School of Public Health Establishes Accelerated Master's Degree Program

Leaders of Michigan Public Health, Tsinghua University School of Environment, and Peking University College of Environmental Science and Engineering sign an agreement to establish an accelerated master's degree program.This February, the University of Michigan School of Public Health established an accelerated master’s degree (AMD) program with undergraduate programs on campus and Tsinghua University School of Environment and Peking University College of Environmental Science and Engineering. The Department of Environmental Health Sciences will pilot this partnership-based program for three years. 

Tsinghua University and Peking University are two of the most prestigious universities in China, and the Ministry of Education ranks Tsinghua’s and Peking’s bachelor of science programs in Environmental Science and Engineering as the best in China.

“The purpose of the program is to allow highly motivated and exceptional undergraduate students from our campus, and from our international institutional partners, to work sequentially towards their undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental health sciences,” said Chuanwu Xi, faculty lead of the AMD program and professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Global Public Health at Michigan Public Health.

Through this program, Xi hopes to strengthen student diversity at the School of Public Health,  increase collaborative research opportunities between institutions, and  build the next generation of environmental leaders in China.

“This collaboration comes at a time of considerable urgency because of the need to tackle environmental challenges and cultivate global sustainability,” said Cathleen Connell, interim dean of the School of Public Health.

In 2014, the School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), and the College of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering started developing the program with Tsinghua University. Peking University has joined and their students will be included in the first cohort of the AMD program.

“We have designed this program for students to have a more international experience,” said Kebin He, dean and professor of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University. “We want our students to think globally, act locally.”

The AMD program takes five years to complete. Students will complete three years of undergraduate education at their home institution and then apply to the program. Accepted students will take environmental health sciences courses at the University of Michigan School of Public Health during the fourth year of the program and graduate with an undergraduate degree from their home institution. To complete the program, students will apply to the master’s degree program at Michigan Public Health. Students who are accepted will graduate with a master’s degree in environmental health sciences at the end of year five of the program. Xi says he expects to receive the first cohort of students in the fall of 2018.

“There are two aims for this program. One, to increase the range of students able to access this experience. Second, to decrease barriers to students’ access to the master’s credential,” said Mike Solomon, interim dean of Rackham Graduate School.

SEAS launched its accelerated master’s degree program with Tsinghua University last year, and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences developed its AMD program using SEAS’ program as a model. “We are very excited about this opportunity and plan to build a unified AMD program on environment, health, and sustainability with units across campus in the future,” said Xi.

“It’s going to be an exciting couple of years when we share campuses and students,” said Dana Dolinoy, NSF International Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “We have a lot of excitement and optimism for this degree program.”