Master of Public Health Program Overview

Read about MPH Concentrations.

MPH Requirements for Students Matriculating in Academic Year 2015/2016

  • Completion of 48 graduate-level credit units numbered SPH XX 700 and above
  • Completion of at least 40 of these credit units within the Boston University School of Public Health
  • Completion of six core courses with a grade of B– or better in each core course
  • Completion of concentration requirements
  • Completion of a public health practicum according to guidelines
  • Completion of a culminating experience according to guidelines
  • A School of Public Health grade point average of 3.0 or better
  • Completion of the MPH within five years

Note: Physical education (PDP), undergraduate, and non-approved graduate courses do not count toward the MPH.

MPH Core Course Requirements

MPH Core Course Selection

The School-wide core curriculum for the MPH program provides a strong foundation of knowledge and skills across the broad spectrum of public health. Courses are designed and continually revised as the field of public health changes.

The MPH core curriculum is organized around the five core disciplines of public health, and students must satisfy a core course requirement in each of these areas: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy and Management, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. With the exception of the Health Policy & Management core courses, students may take only one of the core course options in each of the five core disciplines for MPH credit. Additionally, public health practitioners need an understanding of the laws, ethics, and human rights implications of public health practices. As such, all MPH students who are US citizens or permanent residents of the United States must take a sixth core course in Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights. Knowledge and skills in these disciplines enable graduates to analyze and consider solutions to public health problems at the community, institutional, and societal levels.

To satisfy the MPH core course requirements, students must complete one course from each of the six concentrations, with a minimum passing grade of B-. Students who earn a grade below B- in a core course must follow the stipulations of the SPH grading policy.

Full-time MPH students must complete their core course requirements within their first two semesters. Part-time MPH students must complete biostatistics or epidemiology and the core course in their concentration first, and complete the remaining MPH core courses within three semesters and prior to completing classes outside of their concentration.

The core course requirements for the MPH program are met by the following courses:

  1. Biostatistics: The requirement for all MPH students is met by successfully completing BS 704.
  2. Environmental Health: The requirement for all MPH students is met by successfully completing EH 717.
  3. Epidemiology: The requirement for all MPH students is met by successfully completing EP 713.
  4. Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights: Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights concentrators must successfully complete LW 751; all others may meet the core course requirement by successfully completing either LW 751 or LW 719. Students who take LW 719 and subsequently become Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights concentrators must speak with the department faculty regarding additional work required. Students may not take both LW 751 and LW 719 for degree credit.
  5. Health Policy & Management: All Health Policy & Management (HPM) concentrators must take PM 702 to meet the Health Policy & Management core course requirement. MPH students who are not Health Policy & Management concentrators must take PM 702 unless they meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • They are Global Health concentrators: Global Health concentrators may take either PM 702 or GH 704 to meet the MPH Health Policy & Management core course requirement.
    • They are not US citizens or are not permanent residents of the United States: Students who are not US citizens or are not permanent residents of the United States may take either PM 702 or GH 704 to meet the MPH Health Policy & Management core course requirement.
    • They are Peace Corps/MI students: Peace Corps/MI students must take GH 704. If they are Health Policy & Management concentrators, they must take PM 702 first, and then GH 704 second.

    Students, in any concentration, may take both PM 702 and GH 704 for degree credit, though they must take the course that meets their core course requirement first, and the second course for elective credits. The School’s minimum grade requirement applies to the core course. If a student plans to take both PM 702 and GH 704 and earns below a B– in the first course taken, he/she will be considered to be in academic difficulty and must retake the course.

  6. Social & Behavioral Sciences: Social & Behavioral Sciences concentrators must successfully complete SB 721. GH 720 fulfills the Social & Behavioral Sciences MPH core requirement for Global Health concentrators and for international, non-US-resident SPH students who are not SB concentrators. Students may take only one of these courses for degree credit. MSW/MPH students are waived from completing the MPH Social & Behavioral Sciences core course requirement when they complete the MSW.

Exemptions to the MPH core course requirements include:

  1. Students who feel that they may have completed prior coursework similar to the core courses listed below should review the “Waiver and Transfer Credit” policy.
  2. Students who are neither US citizens nor permanent residents of the United States at the time of matriculation into the MPH program may be exempted from the Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights requirement. The exemption is visible in Degree Advice and should be confirmed with the SPH Registrar’s Office before the drop without a “W” date for the semester in which the student matriculates.
  3. Students who complete the following undergraduate courses at Boston University within the past five years and earned a B or better may waive particular MPH core course requirements. Students must note that courses that waive MPH requirements DO NOT count towards the minimum 48 graduate credit requirement for the MPH. Students will need to take additional coursework that will provide them with greater depth or breadth to meet the minimum 48-credit requirement for the MPH.
    • Students who attain a grade of B or higher in both CAS MA 115 AND CAS MA 116 or CAS MA 213 AND MA 214 or CAS MA 684 will have fulfilled the MPH Biostatistics requirement.
    • Students who attain a grade of B or higher in SAR HP 353 will have fulfilled the Health Policy and Management core course requirement.
    • Students who attain a grade of B or better in SAR HS 300 will have fulfilled the Epidemiology core course requirement.
  4. MSW/MPH students are waived from the core course requirement in Social & Behavioral Sciences upon completion of the MSW.
  5. Students in the MS/MPH program who complete GMS MS 700 or GMS CI 670 with a B or better within the last five years are waived from the MPH Biostatistics core course requirement.
  6. MBA/MPH students complete the Graduate School of Management core course equivalents for Biostatistics and Health Policy and Management. MBA/MPH Global Health students enroll in GH 704 as an elective course for the MPH.

Students may waive core courses by completing similar courses outside of Boston University. The waiver policy and procedures are described in the Transfer Credit and Waiver policy.

Concentration Courses, Subconcentrations, Certificate Programs, and Electives

All MPH students must meet the requirements of the MPH concentrations in which they are enrolled. Once MPH students have a plan to meet the minimum concentration requirements, they have the option of taking additional SPH courses numbered 700 or above outside of their concentration as electives, or to take additional concentration courses.

MPH students in the Health Policy & Management concentration may pursue optional subconcentrations.

MPH students may apply for a graduate certificate program in the Pharmaceuticals Certificate Program and two graduate certificates in Biostatistics, the Statistical Genetics Program or the Modern Biostatistics in Clinical Trials.

Transfer Credit

MPH students must earn at least 40 credits at Boston University School of Public Health. MPH students are allowed to transfer in eight (8) credits of approved graduate courses from other Boston University graduate programs, graduate courses taken at member schools in the Boston Consortium, or graduate courses at accredited US colleges or universities. These courses cannot have been counted towards the requirements for another degree at Boston University or elsewhere. Dual degree program students are not allowed to take courses for transfer credit.

The policies and stipulations regarding transfer credits are described in the Transfer Credit and Course Waiver policy.

The following graduate courses taught at other Boston University schools and colleges are approved for the Master of Public Health. Students who wish to enroll should follow the procedures of the college in which the course is held. MPH students who want the class to “count” for their MPH must fill out the SPH Request for Transfer Credit form and submit it to the SPH Registrar. They do not need to submit any additional documents.


Course #





College of Communication (COM)

COM CM 707 Writing for Media Professionals 4 elective Must do public health projects
COM JO 702 Advanced Science Writing 4 elective must do public health projects
COM JO 703 Magazine Writing 4 elective must do public health projects
COM JO 519 Narrative Radio 4 elective must do public health projects

Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS)

GMS BC 610 Medical Consequences of Natural and Man-Made Hazards 3 elective credit
GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with Computer waiver only for MS/MPH—2 credits for others core course waiver or credit
GMS MA 622 Religion & Public Health 3 concentration credit for GH; elective for other
GMS MA 700 History and Theory of Medical Anthropology 3 concentration credit for SB concentrators;  elective for other
GMS MI 713 Comprehensive Immunology 4 concentration credit for EH concentrators


GMS MS 700 Elementary Biostatistics for the Medical Sciences waiver only for MS/MPH—2 credits core course waiver or credit

Questrom School of Business

GSM HM 833 Health Sector Marketing 3 Elective
GSM HM 840 Health Sector Consulting 3 Elective
GSM IM 853 Indian Field Seminar 3 Elective must be sure does not conflict with start of spring semester at SPH
GSM OB 802 Leading Transformation in Health and Social Sector Organizations 3 Elective
GSM OB 830 Leading the Mission-Driven Organization 3 Elective
GSM OM 840 Managing and Improving Quality: Six Sigma Green Belt Certification 3 Elective
GSM OB 844 Managing Organizational Change 3 Elective
GSM OB 845 The Leadership Challenge 3 Elective

Metropolitan College (MET)

MET ML 721 US Food Policy 4 elective
MET CS 581 Electronic Health Records 4 elective

College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College (SAR)

SAR HS 551 Human Nutrition Science 4 elective must take as graduate student
SAR HS 776 Nutritional Epidemiology 4 concentration credit for Epidemiology concentrators
SAR OT 713 Developmental Disabilities 2 elective for LEND Fellowship students

School of Social Work (SSW)

SSW HS 735 Racial Justice and Cultural Oppression 4 elective

School of Theology (STH)

STH TR 830 Values and Practices in Developing Health Communities 4 elective Suitable for both new students and continuing students

Tufts Friedman School (Boston Consortium)

Tufts * NUTR 201 Fundamentals of Nutrition Science 4 elective worth 4 BU credits; 1 at Tufts
Tufts * NUTR 217 Monitoring & Evaluation for Nutrition & Food Security Projects 4 concentration credit for GH cannot take this course and GH 745
Tufts * NUTR 228 Community & PH Nutrition 4 elective worth 4 BU credits; 1 at Tufts

* through Boston Consortium registration (register and pay through SPH)

Directed Studies or Directed Research: In addition to classroom instruction, students may arrange a 1-, 2-, 3-, or 4-credit directed study or directed research project with a faculty member. Students may apply up to 8 credits of directed studies, directed research, or practicum courses toward an MPH. These projects require the written approval of a full-time School of Public Health faculty sponsor who will assume responsibility for the approval process and assigning grades. To register for a Directed Study or Directed Research project, students must complete a Directed Study or Directed Research Proposal and Registration form (available at the SPH Registrars office or online), obtain the required signatures, and return the completed form to the SPH Registrar.

MPH Practicum

A public health practicum is an integral part of the MPH at BUSPH. All MPH students are required to complete an approved supervised practicum of at least 112 hours. The experience provides the opportunity to integrate and apply classroom learning in a public health work environment, enabling students to observe and learn from professionals in the field. A student contributes to a sponsoring agency/organization’s mission, the community, and the solutions of public health problems while developing personal confidence and practical skills as a public health professional.

An additional requirement of the practicum is the completion of two skill-based professional development seminars. Please refer to the BUSPH Practicum pages for more detailed information.

The Public Health Practice Office provides the academic and administrative structure for the required practicum. Practica are available in local, state, national, and international settings on a wide variety of topics.

Most students may begin a practicum after completing a minimum of 12 academic credits at the School of Public Health. International students studying on a visa must be in status for one academic year prior to completing a practicum if they intend to complete a practicum in the United States. Students who are experiencing academic difficulty will need special approval from the Associate Dean for Education before beginning a practicum.

Decisions about the choice of practicum and number of credits should be made by students to fit their individual academic and professional needs. It is strongly recommended that these decisions be made in consultation with the academic advisor. The options are as follows:

Options for Fulfilling MPH Practicum

Practicum Course Practicum Requirements Credits
PH 970 • Faculty approval
• Agency oversight
• Minimum of 112 practicum work hours
• Poster presentation
• 2 skill-based professional development seminars
PH 975 • Faculty approval
• Agency oversight
• Minimum of 112 practicum work hours
• Poster presentation
• 2 skill-based professional development seminars
PH 984 Directed Practicum
• Faculty approval and sponsor
• Agency oversight
• Minimum of 112 practicum work hours
• Poster presentation
• 2 skill-based professional development seminars
• Final academic product
letter grade
PH 971 MPH/MSW Practicum Course
• Required seminar
• 2 skill-based professional development seminars
MPH/MSW students may also take PH 970
varies Peace Corps Master’s International Program varies
GH 707 Kenya: Field Practicum in Public Health & the Environment
• Course requirements plus 2 skill-based professional development seminars
letter grade
GH 708 and GH 709 Program in Global Health Practice (PGHP) in the Philippines
5-credit classroom component, GH 708
1-credit internship component, GH 709
• Above requirements plus 2 skill-based professional development seminars to complete practicum
6 total, letter grade
GH 712 and GH 713 Field Practicum in Public Health in Mexico
Prerequisites: Successful completion of core courses in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Policy & Management. Spanish language proficiency is required.
6 total, letter grade

Students initiate their practicum search in various ways: through personal and/or professional contacts, faculty recommendations, or opportunities posted with the Practice Office. An extensive list of opportunities can be found on the Practice Office website.

Once a practicum site has been secured, approval for a practicum must be provided by a departmental faculty practice representative. Signature from the Practice Office is required in order to register for a practicum course. Online registration is not available.

Students may fulfill the MPH practicum requirement by completing the assignments associated with one of the course options described in the table above. Dual concentrators need only complete one practicum.