Course Descriptions

The online Master of Public Health (MPH) at Tufts School of Medicine features concentrations in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Population Health Promotion. Taught by distinguished professors who are experts in a variety of fields, Epidemiology and Biostatistics courses will prepare you to leverage statistical analysis and research to help solve public health challenges, such as disease outbreak or inequitable access to services, while Population Health Promotion courses will prepare you to develop, implement, and evaluate public health programs and messages to achieve a broad range of public health goals. 

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Core Courses

Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the epidemiological perspective on health and disease. The course emphasizes the principles and methods used to describe and evaluate the patterns of illness in communities and in population subgroups. Methods and research designs used in the investigation of the etiology of infectious and noninfectious disease are presented. Lectures and laboratory examples illustrate a wide range of contemporary health problems.

Healthcare Organization: Budgeting and Management (3 credits)

This course provides a foundation for understanding financial and operational management of healthcare organizations. You will learn how to properly create and monitor a budget while also learning to benchmark financial and nonfinancial performance in the industry for the most effective decision making.

After the financial management foundation is set, the course will explore general management theory and topics to assist with developing useful skills in human resources management, project management, strategic planning, health information technology, conflict resolution, and negotiations. This course will provide techniques and tools that healthcare organizations use every day to make the most effective financial and operational decisions.

Application of these techniques and tools will be described in the context of real-life healthcare examples and applicable case studies, while also discussing them in the context of the latest regulatory and financing changes being considered or implemented in the industry.

Public Health Assessment: Data, Determinants, and Systems (3 credits)

The course will introduce the profession of public health, the social ecological model, the social determinants of health, and health equity. You will define complex public health problems and build skills to assess root causes of public health problems that impact population needs, assets, and capacities within a community.

Employing an equity lens, you will reflect on your own biases, assumptions, experiences, and exposures. You will be introduced to critical public health challenges across an array of public health domains, including health care services and systems, environmental health, occupational health, and health behavior. You will learn practice-based tools for conducting needs assessments and characterizing public health problems using systems thinking.

Public Health Action: Programs, Policy, and Advocacy (3 credits)

This course will introduce concepts, frameworks, and skills for how public health professionals intervene at multiple levels to address critical public health problems of our time, and to improve population health and health equity. Specifically, you will engage in a variety of active learning scenarios, including case discussions, role plays, simulations, and project development and implementation.

This course will provide a foundational skill set for how to effectively leverage action at multiple levels to make meaningful contributions to improve population health. You will be introduced to an array of strategies for action and will practice these public health skills throughout the semester, including emergency management, working in teams, engaging stakeholders, building coalitions, program planning, evaluating policies, health impact analysis, and advocacy.

Throughout the class, you will continue to examine how the public health infrastructure functions across multiple levels of government and the role of evidence, politics, stakeholders, and power in influencing public health action and social change.

Principles of Biostatistics (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the basic principles and applications of statistics as they are applied to problems in clinical and public health settings. Topics include the description and presentation of data, random variables and distributions, descriptive statistics, introduction to probability, estimation, elements of hypothesis testing, and one- and two-sample tests, ANOVA (including repeated measures), non-parametric tests, and an introduction to linear and logistic regression. Lectures, problem sets, and computer output are used to develop these concepts.

Evaluation of Public Health Programs (3 credits)

In this introductory course, you will become familiar with how public health interventions can be evaluated. Formative, process, and outcome evaluation will be addressed. You will become familiar with commonly used planning tools and data collection methods. By the end of the semester, you will have practiced data collection skills and be able to apply content and conceptual knowledge learned in the course to the development of an evaluation plan.

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Epidemiology/Biostatistics Concentration Courses

Intermediate Biostatistics: Regression Models (3 credits)

You will explore a variety of topics related to modeling continuous, binary, and survival time outcomes in terms of multiple risk factors. Topics include the analysis of variance and covariance, linear regression, multiple linear regression, nonlinear regression, logistic regression, nonparametric regression, and regression for survival times, including proportional hazard models. This applied course emphasizes experiencing the entire analytical process: from conceptualizing research questions, preparing data, constructing and diagnosing models using computer methods, to communicating findings to various audiences.

Survey Research Methods and Data Management (3 credits)

This course uses real-world examples to introduce basic survey methodology and data management. You have the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of good survey design and how to enter, code, and clean the data collected. Topics include formulating research questions, sampling, sample size determination, linking instruments to conceptual frameworks, principles of item construction and scale development, modes of survey administration, and qualitative methods.

During the laboratory component of the course, you learn how to develop and maintain a documentation system, create data entry screens, verify the accuracy of data entry, clean data, merge and subset data files, derive new variables, conduct descriptive analyses and summarize results.

Public Health Practice Epidemiology (3 credits)

The focus of this course will be on mastering the concepts used in epidemiology by application to contemporary topics in public health practice. You will learn advanced techniques in the design and conduct of clinical trials, how to prioritize health problems and approaches to intervention, and how to skillfully evaluate and critique the public health literature. In addition, you will learn about the role of the epidemiologist in the international response to public health emergencies.

Analytical Workflow Management (3 credits)

Analysts often need to link together processes of data wrangling, analysis, and output management. In addition, they need to be able to document their work for reproducibility.

This course introduces concepts and tools to improve the efficiency of our analytical workflow. It discusses how to use logical operators, loops, customized functions, and simulation in various analytical tasks as well as how to establish connectivity with outputs using devices such as markdown language and internal reporting functions. Students will gain hands-on experience with analytic software packages (e.g., SAS, R, or Stata).

This is a programming course and not a statistics course. A good understanding of basic statistics up to multiple linear regression is required.

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Population Health Promotion Concentration Courses

Qualitative Methods and Analysis (3 credits)

This course will introduce you to techniques, tools, and frameworks for qualitative data analysis, including interviews, focus groups, and narrative texts. These methods yield data about how and why populations cognitively organize and act in the spectrum of ways that they do as well as the broader context in which individuals collectively make decisions. This data can be used to inform the development of programs and interventions. You will receive guidance on how to conduct qualitative data analysis (by hand and with the aid of software) as well as peer feedback on your own qualitative data analysis efforts.

Program Planning for Public Health Interventions (3 credits)

Determinants of health can range from individual actions to broad social and environmental conditions. Interventions can be directed at the individual, for example helping patients adhere to a low-fat dietary regimen, or to populations as a whole, such as mandating seat belt use. In this course students learn to implement a program planning process that will allow them to develop evidence-based approaches to addressing population health through health promotion.    

The course is organized around intervention mapping, a program planning methodology that takes a social ecological approach, accounting for the influence of both individual and environmental factors on health behavior. The intervention mapping framework includes tools that guide program planners as they incorporate community theory and evidence into an integrated set of activities and materials designed to achieve measurable objectives.

Social Marketing (3 credits)

Students will develop an understanding of social marketing and how this approach can be used to influence behavior and social change. Through an understanding of communication theory and its application to health messaging, students delve into the strategic use of the media by health communicators in message development and communication strategy execution. The course provides practice in positioning complex public health issues, identifying and analyzing audiences, creating targeted communication, identifying appropriate communication channels, translating research into creative concepts, and evaluating social marketing interventions. Students will apply these skills in designing a social marketing plan that addresses a current and relevant public health topic. As part of this course, students will gain an understanding of the benefits of moving beyond promotion to designing marketing-based interventions aimed at facilitating behavior change.

Implementation Science: Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice (3 credits)

This course focuses on methodology to plan for the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based public interventions and policies. Students will learn frameworks and develop tools to implement effective interventions and clinical practices, monitor success, and engage in basic quality improvement activities.

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Elective Courses

Qualitative Methods and Analysis (3 credits)

This course will introduce you to techniques, tools, and frameworks for qualitative data analysis, including interviews, focus groups, and narrative texts. These methods yield data about how and why populations cognitively organize and act in the spectrum of ways that they do as well as the broader context in which individuals collectively make decisions. This data can be used to inform the development of programs and interventions. You will receive guidance on how to conduct qualitative data analysis (by hand and with the aid of software) as well as peer feedback on your own qualitative data analysis efforts.

Environmental Epidemiology (3 credits)

In this course you will learn to critically evaluate environmental epidemiology literature, design and conduct environmental epidemiological investigations, and apply the methods of environmental epidemiology to real-world problems. We will delve into methods and principles of environmental epidemiology, including exposure assessment, conceptual challenges in the analysis of temporally and spatially patterned data, and specification of consequential research questions. We will examine a variety of case studies involving air and water pollutants, heat, noise, flooding, chemicals in personal care products, pesticides, electromagnetic radiation, endocrine disrupters, hydraulic fracturing, climate change, epigenetics, and environmental justice.

Analysis of Multilevel and Longitudinal Data (3 credits)

Multilevel and longitudinal study designs have become commonplace in public health, biomedical sciences, and medicine. Ignoring the correlative structure of the responses in the analysis leads to invalid tests and erroneous conclusions. This course presents corrective statistical methods that include linear and generalized linear mixed models, repeated measures analysis of variance, generalized estimating equations, and hazards regression models. Each method is discussed in a practical in-depth manner by emphasizing parallels with more familiar regression models and is illustrated by analyzing data using statistical software. The course not only provides guidelines for selecting an appropriate analytical approach, but also provides a sound interpretation of the results.

GIS/Spatial Epidemiology (3 credits)

In public health, “place” matters, as it is a close reflection of the social and economic deprivation and environmental exposures that can result in significant health disparities that are manifest in health outcomes. Geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial epidemiology are important tools that allow us to present and critically assess spatial distributions and associations. This course will provide you with the basic skills needed to obtain, clean, analyze, and decipher spatial data in a GIS, using a variety of examples (use cases) from public health, nutrition, urban development, and the US Census Bureau.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology (3 credits)

Infectious disease epidemiology is the study of the patterns of infectious disease—and the host, agent, and environmental factors that influence those patterns—in human and animal populations. Unlike other branches of epidemiology, cases (i.e., contagious persons or animals) are themselves a risk factor to others. Thus, much of infectious disease epidemiology is concerned with transmission and control of infectious diseases.

This course is designed to introduce you to key concepts in infectious disease epidemiology, including the methodological issues associated with control, surveillance, and research of infectious diseases. While a detailed presentation of the epidemiology of all possible infectious diseases is well beyond the scope of this course, we will consider the epidemiology of several important diseases over the course of the semester.

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Applied Learning Experience (ALE) Courses

ALE Planning Seminar (1.5 credits)

In the planning semester, you will develop a proposed project in collaboration with an organization engaged in public health practice. Faculty will assist you in identifying, negotiating, and crafting a suitable project. You will develop a formal plan for project implementation.

ALE Implementation Seminar (1.5 credits)

After obtaining formal approval for your project plan (including Institutional Review Board review if necessary), you will spend a minimum of 160 hours in the field. You will implement your project, produce academic and applied deliverables, and then give a formal presentation to faculty and peers.

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