Master of Public Health Graduate Program

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 days/evenings per week. Our applied curriculum emphasizes collaborative learning, teamwork, leadership, writing, and presentation skills and features a supervised team practice experience, intensive culminating experience, and the development of professional products appropriate for use in the field. For additional information, please refer to our program informational flier.


Competencies and Responsibilities

The national competencies for public health professional preparation programs published by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) guide our SF State MPH program. Additionally, because our public health degree is specific to community health education, we also ground in the responsibilities, competencies and sub-competencies developed jointly by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), the American Association for 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.


Coursework Scheduling

To accommodate working professionals, the SF State MPH class meetings are concentrated as much as possible into two days per week.

 Principal day. Thursdays, from 9:00 am through the evening during each semester of enrollment in the program. Consequently, for all semesters of program enrollment, students must negotiate release time from their employment on Thursdays.

Note: Thursday morning program time is reserved for activities such as professional development and writing workshops, guest speakers, faculty advisor/mentor meetings, graduate student organization participation, cross-cohort events, and small team project work. Some Thursday mornings might not have scheduled activities, but students must keep their Thursday morning schedules clear for the duration of the MPH program to accommodate the periodic required program activities scheduled during the Thursday morning time period.


Class days other than the principal day. As much as possible, the program concentrates coursework onto Thursdays and a second day. 

  • During only the first semester in the program, the second coursework day will be Monday or Tuesday with a start time of 2 pm and end time of 7 pm.
  • For the remaining semesters of the program, the second coursework day will be a Monday or Tuesday evening, consisting of a three hour class period, usually with a 6 pm start time.
  • The day/time of the elective course will depend on the particular elective course selected by the student.


Scheduling of group project work time. SF State MPH students frequently team with classmates on small group projects. Thursday mornings are a prime time for small group project meetings and activities. To complete the required team tasks, student teams sometimes also meet at other mutually agreeable times, which might include evenings, weekends, and business hours on days other than Thursdays, 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.


Team Practice and Culminating Experience Curricular Components

The curriculum incorporates a two-semester supervised public health profession team practice and an intensive culminating experience. More information about each of these curricular components is provided below.

Public Health Profession Team Practice


The SF State MPH program includes a rigorous, faculty-supervised 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

  • a firm understanding of how to plan, conduct and present community health assessments, and
  • 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 semesters (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 data 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 theory and concepts of an ecological approach to health.


Recent Class Community Assessment Projects

During 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 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

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


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

H ED 890 Master of Public Health Culminating Experience Seminar

The MPH culminating experience seminar provides students the opportunity to integrate, synthesize, apply, and demonstrate mastery of the MPH competencies acquired in the program. Through a review of the professional literature, class readings and assignments, critical discussion, and instructor, advisor, and peer feedback, students develop professional products that showcase MPH competency mastery, as well as their unique interests and passions within the field of public health.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Examine critical issues in the field of public health
  • Demonstrate application and integration of MPH core competencies through the development of professional products appropriate for use in the field
  • Demonstrate skills in graduate level writing competencies
  • Practice formal presentation skills

"I want to learn the skills to help improve the health of my community."

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