Master of Public Health Program
D'Won Walker, MPH
The Master of Public Health Program prepares students committed to public health careers in either the public, private, or non-profit sectors. Public health works to prevent health problems in populations before these problems occur. The Master of Public Health Program provides a rigorous curriculum to help students develop the analytic and critical reasoning skills to improve population health.
MPH Program goals are as follows:
- to ensure that the Program provides a foundation of didactic learning and training to prepare students for their anticipated career paths
- to produce graduates who have the skills to perform well on the job upon initial hire and who will be attractive to potential employers
- to enhance the quality of the student learning experience through applied, experiential and didactic learning experiences and close faculty mentoring to help students meet their goals in the Program
Fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the VCU MPH Program is closely linked with local, state and national public health agencies, organizations, and professionals to enhance the student's appreciation and understanding of the application of public health principles to practice. The MPH Program provides students with the skills for employment in a broad range of positions in local, state and national public health agencies as well as private and academic research, depending on the student’s areas of interest. Students begin practical experience in professional public health settings beginning with the first semester, building on this experience to develop the degree’s capstone project in the final semesters.
Each candidate shall complete a minimum of 45 credit hours towards the degree. This includes core courses in biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy, and social and behavioral health. Students are also required to complete a two-semester integrated course series in biostatistics and data analysis, a course in public health ethics, two semesters of practicum, one semester of internship, and at least one semester of the capstone project. Students have 15 credits of electives to focus on their chosen area(s) of public health interest. Please see the VCU Bulletin for additional information on program requirements and grading policies.
Applied Experiences Synopsis
Practical, applied experience is gained starting in the first year. Depending on area of interest, students may choose to work practical placements at professional public health settings such as the Virginia Department of Health or support work on the research programs of their faculty mentors. All students complete a 180-hour internship in a non-university, professional public health setting. In addition, all students are required to complete 20 hours of community-based service-learning.
MPH Practicum: Students complete a minimum of 60 hours per semester for two semesters in a practical setting, either working with a faculty member on research or at a professional public health organization such as a local non-profit organization or a local health district office. All students receive uniform training in ethical conduct of research, privacy of health data, and techniques for searching the literature.
Public Health Internship: The Public Health Internship is a supervised experience designed to expose MPH graduate students to a real-world public health practice setting, requiring them to integrate classroom knowledge and skills in practical applications in a professional environment. Each student intern works with a practice site supervisor who assigns tasks, instructs the student in new skills, and evaluates the student’s progress. Students work a minimum of 180 hours in a professional public health organization.
Capstone Project: The capstone experience synthesizes knowledge gained through the classroom and practical processes and is the degree’s culminating work, completed during the last one to two semesters of study. This project is a practical experience which allows the student to apply what has been learned in the didactic components of the curriculum to a focused project. Students are required to synthesize the literature, apply theory, and integrate knowledge gained and principles in situations that approximate some aspect of professional practice. With this mentored experience, students are able to both broaden their skills and hone their proficiency in a specific area of public health. The major product of this culminating experience is expected to vary depending on the educational goals of the student, but could include one of the following:
- Manuscript suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
- Comprehensive disease-related report
- Policy analysis report
- Health promotion materials (e.g. brochures/posters/fliers, educational video games, web site content, etc.), on a specific disease area
- Needs assessment for a specific population
- Development, implementation, and analysis of target population surveys
- Program evaluation
At a minimum, the capstone experience will require the integration of multiple major competencies used by a public health professional. In fulfilling the capstone requirement, each candidate must: (a) submit a formal written paper of sufficient depth and rigor; and (b) satisfactorily complete an oral or poster presentation of the project chosen as the basis for the written paper at an appropriate venue (e.g. stakeholder meeting, departmental seminar, research forum, etc.) approved by the Educational Program Director.
Prospective students may obtain information on the following by clicking on the links below:
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