September 20, 2019
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5 Hallmarks of an Excellent Master of Public Health Program

Five Characteristics of a Great MPH Program

  • Five Core Competencies of the Degree
  • Accessible Leaders and Student Input
  • Professional and Mentoring Services
  • Diversity and Culture Education
  • Communication and Informatics Training

A student interested in public health may want to know about the five hallmarks of an excellent MPH program. The master’s of public health, or MPH, is a degree that is in demand for all types of public health jobs. Knowing about what makes a program great could help a student make an informed choice about where to earn their master’s degree in public health.

Related resource: Top 25 Online MPH Programs (Master’s in Public Health)

1. Five Core Competencies of the Degree

An excellent public health program should include the five core competencies of public health education. These core competencies should be the first courses that the master’s degree student takes. The core competencies of public health are biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy or healthcare administration and social and behavioral health or health education and health promotion. An ideal program will also include introductory courses on politics or government as it relates to public health and software or statistical analysis for use in public health.

2. Accessible Leaders and Student Input

The faculty and administration of a public health program should be accessible to students. In an excellent program, student input is valued. Students should feel like they can approach a faculty member, program director or the dean of the school with feedback, questions or input and be taken seriously. The leadership should share pertinent information with students as soon as possible. If program changes are anticipated, students should be a part of the process. For example, students should have input on the addition or removal of MPH courses.

3. Professional and Mentoring Services

According to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, an excellent MPH program should have mentoring services for students and graduates who are entering the profession. These professional services should be available to alumni of the program for their lifetimes. This also includes access to fellowship, internship and practicum opportunities for students.

4. Diversity and Culture Education

An excellent MPH program should also educate students about how culture impacts public health. For example, in some cultures, a female will not be able to have a discussion with an unrelated male without an escort from a family member. In some cultures, dates of birth are not tracked the same way as they are in the United State, so some immigrants may not have an answer to an epidemiologist’s question about their date of birth. A public health program should also have a diverse faculty and student body.

5. Communication and Informatics Training

People who work in public health need to be able to effectively communicate with their colleagues, the media, government officials and members of the community. An excellent public health program should facilitate methods of communication and teach students multiple ways of sharing and receiving information. For example, some people may not be able to read a questionnaire or survey. These people may need an in-person interview. Today’s public health programs should also train students on the informatics and information systems used in public health.

Every university’s MPH program is different, and what is a good fit for one student may not be the right choice for another. Knowing what to look for in the program and visiting the campus could help a student make a satisfying decision. Understanding the five hallmarks of an excellent MPH program is a good start for applying to graduate school.