Cornell’s MPH curriculum is designed to help build and develop competence in performance areas that are critical for public health. Competence is the ability to access and integrate knowledge and skill do something successfully and efficiently in a given context.

To build competence, courses and classes are designed with at least four components in mind:

  • Teaching, and helping students learn knowledge that is core to public health practice, and to know where and how to continuously build their knowledge base as life-long
  • Teaching, and helping students learn specific skills that are strategic for public health practice. This will often be achieved by reviewing real public health activities and processes.
  • Creating scenarios where students are pushed to integrate their knowledge and skill to complete a project or address a problem that will be faced in the real world. This is where students demonstrate their growing competence, and readiness to enter the public health
  • Coaching students to practice ongoing self-assessment and continuous improvement of competence across scenarios and situations. We believe this helps students grow as a person and a professional, readying them for the professional workforce.

Different from large undergraduate programs, this professional master’s program is designed to create a ‘community of practice’ where we all push each other to grow and improve, in both traditional public health knowledge areas, and in professional competence (e.g., “soft skills”, “leadership”, “emotional intelligence”, etc.). We are a small cohort of students and core faculty.

Take advantage of this community of practice. It will help you grow in new and amazing ways. The MPH faculty and staff, your peers, and your community mentors, are here to help you achieve your career goals.


MPH Curriculum Overview

To earn your MPH at Cornell, you need at least 50 applicable credits, and be able to demonstrate competence in all defined areas via applied activities. Cornell’s MPH program delivers a well-integrated curriculum that spans four academic semesters, as well as a summer. Students with prior applicable experience may apply to the accelerated program, requesting a transfer of up to eight credits, and/or exemption from up to eight credits. Specific course exemptions will be determined by committee. Exemptions could include electives, one practicum, or one core required course.

The Cornell MPH curriculum is made up of three parts:

Core Courses Students take 19 credits worth of courses in topical areas core to public health practice: Public Health Foundations, Epidemiology in Practice, Biostatistics for Health Sciences, Policy, Leadership and Ethics. All of these courses use active learning processes where you’ll learn by doing: reviewing old case studies, critically analyzing, planning for the future, etc. Brief course descriptions are here.
Concentration Area Courses Students take 15 credits worth of courses that help them build specific expertise in concentration areas where Cornell excels: Food Systems for Health and Infectious Disease Epidemiology. Each concentration area has 5-8 required credits. Students get to select courses from across the university, with advisor input, to build knowledge and skill in a way that will best meet their needs. Brief course descriptions are here.
Practice Courses Students take 16 credits worth of courses that focus on applied practice. The goal of these courses is to provide a small‐group learning environment to each of the two concentration area groups (Infectious Disease Epidemiology or Food Systems for Global Health) so that public health practice skills and methods can be honed in a focused, problem‐based learning environment. Brief course descriptions are here.

Students will review their course of study with their academic advisor at least once per semester, to be sure that they are taking advantage of Cornell’s best resources, and so that they’re on track to graduate.

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