Public Health Sciences and Epidemiology
Public Health Sciences and Epidemiology
*C. Waslien, MSc, PhD (Chair)—nutritional epidemiology
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
J. Douglas, PhD—microbiology
Degrees and Certificates: MPH, MS in public health
The Academic Program
Epidemiology is the study of epidemics in human populations. Any unusual pattern of disease or disorder can qualify as an epidemic. The challenge of epidemiology is to detect epidemics, understand their cause, and control and prevent further occurrences. Epidemiology also involves the study of the distribution and determinants of health events, including diseases. Determining the prevalence and risk factors associated with these events, as well as measuring the magnitude of such occurrences, is the basis of public health action. An essential part of this determination involves the utilization of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods to evaluate the effectiveness of disease control measures. Epidemiology can thus be considered the science of public health.
The master’s program generally requires two years of combined study and field work but may vary depending on academic background, experience and academic goals of the student. The curriculum provides both breadth and depth. It instills knowledge and skills in epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, the collection and analysis of epidemiologic data, and the epidemiology of chronic and infectious diseases. Each student will have an academic adviser and committee with whom the student will work closely in scheduling and completing the academic requirements of the program.
Students are required to take advanced level training in chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, advanced biostatistics, and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from epidemiology electives in the following areas: nutrition, genetics, environment, aging, AIDS, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Course work in specialized statistical applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the university during their fieldwork assignment or thesis research.
The curriculum includes a core of required basic and public health offerings that cover such topics as environmental health, health care delivery and organization, health education, and health behavior. The courses provide background and breadth in public health. A capstone paper and presentation during the final term integrates the MPH experience. The MS degree follows a similar but more research-oriented curriculum and requires the completion of a thesis.
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
Over the last century, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading cause of death in almost every developed country. Lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, unsafe sexual practices, alcohol and drug abuse and overexposure to the sun are the leading cause for a majority of these preventable deaths.
In the social and behavioral health sciences specialization, students will learn about a) biological and social theories of health behaviors; b) biological, behavioral, social and environmental interventions that can decrease premature mortality; and c) skills required for planning and evaluating health promotion programs. A focus on the prevention of infectious diseases through behavior change in developing and developed countries will also be included. Course assignments provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge, to practice skills, to enhance computer literacy, and to improve oral and written communications. Opportunities to participate in university-based and community-based research and service programs are provided.
MPH students specializing in social and behavioral health sciences gain knowledge and skills in research methods, biostatistics, theories of health behavior change, and social epidemiology. The first semester focuses on public health core requirements. The remainder of the program includes advanced and elective course work designated by the student’s program committee to meet the student’s professional goals. Included in the specialization courses is an individual data analysis project based on collected research data. In order for students to develop skills and document competencies in public health, the development and completion of a social and behavioral health sciences study in a public health setting (i.e., a field practicum) is also required. During the final semester, a capstone paper and public presentation based on the practicum integrates a student’s MPH experience.
MS students specializing in social and behavioral health sciences gain knowledge and skills in research methods, biostatistics, theories of health behavior change, the analysis and interpretation of research data and social epidemiology. The first semester focuses on public health core requirements. The remainder of the program includes specialized and elective course work designated by the student’s thesis committee to meet the student’s professional goals. The main objective of the specialization courses is the development of a thesis proposal, which includes an individual data analysis project. This project is based on collected research data and is intended to develop skills and document competencies in public health. During the final semester, a public presentation based on the student’s thesis culminates a student’s MS experience.
Information, applications, and initial advising about degree programs in public health are available from the assistant dean for student services at the Office of Graduate Student Academic Services, Biomedical Science D-204, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822; phone (808) 956-8267; fax (808) 956-9174; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.hawaii.edu/publichealth.
Applicants will be expected to have the academic background, experience, interests and commitment for professional training in public health. Applicants must also have computer skills in word processing, spreadsheet construction and Internet applications. Academic preparation for the epidemiology specialization should include courses in biology, microbiology, immunology, and chemistry. Experience in an applied health related field or biomedical research is preferred. Academic preparation for the social and behavioral health sciences specialization includes prior course work in mathematics or statistics, biology or human development and sociology or psychology. Experience in an applied health/social sciences field or in health/social sciences research is preferred.
MPH students follow a Plan B (non-thesis) program. MS students follow a Plan A (thesis) degree program.
Minimum of 30* credit hours for epidemiology or 34-40 credit hours for social and behavioral health sciences, 18 or more in courses numbered 600–798
*Most students will exceed the 30-credit-hour minimum to meet their educational objectives.
Honors and Awards
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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