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Public Health Core Courses

As part of the degree requirements for the MPH degree program at the Rutgers School of Public Health, students must complete public health core coursework in the areas of biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, social and behavioral sciences, and leadership and management. Students take six public health core courses (18 credits) to build their understanding and skills in the essential public health principles.

Public Health Core Courses (18 Credits)

PHCO 0501 - Health Systems and Policy

Against the background of changes in population health‚ this course introduces the history‚ organization‚ financing and regulation of medical and public health services in the United States. Special emphasis is placed on the social and behavioral factors that shape health‚ inequalities in health and health services. A central theme in this course is the tension between the need for health care organizations to position themselves for success in the changing economic environment and the basic public health principles of access‚ equity‚ quality care‚ health promotion and prevention.


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Explain the social, political, and economic determinants of health and how they contribute to population health and health inequities;
  • Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Discuss the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Assess population needs, assets, and capacities that affect communities’ health (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Explain the role of qualitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population’s health;
  • Select qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Advocate for political, social, or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations (MPH Foundational Competency); and
  • Apply a systems thinking tool to visually represent a public health issue in a format other than standard narrative (MPH Foundational Competency).

PHCO 0502 - Principles and Methods of Epidemiology

(Prerequisite: Quantitative Skills Assessment)
This course introduces students to the study of disease and ill health through their patterns of occurrence in human populations. The approaches of epidemiology in estimating the burden of disease‚ in making inferences about cause of disease‚ and in evaluating primary‚ secondary and tertiary prevention strategies are presented.


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Explain public health history, philosophy and values;
  • List major causes and trends of morbidity and mortality in the U.S.;
  • Discuss the science of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in population health, including health promotion, screening, etc.;
  • Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge;
  • Apply epidemiological methods to settings and situations in public health practice (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Identify key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes, such as vital statistics and disease registries; and
  • Recognize specific features of different study designs and identify their respective strengths and weaknesses.

PHCO 0503 - Introduction to Environmental Health

This course explores the way in which particular characteristics of our environment potentially affect health. The course will examine health problems associated with biological, chemical, physical, and radiological agents, how they impact food safety, infectious disease, air quality (indoors/outdoors), water quality, and land resources in community and occupational settings. Also, policies intended to improve public health through mitigation of environmental impacts will be reviewed.


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Identify the core functions of public health and the 10 Essential Services;
  • Describe federal and state regulatory programs, guidelines and authorities that control environmental health issues;
  • Explain effects of environmental factors on a population’s health;
  • Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health and ecosystem health;
  • Specify current environmental risk assessment methods;
  • Explain the general mechanisms of toxicity associated with various environmental exposures;
  • Specify approaches for assessing, preventing, and controlling environmental hazards that pose risks to human health and safety;
  • Describe the direct and indirect human, ecological and safety effects of major environmental and occupational agents;
  • Describe physiologic, social and psychological factors that affect susceptibility and vulnerability to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental hazards;
  • Explain biological and genetic factors that affect a population’s health;
  • Discuss various risk management and risk communication approaches in relation to issues of environmental justice and equity; and
  • Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease.

PHCO 0504 - Introduction to Biostatistics

(Prerequisite: Quantitative Skills Assessment)
This course provides an introduction to biostatistical concepts and methods commonly encountered by public health professionals. Students are also expected to complete several computer-based exercises for this course.


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Explain the role of quantitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population’s health;
  • Select quantitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming, and software, as appropriate (MPH Foundational Competency); and
  • Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice (MPH Foundational Competency).

PHCO 0505 - Social and Behavioral Health Sciences in Public Health

The overall goal of this course is to introduce the student to learning and behavioral science principles‚ theories and practices that provide the framework for the practice of health education. Students will be introduced to health education in a public health context‚ will be required to perform tasks frequently requested of health educators and will be introduced to nationally endorsed competencies of certified health education specialists.


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the role of a health educator and behavioral scientist in addressing public health problems;
  • Explain behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population’s health;
  • Apply basic theories concepts and models from a range of social and behavioral disciplines that are used in public health research and practice;
  • Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design, implementation, or critique of public health policies or programs (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Select methods to evaluate public health programs (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Design a population-based policy, program, project, or intervention (MPH Foundational Competency); and
  • Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation (MPH Foundational Competency).

PHCO 0513 - Leadership and Management Essentials for Public Health

This course will introduce MPH students to the general leadership and management principles, theories, and practices in public health. Students will be also be introduced to cultural competence and interprofessional education, as well as develop basic negotiation and mediation skills. (Required for students enrolled Fall 2018 and after.)


By the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the context in which organizations exist and some of the macro factors that influence organizational behavior;
  • Apply leadership and/or management principles to address a relevant issue (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges (MPH Foundational Competency);
  • Demonstrate management skills critical to professional success in organizations, such as communication, emotional intelligence, or performance evaluation;
  • Employ positive interpersonal behaviors and inclusive practices;
  • Describe the factors needed fto integrate perspectives from other sectors and/or professions to promote and advance population (MPH Foundational Competency); and
  • Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management (MPH Foundational Competency).

Bulletin Catalog

Click here for the 2018-2020 Bulletin/Catalog.

Course Syllabi

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