Online Master of Public Health Program Handbook | Online Master of Public Health

Sam Fried

Table of Contents Degree requirementsRequired prerequisite courseworkSample curriculum for Public Health Practice emphasisPublic Health Core Courses (21 credits)Public Health core courses (21 credits)Public Health Practice emphasis courses (18 credits)Practicum (3 credits)Integrative Learning Experience (3 credits)Sample course progressionSix-semester course progressionSeven-semester course progressionEight-semester course progressionMPH internshipBackground checks policy for University programsMPH capstone […]

Degree requirements

All MPH students must complete a minimum of 45 graduate level credits: 21 credits from the MPH core courses, 18 credits in the concentration area (Public Health Practice), and a culminating experience that includes a 3-credit practicum (field studies course) and a 3-credit integrative learning experience (capstone course).

Required prerequisite coursework

Completion of an undergraduate or graduate course in statistics is required prior to admission into the MPH program.

Sample curriculum for Public Health Practice emphasis

The following represents a suggested curriculum and course progression for the Public Health Practice emphasis. Students should consider this an example only, consult their advisor and check the current course catalog. 


Public Health Core Courses (21 credits)

All students receiving an MPH in any specialization are required to take the following seven core courses. Substitution of transfer course credits from other institutions must be reviewed and approved by faculty and the Program Director. The Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form must be completed and emailed to the Online Program Director for consideration of transfer credits. The Transfer Evaluation Request must be accompanied by a syllabus of the course requesting to be transferred.

Public Health core courses (21 credits)

  • CHS 700 Research Methods for Public Health (3) (CHS 747 for On-Campus Programs)
  • CHS 701 Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health (3)
  • CHS 712 Epidemiology in Public Health (3)
  • CHS 725 Health and the Environment (3)
  • CHS 755 Health Policy (3)
  • CHS 756 Organizational Behavior and Leadership in Health Services (3)
  • CHS 780 Biostatistics in Public Health (3)

Public Health Practice emphasis courses (18 credits)

  • CHS 702: Program Development in Public Health Practice (3)
  • CHS 716: Public Health Finance (3)
  • CHS 733: GIS and Spatial Analysis in Public Health (1)
  • CHS 734: Project Management Principles for Public Health (1)
  • CHS 735: Public Health Emergency Preparedness (1)
  • CHS 748: Epidemiologic Surveillance (3)
  • CHS 761: Public Health Law (3)
  • CHS 762: Public Health Information Systems and Data Management (3)

Practicum (3 credits)

The practicum is an important element of the MPH curriculum where the student obtains experience in a public health setting (150 hours) appropriate to the development of professional practice skills.

  • CHS 798: Field Studies in Public Health (3)

Integrative Learning Experience (3 credits)

All MPH students will complete an integrative learning experience that demonstrates synthesis of foundational and specialization competencies. This will be achieved by writing and presenting an MPH Capstone paper.

  • CHS 796: MPH Capstone (3)

Sample course progression

In addition to the six- and seven-semester program progressions, the online program also offers an eight-semester, two-courses per semester option. In this option, each semester has two courses (except for the semesters with field studies), and students begin field studies in the fifth semester instead of the four semester.

X-Term: Course progression for students matriculating in spring or fall of odd years (e.g., 2021, 2023) or in summer of even years (e.g., 2020, 2022).

Y-Term: Course progression for students matriculating in spring or fall of even years (e.g., 2020, 2022) or in summer of odd years (e.g., 2021, 2023).

Six-semester course progression

Seven-semester course progression

Eight-semester course progression

MPH internship

The purpose of the internship requirement is to provide each MPH student with significant practical public health experience in an agency outside of the University. There are a wide variety of organizations that qualify as an internship site locally, nationally, and internationally.

The MPH student is expected to find an organization to complete the internship opportunity. The Internship Instructor and other faculty can provide support through their various connections in the communities, but it is up to the student to arrange an internship that best fits with his or her area of interest. The identification and approval of possible internship sites should begin in the semester prior to being enrolled in CHS 798 Field Studies in Public Health.

Students must register for a total of three credit hours of CHS 798 and complete a minimum of 150 total work hours. Students may meet the hour requirement at their own pace, upon approval from their field studies preceptor and the field studies instructor, with the understanding that the hours should be completed over one to three semesters.

When determining an internship site, emphasis should be placed on arranging an internship experience that will provide the student with new skills and experiences, where the student will be working in a professional capacity. Once a site and preceptor (site supervisor) have been identified and arranged, the student will work with all parties to complete the Student Learning Contract (SLC), which outlines student goals, objectives, and competencies to be addressed during the Internship. Competencies are defined by CEPH as: Competencies clearly define what the student will do to demonstrate learning for a workforce-related need. The course objective specifies what the institution intends to do to achieve its course goals.”

The SLC is due the semester before the internship begins. The SLC must be signed by all parties and submitted to the internship instructor prior to the start of any internship hours. Preceptors must have significant education and/or work experience in public health to qualify as a preceptor. Final determination of preceptor qualification will be made by the Field Studies Instructor or appropriate faculty in the program. 

Students enrolled in the 6-semester option should plan on enrolling in 1 credit of CHS 798 each semester beginning in their third semester and ending in their fifth (penultimate) semester. Students work with the Field Studies Instructor in the Field Studies Resource Center (FRC) during their second semester to prepare for the field studies experience.

Students in the 7-semester option enroll in 1 credit hour of CHS 798 beginning in their fourth semester and ending in their sixth (penultimate) semester. Students work with the Field Studies Instructor in the Field Studies Resource Center (FRC) during their third semester to prepare for the field studies experience.

Students in the 8-semester option enroll in 1 credit hour of CHS 798 beginning in their fifth semester and ending in their seventh (penultimate) semester. Students work with the Field Studies Instructor in the Field Studies Resource Center (FRC) during their fourth semester to prepare for the field studies experience.

Interprofessional education (IPE) didactic and practice sessions, a core component of the CHS 798 course, take place throughout the internship. Attendance in IPE exercises is required as part of the CHS 798 course.

Background checks policy for University programs

Some states, as well as federal laws, now require that any individual who regularly provides services to certain segments of the population (generally, those deemed “vulnerable” or “special,” including but not limited to children and the sick) must submit to a criminal background check in order to obtain and maintain privileges in clinical and/or educational settings. Additionally, many sites affiliated with the University of Nevada, Reno have adopted this requirement for educational purposes. 

It is not University policy to perform background checks on all University students, and University does not certify or vouch for the background of the students who participate in an internship. Accordingly, an organization must conduct its own background check or require the student to obtain a background check, if the organization wants to determine fitness for duty using that information. It shall be the organization’s responsibility to evaluate the results of such background check and determine the student’s fitness for duty.

Students must be aware that:

  • If a criminal background check is required for placement at any internship or clinical facility, the expense for the check will be borne by the student or requesting agency. 
  • Student’s responsibilities: Each student required to provide a criminal background check must provide documentation that they have completed the fingerprinting and criminal background check as required by the facility.  Students may need to provide this information prior to beginning the internship. 
  • Results of a criminal background check will not be the property of the University. The University will not require the submission of results to the School of Public Health or the University.
  • If a student fails to pass a criminal background check, they may be ineligible for participation in the internship experience, which may impede their ability to progress in their coursework.
  • The School of Public Health or the University does not accept responsibility for any student being ineligible for coursework or continued enrollment in the School of Public Health for any reason, including failure to pass a criminal background check.

MPH capstone course: Professional paper and presentation

According to the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), all MPH students must demonstrate skills and integration of knowledge through a culminating experience.  A culminating experience is one that requires a student to synthesize and integrate foundational and concentration competencies.  Students will complete an MPH capstone paper that represents the culmination and mastery of the MPH curriculum. 

The MPH capstone course will provide the structure students need to complete the capstone paper and presentation. Students will provide and receive peer evaluation on their paper and presentation in the capstone course. Students will receive points in the capstone course for meeting paper and presentation deadlines and the quality of ALL submissions. The student’s paper must be of sufficient academic rigor to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum and competencies. 

Students should plan on taking CHS 796 in their last semester of the program. The focus of the capstone paper will vary based on the student’s interest, and generally derives from the field studies experience. In addition to the competencies identified by the capstone course instructor, students will choose one additional foundational competency and two additional Public Health Practice competencies that they will achieve with their paper and presentation.

In addition to providing the structure for completion of the MPH capstone paper and presentation, the capstone course will also address planning for lifelong learning and professional service.

Graduation process

MPH students graduate in the semester that they complete all requirements of the MPH degree, usually in the same semester they complete the MPH capstone course. Students have a total of 6 years to complete all degree requirements. Students graduating in Summer semesters may participate in the Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies in (1) Spring preceding graduation, or (2) Fall following graduation. Students graduating in Fall semesters may participate in the Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies in the Fall semester or in the Spring following graduation.

The student should purchase a graduation application by the posted deadline. The Graduate School will review each application and email the students within 3 to 8 weeks with the result of their graduation review. All candidates for graduation should communicate with the Program Director or the Academic Advisor to confirm expectations for the final semester. Important dates, deadlines, and milestones are located on the University’s graduation and deadlines website. 

The MPH Hooding Ceremony is the highlight of the Graduation Process – all family and friends are invited. The timing of this allows for MPH students to attend the University’s Graduate Student Commencement as well.

Next Post

5 quick steps to clean up a messy computer, inside and outside

Digital junk piles up too quickly. Look no further than your phone and all those blurry photos and old screenshots in your gallery. What you don’t see are the invasive tracking cookies saved in your smartphone. Tap or click for a short privacy how-to everyone should read. Clutter on your […]

Subscribe US Now