Section Menu


The master of public health curriculum is based on a practical, problem-based approach. Expert full-time and part-time faculty from the health care community provides a blend of theory and experience. 

Core courses and tiers

Students may take tier 1 and 2 classes concurrently and tier 2 and 3 classes concurrently, but they must be towards the end of a tier to take concurrent classes in the next tier.

Students must take all of tier 1 and 2 and the Community Research Methods course in order to start the Capstone.

Tier 1 Credits  Pre-requisite
MPH 620: Introduction to Graduate School and the MPH Program 1 None
MPH 621: Overview of the U.S. Health Care System 3 None
MPH 650: Basic Statistics & Research 3 None
MPH 657: Survey of Human Health and Disease* 3 None
Tier 2 Credits Pre-requisite
MPH 625: Health Care Financial Management I 3 620, 621
MPH 645: Community Health Program Planning & Evaluation 3 620, 650, 657
MPH 652: Public Health Law, Ethics & Policy 3 620, 621
MPH 654: Social & Behavioral Sciences 3 620, 650, 657
MPH 655: Epidemiology 3 620, 621 (650 concurrent)
Tier 3 Credits Pre-requisite
MPH 651: Occupational & Environmental Health 3 All tier 1, 655 (652 concurrent)
MPH 653: Public Health Administration & Management 3 3 All tier 1, 645, 652
MPH 671: Community Research Methods 3 All tier 1, All tier 2
Tier 4 Credits Pre-requisite
MPH 658: Public Health Internship 3 All tier 1, All tier 2
MPH 660: Public Health Capstone 2 All tier 1, All tier 2

*Required for students who do not have clinical experience.  If students have clinical experience, they are encouraged to speak with their academic advisor regarding a replacement course.

Tier 1 – Course descriptions

MPH 620: Introduction to Graduate School and the MPH Program

This course is designed to introduce MPH students to Des Moines University, the College of Health Sciences, and the Master of Public Health Program.  This course will review the resources available on the university website, student portals, MPH Advising course, and important public health websites. Students will gain an understanding of university and MPH program expectations and policies; an appreciation of the rigors of graduate school, including reading and writing requirements; and plan their Program of Study to be used as a guide through their graduate work at DMU.  This course will also address the curriculum and technology requirements, and the best approach to the final internship, portfolio and culminating capstone experiences.

MPH 621: Overview of the U.S. Health Care System

This course prepares students to effectively use and manage information in a health-care context. Topics include: the evolution, diffusion and management of health care information technology; strategies and methods for planning, designing, and implementing strategic health information systems and health decision support systems; human-computer interactions.      

MPH 650: Basic Statistics & Research

This is an introductory course that exposes the student to the use of statistical techniques for healthcare data analysis. Topics covered include research design, data acquisition, types of data, univariate and bivariate data summarization techniques, tabular and graphical data presentation, inferential techniques using different theoretical distributions and introduction to the use of multivariate statistical techniques. Students will learn to apply statistical techniques for decision making and/or research data analysis. This course serves as prerequisite for Epidemiology (MPH 655) and Health Services Program Evaluation (MHA/MPH 645).

MPH 657: Survey of Human Health and Disease

This course is designed for individuals with very little or no clinical background. It introduces students to the fundamentals of human anatomy and physiology, organ systems, medical terminology and their relation to the mechanisms of acute and chronic diseases. This class will provide an overview of the major theories of disease, with special reference to mechanisms of the significant current acute and chronic public health problems.

Tier 2 – Course descriptions

MPH 625: Health Care Financial Management I

This course provides a basic understanding of health services financial management with emphasis on the not-for-profit entity. We will begin with elementary accounting concepts and then focus on discounted cash flow analysis, risk, financial statements, capital investments, debt and equity financing, capital budgeting, and health care reimbursement models. The course  blends accounting and finance concepts to enhance the health care manager’s decision-making skills using accounting and finance theories, principles, concepts and techniques most important to managers in the health care industry.

MPH 645: Health Services Program Evaluation

This course will address principles of formal program evaluation and research methods.  Topics will include the nature of evaluation, formulation of hypotheses, the role of evaluation in the program life cycle, evaluation research designs, the application of particular designs to selected problems in health care administration, relationship of statistical processes to specific evaluation designs, sampling, survey development, data collection and analysis, and interpretation of research findings.  Epidemiological concepts and methods and their application in health care administration are introduced.

MPH 652: Public Health Law, Ethics and Policy

An overview of legal and ethical issues facing individuals, organizations, and constituencies involved in developing public health policy and providing public health services. The course is intended to provide students with a basic working knowledge of how law and ethics can be applied to real-world public health issues.

Components studied include: the legal process and resources; ethical issues of concern to public health providers; balancing public health practitioners’ constitutional responsibility to advance the populations’ health/well being with protection the of individual rights— especially during emergency situations; practical issues facing public health practitioners related to liability; informed consent, confidentiality, and medical records; and legal and ethical issues related to access to health care, reproductive health, vaccination policy, injury prevention and responding to the environment. The class will also explore how public health law tools can be applied in these situations.

MPH 654: Social & Behavioral Sciences

This course discusses the contribution of the social and behavioral sciences to understanding health behavior and the prevention and treatment of disease. Topics include: models for understanding risk-taking behavior and implications for health promotion; understanding the role of social support in health maintenance; effects of interventions in health care settings on health behaviors; assessing environmental and provider-related variables in psychological models of health care utilization; physiological and physical concomitants of care giving; the need for proven, proactive interventions; and implications for health care policy.

MPH 655: Epidemiology

Introduces students to the principles of epidemiology, including: historical overview; descriptive methods and sources of data; diagnostic screening; study designs; analytical tools; measures of association; bias and confounding. Emphasis is placed on the critical evaluation and interpretation of public health research, using examples from the literature. Students develop problem-solving skills and an understanding of evaluation and research.

Tier 3 – Course descriptions

MPH 651: Environmental and Occupational Health

This course is an introduction to occupational and environmental health for the Master of Public Health program students. Through reviewing applicable scientific literature, completing class assignments, and participating in discussions, you will learn about the nature and extent of occupational and environmental health, and you will practice identifying and determining interventions for contemporary occupational and environmental public health issues.  The focus of this course is on the identification of occupational and environmental health issues, how individuals interact with their environments, and how the results of this interaction influence public health.

MPH 653: Public Health Administration & Management

This course serves to support developing, entry-level competencies in public health administration and management.  Topics include leadership, mission and goal definition, health data management, communications in public health, management of public health services, financial management and budgeting, quality improvement, outcomes assessment, strategic planning and marketing, health education, and other emerging topics necessary for the effective delivery of public health services.

MPH 671: Community Research Methods

This course will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the methods used in the scientific research of public health. The content of this course includes experimental and non-experimental research designs, sampling, measurement, reliability and validity, data collection procedures and methods, and generalizability of findings. This course provides instruction on basic research methodology to be applied in investigations that target health and healthcare related issues in the context of a community setup.

Tier 4 – Course descriptions

MPH 658: Public Health Internship

The Public Health Internship is meant to provide the student with a new and hands-on experience in some public health setting that is appropriate for the student’s growth and learning.  A student who has never worked in public health may choose to experience one of any number of public health agencies.  At minimum, this experience should expose a student who has little or no previous experience in a public health setting an opportunity to rotate throughout the organization’s departments and functional areas to develop an intuitive “feel” for the organizational life.  A student who has already worked in public health may choose to experience a different agency or organization than what he or she already knows.  If the student is already a leader in public health, the student will be invited to create a personally useful experience that stretches his or her previous understanding of public health.  This internship must be at least 180 hours and be guided under the direction of a preceptor. The student must propose the internship experience to their MPH Internship Coordinator and be approved before the student will be registered for the internship.  The course concludes with the submission of a completed portfolio and a poster suitable for presentation.

MPH 660: Public Health Capstone

This course serves as a culminating experience in which students are expected to apply knowledge gained from their graduate education.  An important consideration in choosing a culminating experience is to find a project that allows the student to apply theory and principles learned in coursework to a professional practice situation. This is the way in which faculty evaluate whether students have mastered the program’s competencies.