Core Courses

The School-wide core curriculum for the MPH program provides a strong foundation of both knowledge and skills across the broad spectrum of public health endeavors. The integrated, problem-based core experience enables all students to achieve mastery of both discipline-specific and cross-cutting competencies.

The MPH core curriculum is organized around the five core disciplines of public health: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Policy & Management, and Social & Behavioral Sciences. 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 and permanent residents must take a sixth core course in Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights. Knowledge and skills in these disciplines equip graduates to analyze and consider solutions to public health problems at the community, institutional, and societal levels.


BS 704 Introduction to Biostatistics

  • BS 704 (3 cr) meets the MPH biostatistics core course requirement for all MPH students.
  • Students who successfully completed BS 701 or BS 703 since Fall 2011 have met the MPH core course requirement and do not have to take BS 704. Student who completed CAS MA 115 AND CAS MA 116 or CAS MA 213 AND MA 214 OR CAS MA 684 with a B or better no earlier than fall 2011 are waived from the MPH core course requirement in Biostatistics (no credit)

Environmental Health

EH717 Foundations of Environmental Health

  • EH717 (3 cr) meets the MPH environmental health core course requirement for all MPH students.
  • EH concentrators must also enroll in EH725 concurrently with EH717.
  • Non-EH concentrators who successfully completed EH 708 since Fall 2011 do not have to enroll in EH 717.


EP713 Introduction to Epidemiology

  • EP713 (3 cr) meets the MPH epidemiology core course requirement for all MPH students.
  • Students who completed SAR HS300 with a B or better no earlier than Fall 2011 waive the Epidemiology MPH core course requirement (no credit).

Health Law, Bioethics, & Human Rights

LW719 Essentials of Public Health Law or
LW751 Public Health Law

  • LW751 (4 cr) is required for students concentrating in Health Law, Bioethics, & Human Rights and is also open to non-LW concentrators who wish to have a deeper understanding of the American legal system and the major legal issues and problems confronting the public health professional in greater depth. LW751 is taught in the fall only.
  • If a student changes concentrations to HLB&HR after taking LW 707 in a previous semester or after taking LW 719, he or she must do additional work. See Professor Roche in HLB&HR for more information.
  • LW719 (3 cr) meets the health law, bioethics and human rights requirement for MPH students who are not concentrating in Health Law, Bioethics, & Human Rights. Students who completed LW707 since fall 2011 have meet the core course requirement in Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights.
  • International students and non-permanent residents of the U.S. are exempt from the MPH core course requirement in HLB&HR. Students should confirm their exemption with the SPH Registrar’s Office with the first month of the semester in which they matriculate.

Health Policy and Management

PM702 Introduction to Health Policy, Delivery, and Management
GH704 Global Public and Medical Care: A Systems Approach (fomerly IH704)

  • Most MPH students complete PM702 to meet their Health Policy and Management core course requirement. Health Policy and Management concentrators must successfully complete PM702. SPH students who are global health concentrators or international, non-permanent residents of the U.S. may meet the health policy and management core course requirement by successfully completing either GH704 or PM702.
  • Students who completed SAR HP353 with a B or better no earlier than fall 2011 are waived from PM702 or GH704, no credit.

Social & Behavioral Sciences

SB721 Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health
GH720 Social and Behavioral Sciences in Global Public Health (formerly IH720)

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences concentrators must successfully complete SB721 (regardless of citizenship status). Most MPH students complete SB721 to meet their Social and Behavioral Sciences core course requirement. GH720 fulfills the social and behavioral sciences MPH core requirement only for Global Health concentrators and for students who are international students or non-permanent residents of the U.S..
  • MSW/MPH students are waived from SB721 when they complete the MSW degree.

Core Course Scheduling 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 in their first semester, and complete the remaining core course within three semesters and prior to completing classes outside of their concentration. For the required core course schedule by concentration, click here.

SPH Grading Policy: 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.

For information on MPH Core Course Transfer Credit, Waivers, and Exemptions, visit the BU Bulletin. All students who are interested in learning more about transfer credits, waivers, and exemptions are encouraged to speak with a staff member in the SPH Registrar’s Office after they have been accepted to the MPH program.