Public Health Sciences
Public Health Sciences
*J. E. Maddock, PhD (Chair)—social and behavioral health sciences,
health policy and management
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
C. A. Albright, PhD—Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i, prevention
Degrees and Certificates: MPH, MS in public health, DrPH, Graduate Certificate in Global Health and Population Studies. See the “Interdisciplinary Programs” section for more information.
The Academic Program
The mission of the Department of Public Health Sciences is to advance the health of the people of Hawai‘i, the nation, and the Asia-Pacific region through the education and training of public health professionals, innovative research in public health sciences, and service to the community.
The department offers the master of public health (MPH) and the master of science (MS) degrees with specializations in epidemiology, social and behavioral health sciences, and health policy and management (MPH only), as well as the doctor of public health (DrPH) degree with a specialization in community-based and translational research. The department also administers the interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in global health and population studies.
Information, applications, and initial advising about degree programs in public health are available from 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; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.hawaii.edu/publichealth/.
MPH students follow a Plan B (non-thesis) program. MS students follow a Plan A (thesis) degree program.
*Most students will exceed the 31-credit hour minimum to meet their educational objectives.
Areas of Specializations
Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of health-related events in human populations. A basic tenet of epidemiology is that diseases are not randomly distributed in the population. 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.
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 advisor 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: infectious diseases, nutrition, genetics, environment, aging, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Course work in specialized statistical applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the UH Mânoa system or community 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.
Health Policy and Management
The need to educate future public health leaders in the area of health policy and management has never been more apparent. The mission of the health policy and management (HPM) specialization is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to develop, analyze, and advocate for health policies to improve the health and well-being of individuals and populations; and, to administer and manage the delivery, quality, and costs of health care services in communities, with a focus on underserved populations.
The MPH degree in HPM prepares students for a professional career in health services, policy, and management in a community or organizational setting. The curriculum includes core public health coursework and the following advanced courses: 1) Introduction to Health Policy; 2) Program Planning; 3) Program Evaluation; 4) Health Economics; 5) Public Health Leadership and Systems Change; and 6) Current Topics in Community Health. MPH students are also required to complete a fieldwork practicum as well as a capstone presentation on a topic relating to health policy and management.
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 use, 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) bio-psycho-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 UH Mânoa-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 program planning and evaluation. 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, and the analysis and interpretation of research data. 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 the science of public health. During the final semester, a public presentation based on the student’s thesis culminates a student’s MS experience.
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. For the health policy and management specialization, preference may be given to students with training in social science, health, or human services. Prior paid or voluntary work experience in the health care or human services fields is preferred, but not required. 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.
The doctor of public health (DrPH) program with a specialization in community-based and translational research will prepare students to lead programs and conduct independent investigations addressing public health topics relevant to culturally diverse groups, with a special focus on those in the state of Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region. Translational research is the investigation of how to successfully transform scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into community applications to reduce incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Community-based participatory research in health is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves investigators and members of the community in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. This approach increases the likelihood that interventions will be embraced by the community and that the community members will gain knowledge, skills, and other benefits from the research.
DrPH students are expected to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and present at national and international forums. All DrPH students will complete mentoring teaching and research practica. For students entering the DrPH program with an MPH degree, the minimum number of credits for graduation is 39. For students without an MPH degree, the minimum number of credits for graduation is 39 credits, plus the number of credits associated with missing prerequisites.
Honors and Awards
Joseph E. Alicata Award in Public Health
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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