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Online Master of Public Health Course Descriptions

Design, Implement, and Evaluate Public Health Programs in Any Industry

The 42-credit, 14-course online Master of Public Health is designed to build a strong foundation of public health knowledge and teaches you to translate research evidence into practice, policy, and public health improvements. The curriculum covers a wide range of academic topics so you can thrive in your public health career — no matter the industry.

With the Lasallian spirit, of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota woven throughout the program, you’ll meet the needs of the underserved and expand on your compassion. Plus, this curriculum was created in collaboration with public health experts, so you’re getting crucial knowledge from people with decades of experience in this important field.

Designed to be completed in as few as two and a half years (seven semesters), this Master of Public Health emphasizes concepts of cultural competence, health disparities, and social justice.

Foundation Courses (6 credits)

These courses do not count toward the degree credits. (Choose either BPH 405 OR GM 630)

  • This course introduces fundamental aspects of human physiology with emphasis on organ systems, their components, and their functions. Students compare states of health and disease across the lifespan spectrum. Topics include introductions to human physiology, organ systems, cell biology, and genetics. The molecular bases for physiologic processes are introduced. The roles of exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, aging, and the environment on states of health are introduced in relation to fundamental physiological principles.

    Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following.

    • Describe the functions of different organ systems and their constituent components.
    • Explain what a gene is and how genetic regulation and differences contribute to normal physiology as well as diversity and disease.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of how lifestyle affects physiology and ultimately an individual’s state of health or disease.

  • This course introduces students to the use of data, measurement, and basic statistics in the field of public health. This introduction to biostatistics provides an overview of data collection, sample sizes, normality of data sets, basic measurement statistics, parametric and non-parametric statistical comparisons, and statistical significance. Students apply concepts through in-class labs and real-world data collection.

    Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Apply basic statistical methods.
    • Describe the role of data in making inferences and decisions about comparison groups, treatments, and interventions.
    • Examine data sets for suitability for statistical analysis.
    • Use a statistical software package to perform basic statistical analyses.
    • Understand approaches to data collection, data evaluation, and statistical comparisons.

  • This course focuses on the statistical analysis of data for professional applications or research with an emphasis on quantitative methodologies. The course covers populations, sample selection, and descriptive and inferential statistics. Significance, Chi-Square, correlations, analysis of variance and simple regression, and concepts of reliability, validity, and levels of measurement are addressed.

    Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Apply statistical ideas and practicalities to real world quantitative situations within organizations.
    • Read and interpret the statistical content of literature relating to the management of people and resources.
    • Analyze statistics through performing basic computation both by hand and with computer software.
    • Determine and apply the appropriate inferential analysis for different types of data and derive correct conclusions.

Core Courses (15 credits)

  • This course provides an overview of the public health field to begin to explore the gaps and inequities in health outcomes. Students consider the history of public health practice and research, national and global structural institutions, and basic concepts and theories that inform public health practice. Emphasis is placed on healthy equity from a population perspective. Major data and research resources are reviewed to support future research endeavors.

    Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Relate public health history, philosophy, and values to current programs or initiatives.
    • Understand the core functions of public health, public health goal setting, and how measurements are used in reaching policy and programmatic outcomes.
    • Describe the current healthcare field as it relates to population health.
    • Identify and use public health behavioral theories, interventions, and strategies to describe examples of public health and how they contribute to population health and health equities.
    • Define the fields of environmental health, community health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and their interrelationship.
    • Articulate the interrelationship between international, federal, state, local, and community organizations and how they contribute to population health and health inequities.
    • Locate and use key public health data sources.
    • Summarize and analyze current literature and research on public health topics.

  • This course covers the appropriate use of data in characterizing the health of a population and provides an overview of probability and statistical inference in public health. Students learn the principles of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. Topics include random variation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, chi-square distribution, and linear regression. Students apply concepts through in-class labs that evaluate statistics used in public health publications.

    Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Describe the role of biostatistics in planning, conducting, analyzing, and interpreting public health research.
    • Apply basic statistical methods commonly used with public health data.
    • Use a statistical software package to perform basic statistical analyses, including descriptive and inferential techniques.
    • Identify the principal national and state public health data sets that are available for analysis.
    • Articulate the benefits and pitfalls of using statistical significance in interpreting findings.
    • Evaluate the use and interpretation of statistical analyses in public health publications.

  • This course provides an overview of social, cultural, and behavioral aspects that influence public health. Students examine socio-cultural structures related to behavioral health and apply concepts and theories to begin to address community health issues.

    Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Articulate behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population’s health.
    • Distinguish social determinants of health from biological and other determinants of health.
    • Analyze the social structures that influence health status and behavior in individuals and populations.
    • Use an ecological or systemic analysis to analyze individual, community, and population-level problems in mental health, addiction, obesity/nutrition, and violence.
    • Identify the most important considerations in choosing the right theory to address a health behavior problem in a particular population and context.
    • Apply basic theories, concepts, and models used in public health interventions.

  • This course provides basic epidemiologic concepts and methods for public health practitioners, including an understanding of various measures of risk, disease, and mortality in populations. Students learn types of epidemiologic strategies used to examine associations between risk factors and morbidity and mortality and how to distinguish between a statistical association and a causal relationship. The course includes an overview of chronic and infectious disease epidemiology using historical and current public health challenges. In addition to studying various aspects of disease in populations, the importance and types of disease prevention are included.

    Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Distinguish between a clinical and a population approach to risk factors and disease.
    • Articulate biological and genetic factors that affect a population’s health.
    • List major causes and trends in morbidity and mortality in the United States and other large populations.
    • Illustrate how globalization affects the global burdens of disease.
    • Calculate and interpret common epidemiologic measures (incidence and prevalence rates, relative risk, odds ratios) to draw appropriate inferences.
    • Discuss how various epidemiologic studies (cross-sectional, case-control, cohort, ecologic, and intervention) are used to study statistical associations between risk factors and disease or death outcomes.
    • Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of epidemiologic methods.
    • Use an existing database to describe risk factor prevalence and morbidity and mortality rates for a specific disease in a specific geographic area.
    • Differentiate between a statistical association and a causal relationship between a risk factor and a health outcome.
    • Discuss the science of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in population health including health promotion and the use of clinical prevention services.
    • Identify ethical and legal implications of epidemiologic practices.
    • Interpret epidemiological data, evaluating the strengths and limitations of epidemiologic reports.
    • Interpret results of data analysis in technical and lay language both in writing and through oral presentation.

  • This course examines how urban and rural environmental factors, including social, physical, and chemical, are examined as determinants of health, with an emphasis on current topics related to national issues and laws and strategies used to reduce or eliminate health threats and provide health equity.

    Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Relate key concepts and strategies of environmental sciences to public health practice in various situations.
    • Explain an ecological perspective on the connections between human health, animal health, and ecosystem health (e.g., One Health)
    • Identify contributing factors, such as biological susceptibility, social, political, and economic determinants of health, to individual and population vulnerability, health, and health inequity.
    • Analyze possible impacts of a range of environmental factors, including changes in demographics, economics, energy demand, climate, and pollution, on human health and food and water security.
    • Articulate roles, policies, and regulations of agencies and institutions involved in regulating and mitigating environmental and occupational risks.
    • Connect the concepts of equity, justice, and sustainability to proposed health and environment solutions.
    • Identify opportunities for and barriers to sustainable changes to promote health, well-being, and equity.

Summative Courses (6 credits)

  • Select a public health agency, nonprofit, or private institution to apply and integrate skills and knowledge gained in the program.

    At least 240 hours over the 4 credits must be completed at an approved organization and meet program guidelines, preferably at one site. A portfolio approach is used to assess student performance and demonstration of competencies.

  • All MPH requirements; co-requisite MPH682 or MPH683

    Students conduct a critical review of a public health issue, usually based on the field experience. Students examine current published research and available data to identify trends, explore underlying factors, analyze data, and make recommendations. Students write a journal article summarizing their findings and present a poster presentation to peers and professionals.

    Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

    • Pose a public health research question and apply systems thinking to analyze the issue from multiple perspectives.
    • Conduct a review of relevant literature.
    • Analyze public health data.
    • Use a journal article format to write a critical review of a public health issue that includes evidence-based recommendations to identify potential solutions.
    • Design and present a poster presentation to peers and professionals.

    *CEPH bachelor-level competencies

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