Master of Public Health

Focus Areas in the MPH Program

Global Environmental Sustainability and Health (GESH)

In a time where climate change and energy efficiency are increasingly in the public eye, educating professionals that can design and evaluate technologies, products, and materials for their contribution to a healthy and sustainable future for our world is an imperative for which the UMass Lowell MPH program is well suited. There is considerable interest in society about the health and environmental impacts of technologies, products, materials, and about how society can be organized to reduce these negative impacts. In every sector of society, there are initiatives to identify, quantify and reduce the harmful impacts of technologies on health and the environment. The design and application of newer “green” or sustainable technologies is attracting a great deal of interest from young people who want to participate in building a new economy.  

Graduates with a MPH degree and the appropriate preparation in advanced areas of health assessment, technology evaluation and health and environmental policy will be well prepared to participate in this emerging field. GESH graduates will have marketable skills that include: 

  • Core public health expertise including health policy, environmental health and health data analysis 
  • Health and risk assessment 
  • Health impact assessment, or the evaluation of potential effects on the health of a population
  • Sustainability audits including energy, waste, product lifecycle assessment 
  • Environmental management systems 
  • Environmental and sustainable product design 
  • Corporate social responsibility audits

Curriculum Plan (doc)

Epidemiology

Epidemiologists are critical to the identification of public health hazards, the evaluation of health interventions, and to a wide range of activities in monitoring and evaluation of health systems data.  Epidemiology and the closely related field of biostatistics are core disciplines of public health and there continues to be a strong need for MPH professionals with expertise in these fields for both public and private health programs.  The goal of this option is to produce practitioners who have a solid grasp of the fundamental principles of epidemiology and health statistics including study design, data analysis, assessment of bias, control of confounders, and exposure assessment.

The Epidemiology focus area of the MPH will prepare graduates to: 

  • Conduct etiologic research for a wide array of different diseases;
  • Design and operate surveillance systems and other databases gathering data on health and illness, as well as on risk factors and health behaviors; and
  • Participate as team members in the design and conduct of disease prevention and health promotion programs.

Field epidemiology experience will be provided through the practicum experience and summer internships, with public and private sector health agencies. Examples include collaborations with the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Departments of Public Health, town and city health departments, and regional hospitals. 

Curriculum Plan (doc)

Healthcare Management

At the local, national and regional level, our healthcare system confronts new challenges in coping with the many changes in technology, information systems, financing and management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations." The MPH concentration in Healthcare Management will prepare graduates to manage public health programs and organizations.  Students will learn the conceptual, organizational, personnel and financial skills required for effective, but also compassionate and ethical, work performance as a public health manager.

The current graduate program within the Department of Community Health and Sustainability (known as Health Informatics and Management) has achieved regional distinction among students interested in the management of healthcare information systems. The faculty engaged in healthcare management who teach in the program has been an asset to the program and will teach the courses for the MPH students who are interested in the healthcare management option. Sharing classes with students who are experienced managers working throughout the healthcare industry and a diverse mix of clinicians, including both NPs and MDs will enrich the educational experiences of the students in the healthcare management option.  The existing Health Informatics and Management program has experienced an increase in the number of international students, many whom are health professionals, including nurse practitioners and physicians.  As one alumnus reported, “We learn so much from each other and this includes from other students whose adult careers have taken them on different paths.” This will also enrich the educational experience of the MPH students in the Healthcare Management option.

Graduates with a Master’s degree in public health with a specialization in Healthcare Management will have advanced education in healthcare finance, law and ethics in healthcare, operations analysis and quality improvement, healthcare management and healthcare information systems. They will be prepared to assume leadership positions in the complex healthcare industry, especially those industries that contribute to the public health of communities and populations. 

Graduates of the Healthcare Management Option in the MPH program will be prepared to: 

  • Develop, implement and evaluate public health initiatives.
  • Assume "hands on" management of public health programs and organizations.
  • Provide leadership as a thoughtful, analytical and ethical manager within the public health community.
  • Support increased efficiency, effectiveness and accountability within the public health workplace.

Curriculum Plan (doc)

Population Health

Health promotion is the process of applying social and behavioral science principles to education and environmental change that empowers individuals and groups to take control of and improve their own health. MPH specialists combine knowledge of social and behavioral sciences to create and carry out successful public health interventions to promote population health. The goal of this specialization is to educate practitioners who have a broad foundation of the fundamental principles of public health with a focus on program planning and evaluation.

The Population Health specialization of the MPH program will prepare graduates to: 

  • Find, understand, and apply relevant public health literature;
  • Design and implement programs that improve public health by fostering change in individual behaviors, environmental conditions, and social policy;
  • Evaluate public health programs through data collection and analysis
  • Engage individuals and communities in discussion and decision-making to clarify shared public health goals.

The 6-credit MPH practicum will provide students focusing on population health with applied experience in health promotion and disease prevention. Examples include collaborations in planning, implementing, and evaluating public health campaigns at Federal Agencies, state and local health departments, hospital settings, community health centers, social service agencies, and non-profit public health organizations. 

Curriculum Plan (doc)

Nutrition

Public health nutrition specialists examine the relationship of nutrition and health problems including obesity and chronic diseases, as well as malnutrition, food insecurity, and nutritional deficiencies.  Public Health Nutritionists provide nutrition education, conduct research, help to develop health and wellness programs, and deliver many other nutritional services to individuals and/or populations. Students in the Nutrition specialization of the MPH program will advance their knowledge and skills through a program that emphasizes a broad background in public health and specialized education in nutrition.

The goals of the MPH Nutrition specialization are to prepare health and nutrition professionals to:
  • Identify and prevent risks that contribute to the development of malnutrition;
  • Develop strategies and policies to improve food security and reduce obesity;
  • Develop programs to improve the nutritional status of diverse population groups;
  • Develop effective strategies for advocating for improved nutrition;
  • Develop and manage wellness programs to promote healthy eating and chronic disease prevention.
  • Apply population-based research findings to the development and implementation of nutrition policies and programs in the United States and internationally.

Curriculum Plan (doc)

Gerontology

Aging, a global phenomenon in the 21st century, has major individual, societal, economic, and political consequences, thereby increasing demands on effective public health systems, and medical and social services, resulting in the need for public health specialists educated in the field of gerontology. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be 65 years or older. According to the Center for Disease Control “about 80% of older adults have one chronic condition and 50% have at least two”. Gerontology is one of the fastest growing disciplines. Students in the MPH Gerontology specialization will be prepared to conduct and evaluate population-based research that is essential to address the important public heath concerns of aging societies, both nationally and internationally. As people are living longer and the number of older adults is increasing, a dramatic public health workforce shortage of specialists in aging is predicted in the coming decades. The MPH Gerontology specialization is designed to prepare the next generation of gerontology specialists in the field of aging policy, planning, teaching, and research.
 
Graduates of the MPH Gerontology specialization will be prepared to:

  • Assume leadership positions in aging policy or public health in the public and private sector
  • Recognize, respect, and value individual and societal diversity in aging populations.
  • Utilize critical thinking skills in applying diverse approaches to addressing aging issues in a diverse society.
  • Utilize research strategies to evaluate public health programs for an aging population. 

Curriculum Plan (doc)