Students have traditionally completed their master of public health year between their third and fourth year of medical school so they are able to apply their clinical knowledge to the population health-focused issues and concepts.

Students take a leave from medical school beginning July 1, enroll in the Master of Public Health Program for 12 months (July 1 to June 30), and then return to medical school. During this time, they complete approximately 30 credits of coursework required for the master of public health degree with the remaining 12 credits taken during medical school.

With the ForWard Curriculum, the timing for medical students to complete their MPH year will only align with students stepping out of medical school between Phase 2 and Phase 3.

About the MPH Program

The Master of Public Health Program at the UW-Madison has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) since 2009. The MPH Program's curriculum is based on the Association of Schools of Public Health's Competencies for MPH Programs (2006) and addresses the five core competencies associated with public health:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Environmental health sciences
  • Health services administration
  • Social and behavioral sciences

MPH curriculum (42 credits)

Core courses (20 credits)

  • PHS 780 Public Health: Principles and Practice (3)
  • PHS 785 Health Systems, Management and Policy (3)
  • PHS 797 Introduction to Epidemiology (3)
  • BMI 511 Introduction to Biostatistical Methods for Public Health (3)
  • PHS 789 Principles of Environmental Health for Public Health Practice (3)
  • PHS 650-079 Introduction to Population Health (1)
  • PHS 786 Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health (3)
  • PHS 787 Field Work Seminar (1)

Methods course (3 credits)

  • Inter HE 501 Evaluation Research in Practice
  • PHS 552 Regression Methods for Population Health
  • COUN PSY 719 Introduction to Qualitative Methods
  • Nursing 761 Health Program Planning, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement
  • PHS 798 Epidemiologic Methods
  • PHS 803 Monitoring Population Health
  • PA 871 Public Program Evaluation
  • PHS 875 Assessment of Medical Technologies
  • PHS/PA 881 Benefit Cost Analysis
  • PHS 796 Introduction to Health Services Research

Elective courses (13 credits)

Elective courses are intended to deepen a student’s knowledge in one or more areas of public health:

  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy/administration
  • Biostatistics
  • Global health
  • Health communication
  • Environmental health
  • Cultural competence

Field experience (6 credits)

  • PHS 788 Public Health Field Experience (6)

MD-MPH students complete the MPH Program in an accelerated fashion, during one calendar year or four semesters (summer, fall, spring, and summer). Because of this accelerated pace, MD students must begin to think about their field experiences much earlier in the MPH Program than other students.

MD students must begin to think about their field experiences much earlier in the MPH Program than other students.

It is highly recommended that MD-MPH students take PHS 787 Field Experience Seminar during the spring semester prior to their MPH year. This allows students to begin their field work as early as the summer semester or right away during the fall semester of their MPH year. This ensures students have sufficient time to complete their capstone project prior to returning to medical school. There may be some courses taken during medical school, which could count either in hours or credits towards the MPH field experience. These include:

  • The fourth-year community preceptorship, which can count for 2 credits of MPH field experience and/or 135 hours
  • Some elective options exist during the M4 year, including PHS 917 at the Division of Public Health, the Population Health Institute and the State Laboratory of Hygiene, which may also be used toward the MPH elective credits. Discuss other M4 elective option with the MPH Student Services Coordinator."
  • An “Independent Study,” research or practice related, begun during the first summer of the program, which can count as MPH elective credits.

MD-MPH students should meet with the Community Engagement Coordinator to discuss an individual plan for his/her field experience the semester before matriculating into the MPH Program to determine a timeline for their field experience.

Capstone project

Each MPH student must complete a culminating experience as the final requirement for the MPH degree. The culminating MPH experience is a non-thesis “capstone project.” The capstone project represents the culmination of a major practice or research activity and consists of a formal written paper or manuscript that will become part of the public health archives, a presentation (various options exist to best fit each students field experience), and an oral defense, consisting of questions by the student’s committee. The capstone project is an opportunity to integrate coursework and field experience into a singular applied project that demonstrates proficiency.

It is highly recommended that students complete their capstone prior to returning to medical school.

The nature of the capstone project should be consistent with the career goals of the student, and it should be viewed as a culminating display of ability, demonstrating that the MPH graduate is prepared to become a professional in the field of public health. The excellence in writing and oral presentation requirements reflects competencies that are essential to success in the field of public health. The “manuscript format” for the capstone project is intended to familiarize students with the rigors of preparing manuscripts for professional journals.

It is highly recommended that students complete their capstone prior to returning to medical school.