Curriculum
MPH@Simmons

MPH@Simmons is a 45-credit master’s program that is completed in 21 months over seven 11-week terms. The program includes 36 credits of core courses, six credits of elective courses, and three credits earned through immersions. The final two terms of the program include a combined practice and culminating experience project, the Health Equity Change Project, during which students develop, implement, and evaluate a project that addresses health inequities in their community.

Course Sequence

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Term 5

Term 6

Term 7

Course sequences may vary slightly depending on your cohort start date.

Course Descriptions

Health Equity & Social Justice

MHEO 410 | 3 credits | Term 1

This course defines and examines the history of the foundational concepts of health equity, social justice, and human rights. Students explore key cases of inequity and injustice occurring locally, nationally, and globally and apply a public health analytical lens to these challenges. This course also provides an overview and professional orientation to public health, its history, core concepts, functions and activities, professional ethics, and how it relates to and differentiates from other health professions.

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Epidemiology

MHEO 415 | 3 credits | Term 1

This course introduces students to the principles and core concepts of epidemiology (the study of determinants and distribution of diseases in a population). Students will learn conceptual and practical issues in designing and analyzing data from epidemiologic studies. Students learn foundational concepts, including chains of transmission, disease outbreak investigation, study designs, prevalence and incidence rates, risk ratios, bias and confounding, and screening models and considerations. Students learn to critically evaluate scientific studies and gain skills in effectively presenting research findings.

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Social Determinants of Health

MHEO 420 | 3 credits | Term 2

This course engages a social-ecological model to examine determinants of health at multiple levels, including biological, behavioral and cultural, social and community-based, environmental, occupational, and institutional. Through a root cause analysis of morbidity and mortality trends, students identify sociostructural determinants of health and analyze systems of oppression that produce and reproduce health inequities. These include disadvantages and marginalization based on race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, nationality, and other factors.

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Biostatistics

MHEO 425 | 3 credits | Term 2

This course introduces students to statistical methods for public health practice. Students will review descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, and bivariate techniques briefly before moving on to the application of multivariate regression analysis to prediction and causal models. Sampling and power analysis in public health contexts will be addressed, and students will gain proficiency in evaluating statistical scientific studies.

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Community-Based Research for Health Equity

MHEO 435 | 3 credits | Term 3

This course introduces students to qualitative and mixed methods research design used in public health and health equity. Students learn survey design, needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation, and impact evaluation. Students are also prepared with methods in community-based participatory research and action research targeting social change. Research ethics are a core consideration, covering human subjects protections and ethical issues arising in partnered research. Students study effective techniques for engaging stakeholders across the research process.

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Health Policy Analysis & Change

MHEO 440 | 3 credits | Term 3

This course prepares students to analyze health systems and policies. Students study the history and foundations of the U.S. health system and engage in international comparative analyses through a lens of access, efficiency, and quality. Students learn core concepts of health care financing and insurance and examine coverage gaps. Students also examine law and policy processes and study how health is impacted by policies within and outside of traditional health domains, including education, transportation, housing, welfare, and labor and consider opportunities and policy frameworks amenable to change.

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Public Health Leadership & Management

MHEO 445 | 3 credits | Term 4

In this course, students assess and evolve their own leadership style, strengths, and potential. Students develop a skill set for managing and building effective teams for public health programming. Students also learn management skills for project, program, and organizational development, including strategic planning, budgeting, grant writing and donor education, quality assurance, and communication.

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Environmental Health & Justice

MHEO 450 | 3 credits | Term 4

This course examines the interdependency and interrelationships humans have with the natural and built environment, focusing on population health consequences. Students examine pressing environmental health challenges, including climate change, population growth, water and air pollution, food quality and scarcity, toxins, occupational hazards, and waste production. Students study how poverty and inequality exacerbate such concerns, examining environmental racism, gentrification, natural resource extraction, toxic dumping, and other challenges. Environmental justice serves as a guiding framework as students analyze the impact and potential of policy frameworks.

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Public Health Project Planning I

MHEO 473 | 1 credit | Term 4

This introductory course provides students with the foundations to begin planning the Health Equity Change Project, encompassing the applied practicum and integrative learning experience. During this course, students start the process of seeking a practicum placement, practicing important career preparatory skills such as professional résumé and cover letter development, professional networking, and interviewing skills. Students select guiding public health competencies and develop associated practicum goals and objectives aligned with the mission and vision of the placement organization of their choice.

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Health Advocacy, Community Organizing, & Innovation

MHEO 465 | 3 credits | Term 5

This course prepares students with skills of community organizing and health advocacy. Students learn key concepts and strategies, including base building, framing, assessing opportunity structure, goal setting, and effective health advocacy techniques. Students explore case studies and oral histories illuminating various models of change, including social movements, social innovation, social entrepreneurship, microdevelopment, and people-centered budgeting. Students critically analyze past innovations and identify opportunities to address health inequities and power imbalances shaping community health.

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Global Health & Political Economy

MHEO 470 | 3 credits | Term 5

This course examines global health challenges through a political economic lens. Students study the global burden of disease and intersections with poverty and inequality. They critically analyze historic and contemporary contexts and forces shaping health outcomes, including colonialism and imperialism, globalization, labor and migration systems, war and militarism, privatization, trade, aid, development. Students consider the roles and promise of various institutions, including national and global governance institutions, for-profit organizations and corporations, and nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations in shaping global health outcomes.

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Public Health Project Planning II

MHEO 474 | 1 credit | Term 5

This course provides students with the necessary ethical and structural tools to design their Health Equity Change Project (HECP), encompassing the applied practicum and integrative learning experience. Students frame and analyze their practicum objectives from an ethical perspective and create a logic model to approach their practicum from a realistic perspective. Ultimately, students develop and submit a final HECP proposal that builds upon their learning across the curriculum and that will guide their applied practice and integrative learning experience in the final terms of the program. This proposal serves as the basis for program approval to begin the HECP experience in subsequent terms.

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Health Equity Change Project I

MHEO 475 | 2 credits | Term 6

This course serves as the first in a two-course sequence that incorporates the integrative learning and practice experience for the MPH degree. Through an applied practicum experience across two terms, students gain skills in designing, implementing, and evaluating a project to address a health inequity. In this course, students define and assess a health equity challenge, typically within their local context, in consultation with their practicum supervisor and community and organizational partners. This work culminates in a written project proposal, including an implementation and evaluation plan.

Find out more about the Health Equity Change Project.

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Health Equity Change Project II

MHEO 476 | 2 credits | Term 7

This course serves as the second in a two-course sequence that incorporates the integrative learning and practice experience for the MPH degree. Through an applied practicum experience across two terms, students gain skills in designing, implementing, and evaluating a project to address a health inequity. In this course, students implement and evaluate the project they designed during the prior course, in consultation with their practicum supervisor and community and organizational partners. Students produce a final report and portfolio, evaluating their project and analyzing their attainment of program learning competencies.

Find out more about the Health Equity Change Project.

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Electives

Students complete two elective courses as part of their time in the program for a total of six credits. Students may take electives offered within the public health program or they can take advantage of courses offered through Simmons’ Master of Business Administration in Health Care program.

Health Economics

MBAHO 410 | 3 credits | Elective

This course examines the systematic economic forces at work that relate to the U.S. health care system’s performance. This performance is contrasted with a number of international health systems throughout the course. Using readings from health economics literature, students study the way markets and competition work in health care. The course focuses on some of the anomalous aspects of the health industry, such as health insurance (both social and private), the role of technology, the problem of market failure due to asymmetric information and externalities, and the role of professional licensing, patents, and other government regulation. Students will also consider the supply-side implications of licensure requirements for many health professions on the management decisions in the health industry.

Prerequisite: MHEO 425 or MBAO 415

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Health Care Quality & Measurement

MBAHO 429 | 3 credits | Elective

With health care spending in the United States consistently exceeding 17 percent of the national GDP (The World Bank) and the demand for health services continuing to increase, health care is experiencing significant growth while facing numerous challenges, including rising costs, increasing complexity, and limited resources. In this course, students will learn to apply qualitative and quantitative principles of operations management to analyze health care processes and develop solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of health care delivery. Topics include reducing patient wait times, improving patient safety, streamlining process flows, assessing and analyzing outcomes and performance metrics, and generally improving health management processes. The course is organized around four key modules: health care delivery system design, health care quality and safety management, day-to-day health care operations management, and health care process improvement.

Prerequisites: MHEO 440, MBAO 415, or MBAHO 480

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Health Care Information Technology

MBAHO 448 | 3 credits | Elective

The understanding of technology cannot only reside within an information systems division. It is critical that managers of every function understand key components of IT in order to be successful in today’s health care system. Topics include dealing with different kinds of information systems that are used, the way decisions are made about new system technologies and vendors, and how new systems are implemented. The course covers general IT concepts and practical problems facing health care organizations related to the acquisition, use, and management of information technology to ensure the safe delivery of quality care in an affordable manner.

Prerequisites: MHEO 440 or MBAHO 480

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Strategic Thinking & Analytical Decision Making

MBAO 427 | 3 credits | Elective

This course equips students with the tools, techniques, and frameworks to think creatively, critically, analytically, and strategically to make managerial decisions that lead their firms toward value creation under conditions of competition and complexity. These skills help students recognize and categorize decision problems, represent the essential structure of the decision situation, discover multiple solutions creatively, and analyze solutions using tools based on decision theory. Managing uncertainty, turbulence, complexity, intense competition, and opportunities for innovation are all hallmarks of analytical decision making. Students learn about the important aspects of being a strategic manager, including moving with a goal or goals in mind, integrating information across functional areas and organizations, collecting and using data, and being cognizant and engaged with the past and the future, the big picture and the operational.

Prerequisite: MHEO 425

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GIS and Spatial Analysis

MHEO 485 | 3 credits | Elective

The growing availability of geographic information systems (GIS) software and geographically referenced data provides a great opportunity to visualize complex public health issues within our communities. Maps are a powerful tool for hypothesis generation with the ability to “see” the data offering new perspectives in understanding variables of interest in a neighborhood context. There is a growing interest in public health for mapping, spatial analysis and spatial modeling within and/or across disciplines. This course introduces students to ESRI ArcGIS software and fundamentals of cartography (map making) using public health data to explore health equity indicators.

Prerequisites: MHEO 415 and MHEO 425

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Strategic Communications for Health Equity

MHEO 486 | 3 credits | Elective

This skills-based course builds from and expands upon the traditions of Health Communication, where students learn communications theories and applications, and consider how to leverage these skills to advance health equity. A broad array of communications strategies and approaches are examined and practiced as students refine their own oral and written communication skills, including persuasive and strategic communication, public speaking, storytelling, marketing and public relations, print and visual media, and digital and social media. Students analyze opportunities for enhancing communications with, among, and between various audiences and communities toward mobilizing social and structural change processes, and learn how to target and activate audiences toward addressing socio-structural determinants of health.

Prerequisites: MHEO 415 and MHEO 425

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