January 29, 2023

What is the Curriculum for a Master of Public Health Degree?

The Master of Public Health is a graduate degree awarded for studies in areas related to various public health issues. Most MPH programs require a minimum of 15 credits of core courses, 15-20 credits of program-specific courses and 10 or more credits of electives. Most programs will also require a practicum and a culminating experience.

Who Determines the Appropriate Curriculum for an MPH program?

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the US Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools of public health and public health programs that are in other settings besides schools of public health. These accredited schools and programs prepare students for entry into careers in public health. According to the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), there are certain areas of instruction that are required for an accredited MPH program of study including “Core Knowledge of Public Health”. Students enrolled in a graduate professional public health program must complete sufficient coursework to attain in depth knowledge of the five core areas of public health knowledge. The required area basic to public health of knowledge include:


Biostatistics is defined by the CEPH as the collection, storage, retrieval, analysis and interpretation of health data, design and analysis of health-related surveys and experiments and the concepts and practice of statistical data analysis.


Epidemiology is defined as the distribution and determinants of disease, disabilities and death in human populations, characteristics and dynamics of human populations, the natural history of disease, and the biologic basis of health.

Environmental Health Sciences

Environmental Health Science is the environmental factors that include biological, physical and chemical factors affecting the health of a community.

Health Services Administration

Health services administration involves planning, organization, administration, management, evaluation and policy analysis of health and public health programs.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social and behavioral sciences is described by the CEPH as the concepts and methods of social and behavioral sciences that are applicable to identifying and solving public health problems.

Concepts and competencies from these five areas must present in all public health degree curricula, including those offered at the master’s and doctoral levels. Minimally, the five core areas constitute the intellectual framework that all public health professionals in all specializations approach problem solving.

Culminating Experience

All graduate MPH programs must provide culminating experience where each student demonstrates skills and integration of knowledge of learned MPH core.

Field Experience

Through a Field experience students gain the ability to:

  • Integrate public health theory, knowledge, and skills in a community or public health practice setting
  • Experience the “realities” of public health practice – organizational structure, local and organizational politics, program administration, community relationships, and program coordination
  • Complete a defined project in an area of public health practice including core public health functions such as needs assessment, program planning, program evaluation, policy development, educational campaign, applied research project;
  • Gain/expand/develop skills and knowledge in an area of interest not covered in depth elsewhere in the student’s educational plan
  • Demonstrate leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and creativity in the development of public health practice activity.

If you are considering pursuing an MPH, whether through traditional methods or online, you should consider the importance of choosing a CEPH accredited school. The advantages of graduating from a CEPH accredited school may ensure your future working in public health.

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