Re-envisioning the MPH Curriculum

In January 2018, the UW School of Public Health embarked on an ambitious journey to reshape its popular MPH program with a new common core 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 has been great, but it needed modernizing. We reshaped the curriculum with a common core of new courses to better prepare students for the public health landscape, which is constantly evolving and needs job-ready graduates equipped to tackle complex problems. Our MPH will integrate rigorous training with a broad exposure to the breadth and depth of the field. Graduates will be prepared to continue learning new skills once they're on the job.

When will the new common core curriculum take effect?

In fall of 2020. The syllabi have been approved, and course instructors are being selected. The teachers will develop new course content.

What will be different?

We created 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 common core courses will be offered?

All students will be required to take six core courses: Fundamentals of Public Health; Analytical Skills for Public Health I; Analytical Skills for Public Health II; Determinants of Health; Implementing Public Health Interventions; and Public Health Practice.

What are the crosscutting themes?

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?

MPH students will continue to have the option to train in one of the School’s highly specialized concentrations. Those options will include epidemiology, global health, nutritional sciences, health systems and policy, and environmental and occupational health.

How will admissions be affected?

Admissions will continue to be directly to each degree option. 

What kinds of teaching methods will be used?

The MPH program will incorporate new student-centered learning strategies, including the use of compelling real-world case studies. Students will learn by solving problems and through teamwork in small groups. Courses will be taught by teams of instructors from different disciplines across public health.

Will all MPH programs at the UW SPH be affected?

Most of the degree programs will be affected, in that students will take the common core curriculum and the common core will also require changes to other parts of the curriculi. There are two exceptions: The Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) MPH and the Online MPH. The COPHP program uses a unique problem-based pedagogy and is run in partnership with the UW Continuum College. The Online 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.

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 oversees the process. A separate work group is exploring the administrative changes that will need to be made to implement the new core curriculum and other major program changes.