MPH: International Health Concentration

The Master of Public Health with a concentration in international health provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to work effectively in overseas settings. Students have the flexibility to combine coursework from a wide variety of fields to gain skills in program design, management, evaluation, and research, along with core international health knowledge to address the social, cultural, and epidemiological challenges that affect the global burden of disease. Graduates are equipped to assume careers in relief and development, consulting, and research, as well as government service, both domestically and abroad, or to pursue further study.

Concentration Requirements

All IH concentrators must meet the School-wide core requirements. In addition, they must take at least 16 international health concentration credits. A minimum of 8 of the 16 credits must be from International Health-designated courses. IH-designated courses that count for concentration credit are any IH courses numbered 700 or above, except IH 704 and IH 720, as well as the following courses: HC 840, 841, and 842 (maximum of 8 credits may be applied to IH concentration credits) and PH 825 Role of Human and Environmental Factors in Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases. Because IH 704 and IH 720 count as core course credit, they cannot be applied toward IH concentration credit.

Additionally, IH concentrators must take at least one of the following IH courses, and are strongly recommended to take all four: IH 702, IH 703, IH 704, or IH 720.

The following courses outside of the Department of International Health carry international health concentration credit. A maximum of 8 credits from this list may be counted toward the 16 required International Health concentration credits:

  • EH 735 Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease
  • EH 745 Wastewater and Health/Sustainable Sanitation
  • EH 749 Global Environmental Health
  • EH 780 Great Calamities and Their Consequences in Public Health
  • EH 806 Development and the Environment
  • EP 755 Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • EP 764 Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in the Developed/Developing World
  • EP 784 The Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in the Developed and Developing World
  • LW 740 Health and Human Rights
  • MC 730 Leading Teams to Face Challenges and Achieve Results in Public Health
  • MC 786 Immigrant and Family Health
  • MC 802 Leading Community Health Initiatives: Medicine and Public Health as Partners
  • PM 721 Organizational Behavior and Health Management
  • PM 735 Health Care Finance
  • PM 736 Human Resource Management in Public Health
  • PM 807 Introduction to Cost Effectiveness Analysis
  • PM 832 Operations Management in Healthcare
  • GMS MA 622 Religion and Public Health

Emphasis Areas

The Department of International Health believes that students should graduate with basic analytic and public health skills (addressed by the School’s core courses) and with sufficient in-depth knowledge to be employable in an international health program. Students are encouraged to focus their course of study by taking 8 credits of international health courses within one of five emphasis areas. For more details about the following areas, please see the International Health Concentrators’ Guide.

  • Infectious and non-communicable diseases
  • Monitoring and evaluation and research methods
  • Sex, sexuality, gender, and health
  • Health program management
  • Managing disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies

Culminating Experience

All students must complete a Culminating Experience (CE). The CE provides students with an opportunity to synthesize and integrate core public health skills taught in the international health curriculum and to demonstrate application of a broad range of core skills from across the curriculum. Students may begin the Culminating Experience once they have successfully completed 25 credits.

The department offers three options for completing the Culminating Experience: a policy analysis, a journal article, and an independent project. Students must sign a contract regarding the choice of Culminating Experience and submit the contract, PPS/Project Proposal, and drafts according to deadlines listed in the IH CE Guidelines, also available on the IH Blast website. All work will involve a multi-draft process, with review by the advisor or another IH faculty member. Up to four drafts are often necessary to complete the Culminating Experience.

Students can access detailed information and the most current CE guidelines on the IH Blast website under the CE tab. Beginning Fall 2013, all students working on a CE will be required to register for it. Students wishing to take the CE for 0 credits will register for IH 950. Students completing the CE for 1 or 2 credits will register for IH 943. Students enrolled in SPH IH 777 will be considered registered for the CE and do not need to complete any other registration. If a student needs more than one semester to finish the CE, he or she must register for IH 951. Students may register only once for IH 951 in order to complete the CE. In the event a student needs more than one extra semester, he or she should contact the Academic Coordinator as soon as possible.

Options for the Culminating Experience

Option 1: Policy Analysis

All students completing this option must submit a brief problem purpose statement which addresses the significance of the topic and lists primary resources to be used. Students focus on a policy or program-related issue relevant to an identified host organization or set of policy makers, gather and analyze evidence and background information, and propose recommendations.

The policy analysis should be 12–20 pages, double-spaced. Students are strongly encouraged to base the CE on a problem identified during the practicum, but may choose a topic not related to the practicum with the approval of the CE advisor.

Students may take this option for 0, 1, or 2 credits. Students electing to complete the CE for credit should register for either IH 943 or the IH 777 CE course. Those completing the CE for 0 credits should register for IH 950.

Option 2: Journal Article

In order to be eligible to submit a proposal, the student must have completed 25 credit hours. The student will be required to register for IH 943 (2 credits) with an IH faculty mentor.

In this option, the student will develop and submit a manuscript to an academic journal for publication. The department will issue a call for submission three times a year to accommodate the January, May, and September graduation cycles. In response to the call for submission, students will submit well-written paper proposals consisting of a problem purpose statement, an outline of the intended analytical methods, details about the data set to be used, and a timeline for completion. An IH faculty approval committee will review proposals and approve projects based upon the soundness of the proposal and the feasibility of getting the project completed within the intended timeline.

Students applying for this option must have a faculty mentor from the IH department who agrees, in writing, to work intensively with them throughout the semester. The faculty mentor serves as CE advisor and will need to sign off on the project proposal formally before it is submitted to the approval committee. Students are required to meet with their CE advisor throughout the writing process. The mentor’s role will be similar to that of a senior author or scientific director—giving direction and advice to the student—but the student must do the actual analysis and writing.

Option 2 papers must be submitted to an academic journal in order to be considered final. The decision about whether a draft is ready for submission and therefore final will be at the discretion of the CE advisor.

Option 3: Independent Project

The objective of this option is to encourage creative and innovative projects from students who have an idea for a CE that does not fit into the previous two options. Similar to option two, students will be invited to submit proposals three times a year. The IH approval committee will entertain any fully articulated proposal that meets the guidelines for a Culminating Experience as outlined above. Possible examples of independent projects might include film documentaries, draft legislation, and advocacy campaigns, etc.

Students may take this option for 0, 1, or 2 credits. Students electing this option for credit should register for IH 943. Those completing the CE for 0 credits should register for IH 950.

Culminating Experience Deadlines

Students are expected to complete their Culminating Experience in the same semester in which they finish their coursework. Students must submit a Culminating Experience Contract and Problem Purpose Statement/Project Proposal via the online form at the beginning of the semester in which they start their CE. Students may continue work on their CE into a second semester if necessary, and will be required to register for an extension (IH 951).

International students must be in compliance with visa regulations and any student who will not finish his/her paper in time should speak with the academic services coordinator as soon as possible.