Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the MPH program can be found below. If you have further questions about the MPH program or the various program concentrations, please contact health@usfca.edu or call (415) 422 -6681.

What is Public Health?

According to the World Health Organization, Public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. Thus, public health is concerned with the total system and not only the eradication of a particular disease.

Why Public Health at USF?

A Master in Public Health (MPH) from the University of San Francisco is a two-year program that prepares students to work in a variety of health care settings. The mission of the Master of Public Health program is to develop a network of public health leaders and generalists who will advance public health, social justice, and well-being in our cities and communities, the State of California, the United States and the world, and to create education programs that promote community engagement, professional collaborations, and public health advocacy.

What is the USF Advantage?

Major advantages include:

  • Learn from a distinguished faculty of academics and experienced practitioners who will serve as your professors, advisers, and mentors throughout an academically rigorous program.
  • Study in areas of California with a long history of advocacy and community outreach. San Francisco is a virtual lab of public health education and health promotion possibilities, and there is no shortage of challenging fieldwork and post-degree employment opportunities in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Orange County.
  • Put your intellect and values into action in the classroom and through fieldwork placements at local health departments, federal and state agencies, and other nonprofit and non-government organizations (NGOs).
  • Take courses as a cohort to develop your professional network. Study in evening classes scheduled to reduce travel to campus and maximize your ability to advance your career while working full time.

What is Cohort Group Learning?

The program is organized in a cohort model of instruction. Each cohort is made up of approximately 25 students, two-thirds of whom are typically Bay Area health professionals looking to enhance their qualifications or individuals in another field looking to transition into a public health career. During the two years of the program, your cohort will move through the curriculum together – starting and finishing with the same members.

When can I start the MPH Program?

The MPH program only admits during the Fall semester.

How long will it take to complete the MPH Program?

The MPH concentrations in Community and Public Health Practice and Behavioral Health are 45 credits and the MPH Health Policy Leadership concentration is 42 credits. Students typically complete in two years. Classes are held year round during the Fall, Spring and Summer.

What is the Applied Practice Experience (APEX)?

During the program, all MPH students complete a 0-credit Applied Practice Experience (APEX) preparation course to help structure their search for a relevant practice placement, and to build professional skills such as interviewing and resume writing. Students also take two semesters of APEX seminar (APEX I and APEX II) as they complete a 250 minimum hour internship in a public health setting.

Finally, students will complete a culminating professional-quality capstone paper as part of the Integrated Learning Experience (ILEX) course. The Applied Practice Experience Coordinator helps to maintain relationships with practice experience sites in the Bay Area, Orange County and Sacramento. Students choose a site based on their experience, interests, and career goals. Among other organizations, MPH students have interned at San Francisco Department of Public Health, Pacific Gas and Electric, SF Card, and HOPE Collaborative to name a few.

Are the admissions requirements the same for all MPH concentrations?

Yes, admissions requirements remain the same for all MPH concentrations.

Are all concentrations CEPH accredited?

Yes, all program concentrations fall under the CEPH accreditation.

How often will I be coming to campus for class?

Most 4-credit classes will begin at 4:45pm and end at 9pm. These classes meet in a hybrid/on-ground format, where classes are in-person every other week, and the intervening weeks require online activities sometimes with group projects or journal club activities. Group projects may also require that students meet with classmates off campus at other times to complete assignments.

What is the level of work required outside of class?

Students can expect to spend 2 hours per week studying for each credit they are taking. In other words, for a two-credit course, you can expect to spend four hours studying in addition to class time.

How much will the MPH degree cost?

Please note that tuition rates and fees are subject to change and more information can be found about tuition and graduate student fees on the University Tuition and Fees Schedule. In addition to tuition there are fees for graduate students including mandatory health insurance (Fall/Spring), Associate Graduate Students of USF (AGSUSF), and an applicable fieldwork fee per practicum course and required malpractice insurance fee per practicum course.

Is there financial assistance available for the MPH program?

USF offers limited scholarships each year. If you are accepted to the program, you will receive information about applying for a scholarship. Information on financial aid can be obtained through our Financial Aid Department. Currently, students may visit the U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps for funding opportunities in the Senior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (SROSTEP). An additional resource to visit for Public Health funding opportunities is PublicHealth.org.

Please visit our Financing your Education page for for a list of scholarship opportunities in and outside of USF.

Is there an MPH Student Organization?

Students in the School of Nursing and Health Professions have their own, autonomous organization, the Population Health Sciences Student Association (PHSSA). It includes all students in the Health Professions Department (students in the Masters in Health Informatics and the Doctorate in Psychology degree programs, in addition to the MPH program) to encourage interprofessional networking and collaboration. Through the PHSSA, students conduct their own monthly meetings, bring in guest speakers, engage in community service activities, and sponsor networking events for students in the department and across campus.

Does this program prepare you to become a licensed clinician or to take any state exam?

The MPH, Behavioral Health concentration is not a clinical degree but students are eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.

How does USF provide assistance for placement post graduation?

The MPH program works closely with Career Services to provide workshops and individual sessions in which you can learn to write an outstanding cover letter and resume, develop a Linkedin profile, and create a networking plan. Occasionally, the School of Nursing and Health Professions or USF hosts job fairs on campus and at additional USF locations.

Is there a part-time option available? If so, how long will it take to complete?

Not at this time. However, graduate students taking 8 credits are considered full-time, therefore it is still possible to have a full time job and be a full time student. The program can be completed in 6 semesters. 

Do students ever go on to other advanced degrees after they finish the MPH program?

Yes, many of our students seek other advanced degrees after they complete the MPH. Graduates have gone on to advanced practice nursing programs, medical school, and doctoral programs.

What is the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam?

The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam is a nationally recognized credential demonstrating that an individual has mastered basic professional competencies and is committed to further professional development. The CHES credential shows that leaders and practitioners of health education and promotion have the knowledge and cutting-edge skills necessary for health education program design and implementation. More information from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing about the CHES exam and certification can be found at nchec.org.

Contact Info

School of Nursing & Health Professions

Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

2130 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 422-2806