Overview – Master of Public Health
The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), accredited by the National Council on Education for Public Health, is a professional degree program for individuals seeking training and experience in applied public health practice. Our faculty of population-based health scientists are located primarily at the UConn Health campus in Farmington Connecticut but include personnel from across the university. The program is tailored to both the needs of working professionals and full-time students with classes offered in late afternoon and early evenings. It focuses on preparing individuals for careers as public health practitioners working in government, non-government agencies, academic institutions and advocacy organizations. Together with our substantive attention to essential themes in public health, our program emphasizes the opportunities and responsibilities of interprofessional practice. In all things, we seek a balance between knowing the conditions by which people are healthy or at-risk of injury/illness and doing what is required to assure conditions where people can be healthy. Collaborative problem solving through participatory student-faculty-preceptor experiences is a priority. Students who complete our degree can be expected to demonstrate the following competencies:
- Use vital statistics and other key data sources to characterize the health status, social conditions and health risk factors evident in communities, with particular attention given to health inequities.
- Apply basic methods and terminology to calculate and report disease rates and risks in populations.
- Employ principles of research design, probability and measurement to draw appropriate inferences from data.
- Assess the strengths and limitations of various research designs in collecting, analyzing and interpreting information from public health studies.
- Utilize appropriate information technologies to collect, analyze and disseminate data.
- Promote evidence-based public health practices that affect the health of communities.
- Identify genetic, behavioral and circumstantial factors affecting individual and group susceptibility to adverse environmental hazards.
- Describe mechanisms of toxicity that explain direct and indirect effects of environments on human health.
- Identify main components of the organization, financing and delivery of health care and public health services in the U.S. and in other countries.
- Contrast basic social and behavioral science theories about the causes and control of public health concerns.
- Examine root causes of injustice, inefficiency and ineffectiveness of U.S. health care.
- Design and implement public health interventions according to sound ethical and legal standards.
- Illustrate public health’s role in informing scientific, ethical, economic, social & political discussions about health.
- Use effective written and oral communication tools and techniques to deliver efficient and effective messages that facilitate discussion as to how to address the needs of communities served.
- Communicate one’s roles/responsibilities clearly to community and team members.
- Engage in teams to develop and advocate for effective policy and program change.
- Embrace cultural diversity and individual differences that characterize communities, organizations and individuals.
The curriculum requires successful completion of 48 graduate credits, distributed among the foundational disciplines of public health practice – epidemiology, biostatistics, social sciences, health systems administration and policy, environmental health, as well as our program-specific requirements in interprofessional practice, public health law, and research methods, an applied practice experience, five to seven electives that build upon an individual’s area of interest and an integrative learning experience. Matriculation requires commitment to a rigorous course of study, such that the degree can be earned through two years of full-time (minimum of 12 credits per semester) or four years of part-time (minimum of 6 credits per semester) study.
Students who have successfully completed relevant courses at another institution or UConn courses prior to their application to the program may request a transfer or waiver of up to 6 credits, allowing them to graduate with a minimum of 42 earned credits. Transfer or waiver of credits is based on the appropriateness of content, equivalence of requirements, and minimum grades of B.
Applied Practice Experience (APE)
Every student must complete a three-credit, semester-long, practice-based experience during their second year of study. The practicum is one of many opportunities to demonstrate mastery of public health competencies gained through their academic experience. Students work to examine the extent, causes, and responses to a public health problem in Connecticut. They meet periodically with the practicum director and faculty advisors to plan and complete information retrieval and primary data collection regarding (a) what burden/challenges does a selected topic pose for Connecticut health, (b) what is the current capacity of practitioners, programs, and services in Connecticut to address these issues, and (c) what additional regulatory and policy strategies can be put forth to ameliorate current conditions? The principal educational strategies utilized are self-directed learning, peer instruction, and reflective self-assessment. Students are highly encouraged to participate in the program’s group practicum projects although they have the opportunity to complete individual practicum projects when appropriate.
(15 to 21 credits)
Elective courses are organized around the three core functions of public health (assessment, assurance and policy development). Students should choose electives in order to build knowledge and expertise on their topics of special interest.
Integrative Learning Experience (ILE)
(3 to 9 credits)
All students are required to complete a project integrating their academic and practical experience within the program. The ILE can be completed as a 9-credit academic thesis that exemplifies the scholarship of discovery or a 3-credit practice project demonstrating the scholarship of application. The capstone should address a significant public health concern, pursue novel inquiry and/or initiative, and demonstrate the student’s mastery of one or more of the program competencies. A thesis typically will focus on a theoretical statement about the relationships among one or more exposures, interventions and/or outcomes, a qualitative/quantitative descriptive study measuring the distribution or determinants of a relevant public health concern, an analytic study utilizing accepted research designs to evaluate one or more hypotheses regarding the causes/consequences of a health concern within a community or efficacy/effectiveness of a potentially relevant intervention for population health, or a meta-analysis that synthesizes existing knowledge in order to generate a composite estimate of risks and/or consequences of a population health concern. By comparison, a practice project will provide a case study detailing the unique or important manifestation of a health issue or intervention in order to describe relevant background, process, outcome and lessons to be learned, a program evaluation that assesses whether an intervention is efficacious and effective in achieving a desired outcome, an educational resource intended to enhance public health practices by communities, a data management protocol to improve access, efficiency and impact of data collection and analysis, or a policy analysis bringing together available data from various sources for critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of policy options for decision makers.