Public Health Sciences
Public Health Sciences
*K. L. Braun, MPH, DrPH (Chair)—social and behavioral health sciences
G. Baruffi, MD, MPH—social and behavioral health sciences
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
C. A. Albright, PhD—social and behavioral health sciences
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
M. J. Ashton, MD—health policy and management
Degrees and Certificates: BA, MPH, MS, PhD in public health, PhD in epidemiology
The Academic Program
The mission of the Office of Public Health Sciences is to advance the health of the people of Hawai‘i, the nation, and the Asia-Pacific region through knowledge, discovery, innovation engagement, inclusion, and leadership.
The program offers the bachelor of arts (BA) degree in public health; the master of public health (MPH) with specializations in epidemiology, social and behavioral health sciences, Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health, and health policy and management; the master of science (MS) degree with specialization in epidemiology; the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in public health; and the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in epidemiology.
Advising for undergraduate students enrolled or interested in the BA in public health is available through the undergraduate academic advisor; (808) 956-5753; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/degrees/undergraduate/advising.
Information, applications, and initial advising regarding all other degree programs in public health are available from the Office of Public Health Student Academic Services, Biomedical Science D-204, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822; phone (808) 956-8267; email: email@example.com; website: manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/.
The bachelor of arts (BA) degree in public health is designed to educate undergraduates interested in public health and/or health profession training in the broad basic concepts of public health education, practice, and research. The primary focus of public health is to improve health and quality of life through population-based prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions, through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behaviors.
Undergraduate students applying to UH Manoa may declare public health as their major upon entry. Requirements for admission are described in the “Undergraduate Education” section of the Catalog.
For current UH Manoa undergraduate students seeking a concurrent degree in public health, the requirements for admission include the completion of PH 201 Introduction to Public Health with a B- or better, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, meeting with the undergraduate academic advisor, and an approved Concurrent Undergraduate Degree Application.
Current UH Manoa undergraduate students who wish to change their major to public health must first complete PH 201 Introduction to Public Health with a B- or better and meet with the undergraduate academic advisor before filing a Major Declaration Form.
A total of 36 major credits (45 credits with public health-related courses) are required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in public health. All students are encouraged to work closely with the undergraduate advising staff in the Office of Public Health Studies in planning their course work.
Public Health Related Courses (9 credits)
Public Health Required Core Courses (24 credits)
Public Health Elective Courses (12 credits)
Visit our website at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/courses for a current list of public health courses. Since public health is by nature interdisciplinary, students will be encouraged to take electives in areas outside of the department. The list of recommended electives offered in other departments to complete the 12 credits of advisor-approved upper division public health electives is available on our website at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/degrees/undergraduate/other-public-health-electives.
Students seeking additional information and advising on our bachelor’s degree program should contact the undergraduate academic advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MPH students follow a Plan B (non-thesis) program. MS students follow a Plan A (thesis) degree program.
*Most students will exceed the 32-credit hour minimum to meet their educational objectives.
MPH and MS RequirementsApplicants will be expected to have the academic back- ground, 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 one year of course work in a biological science, chemistry, and at least one semester of calculus. For the Health Policy and Management specialization, preference may be given to students with training in social science, health, economics, business, 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 Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health specialization includes course work in mathematics or statistics, public policy or political sciences, and psychology or sociology. Work or research experience in an applied health/social sciences field which serves an Indigenous population 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.
Areas of Specializations
Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of health-related events/outcomes in populations. A basic focus of epidemiology is to investigate the distribution of diseases in different populations. Determining the prevalence and risk factors associated with these events/disease outcomes, as well as measuring the magnitude of such occurrences, is the scientific backbone of public health. An essential part of epidemiological investigation involves the utilization of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods and appropriate research study design to evaluate the effectiveness of disease control measures.
Students enrolled in the epidemiology specialization 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 (e.g., dengue virus, malaria, and HIV/AIDS), nutrition, neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s and Alzheimers), non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes and cardiovascular diseases), obesity, and cancer. Course work in specialized statistical methods and computer applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the UH Manoa System or community during their field practicum assignment. Course work in specialized statistical applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the UH Manoa System or community during their fieldwork assignment or thesis research.
MPH students specializing in epidemiology gain knowledge and skills in research methods, biostatistics, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of epidemiologic data, computer applications, and the epidemiology of chronic and infectious diseases. The first semester focuses on a core of required basic and public health offerings that cover topics such as environmental health, health care delivery and organization, and health behavior. The courses provide background and breadth in public health. The remainder of the program includes advanced and elective course work focused on study design, biostatistics, computer applications, and professional skills. In order for students to develop skills and document competencies in public health, the development and completion of an epidemiologic 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. The MS degree follows a similar but more research-oriented curriculum and requires the completion of a thesis.
Health Policy and Management
Health Policy and Management (HPM) is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice concerned with the delivery, quality, and costs of health care for populations. HPM professionals concern themselves with managerial and policy aspects of the structure, process and outcomes of health services including improving the safety and efficiency of health care, expanding health insurance coverage, eliminating disparities, reducing out-of-pocket costs, financing, organization, accessibility of care, maintaining high quality of services and improving the performance of health systems.
The HPM specialization prepares students for a professional career in health services, policy and management through the provision of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and practical experience. Students are taught to contribute to advancing the health of populations by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of personal and health services in public and private health organizations. The development of critical thinking and applied problem-solving skills with a focus on public health challenges and under-served populations is promoted.
Within the HPM specialization, students select their electives and practicum with a view to focusing more on policy or management. Practical experiences beyond the coursework are a key component of public health education and HPM’s strong ties to leading public health policymakers and organizations provide students with ample opportunities to apply themselves to actual health policy and management challenges in the U.S. and abroad.
The two-year curriculum includes core public health course work and the following advanced courses: 1) PH 626 Health Economics; 2) PH 641 Advanced Topics in Health Policy; 3) PH 648 Program Planning, Management, Evaluation and Leadership; 4) PH 658 Computer Applications in Public Health; 5) PH 672 Leading and Managing Health Programs; and 6) PH 677 Managing Global Health Service Delivery. MPH students are also required to complete a fieldwork practicum and a capstone presentation on a topic relating to health policy and management.
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health
Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are defined as having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them (The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Working Group). At present, they form non-dominant sectors of society and remain determined to preserve, develop and transmit their ancestral territories and ethnic identity to future generations, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.
The Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health (NHIH) specialization is designed to provide students with skills and training necessary to serve Indigenous people and assist in addressing their health and wellness needs. Indigenous people throughout the world experience grave health and socioeconomic disparities. Many of these inequities result from historical national and local policies designed to eliminate and/or assimilate Indigenous people. Knowledge of history, policy, social determinants of health, and ethics is essential to address and eliminate the inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples.
The NHIH specialization will prepare students for leadership roles in Indigenous health policy, culturally safe health services, and indigenous health promotion. Graduates will better meet the social and cultural needs of Indigenous peoples, thereby enhancing the quality and effectiveness of health services, policies, and health promotion. The improved quality and effectiveness of Indigenous health services contributes to the reduction of Indigenous health disparities and the improvement of Indigenous peoples’ health.
Students enrolled in this specialization are required to take advanced level training in Indigenous health policy, ethics, and research design. Students have opportunities to choose from Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health electives in many areas across the campus. Students will participate in on-going research or public health programs with Indigenous communities through the required practicum experience.
For MPH students specializing in NHIH, the following course work is required: 1) Indigenous Seminar; 2) Health Ethics, Law, and Politics; 3) Advanced Native Hawaiian Health Determinants; 4) Community Engaged Research and Practice; 5) Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, Environment & Health; and 6) Integrative Seminar. The first semester focuses on public health core requirements and in subsequent semesters students take required and elective course work to meet the NHIH competencies, as well as the student’s professional goals. Students in the NHIH specialization are required to have access to STATA (www.stata.com), a statistical software package which will allow for larger data set analysis. A 240-hour field practicum is required which allows students to apply knowledge and skills in a community public health setting. During their final semester, students prepare a report on their practicum experience, complete a research-intensive final paper, and deliver a public presentation to present their capstone findings. The capstone includes a final oral examination where students demonstrate mastery of program competencies and integration of specialization knowledge. A student-selected advisor and program committee guides the student’s course of study, practicum experience, capstone, and research paper.
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
Over the last century, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading causes of death and, despite advances in medicine and technology, health disparities are increasing in almost every country. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, unsafe sexual practices, substance abuse, and overexposure to the sun are major contributors to disability and death. Social factors, such as discrimination, poverty, dangerous living and work environments, and unequal distribution of resources (including health care resources), also affect health status. Course assignments will provide students with opportunities to apply knowledge, practice skills, and enhance computer literacy. Students will also be provided with opportunities to participate in university-based projects and/or collaborate with non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and community groups to promote wellness in Hawai‘i’s diverse communities.
MPH students specializing in social and behavioral health sciences gain knowledge and skills in public health research methods, biostatistics, theories of health behavior change, needs assessment, planning, and evaluation. The first semester focuses on public health core requirements. In subsequent semesters, students take required and elective course work to meet the social and behavioral health sciences competencies, as well as the student’s professional goals. A required 240-hour field practicum allows students to apply knowledge and skills in a community public health setting. During the final semester, students complete an integrative seminar, prepare a capstone paper, and deliver a public presentation as a demonstration of mastery of program competencies and the integration of classroom knowledge and field experience. A student-selected faculty advisor and program committee guides the student’s course of study, practicum experience, and capstone.
MPH and MS Requirements
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 one year of course work in a biological science, chemistry, and at least one semester of calculus. For the HPM specialization, preference may be given to students with training in social science, health, economics, business, 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 NHIH specialization includes course work in mathematics or statistics, public policy or political sciences, and psychology or sociology. Work or research experience in an applied health/social sciences field which serves an Indigenous population is preferred. Academic preparation for the SBHS 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.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health
The PhD in Public Health focuses on community-based and translational research. It prepares students to lead programs and conduct independent investigations addressing public health topics relevant to culturally diverse groups, with an emphasis 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 disease 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.
PhD in Public Health Requirements
All PhD in Public Health students will complete required and elective course work in health disparities, evidence-based public health, policy, leadership, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. They also complete a qualifying exam, mentored teaching and research practica, a comprehensive exam, and a three-paper dissertation. PhD in Public Health students are expected to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and present at national and international forums.
An MPH is not required for admission. However, non-MPH graduates need to take courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, and social and behavioral theory prior to applying or immediately upon admission. We encourage applications from candidates who have well-focused research interests and career goals. The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) and three letters of recommendation are required for application. A few teaching and research assistantships are available for degree candidates. Qualified students may also apply for East-West Center fellowships. Contact Dr. Kathryn L. Braun (Chair) for additional details at email@example.com.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology
The PhD in epidemiology is comprised of graduate faculty from Public Health Sciences; University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center; Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology; Department of Microbiology; and the Pacific Biosciences Research Center. Candidates who successfully complete this program will be able to teach in academic and other settings, conduct independent and collaborative epidemiologic research, and provide consultative services to academic, not-for-profit, governmental, and private organizations.
PhD in Epidemiology Requirements
Although applicants to this program are not required to have a master’s degree in epidemiology or a closely related field, all applicants are expected to have a strong background in the natural and/or social sciences. Because we look for applicants who are committed to epidemiologic research and practice, past research and related work experience are important factors in selecting candidates. We encourage applications from candidates who have well-focused research interests and career goals. The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) and three letters of recommendation are required for application. Applicants must also include a written statement with the application indicating why they want to pursue a doctoral degree in epidemiology and why they want to pursue this degree here at UH Manoa.
A prospective applicant is expected to communicate with one of our graduate faculty members in his or her area of interest or with the program’s chair and to be accepted as an applicant by a faculty member prior to admission. The faculty member involved will serve as an interim advisor upon the individual’s admission into the PhD program. A listing of the PhD in epidemiology faculty is available at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/faculty-and-staff. All candidates take a qualifying examination upon completion of all required courses in epidemiology and biostatistics and core courses in infectious diseases and chronic disease epidemiology (usually after their first year of enrollment). This is followed by elective courses in the candidate’s area(s) of interest, a teaching practicum, an oral comprehensive examination, and dissertation research. Candidates should refer to the Catalog for procedural and substantive details.
A few teaching and research assistantships are available for degree candidates. Qualified students may also apply for East-West Center fellowships. Contact Dr. Eric Hurwitz (Chair), at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
Honors and Awards
oseph E. Alicata Award in Public Health
Center on Aging
Gartley Hall, Room 201B and C
Please see the information in the “Instructional Support, Research, and Service Units” section.
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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