University Senate                                                       

Proposed: September 23, 2011

Adopted: September 23, 2011, with show of hands with no nays and two abstentions




WHEREAS,    the Mailman School of Public Health wishes to revise its Master of Public Health curriculum to offer a choice of 25 specializations, including advanced epidemiology; climate and health; history, ethics and law; health policy analysis; and human rights and health; each leading to a certificate in the subject to be awarded in addition to the Master of Public Health degree, and

WHEREAS,    calls for change have come from many sources, including academic leaders in the field, public health practitioners and employers, public health professional societies and accrediting agencies, and shifting societal needs, and

WHEREAS,    there is a need for the master of public health candidate to gain an area of specialization in addition to the core curriculum offered, and

WHEREAS,    the Mailman School of Public Health has conducted considerable research among its alumni on the subject, and

WHEREAS,    the proposed certificates are an integral part of the revised M.P.H. curriculum,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED    that the Senate approve the 25 certificates in public health proposed by the Mailman School of Public Health.



Committee on Education

Proposal for approval of 25 Certificates (Mailman School of Public Health)


The most commonly sought degree that is offered by the Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH) is the M.P.H.  All six departments of the school (Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Population and Family Health, Sociomedical Sciences) offer the M.P.H.

In recent years the need for change in this primary educational program for public health professionals has become increasingly evident. This need has been articulated by academic leaders, public health practitioners and employers, as well as professional societies and accrediting agencies:

 “The scale and complexity of today’s biomedical research problems increasingly demand that scientists move beyond the confines of their own discipline and explore new organizational models for team science.” (Zerhouni, 2003) 

“Few jobs in public health practice are so narrowly focused that employee success is solely dependent on the employee’s knowledge and skill in a single specialty area.” (Moser, 2008)
The new M.P.H. program
During the past two years the faculty of MSPH has made significant changes in the M.P.H. program which will now consist of six major components of which the certificate programs are one:

Rather than continuing to teach the core disciplines of public health in isolation, MSPH will replace the 5 distinct core courses with the new and comprehensive CORE CURRICULUM taught in the first semester. The CORE represents an integrated, holistic approach to teaching public health in the same way public health is practiced – in interdisciplinary teams, bringing together strong disciplinary skills, and integrating knowledge and practice across disciplinary boundaries to address complex health challenges.

MSPH will continue to emphasize the importance of disciplinary knowledge and the strength and expertise of the MSPH faculty.

The Integrative Practical Experience (IPE) places students in the field to apply, integrate, and sharpen the skills they have learned in the classroom as they address real-world problems in population health and health systems.

The certificate programs add an additional credential to the M.P.H. degree.  They give the students an opportunity to either increase their knowledge in depth for highly focused employment  (e.g., Certificate in Advanced Epidemiology) or in breadth beyond their disciplinary concentration, to prepare them for jobs  in which they may be the only public health-trained individuals of a team.

Currently students are extremely limited in their ability to develop a specialty in public health. There are no “minors” in the M.P.H. program, only tracks, which are primarily nested within departments. Pursuit of certificates will enable students to choose from among a much larger number of certificates that will extend and complement the knowledge and skills gained within departments.

Certificate programs have become increasingly popular at graduate professional schools, and particularly at schools of public health. MSPH’s top competitors (Johns Hopkins, University of North Carolina, Harvard, University of Michigan) all are offering certificate programs in response to the needs of the students eager to pursue directed education in a particular area of public health application (e.g., adolescent health, demographic methods, health and human rights, humanitarian assistance, public health informatics, global health).