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 sequences may vary slightly depending on your cohort start date.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Students complete two elective courses as part of their time in the program for a total of six credits.
GIS I: Introduction to Health Equity Mapping and 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.
GIS II: Spatial Analysis and Investigating Health Inequities
MHEO 487 | 3 credits | Elective
Introductory GIS concepts focus on cartographic practices that are built upon as we continue with intermediate GIS practices. These practices include spatial analysis and principles investigating the potential significance of space (where we live). Health inequities can be explored within and between variables associated with social determinants of health, negative health outcomes, and sociopolitical constructs. In this course, students will learn if space is an integral component within geographic data to understand the correlation between place and space. This class builds upon concepts and data collected in GIS I to conduct spatial analysis, exploratory data analysis (EDA), and exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA). Students will continue working with ESRI ArcGIS software to learn geoprocessing techniques and then will move onto GeoDa freeware for EDA and ESDA. Note: GeoDa is available for both Mac OSX and Windows operating systems.
This course builds a foundation of health and human rights law on which students may develop analyses and responses to health inequities and social injustices, thus developing their health equity practice. The course examines US law across the three branches of government and the government’s constitutional powers, duties, and limitations for intervention in issues of public health. The course then explores international law, emphasizing the international system of human rights and the interplay between human rights and systems of global governance. Throughout the course students will apply legal frameworks to past and contemporary social injustices, especially focusing on racial inequities, to build practical skills for advocacy and engagement with these systems.
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.