Maternal & Child Health

Maternal and child health is a dynamic field that aims to improve the health of women, children, youth, and entire families and communities, while addressing health inequities and the systems and policies that contribute to family health. Women’s health across the lifespan; sexual and reproductive health and justice; the perinatal period and birth outcomes; inter-conception care; child health, including mental health and special needs; and youth and adolescent development and health are some of the many maternal and child public health challenges. The maternal and child health field uses a life course perspective to address these issues, combining an understanding of human development and the social determinants of health as they accumulate and interact across the lifespan and across generations.

The Master of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal & Child Health is directed at students who seek to protect and enhance the health and well-being of women, children, and families. Students explore the unique physical needs of this population through coursework in maternal and infant health, child and adolescent health, and community-based needs assessment in maternal and child health. They then place this knowledge into a sociopolitical context, obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the cultural influences affecting women, children, and the larger community. Outside of coursework, students may participate in departmental research, the Maternal & Child Health fellowship program, the Maternal & Child Health Diversity Scholars Program, and the MCH Leadership Program. Graduates are equipped for careers in community and global health organizations, advocacy groups, and government agencies that address compelling issues in maternal and child health.


In addition to the program competencies that all MPH graduates master, upon completing the requirements for the MPH in Maternal & Child Health, graduates are able to:

  • describe the historic, sociocultural, economic, and political contexts that shape the health of women, children, and families, focusing on the US with a global perspective
  • apply a life course perspective, combining theories of human development and the cumulative effects of social determinants, to understand and solve maternal and child health challenges of the 21st century
  • demonstrate the ability to integrate theoretical perspectives, empirical evidence, and practice in at least one area of MCH importance

Emphasis Areas

Students who wish to delve deeper into a specific area of Maternal & Child Health can use concentration and School-wide electives to focus their studies in one of five emphasis areas.

Your advisor can help you decide if an emphasis is right for you and suggest which courses to take within that emphasis. For detailed course listings, please visit the Maternal & Child Health Concentrator’s Guide.

Prospective students should contact the Maternal & Child Health staff for additional information.

Sexual, Reproductive & Women’s Health Emphasis

The Sexual, Reproductive & Women’s Health emphasis equips students with an understanding of the social and biologic determinants of women’s health across the lifespan—from adolescence through the reproductive years, mid-life and aging. The curriculum emphasizes the impact of gender, race, and class on health disparities and access to services, and offers frameworks for analyzing the role of women as providers, patients, and activists. Graduates are prepared for public or private sector jobs as program developers, managers, policy analysts, advocates, or researchers in a field that is growing in national and international importance

Child & Adolescent Health & Mental Health Emphasis

The Child & Adolescent Health & Mental Health emphasis is for students who seek to understand the biologic, cognitive, and social development of young children through adolescence, and the application of this knowledge to public health programs and policies. Course offerings emphasize children with special needs, adolescent sexuality, mental health, and childhood chronic illnesses that set the stage for health problems over the lifespan, such as obesity and asthma. Students gain skills to develop and assess innovative approaches to the prevention and management of these public health challenges. Graduates are prepared for employment as program developers, managers, or analysts in community-based organizations, local or state health concentrations, or other agencies that place children and adolescents at the center of their mission.

Family & Community Health/Leadership & Management

The Family & Community Health/Leadership & Management emphasis allows students who have a holistic view of maternal & child health to select courses that address women as mothers, families in the context of the communities in which they reside, and self-identify. Our focus is on the health and well-being of low-income families and urban, underserved communities, such as those that surround SPH. Cultural competence, family-centered care, and community partnership building are central to the courses in this emphasis. Graduates are prepared for employment as program developers, managers, or analysts in a variety of settings. These include community-based organizations, local or state health departments, or other agencies whose missions relate to community health and development, family welfare, or maternal and child health in general

Maternal & Child Health Epidemiology/Research

The Maternal & Child Health Epidemiology/Research emphasis gives students foundational knowledge in research study design, basic analytic methods using statistical programs, the ability to interpret different kinds of research studies, and understanding of the etiology of maternal and child health issues. Graduates are prepared for research-related positions in local or state public health departments, federal agencies, or private research institutes, as well as hospitals, community health centers, or other public health agencies that conduct data analysis and research. Postgraduate fellowships in MCH epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control are an excellent opportunity to put your skills to practice and gain further training.

Policy Making, Advocacy & Communications for Women, Children & Families

The Policy Making, Advocacy & Communications for Women, Children & Family emphasis will provide students with the tools they need to become more effective policy analysts and advocates for women, children, and families. The courses are aimed at developing an understanding of the policy process and enhancing student skills in influencing that process. Students completing this area of focus will be prepared for roles in advocacy or as staff to policymakers at the local, state or national level.

Special Educational Programs

The MCH department host two special educational program that combine MCH courses with leadership development. Students are selected for these programs through an application process during their studies.

Your advisor can help you decide if a program is right for you. For detailed information on both programs, please visit the Maternal & Child Health Concentrator’s Guide.

Prospective students should contact the Maternal & Child Health staff for additional information.

Diversity Scholars Program

The Maternal & Child Health Diversity Scholars Program is designed to increase the number of health professionals from underrepresented minority populations who can address the long-standing gaps in the health of women and children within minority communities and work toward the elimination of health disparities. The program offers alumni mentoring, leadership training, and specialized course work for concentrators who are from underrepresented minority communities. The set of required courses covers the areas of Cultural Competency and Health Disparities; Program Development and Management; Research and Evaluation; and Policy and Advocacy. This interdisciplinary series is led by Maternal & Child Health faculty, Diversity Scholar Program Mentors, and area Maternal & Child Health leaders. Diversity Scholars will be awarded a scholarship covering up to half of their tuition and requires at least two years of residency in the Maternal & Child Health MPH Program. Applications are available to new Maternal & Child Health Concentrators at the start of their MPH education.

Maternal & Child Health Leadership Education Program

This program is designed for aspiring leaders in the field of maternal and child health. It combines courses designed to build competencies in program design, management, evaluation, policy analysis, and advocacy; the practicum; a leadership course and workshop(s); and individual mentoring by a faculty member. In the leadership and mentoring components of the program, students assess and articulate their talents, achievements, and career aspirations; gain experience in team collaboration and leadership; prepare for employment search and interviews; and explore workplace challenges and strategies to meet them. Any Maternal & Child Health concentrator may apply for the Maternal & Child Health Leadership Education Program after completing the first Maternal & Child health core course, MC 725, with a B+ or above and have an overall GPA of at least 3.3. Please consult with your advisor about your decision to apply.