Public Health Competencies

Competency-based education focuses on what students need to know and be able to do in varying and complex situations. These competencies are based on faculty’s field experience, expectations of employers, and the established Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) competencies.

The competencies are specific to each degree program and specialization.

  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Master of Public Health (MPH)

BUSPH graduates bring a well-rounded, evidence-based approach to addressing public health problems. They will be prepared to work in a wide array of settings and understand the interplay of the biological, social, economic, cultural, political, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect health or populations. They critically analyze public health literature, create innovative solutions to problems in collaboration with others, evaluate program effectiveness, and present their views clearly to a range of audiences, both verbally and in writing. Upon completion of the MPH degree requirements, graduates are able to:

  • Identify the determinants of health and disease
  • Estimate the burden and patterns of disease in communities in order to prioritize health needs
  • Use systematic approaches to develop, implement, and evaluate public health policies, programs, or services
  • Communicate effectively to multiple audiences
  • Demonstrate the ability to access and use data to identify and solve public health problems
  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively as part of a team
  • Apply ethical and legal principles to public health practice and policy
  • Work with and incorporate perspectives of diverse groups and communities
  • Demonstrate professional knowledge and skills for effective practice in a selected field of study

Additional Competencies

Functional Area Certificates

Assessing community needs and resources, program design and implementation, and evaluation are core functions of public health practice. This certificate equips students with the essential tools and knowledge base to conduct effective community-based health promotion activities with a diverse array of populations and health issues. Special emphasis is placed on acquiring skills for anti-discriminatory, culturally proficient public health practice and strategies for developing authentic partnerships that grow sustainable political and social power in marginalized communities where need is greatest.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Plan and conduct systematic community health needs assessments, integrating multiple sources of data and community and stakeholder input.
  • Design a public health intervention which is supported by public health evidence and responds to priorities identified through a community needs assessment.
  • Formulate an implementation and sustainability plan designed to engage community members, policy makers, practitioners, funders, and researchers.
  • Design a program evaluation, including formative, process and impact evaluation, and be able to articulate a plan for evaluation using a standard logic model.
  • Apply strategies for equitable, collaborative partnerships with communities, based on common recognition of sources of structured social privilege and disadvantage and a shared goal of seeking to expand community assets and power to improve health outcomes.

Public Health is a dynamic field, with knowledge and practice driven by research. This certificate is targeted to students with an interest in participating in public health research studies, as research assistants, data managers and analysts, or study managers, and provides training in the conduct of public health research and in research methods relating to both qualitative and quantitative data. Students gain an understanding of study design and procedures, research ethics and the responsible conduct of research, and the protection of human subjects in public health research. Students gain skills in analyzing public health data and translating research results for policy and practice. Students can focus on methods relating to other certificates, including Global Health, Maternal and Child Health, and Environmental Hazard Assessment.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate relative strengths and weaknesses of various study designs to address a specific public health research question.
  • Identify methodological and practical issues involved with planning and implementing a public health research study, including issues relating to the responsible conduct of research and the protection of human subjects.
  • Access and analyze publicly available public health data sets, such as the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
  • Identify, conduct, and interpret an appropriate statistical analysis for a given public health research question and study design.
  • Interpret and communicate the results, strengths, and limitations of a public health research article in both technical and non-technical terms.

This certificate provides students with state-of-the-art practice tools for understanding and evaluating the toxicology and health effects of environmental hazards and the risks associated with exposure. Students collect primary environmental data and learn methods for assessing exposure to environmental hazards, and will be introduced to geographic mapping techniques for understanding relationships and patterns in exposure and disease (GIS).

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Collect and analyze environmental data and articulate the characteristics of major chemical, physical, and biological hazards.
  • Interpret measured or modeled concentrations or doses of hazards compared with risk-based and non-risk-based criteria and guidelines.
  • Evaluate the influence of susceptibility based on a hazards’ biological mode of action, and vulnerability on health risks for major environmental determinants of human disease.
  • Identify defensible intervention and prevention strategies to improve health through reduction in exposures to environmental hazards.
  • Critically assess articles related to environmental impacts on health, analyzing the strength and validity of the hypothesis, study design and methods, results, conclusions, and public health significance of primary research studies.

Epidemiology and biostatistics are the quantitative sciences of public health, investigating causes and prevention of disease and injury, and assessing patterns of health in populations around the globe. This certificate provides training in design, statistical programming, data analysis, and valid interpretation of experimental (e.g., clinical) trials and observational studies. Students will gain knowledge and skills in the methods required to conduct and communicate public health research.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Calculate and apply appropriate epidemiologic and statistical measures to draw valid inferences and summaries from public health data.
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of epidemiologic and statistical reports from public health studies.
  • Analyze key sources of public health data, reflecting comprehension of the basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, analysis, and dissemination of epidemiologic and public health information.
  • Communicate the results of epidemiologic and statistical analyses using written and oral presentations for both public health professionals and external audiences.
  • Describe the role of epidemiology and biostatistics for informing etiologic research, planning and evaluation of interventions, public health surveillance, and health policy, with demonstration of performance in one of these areas.

Improving health depends on thoughtful policies and effective laws based on sound science. Major challenges include implementing the Affordable Care Act, designing and financing innovative health systems, forestalling climate change, addressing mental health and substance use, distributing scarce resources, reducing health disparities, and allocating the roles of the public and private sectors. This certificate equips students to develop, implement, and evaluate policies and laws in the US or globally.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Analyze current health policy issues faced by countries, states, and local communities, including political, social, economic, and organizational factors.
  • Evaluate policies in terms of their effectiveness, efficiency, and equity.
  • Develop policy proposals that recognize legal and political constraints.
  • Determine the factors influencing successful policy implementation.
  • Effectively communicate policy and legal analysis through multiple channels to diverse audiences.

This certificate provides multi-disciplinary knowledge and practical skills for developing and implementing communications-based strategies to motivate healthy behaviors, change social norms, and promote public health programs and policies. Students will gain knowledge and skills, including qualitative research, intervention and campaign development, risk communication, media advocacy, and the use of social media, websites, print and broadcast media, and other communications channels to advance public health.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Design a strategic plan for an intervention and communications strategy that is theory-driven, science-based, audience-centered, practicable, and evaluable.
  • Use a wide range of communications venues in support of social marketing campaigns, corporate responsibility campaigns, and media advocacy campaigns.
  • Develop effective communications that are appropriate to audiences with lower health literacy.
  • Design a process and outcome evaluation for a communications campaign.
  • Prepare and deliver a clear and effective oral briefing on a public health topic to the general public and to policymakers.

Never have the challenges in organizing healthcare delivery systems to improve patient care quality and achieve population-level access and equity while controlling costs been greater. Our CAHME-accredited practice-based program in healthcare management provides students with crucial analytical and leadership competencies to tackle these challenges. Students will analyze organizations, financing and delivery of healthcare, and the effects of healthcare policies. Students will learn and apply project management and quality improvement strategies and lead individuals and teams to improve care delivery.

Upon completion of the MPH with a certificate in Healthcare Management, graduates excel in four key areas: health care system analysis, implementation and improvement, leadership, and professionalism.

Health Care System Analysis

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Analyze how the structures, processes, and outcomes observed in the organization, delivery, and financing of health services in the US are related both to one another and to historical and contextual influences, and can compare these aspects of the US system to those in other developed nations.
  • Apply economic and political analysis to understand causes of high costs associated with the delivery of health care services in the US, and develop and evaluate the effectiveness of possible remedies (or solutions).
  • Analyze the current policy issues that face US, state, and local communities; evaluate policies in terms of their effectiveness, efficiency, and equity; and understand the factors influencing successful policy implementation.
  • Assess how political, organizational, and occupational structures, cultures, and norms influence the ways in which health care is allocated and provided, analyze how these factors affect changes in health policy and/or systems, and develop strategies to promote an organization’s or constituency’s position.

Implementation and Improvement

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Translate visions and strategies into specific goals and plans; analyze strategic alternatives with respect to the actions and options of other organizations.
  • Critically appraise health care quality data and measurement methods for pursuing quality improvement, identify strategies for quality improvement and apply structured approaches for implementing change.
  • Apply planning/management tools and techniques to achieve successful project completion.
  • Identify roles and applications of health information systems in managing health care delivery, financing, and quality assessment.

Leadership

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Set clear goals and expectations, select and bring together people with the requisite skills and knowledge, assess the contributions of others, provide clear developmental feedback, and improve one’s own performance based on feedback from others.
  • Identify important interests of multiple parties to understand the dynamics of conflicts in interpersonal, organizational, and political contexts, and develop viable solutions to identified problems.
  • Practice structured approaches for transition from the current to the future state in implementing changes in health care policy and management.

Professionalism

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Present in a clear, logical manner in formal and informal situations, communicate clearly in small and large group meetings, and use technology to present ideas and data.
  • Write and communicate in a clear, logical, and grammatical manner in a variety of formats (emails, policy briefs, memos, research papers).
  • Develop strategies for exploring career options and accurately seeing own strengths and development needs; establish and sustain professional networks; and apply ethical guidelines for sound professional practice.

This certificate provides students with the skills to design and implement rigorous field-based projects and to work in organizations conducting monitoring activities in developing and developed countries. Students will design and implement monitoring plans and process evaluations, apply rigorous analytic methods to estimate the impacts and costs of public health programs and policies, and critically assess and interpret existing evidence to inform public health decision-making.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Design monitoring and evaluation plans for public health programs.
  • Articulate the purpose of formative, process, and outcome evaluations.
  • Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods in relation to their strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, with an emphasis on reliability and validity.
  • Apply analytic methods to evaluate the impacts and costs of public health programs and policies.
  • Support the use of data from monitoring and evaluation projects in informing evidence-based decision-making for the development of new programs and continuous quality improvement efforts.

This certificate equips students to lead public health programs in a variety of settings, including low-resource environments. Students will be able to coordinate and prioritize resources, manage costs and risks, develop plans, motivate staff, and direct efforts to improve community health and program performance. Students will develop skills to think critically about public health problems, apply relevant theories, and practice program management and leadership through problem-based learning.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Develop oversight to support project-level activity, to ensure that the essential elements of a program and program goals are met by providing a decision-making capacity that cannot be achieved at project level.
  • Demonstrate skills in budget management, such as analyzing data, providing budget justifications, and developing budget formulations, which can be used to design and implement health programs in low- and middle-income country settings.
  • Create monitoring plans to assess leadership and employee accountability, and review plans for management of projects, stakeholders, and suppliers.
  • Critically assess program outcomes to identify needed changes, and ensure that monitoring systems are in place to enable program evaluation.
  • Propose specific solutions to a variety of program challenges related to human resources, information technology, supervision, logistics, and management.

Context Area Certificates

Chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, asthma, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease—are responsible for a large majority of the deaths in the United States and a rapidly rising share of deaths in developing countries. In addition to their effect on mortality, these conditions have an enormous impact on disability, quality of life, health care costs, and lost productivity, and are also a major contributor to health disparities. The certificate is designed to provide graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to address a broad range of challenges posed by these conditions, including identification of their causes; design, implementation and evaluation of programs to prevent their occurrence, and also to extend life and improve quality of life once they occur; and organization of the medical care system so that it focuses first on prevention, and also provides access to high-quality and efficient treatment and management.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Identify the major known determinants of chronic disease and their distribution by country, community, and key demographic characteristics.
  • Assess how the organization, delivery, and financing of health services in the US and globally influence the provision of health care aimed at the prevention, management, and treatment of chronic disease.
  • Analyze the factors that influence public health’s approach to addressing chronic disease, including health impact; availability of health data; political, economic, and cultural influences; and feasibility.
  • Apply systematic approaches to develop, implement, and evaluate programs to prevent the occurrence of chronic disease and to improve quality of life for persons with these conditions.
  • Demonstrate professional knowledge and skills in chronic disease for effective practice in the selected functional certificate.

This certificate helps to lay the foundation for a global health career by providing students with a nuanced understanding of the causes and consequences of health problems, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and methods for influencing health behaviors, programs, and policies to improve health outcomes. Students who complete the certificate will gain necessary knowledge and skills for analyzing global health issues and participating in the development of evidence-based solutions to key global health problems.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Describe current health challenges faced at global, national, regional, and community levels including major causes of morbidity and mortality, and reasons for geographic variation in health outcomes.
  • Analyze a health system and its component elements in order to examine its performance, identify strengths and weaknesses, and compare it to other systems.
  • Critically evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of health programs administered by governments, the private sector, and commercial entities; and identify factors that influence health program sustainability.
  • Apply skills to aid in the design and implementation of health programming activities while working on teams and in collaboration with different organizations or disciplines.
  • Integrate socio-cultural and political awareness with social justice and human rights principles to promote culturally acceptable solutions to improve health status and conditions, and advocate for health equity.

Infectious diseases are responsible for a significant global burden of disease that disproportionately affects vulnerable populations worldwide. This certificate provides students with the foundation to collect and analyze data to identify agent, host, and environmental (physical, social, behavioral, cultural, economic, political) factors contributing to the cause and spread of infectious diseases. Students will be prepared to design contextually appropriate interventions for infectious disease prevention, control, and elimination.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Collect and analyze data to describe agent, host, and environmental factors contributing to the causation and spread of infectious diseases.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of appropriate methodologies to study infectious diseases including diagnostic and environmental testing, surveillance systems, and epidemiologic study designs.
  • Discuss key public health prevention and control activities for major categories of diseases including diarrheal diseases, respiratory diseases, vector-borne diseases, foodborne and waterborne diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Design resource setting and socio-culturally appropriate interventions for infectious disease prevention and control; effectively communicate recommendations in both technical and non-technical terms.
  • Critically assess the infectious disease academic literature, analyzing the strength and validity of the hypothesis, study design and methods, results, conclusions, and public health significance of primary research studies.

Assuring that women, their partners, children, and adolescents are healthy and thriving is central to the public health mission throughout the world. This certificate expands knowledge and skills needed to understand the complex biologic, social, and systems-related determinants of key maternal and child health (MCH) challenges (such as infant and maternal mortality, reproductive justice, and youth development), evaluate MCH research, and critically assess and implement programs, policies, and advocacy strategies to achieve equity across MCH populations.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Apply a life course framework, combining knowledge of human development and the cumulative impact of social and biologic determinants of health.
  • Illustrate how key international and/or national and community-level organizations and systems promote and impede women’s, reproductive, child, and adolescent health.
  • Critically evaluate latest innovations created to meet MCH challenges of the 21st century in resource-rich and resource-poor countries and communities.
  • Analyze MCH-related research and communicate key findings and their significance to public health practice in non-technical terms.
  • Apply functional area competencies to a selected MCH population or health domain.

This certificate provides foundational training in the conceptual frameworks, knowledge, and technical skills necessary to understand how mental illness and substance use disorders develop, are manifested, and treated. Utilizing a multi-determinants, population-based public health perspective, students will develop expertise in assessing, preventing, and reducing mental illness and unhealthy substance use, and in promoting mental health and wellness.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Develop a population-based understanding of mental health and unhealthy substance use, using the life course perspective and multi-level framework that emphasize behavioral, social, and structural antecedents and consequences of mental health and substance use.
  • Evaluate empirical evidence to describe the burden of mental illness and substance use on individuals, families, communities, and society.
  • Apply theories and evaluate empirical evidence on the social determinants of mental health and illness.
  • Develop skills in the design, implementation, and evaluation of prevention and harm reduction strategies that address mental health and substance use.
  • Propose strategies for promoting mental wellness, building resilience, and supporting substance use recovery in medical and community settings.

Nearly every public health program relies on pharmaceuticals to achieve its goals—from treating infectious diseases to managing preventive and chronic care. This certificate is one of the world’s few programs examining the intersection of public health and the pharmaceutical sector. Students will gain skills in pharmaceutical development, delivery, and policy. Students will be able to effectively translate their knowledge and skills into rapidly growing public health, pharmaceutical, and medical technology markets.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Communicate the role of pharmaceuticals as public health tools for prevention and treatment of acute and chronic diseases.
  • Examine critical steps in research and development of pharmaceuticals, including clinical trials and market dynamics.
  • Analyze the performance of the pharmaceutical sector using key indicators.
  • Demonstrate the ability to access and use data related to the financing, procurement, distribution and use of pharmaceuticals in order to propose solutions to domestic and international pharmaceutical challenges.
  • Apply a multi-disciplinary systems approach to analyzing the overlapping roles of the public and private sectors in pharmaceutical policy including innovation, intellectual property and medicines regulation.

Inequality and discrimination related to gender and sexuality are major barriers to the attainment of health. Using behavioral and social science theory and methods as well as human rights and social justice frameworks, students will gain analytical, program, and policy skills to understand and address the behavioral, structural, and social determinants of gender inequality and their impacts on individual, community, and population health.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Identify the determinants of health and disease related to gender, gender identity, and sexuality.
  • Apply conceptual frameworks related to gender inequality, sexuality, and gender identity in order to address health challenges and support the health and social well-being of women, men and youth, including those who are marginalized and disadvantaged.
  • Demonstrate the ability to access and use data to estimate the burden and patterns of disease and solve public health problems related to sex, sexuality, and gender.
  • Use systematic approaches to develop, implement, evaluate, and advocate for gender and sexual and reproductive health policies, programs, or services.
  • Make programmatic and policy decisions that reflect ethical frameworks and respect for the values, beliefs, and practices regarding sexual health and rights within diverse communities and cultures.

Health is strongly affected by racism, sexism, poverty, violence, and discrimination. Consequently, public health strategies that promote human rights and social justice are needed to empower vulnerable and marginalized populations, including the elderly and immigrants, to improve their health and well-being. This certificate equips students to engage communities at the local, state, country, and global levels to address critical public health problems in a human rights framework.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Apply principles of human rights and social justice to analyze public health problems, and to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of national and international public health policies and programs.
  • Analyze public health problems and solutions to foster social justice and human rights.
  • Use the principles of human rights and social justice to address inequalities and disparities that continue to plague public health programs.
  • Develop strategies for human rights and social justice advocacy in public health policy and program planning.
  • Describe the roles of history, power, privilege, and structural inequality in producing health disparities.

Master of Science (MS)

Upon completing the requirements for the MS in Environmental Health, graduates are able to:

  • Communicate the basic characteristics of major chemical, physical, and biological hazards and the properties that govern the hazards’ behavior in the environment;
  • Explain the scientific characteristics (e.g., route of exposure, dose response, mode of action) of major biological, chemical, and physical hazards that result in human health risk;
  • Explain and analyze genetic, physiologic, and social factors that affect the susceptibility to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental hazards;
  • Critically evaluate and interpret the hypothesis, experimental design, methods, and results presented in a paper from a technical journal article in an environmental health discipline (toxicology, epidemiology, exposure assessment);
  • Analyze and interpret environmental health data;
  • Identify appropriate intervention strategies for specific environmental health problems; and
  • Communicate the results of a scientific study in a written and oral format.

In addition to meeting the epidemiology competencies for MPH students concentrating in Epidemiology, students in the MS in Epidemiology will be able to:

  • Develop a scientific hypothesis, beginning with a review of existing literature, and design an epidemiologic study to assess the hypothesis validly and efficiently.
  • Develop competence in a chosen substantive area of epidemiology for which competence requires a proficient understanding of risk factors for the disease(s), the impact of the disease(s) on populations, and an awareness of methodologic issues specific to the substantive area.
  • Analyze a complex epidemiologic data set using at least one computer-aided tool, such as Excel or SAS.
  • Communicate the results of research both orally and in writing, with the written presentation meeting the current standards of publication in refereed journals.
  • Critically evaluate in writing a published epidemiologic investigation, with respect to:
    • the choice of study population and design
    • measurement of the exposure, disease, and covariates
    • the data description and analytic method
    • the investigator’s interpretation of the study’s findings

Upon completing the requirements for the MS in Health Services Research, graduates are able to:

  • Identify key factors in the context of health and health care systems, institutions, actors, and environment that have the potential to influence provision and use of health services. These may include policy, organization and financing of healthcare services. They may also include social disparities and determinants that may affect access, as well as factors such as biology, behavior and culture that may influence individual health and the use of services.
  • Identify and describe contributions (and limitations) of conceptual models of health services use and theoretical perspectives derived from foundational fields, and choose relevant conceptual models to support HSR study topics.
  • Develop relevant and important research questions, grounded in critical and analytical reviews of the health services literature.
  • Identify and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of possible study designs that can appropriately address specific health services research questions. Methods include interventional, comparative, and observational approaches; qualitative and quantitative approaches; and are derived from foundational health services fields and different types and sources of data.
  • Identify and apply research methods that are appropriate to HSR questions of interest, specifying study constructs, research objectives and hypotheses, and utilize methods that reliably and validly measure these constructs.
  • Identify appropriate data collection strategies to answer research questions. Collect and manage primary health and healthcare utilization data and/or assemble and manage existing data from public and private data sources in accordance with research design.
  • Choose and apply appropriate analytical techniques to data in order to explore HSR research question.
  • Develop, document, and employ procedures that ensure the reproducibility of the science, the responsible use of resources, mutual accountability with collaborators, and the ethical treatment of research subjects.
  • Work collaboratively with teams and across disciplines to develop and disseminate HSR knowledge.
  • Effectively communicate the process, findings, and implications of health services research via multiple modes, including via peer-reviewed publications, oral presentations and via technology. Be able to communicate findings to multiple stakeholders and audiences including funders, research participants, colleagues, policy-makers and managers.

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Upon completion of the DrPH, graduates possess many competencies, shown here by category:

  • Analyze the impact of legislation, judicial opinions, regulations, and policies on population health.
  • Develop evidence-based strategies for changing health law and policy.
  • Utilize consensus-building, negotiation, and conflict avoidance and resolution techniques.

  • Develop informational and persuasive communications.
  • Employ evidence-based communication program models for disseminating research and evaluation outcomes.
  • Explain program proposals and evaluations to lay, professional, and policy audiences.

  • Apply research from anthropology, psychology, history, demography, sociology, and social epidemiology in national and international contexts.
  • Develop collaborative partnerships with communities, policy makers, and other relevant groups.
  • Assess cultural, environmental, and social justice influences on the health of communities.

  • Interpret quantitative and qualitative data following current scientific standards and apply theoretical and evidence-based perspectives from multiple disciplines in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and systems.
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources for research and practice and evaluate the performance and impact of health programs, policies, and systems.
  • Identify and navigate the secondary data sources available for use at the regional and community levels internationally and in the US and understand and apply meta-analysis to evaluate policies, especially in situations involving inconsistent or limited data.

  • Create a shared vision and articulate this vision to diverse groups, stakeholders, and other professional collaborators to achieve high standards of performance and accountability.
  • Develop skilled teams and capacity-building strategies at the individual, organizational, and community level.
  • Guide organizational decision-making and planning based on internal and external environmental research.

  • Implement strategic planning processes.
  • Evaluate organizational performance in relation to strategic and defined goals.
  • Organize the work environment with defined lines of responsibility, authority, communication, and governance and develop financial and business plans for health programs and services.

  • Apply relevant ethical, legal, and human rights principles to difficult and controversial public health policy decisions while demonstrating a commitment to personal and professional values.
  • Articulate the major ethical, legal, and human rights principles relevant to public health policy making, both in the US and internationally.
  • Design strategies for resolving ethical concerns in research, law, and regulations.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The training program provides knowledge, experience, and training in core disciplines to allow for critical thinking in research design, interpretation, and translation. Upon completing the PhD in Environmental Health, students are able to:

  • Communicate the basic characteristics of major chemical, physical, and biological hazards and the properties that govern the hazards’ behavior in the environment;
  • Explain the scientific characteristics (e.g., route of exposure, dose response, mode of action) of major chemical, physical, and biological hazards that result in human health risk;
  • Explain and analyze genetic, physiologic, and social factors that affect the susceptibility to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental hazards
  • Critically evaluate and interpret the hypothesis, experimental design, methods, and results presented in a paper from a technical journal article in an environmental health discipline (toxicology, epidemiology, exposure assessment, environmental policy);
  • Identify data gaps and formulate testable hypotheses about critical questions in environmental health (epidemiology, toxicology, exposure assessment, environmental policy);
  • Design and implement data collection strategies and rigorous evaluations to test hypotheses using novel or current techniques;
  • Analyze and interpret environmental health data;
  • Identify appropriate intervention strategies for specific environmental health problems;
  • Prepare scientific manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals in the field of environmental health; and
  • Communicate scientific results at national and/or international conferences in the field of environmental health.

The PhD program provides advanced professional training in epidemiology to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for leadership in epidemiologic research and methodology.

Upon completing the requirements for the PhD in Epidemiology, graduates are able to:

  • Formulate research hypotheses that can be evaluated through empirical epidemiological investigation.
  • Critically evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of epidemiologic study designs applied to particular etiologic associations.
  • Analyze and interpret epidemiologic studies using appropriate methods.
  • Explain the theoretical underpinnings of epidemiology, including new and traditional study designs.
  • Demonstrate understanding of sources of bias and approaches to evaluating and controlling bias.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in data collection, data analysis, and written summaries of statistical analyses.
  • Demonstrate expertise in at least one substantive area of epidemiology and apply that expertise to preparation of the dissertation proposal.
  • Perform all the steps of conducting a hypothesis-driven epidemiologic study, from developing hypotheses, to designing, analyzing, and interpreting results, to writing up findings in the form of a publication-quality manuscript; as demonstrated by the PhD dissertation, which requires three manuscripts judged to be suitable for publication.

Upon completion of the PhD in Health Services Research, the graduate is able to:

  • Identify key factors in the context of health and health care systems, institutions, actors, and environment that have the potential to influence provision and use of health services. These may include policy, organization and financing of healthcare services. They may also include social disparities and determinants that may affect access, as well as factors such as biology, behavior and culture that may influence individual health and the use of services.
  • Examine, critique, modify, and develop theory-based conceptual models of health services use. Identify and examine the use of theoretical perspectives derived from foundational fields that provide rationales for both HSR study topics and conceptual approaches to them. These fields can include anthropology, demography, economics, epidemiology, management, organizational science, political science, psychology and/or economics.
  • Develop original, relevant and important research questions to pursue in HSR that are grounded in both a critical analysis of prior HSR literature and relevant theoretical perspectives.
  • Identify and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of possible study designs that can appropriately address specific health services research questions. Methods include interventional, comparative and observational approaches; qualitative and quantitative approaches; and are derived from foundational health services fields and different types and sources of data.
  • Based on relevant theory/concepts and the research question(s) at hand, develop and apply a health services research design, specifying study constructs, research objectives and hypotheses and utilize methods that reliably and validly measure these constructs and outcomes of interest. Select optimal methodological approach, in combination as necessary, to answering key health services research questions.
  • Identify appropriate data collection strategies to answer research questions. Collect and manage primary health and healthcare utilization data and/or assemble and manage existing data from public and private data sources in accordance with research design.
  • Choose and apply a range of appropriate analytical techniques to data in order to explore various types of HSR questions. Utilize appropriate combination of analytic techniques to deepen data analysis and interpretation.
  • Develop, document and employ procedures that ensure the reproducibility of the science, the responsible use of resources, mutual accountability with collaborators, and the ethical treatment of research subjects.
  • Work collaboratively in teams within and across disciplines to develop and disseminate HSR knowledge; assembling and leading teams with the necessary combinations of knowledge and expertise.
  • Effectively communicate the process, findings, and implications of health services research via multiple modes, including via peer-reviewed publications, oral presentations and via technology. Be able to communicate findings to multiple stakeholders and audiences including funders, research participants, colleagues, policy-makers and managers.

Graduate Certificates

The certificate program in Modern Biostatistics in Clinical Trials is designed for students who want to become familiar with a variety of types of clinical trial designs and data, including traditional, Bayesian, and adaptive designs, as well as FDA regulations, ethics analysis, and reporting for clinical trials.

Upon completion of the Modern Biostatistics in Clinical Trials graduate certificate, the graduate is able to:

  • Apply principles of good design, conduct, and monitoring of clinical trials.
  • Identify optimal and practically feasible study designs for given hypotheses and calculate the parameters (e.g., sample size, power) corresponding to the design.
  • Analyze clinical trial data; interpret and communicate analysis results in both technical and nontechnical terms through written and oral presentation.

The Statistical Genetics certificate program will provide students with specialized training and acquisition of skills in the analysis of genetic data. Individuals completing the program will be familiar with a variety of types of genetic data (genotyping, expression, sequence data) as well as statistical methods for data summary and analysis, with an emphasis on analysis relating genetic information to human health outcomes.

Upon completion of the Statistical Genetics graduate certificate, the graduate is able to:

  • Analyze data from genetics and genomics studies using statistical programming software and genetic analysis software.
  • Identify potential sources of bias and confounding in family, population-based, and case-control study designs for genetic and genomic studies, and develop analytic and design strategies to minimize these effects.
  • Interpret and communicate the results and limitations of statistical analyses of genetic and genomic data in both technical and nontechnical terms.