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USC Master of Public Health Curriculum

The Master of Public Health (MPH) Program at USC offers a rigorous curriculum that attracts dedicated and ambitious professionals with a passion to serve in the public health arena. The program’s core coursework aims to develop your key public health competencies and skills using cases and examples from industry — ranging from local to global.

All MPH students are required to complete a set of MPH core courses, including a 300 hour practicum and a capstone course. In addition, students must enroll in a set of concentration-specific core and elective courses, to reach a minimum total of 42 units. The program is designed to be a 2-year program encompassing two fall and two spring semesters for full-time students; however, some concentrations can be completed in as little as 3 consecutive semesters. Students may also pursue the MPH degree through part-time study which would require enrollment in at least one (1) course per semester. Part-time students must complete the program within 5 years. In order to qualify for full-time status, MPH students must be enrolled in a minimum of eight (8) units per fall and spring semester. The average number of units taken by MPH students each semester is twelve (12).

MPH curriculum at-a-glance 2020-2021

Core Coursework

The MPH Program at USC requires students in all concentrations to complete course work that educates students in the critical foundational areas of public health, as determined by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). Through the following courses, among other things, students will gain an understanding of the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, functions and leadership roles; concepts, methods, and tools of public health data collection, analysis and interpretation, and evidenced-based reasoning and informatics approaches essential to public health practice; an understanding of population health concepts; and the cultural context of public health issues and respectful engagement with people of different cultures and socioeconomic strata.

Click courses for descriptions.

Overview of public health concepts and issues, including population health; ethics; health disparities, determinants, and systems of care; global health; policy; health promotion; environmental health.

Introduction to the application of strategies and tools for practice in public health, including policy advocacy, leadership and management, program planning and evaluation, health communication.

Prerequisite: PM 502

Concepts of biostatistics; appropriate uses and common misuses of health statistics; practice in the application of statistical procedures; introduction to statistical software including EXCEL, SPSS, nQuery.

Terminology/uses of epidemiology and demography; sources/uses of population data; types of epidemiologic studies; risk assessment; common sources of bias in population studies; principles of screening.

Specialized Concentrations

In addition to receiving a solid foundation in these critical areas of public health, students will gain depth through coursework in a chosen specialized area of public health (Community Health Promotion; Biostatistics/Epidemiology, Global Health, or Health Services and Policy). Students will complete 24 units of concentration- specific coursework (16 units of concentration core courses + 8 units of elective courses). See MPH concentration pages for details on required coursework.

Practicum and Capstone

Finally, students will have the opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills learned in the MPH program through practical training, known as “The Practicum”, where students will perform 300* hours of field training in a public health agency, such as a county health department, or a community-based organization.

As a culminating experience, students will enroll in the MPH Capstone course in their final semester of the MPH program. This course provides the culminating, integrative curricular experience for all students. The Capstone experience draws on students’ experience in the core areas of public health, their additional concentration coursework and their real-world experience gained in the field prior to graduation. This course challenges students to reflect upon and integrate their coursework and experience with the goal of developing their own individual point-of-view regarding the role of public health in improving the health and well-being of populations in the United States and abroad.

Applied practical experience through fieldwork in federal, state, and/or local public health agencies/organizations, including community-based organizations; research and school-based settings. 

Recommended Preparation: PM 502, PM 503 and at least one MPH concentration core course

Provides the culminating, integrative learning experience for students enrolled in the Master of Public Health program.

Recommended Preparation: completion of all MPH course work