Program Overview

Our Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredited MPH Program in Community Health Education offers an innovative 44 unit curriculum in community health education that promotes social justice and develops culturally and professionally competent leaders in the field of public health. A new cohort of students enters the program together each fall semester, and progresses as a learning community through most of the courses in a set sequence. The program requires a minimum of five semesters to complete, including the summer semester between the first and second years. We require our entering students to have had at least two years full-time equivalent health-related work experience, preferably health equity work in the public health field. To accommodate working professionals, most of the program courses and activities are concentrated into two principal days/evenings per week. Our applied curriculum emphasizes collaborative learning, teamwork, leadership, presentation and writing skills and includes a supervised team practice experience, culminating experience seminar, and the development of a professional electronic portfolio. For additional information, please refer to our program informational flier.



Competencies and Responsibilities

The national competencies for all public health professional preparation programs published by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) guide our CEPH SF State MPH program. Additionally, because our public health degree is specific to community health education, we also ground in the responsibilities and competencies and sub-competencies developed jointly by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), the American Association for Health Education (AAHE), the American Associated of Health Education (AAHE), and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc (NCHEC). Our SF State program addresses an additional responsibility to include health equity and cultural humility as critical components of public health practice.


The 44 unit curriculum consists of 17 courses. Most students elect the five semester degree completion plan. However, longer time to degree completion plans are also available, one example being a seven semester plan. Click on course title below to view course description.

The curriculum incorporates these multi-semester elements: the team practice experience and the culminating experience. Additional information about these curricular components is provided below.


Coursework Scheduling

To accommodate working professionals, the SF State MPH class meetings are concentrated as much as possible into Thursday afternoons and evenings (12:30pm on), and a second evening: Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday with start times of 5, 6, or 7 pm, depending on the semester. Consequently, throughout the duration of the MPH program, all working students must request Thursday afternoon work release time from their employers and, depending on a student's particular work schedule and commute times, release time to arrive to all evening classes on time.

In addition, SF State MPH students frequently team with classmates on small group projects. To complete the required team tasks, these student teams meet at mutually agreeable times, which might include evenings, weekends, and business hours on days other than Thursday afternoons, the latter especially coming into play when working on projects that include engagement with the community during daytime business hours. When setting meeting times and dividing team tasks, student teams attempt to minimize conflicts with the work/outside commitment schedules of individual team members. However, students should be aware that occasional additional work hour flexibility will likely be necessary during periods of student team project completion.


Multi-semester Curricular Components

The curriculum incorporates these multi-semester elements: the public health profession team practice and the culminating experience, More information about each of these curricular components in provided below.


Public Health Profession Team Practice


The SF State MPH program includes a rigorous public health profession team practice experience. The two semester, 9-unit, three course (H ED 820/821/822) public health profession team practice experience aims to provide students with:

  1. a firm understanding of how to plan, conduct and present community health assessments, and
  2. training in professional public health practice skills.

The team practice involves collaboration with community partners to develop and conduct a community health assessment. Students work in small teams on various tasks and activities, including literature review, data collection, analysis and reporting, over the two semester (spring and summer of the first year) of the class community assessment project. The entire class, in collaboration with the instructor and community partners, develops all aspects of the assessment and implements the selected assessment methods. The class then analyzes the collected and develops findings and recommendations. These practice courses culminate in the development of an assessment report; a user friendly community brief; and a formal presentation of assessment findings and recommendations to key stakeholders. The public health profession team practice is an opportunity for students to put into practice the concepts and theory of an ecological approach to health.


Recent Class Community Assessment Projects

During 2012, 2013, and 2014 the MPH cohorts conducted community assessments focused on issues of public housing and health in San Francisco. The assessments were in collaboration with HOPE SF, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the Health Equity Institute at SF State, and the SF State Department of Health Education. The resulting products of these collaborations can be viewed in the following PDFs:


2012 MPH Community Assessment Project: Peer Health Strategies in HOPE SF Communities

Peer Health Strategies in HOPE SF Communities Final Report

Peer Health Strategies in HOPE SF Communities Community Brief

Peer Health Strategies in HOPE SF Communities Final Presentation


2013 MPH Community Assessment Project: Mental Health of Children and Their Families Living in HOPE SF Communities

Mental Health of Children & Their Families Living in HOPE SF Communities Final Report

Mental Health of Children & Their Families Living in HOPE SF Communities Community Brief

Mental Health of Children & Their Families Living in HOPE SF Communities Final Presentation


2014 MPH Community Assessment Project: The Health and Well-Being of Youth Living in HOPE SF Communities

The Health and Well-Being of Youth Living in HOPE SF Communities Final Report

The Health and Well-Being of Youth Living in HOPE SF Communities Community Brief

Future class assessments will continue to focus on critical public health equity issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.


What Students say about the Team Practice Experience:

  • The team practice is a wonderful opportunity to learn a skill-set in real time.
  • I love being in the field, working with people, and working in groups.
  • I have been able to work with a community that I haven't had the opportunity to work with before.
  • The team practice is professional development, It is so hands on, and builds critical practical skills that you know you will use once you leave the university setting.


Culminating Experience

The culminating experience provides students the opportunity to integrate, synthesize, and demonstrate mastery of the MPH competencies acquired in the program. With the guidance of the instructors of the culminating experience courses, H ED 890 Master of Public Health Culminating Experience Seminar and H ED 811 Community Health Education Skills ePortfolio, the students complete three culminating experience products: a professional brief, an oral presentation, and an electronic portfolio.


H ED 890 Master of Public Health Culminating Experience Seminar

The MPH culminating experience seminar integrates learning into two final products that, along with the electronic portfolio, highlight the knowledge and skills acquired during the MPH program. These products include a professional brief and a formal oral presentation. Through a review of the professional literature, written assignments, readings, peer critiques, and in person and online critical discussions, students develop these products that showcase MPH competency mastery, as well as their unique interests and passion for the field of public health.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate application and integration of MPH core competencies into two final products (professional brief and presentation) appropriate for use in the field;
  • Examine critical issues in the field of public health;
  • Demonstrate skills in graduate level writing competencies;
  • Practice formal presentation skills.


H ED 811 Community Health Education Skills ePortfolio

The MPH Program requires students to collect, select, reflect and publish their MPH work within an electronic portfolio (ePortfolio). The MPH pioneered the use of ePortfolios at San Francisco State, which now has a more extensive Electronic Portfolio Project. Portfolios are used for assessment, development, and presentational purposes.

MPH student ePortfolios demonstrate master level competence in community health education through evidence (signature assignments, presentations, multimedia work, hyperlinks to community-based activities etc.) collected from the MPH coursework. Students are introduced to their electronic portfolios in the first year of the MPH program, and assisted in the development of their portfolios throughout the duration of the program. The ePortfolio also serves to showcase student application of the MPH competencies in public health practice.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the responsibilities and competencies required for a master's level health education professional, and;
  2. Archive and share direct evidence of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation within the MPH program.

Examples of the ePortfolios of graduating MPH students can be found in the ePortfolio Gallery and in the PDF of the 2013 SF State MPH ePortfolios.


Please see Graduate Admissions for application procedures to the Master of Public Health Program.