systems Organization & Policy Track will build analytical and statistical skills necessary to conduct epidemiological studies and test hypotheses regarding the association or causality of risk factors and health outcomes in populations.

This concentration focuses on healthcare delivery models and systems, health economics, and applied policy in areas like payment systems, insurance, care-coordination and patient navigation, community health, and health promotion and disease prevention systems.

The Health Services Organization & Policy concentration is designed for students who wish to assume key roles in the organization of health care or the design of health care systems, either for-profit or non-profit, such as within hospitals, group practices, home health agencies, health insurers, and health maintenance organizations.

Students who select the Health Systems Organization & Policy Track must take the following courses:

  • PHS 535: Quality of Care Measurement (3 credits)
  • PHS 537: Health Policy and Law (3 credits)
  • PHS 540: Decision Analysis (1 credit)
  • PHS 570: Health Economics and Economic Policy (3 credits)
  • Electives (8 credits)

See the Penn State University Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions on all Public Health Sciences courses.

Track Competencies

Courses within the Health Systems Organization & Policy Track support MPH student attainment of the following competencies:

  • Describe U.S. health policymaking history and processes for improving population health, including policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Identify new or emerging models and trends in health care financing and delivery and their implications for access, cost, and quality of care.
  • Describe links between quality measurement and quality improvement in health systems.
  • Apply various evaluation methods, including decision-analysis models, to systematically evaluate public health programs and policies.
  • Describe key health data and policy information to lay and professional audiences.

Global Health Track

Students within the MPH Global Health Track will build skills necessary to identify, interpret and understand global health concepts, as well as apply these skills on both the international and local stage.

This concentration provides advanced instruction in systems thinking, global health promotion, global disease and prevention, and the major contemporary global health issues and initiatives. The global health concentration focuses on the political, social, economic, cultural and environmental determinants of health, as well as the role of global health players and how they interact with health systems to improve health.

The track is designed for students interested in global health challenges and initiatives as they apply both globally and locally.

Students who select the Global Health Track must take the following courses:

  • PHS 803: Principles of Global Health (3 credits)
  • Six credits from any of the following:
    • PHS 557: Global Impact of Infectious Diseases (3 credits)
    • PHS 804: Integrating Systems Thinking in Global Health (3 credits)
    • PHS 890: Global Health Exchange Program: International Perspectives of Health Care Systems (3 credits)

All Global Health Track students will take nine additional elective credits.

See the Penn State University Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions on all Public Health Sciences courses.

Track Competencies

Courses within the Global Health Track support student attainment of the following competencies:

  • Propose evidence based solutions to global health problems.
  • Employ critical thinking and appraisal of the literature to explain the global influences on determinants of health.
  • Apply social justice and human rights principles in public health policies and programs.
  • Describe the roles and relationships of the entities influencing global health.
  • Identify the relationships among patterns of morbidity, mortality, and disability with demographic and other factors in shaping the circumstances of the population of a specified community, country, or region.
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