University of Washington School of Public Health

Re-envisioning the MPH Curriculum

The UW School of Public Health is reshaping its popular MPH program into a cutting-edge curriculum that integrates research and practice skills while preparing students for an ever-changing public health landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the School redesigning its MPH?

Our MPH program is great, but needs modernizing. We aim to reshape the curriculum to better prepare students for the changing public health landscape. Our MPH would be an integrated research and practice degree that produces job-ready graduates equipped to tackle complex real-world problems. Our students will be prepared to continue learning new skills once they're on the job.

When will the new curriculum take effect?

The 2020-2021 academic year. A broad outline of the new degree is in place, and we are developing new course content that should be approved by the spring of 2019.

What will be different?

We are creating a common core of foundational courses that all students will take during their first three quarters. These courses will expose each cohort of students to diverse perspectives of public health and give them an appreciation for those from different disciplinary backgrounds. Students can decide whether to take a practice or research route, but will be skilled in both areas.

What core courses will be offered?

All students will be required to take five core courses: Fundamentals of Public Health; Analytical Skills for Public Health; Determinants of Health; From Evidence to Action: Implementing Public Health Interventions; and Public Health Practice. Cross-cutting themes through all core courses will focus on ethics and equity issues, global and local perspectives, communication skills, systems thinking, leadership and collaborative skills, and the evidence-to-action-and-back cycle.

Can students still specialize?

In addition to the foundational courses, graduate students will train in one of the School's highly specialized concentrations. Exactly what options will be offered and how/when students would choose has yet to be decided.

What kinds of teaching methods will be used?

The MPH program will incorporate new student-centered learning strategies and will seek to integrate a variety of pedagogical methods, including case-based, problem-based and project-based learning in small groups. Courses will be taught by teams of instructors from different disciplines.

Will it cost more or take longer to complete the degree?

No. We don't expect our redesigned courses to affect the cost for students. This is about creating the best educational product we can deliver. The current MPH typically takes 21 months to complete, and that is not expected to change.

Will all MPH programs at the UW SPH be affected?

No. The new MPH would be a single, School-wide degree with two exceptions: The Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) MPH and the Executive MPH. The COPHP program uses a unique problem-based pedagogy and is run in partnership with the UW Continuum College. The executive MPH is geared to full-time professionals and is primarily online.

Are other schools revising their curricula?

Yes. Most leading schools of public health are in the process of transitioning from legacy curricula to a more modern MPH. Re-envisioning our MPH has been a priority for several years, and a broad consensus now exists across the School to make it happen.

Will current or entering students be affected?

No. The new curriculum would apply only to students accepted for the fall quarter of 2020 or later.

Will the program be accredited?

Yes. The new curriculum will meet the accreditation standards set the by Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH).

Who is redesigning the curriculum?

A steering committee with members representing the School's departments and interdisciplinary programs. The committee is led by Carey Farquhar (Global Health). Current members are James Hughes (Biostatistics), Scott Meschke (Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences), Brandon Guthrie (Epidemiology), Donald Patrick (Health Services) and Jesse Jones-Smith (Interdisciplinary Programs). Other members include Shirley Beresford, senior associate dean, and Janet Baseman, acting associate dean for public health practice. About 30 faculty members across the School will develop course content by working on subcommittees. Rus Hathaway, a curriculum specialist in the Office of the Dean, is coordinating the process.

How will the committee and School share updates?

Through all-School messages, in SPH newsletters, from committee members to their departments/programs, on the SPH website, and via other School-wide communications. Listening sessions and presentations to key stakeholders are planned.

How can I give input?

You can write to, attend an open house, or contact members of the committee listed above. We welcome your ideas!

See Also: MPH Programs


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