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Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree

NEIU MPH Students

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Health inequalities related to care access and a population’s quality of life won’t resolve themselves without acknowledgement, intervention, and long-term solutions. As social determinants of public health come to light, the Chicago region and world as a whole require knowledgeable, compassionate professionals ready to tackle these challenges, defend and advocate for vulnerable communities, and enact change not solely through awareness but research-based policy measures as well.

To train the next generation of professionals to make an impact and work to overturn current structural inequalities, the Department of Health Sciences and Physical Education introduced the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program in the fall of 2019. Accommodating working adults with full- and part-time hybrid formats, the MPH prepares students to serve, lead, and conduct public health research in range of public health settings and to address the intersectional factors affecting marginalized communities. 

Our MPH is unique in Chicago by taking on an interdisciplinary approach to public health. Courses are taught by faculty across the university. Students can personalize their degree with over 100 elective options, gain a breadth of perspectives, and an opportunity to pursue personal interests.

Program at a Glance

CHES Certification

NEIU MPH Student

MPH graduates may sit for the Community Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. CHES certification is a nationally recognized credential for health educators.

NEIU MPH Student

Leader in Job Growth

NEIU MPH Student

Public health professionals are in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% to 16% growth in public health jobs through 2026.

NEIU MPH Student

Focus on Communities and Health Equity

NEIU MPH Student

To improve health equity within communities, students focus on health equity and develop the knowledge and skills needed to help others.

NEIU MPH Student

Colleen Lammel-Harmon, student

NEIU MPH Student

“I will say the program is extremely challenging, but it’s very broad with different aspects of public health, which is really why I wanted my master’s degree: to take my education to the next level.”

NEIU MPH Student

Jennifer Banas, MPH, EdD, Professor

NEIU Faculty

"The field of public health needs equity minded individuals who are curious, value diversity and are committed to making a difference while serving others."

NEIU Faculty

About the MPH Degree Program

NEIU’s MPH degree program is unique to the greater metropolitan Chicago area. For individuals seeking to improve population health through policy, research, and strategy, the program consists of 42 credit hours taught by a multidisciplinary team of faculty members lending their perspective and expertise and providing a degree of flexibility: six credit hours let you explore a wide range of public health topics related to sociology, gerontology, justice studies, and economics. In preparation for a post-graduation career, you’ll pair classroom learning with research and internship opportunities to supplement your knowledge with hands-on experience. 

From a holistic perspective, you’ll learn about the social determinants of health, their impact on individual and community quality of life, and the intersectional factors playing a role. Emphasizing reflective, collaborative, and personally and socially transformative practices, our program prepares individuals to serve under-represented, under-resourced populations as public health experts in government institutions, non-profit and private organizations, K-12 schools and higher education, healthcare clinics, research centers, industry, and other settings. In striving to become a dedicated professional aiming to challenge existing systems and shape new legislation that benefit the public, you’ll:

  • develop a complex understanding of the profession and science of public health;
  • explore sociological, economic, and policy factors related to human health;
  • enrich your existing skill set with an evidence-based approach to public health and the healthcare system, including planning, management, communication, policy, systems thinking, and interprofessional practice skills;
  • gain insight and skills related to biostatistics, epidemiology, healthcare administration and leadership, health literacy and health communications, health promotion programming, social and behavioral health theory, policy and legislation, systems thinking, and environmental health;
  • explore a wide range of public health topics related to urban community studies, gerontology, human resource development, geographic information science, economics, and more; and
  • build upon your existing knowledge while preparing to pursue a terminal degree in behavioral health, epidemiology, environmental health issues, or health law and policy.

Through online and on-campus classes at urban locations accessible by car and public transportation, you’ll progress through the MPH program according to the plan of study. Full-time students are ready to take their knowledge out into the world after two years, while part-time students finish the program in under three years.

Our MPH graduates are eligible to sit for the Community Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. The CHES examination is a competency-based assessment used to measure possession, application and interpretation of knowledge in Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists.

MPH Degree Program Curriculum (42 Credit Hours)

The MPH offers two concentrations to choose from depending on student interest:

Public Health Promotion

The Public Health Promotion concentration prepares students to educate, lead, conduct research, serve, and advocate for public health in a variety of settings. Additionally, students will be prepared to pursue terminal degrees in the behavioral, epidemiological, or environmental health sciences, as well as health-related law and policy, and health care administration.

School Health

The School Health concentration prepares students for leadership roles in the field of school health. Additionally, the concentration includes coursework that meets Illinois requirements for certified teachers seeking a cross-endorsement in Health Education and prepares them to take the Illinois Health Education content test.

Through required courses and six electives designed to expand your understanding of public health topics, you’ll:

  • gain a solid foundation in the history of public and community health, including biopsychosocial determinants, the structure and operations of public health and healthcare delivery systems, and relevant policies in the context of race, ethnicity, secuality, socioeconomic status, gender, age, trauma, ability, and location;
  • become familiar with theories of social and behavioral health and applications;
  • analyze occurrences, distribution, and determinants of health and diseases, injuries, disability, and mortality across multiple populations;
  • acquire an understanding of statistical methods used in public health to collect, summarize, analyze, and interpret results;
  • explore environmental health topics related to air and water quality, food safety, risk assessment, indoor health, pest management, and chemical, biological, and physical environmental factors;
  • start building the skills needed to reduce health disparities, including an understanding of research applications, organizational structures, management styles, and the challenges facing public healthcare organizations in developing programs and services; and
  • conduct quantitative and qualitative research, including collecting and interpreting data. 

As a culmination of your studies, you’ll complete a two-semester internship, a 200-hour mentored learning experience designed to cover key public health practice skills. The internship segues into a capstone project, for which you’ll identify a public health issue related to a defined population or community and present your solution. 

Review the MPH program curriculum, and read all required course and elective descriptions

Careers With an MPH Degree

NEIU strives to produce not just skilled, knowledgeable public health professionals, but passionate, resolute individuals ready to improve existing systems to uplift vulnerable populations. 

Demand exists in no single organization. Rather, this generalist degree supplies you with the skill set ready to make a difference in public and private settings, including in healthcare organizations, health research facilities, social services, environmental health agencies, and government agencies focused on public health policy, services, and programming. Illustrating the need for social justice–minded public health professionals, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2019 and 2029, positions for medical and health services managers will climb 32 percent.

Additionally, NEIU’s MPH degree program prepares you for a career as a:

  • Health Researcher;
  • Community Health Worker;
  • Health Communications Specialist;
  • Public Health Analyst; or
  • Public Health Policy Administrator.

MPH Program Admissions

Ready to tackle a new challenge and serve your community? Individuals interested in applying will be evaluated on NEIU’s Graduate Admission standards, in addition to MPH program–specific requirements:

  • official transcripts;
  • two letters of recommendation;
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA; and
  • an essay addressing three subject areas: 1. what public health means to you, 2. what areas of public health interest you and, 3. how a degree in public health will support or advance your career goals.

Advocate to Improve Your Community’s Health With an MPH Degree From NEIU

Transform into the force of change your community needs to grow and thrive with an MPH degree from NEIU. If you are interested in the program or have questions, please contact the Department of Health Sciences and Physical Education at (773) 442-5581 or email Jennifer Banas, Professor and Program Coordinator, at