Core Curriculum for Master’s Programs at the University of Michigan School of Public Health

As a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, you’ll learn the essential and foundational skills you need to make an impact in the field of public health. Our Core Curriculum and foundational courses are designed to lay the groundwork for further coursework in your chosen field of study and ensure that your understanding of the breadth and depth of public health will allow you to thrive in any career path. 

Core Curriculum for Master of Public Health Students

The Michigan Public Health Core Curriculum introduces the knowledge and skills needed by professionals to demonstrate excellence in the practice of public health. Students will learn key public health concepts, such as the use of evidence-based approaches to public health, an introduction to the public health sciences, and the ways in which the public health and health care systems influence health outcomes. Coursework also contributes to skills in public health policy and programming, leadership, and communication. Lastly, the Core supports students in working with those in other professions and taking a systems-based approach to solutions, both of which are critical to effective public health practice.

The Core addresses foundational competencies and learning objectives required by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The Core Curriculum policy applies to all MPH students, including students in the Executive Master's program. It includes eight courses and a total of 16 academic credits with limited substitution options. These courses follow a blended-learning model. The Department of Health Management and Policy will determine whether MHSA students are required to take the Core Curriculum.

NOTE: As a pre-orientation requirement, all MPH students must complete Foundations of Public Health Practice, which is offered as a non-credit online module. MPH students must complete the course, but do not have to take the course exam.

Core Curriculum Offerings

Courses Credits Term
PUBHLTH 508 - Social Determinants of Health 1 Fall
PUBHLTH 510 - Communication Fudamentals 1 Fall
PUBHLTH 511 - Nutrition and Public Health 2 Winter
PUBHLTH 513 - Public Health Systems, Policy and Management 3 Winter
PUBHLTH 514 - Public Health Sciences and the Environment 2 Winter
PUBHLTH 516 - Leadership Skills for Interprofessional Practice 1 Winter

Oversight, Grading, and Evaluation

School-wide Curriculum Oversight

The Advisory Committee on Academic Programs (ACAP) is charged with the general oversight of the Core requirements and ensuring that Core courses are accessible to students. A listing of Core courses is detailed below.

These courses must be offered every year. Enrollment for all PUBHLTH Core courses is limited to MPH and MHSA students, unless otherwise specified by the instructor, and cannot be capped.

Core Curriculum Grading

All Core Curriculum courses will be graded A-E.

Course Evaluations

In addition to ensuring availability of Core courses, ACAP is also charged with monitoring Core courses for quality improvement purposes. ACAP will review all Core course evaluations on an annual basis. If the evaluation scores for a Core course are below 3.5 for any evaluation dimension, ACAP will determine whether the Associate Dean for Education must discuss this with the instructor's department and/or curriculum chair to resolve the problem.

Core Curriculum Documentation Procedures

When a student applies for graduation, the department must complete a Core Curriculum form and submit it to the Office for Student Engagement and Practice for placement in the official student file.

Curriculum Exemptions/Substitutions

Core Curriculum Course Exemptions/Waivers

MPH students may take an exemption examination to waive the BIOSTAT 501/521 requirement. The Biostatistics Exemption Exam is held over two days at the beginning of the fall term. This exam is administered by the Office for Student Engagement and Practice. Students must pass the exemption exam to waive this requirement, even if they have previously taken a statistics/biostatistics course.

Departments may substitute a required course(s) for the Core course they are responsible for instructing. For example, the Department of Epidemiology may substitute a required epidemiology course in place of PUBHLTH 512 for their MPH students. If a department elects to require a substitution course(s), it must cover, assess, and track the same competencies and learning objectives addressed by the Core course.

Timeline for Requests for Substitutions/Exemptions and Documentation of these Requests

Requests for substitutions/exemptions/waivers of Core courses will be considered for students on a case-by-case basis. Approval must be granted by both the student's department curriculum committee and ACAP. Requests must occur a minimum of one month prior to the term in which the course to be waived or substituted is offered. Requests should not occur in the student's final term. The student's home department and the Office for Student Engagement and Practice must receive documentation of approval of all requests.

Scheduling/Changing Core Curriculum Courses

Departments are required to give two years’ notice to ACAP before changing a term in which a Core course is offered. Any changes in course content or objectives must meet the needs of the Core Curriculum requirement. 

School-wide Curriculum Requirements For MS, MHI, MHSA, and PHD Students

Foundations of Public Health Practice

All PhD students and MS, MHI, MHSA students who are not required to take the Core must complete an online course, Foundations of Public Health Practice, which is offered as a non-credit requirement. Students must pass the course exam with a cumulative score of 80% or better to fulfill this degree requirement. PhD students must complete this requirement while in pre-candidate status.

Biostatistics and Epidemiology

All students regardless of degree level must demonstrate proficiency in Biostatistics; all students with the exception of MHI students must demonstrate proficiency in Epidemiology. These students are subject to the existing Biostatistics and Epidemiology course requirements. Students may take an exemption examination in order to pass out of this requirement. The Biostatistics Exemption Exam is held over two days at the beginning of the fall term. This exam is administered by the Office for Student Engagement and Practice.

Acceptance of Previously Completed Biostatistics and Epidemiology Courses

Master’s students who have taken graduate-level Biostatistics and Epidemiology courses at other institutions and who desire an exemption from taking Biostatistics and Epidemiology at MichiganPublic Health, must take and pass the Exemption Exams. Documentation of exemptions from these areas will be noted on the student’s unofficial transcript in the Remarks section within a year of completing this exemption. Students who have previously taken EPID 503 or EPID 600 at the University of Michigan prior to enrollment in the master’s program may be exempt from the Epidemiology requirement, provided that the course they have taken meets the requirements of their respective department.

PhD Students

If a PhD applicant has had an Epidemiology/Biostatistics course in their master's program and has earned a B or better, the departmental admissions or curriculum committee may approve that the student not be required to take the Epidemiology/Biostatistics exam to be exempt from the Epidemiology/Biostatistics requirement. If the department has questions, they should defer to the Epidemiology/Biostatistics department for clarification.