MPH Program

EmailEmail    |   Bookmark Page Bookmark  |   RSS Feeds RSS  |   Print Page Print  

Frequently Asked Questions

Read answers to frequently asked questions about the Master of Public Health and Graduate Certificate in Public Health programs.

 How is public health different from clinical medicine?

Public health and clinical medicine both try to improve the health of people, but they use different methods.


Public Health Clinical Medicine
Primary focus on population Primary focus on individual
Public service ethic tempered by concerns for the individual Personal service ethic, conditioned awareness of social responsibilities
Emphasis on prevention, health promotion for the whole community Emphasis on diagnosis and treatment, care for the whole patient


Summarized from Harvard School of Public Health

 I don’t know whether to enroll in the MPH or Certificate program. How do the programs differ? Can you transfer from one program to the other?

The following chart compares and contrasts the two programs. The core courses are the same for both the MPH and the Certificate programs, meaning the students from each of the programs are enrolled in class together.

  MPH Certificate
Credits 42 credits 15 credits
Required Courses • 5 Core Courses
• 1 Ethics Course
• 3 Community Health Courses
• Elective Courses
• Field Placement
• Capstone Project
• 5 Core Courses
   - Biostatistics
   - Epidemiology
   - Environmental Health
   - Public Health Administration
   - Behavioral Science
Application Materials • Application Form
• Personal Statement
• Transcripts
• TOEFL Score (international students)
• 3 Recommendations
• GRE Score
• Application Form
• Personal Statement
• Transcripts
• TOEFL Score (international students)
• 3 Recommendations

You may transfer from the Certificate program to the MPH program; however, you may not transfer from the MPH program to the Certificate program. If you are enrolled in the Certificate program and then decide you would like to enroll in the MPH program, you must apply to the MPH program. (In this case, the GRE requirement may be waived.) If accepted, the courses you’ve completed towards your Certificate would be applied towards the MPH. (Although only 14 credits may be transferred into the MPH program, an exception is made so that all 15 credits of the Certificate may be transferred into the MPH program.)

 I understand that the public health courses are offered online, but do I need to go to campus for any other reason (such as orientation, intensive summer courses, or graduation)?

No, our courses and programs are offered completely online.  There is no mandatory on-campus orientation; we offer a Virtual New Student Orientation on this website, instead.  A few courses are also available on campus, but most are offered solely online.  As for graduation, we would like all of our students to attend, but that is a request, not a requirement.

 I have a full-time job and responsibilities at home. Will I be able to complete the MPH program within the required 5 year time frame?

The MPH program is geared towards working professionals, and most of our students have full-time positions as well as other responsibilities. Our program is flexible, which helps students succeed, but it’s a matter of whether you, individually, have the time to devote to coursework. Courses usually require 6 to 10 hours per week, and you will have to complete at least one or two courses each semester in order to complete the program within the required five year time frame. Most students who enroll in the program have the time and motivation to complete coursework, so they succeed and excel.

 Do I need to be online at a specific day or time to access course material, such as watching a live lecture or participating in a discussion room?

You do not need to be online at any specific day or time (except under very special circumstances, which would be arranged by your instructor at the beginning of a course). Desire to Learn (D2L) is available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week, so you can access course material, complete quizzes, upload assignments, and participate in discussion boards at any time of the day or night. However, there are specific deadlines for assignments, quizzes, and exams. For example, many courses have assignments and discussion board comments due each week. You may upload your assignment and participate in the discussion board anytime during that week, but you must do so by the deadline.

 The public health courses utilize the online learning platform D2L; what is D2L?

D2L is an acronym for Desire to Learn, which is the Medical College-wide learning management system that allows students and faculty to connect online.  With D2L, you can take surveys, quizzes and tests; send and receive course mail; post to threaded discussions and chat rooms; upload assignments using drop-boxes; and more.  You can check your progress in a course by viewing your grades at any time during the course, and you can also create groups and teams for project or committee work.

 What kind of Internet connection and software do I need to utilize Desire to Learn (D2L) and access coursework?

At a minimum, you should have access to the Web with a cable modem connection, or a DSL (digital subscriber line) connection. Generally speaking, cable modems and DSL connections allow you to both fully and quickly stream audio and video files that may be required by course instructors.

D2L is designed to support the widest variety of client-side operating systems and client-side browsers through its limited use of client-side technologies. While D2L products generally function well in many browsers, the following are formally supported and tested:

• With PCs running Windows OS: Chrome or Firefox. IE is not recommended.
• With Macs running OS X: Firefox
• With Linux or Unix systems: Firefox

An office suite such as Microsoft Office or Open Office and Adobe Reader or other compatible PDF readers are also required. In addition, a current version of the Adobe Flash player for your web browser is required to play some of the lectures.

Minitab Statistical Software Requirements:

SAS OnDemand is used for the Biostatistics course and will require access to a computer with the following capabilities:
• Operating System - Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Vista Home (Basic or Premium) or Windows 7 Home (Premium and above)
• Hard Disk Space - 125 MB free space available
• Processor – PC with 1 GHz 32 or 64 bit processor
• Memory - 512 MB or more of available RAM
• Screen Resolution - 1024 x 768 or higher
• Software – Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher

 How do I apply to the MPH program? What is the application deadline?

The Graduate School coordinates admissions and registration, and they use an online inquiry and application system. For further information about admission requirements, including application deadlines, please see the Prospective Students Application Information webpage.

 Can I transfer credits in to the MPH program from other schools?

The MPH program will accept up to 14 credits of approved courses from other schools or programs. The Program Director decides whether a course will be approved after reviewing the course’s syllabus. (The Program Director will only review syllabi from enrolled students.) No transfer credits will be accepted for the Certificate program.

 Do MCW faculty and staff have to pay tuition for the MPH program?

Yes, MCW faculty and staff must pay the same tuition as other students in the MPH and Certificate programs (or even if they take individual courses as a Special Student). Because many public health courses are taught by faculty members whose primary affiliation is outside of MCW, there is no tuition waiver for MCW faculty members.

 How will an MPH or a Graduate Certificate in Public Health enhance my career?

Graduate-level coursework in public health will help you build competencies and improve valuable skills, such as administration, communication, evaluation, cultural competency, ethics, planning, and research. Some students enroll in the program to get started in the field of public health; whereas, others have worked in the field for years and are looking for knowledge and information to help them work more effectively. Many physicians enroll in coursework to meet board-certification requirements and then continue in the program because the knowledge provides them with another method to analyze the factors influencing their patients’ health.

 What do students say about your program?

In June of 2010, the MPH program held a student peer advisory panel during which current students and graduates answered questions from other current and new students regarding courses, faculty, and online learning. To read the questions asked and the students’ and graduates’ responses, visit the Peer Advisory Panel webpage.

 Who accredits the Master of Public Health program?

The Medical College of Wisconsin is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).  The MPH Program is also individually accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  To learn more about our status, visit the Accreditation webpage.
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 10/16/2014