MPH Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

MPH FAQs

Q1. Is the UAA MPH program accredited?
Q2. Why is your degree called "MPH in Public Health Practice"?
Q3. What is the job market like for recent graduates with a MPH degree?
Q4. Are there advantages to enrolling at UAA vs. the Lower-48?
Q5. Do I get any credit for a master's or doctoral degree in another field?
Q6. What is a "Professional Program Fee?"
Q7. What do you mean by "substantial professional writing sample"?
Q8. I never took an undergraduate statistics course, or took one years ago...Now what?
Q9. Can I start taking required courses now and transfer them later?
Q10. How long will it take to get the MPH degree?
Q11. When will core courses be offered?
Q12. Will all courses be available by distance delivery?
Q13. Are any entrance exams required for admission to the MPH program?
Q14. What are the requirements for practicum experience and how do they relate to my thesis project?
Q15. How is the new HS 698 Project Practicum different (and the same) as the HS 699 Thesis Practicum?

Q1. Is the UAA MPH program accredited?

A1. Yes. The UAA MPH program was granted initial accreditation in October 2009 by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), a specialized ceph new logoaccrediting body for public health programs and schools nationwide. The UAA graduate program (MPH) accreditation is active through December 31, 2014. If you would like to request a copy of the final self-study and accreditation report, please contact MPH Coordinator Dr. Rhonda Johnson.

Q2. Why is your degree called "Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice"?

A2. Informally, we usually refer to the degree simply as the "Master of Public Health," and to our program as the "MPH" program. However, like a number of other Master of Public Health programs across the nation, the formal name of the degree is the "Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice." This name emphasizes the fact that this degree has a practical as well as a theoretical orientation, and that the degree addresses the needs of public health professionals engaged in the real work of public health.

Q3. What is the job market like for recent graduates with a Master of Public Health Degree?

A3. This question comes up quite often, but it is a bit difficult to answer because of the extremely varied range of positions that MPH degree holders occupy. For example, Johns Hopkins reports that recent graduates have taken positions as:

  • Risk Assessor for the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Medical Coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres
  • Director of Health Education for a local health department
  • Epidemiologist for the National Institutes of Health
  • Faculty at several universities

To get a more comprehensive feel for positions requiring MPH degrees, search the Monster.com website for "MPH" and "Master of Public Health." Here in Alaska, take a look at job announcements at sites such as Workplace Alaska, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Southcentral Foundation or What is Public Health.

Q4. Are there any advantages for me to enroll in the UAA MPH program vs. a distance delivered one from the Lower-48?

A4. Yes! For starters, we may be less expensive than many other programs in the Lower-48. In addition, if you are an Alaska resident in our program, there are no out-of-state travel or living expenses, and you can continue to live and work in Alaska while you earn your MPH degree. Another very important benefit of our MPH degree is that the faculty are Alaskans. In contrast to MPH programs in the Lower-48, most of our instructors live in Alaska, work in Alaska, and know the public health issues of the far north. Our MPH program is relevant to your personal experience and your public health work.

Q5. I already have a master's or doctoral degree in another field. Do I get any kind of credit for this in the MPH program?

A5. Courses you took for a prior master's or doctoral degree may meet the requirements for some of the courses you would otherwise be required to take in the MPH program. Depending upon the types of courses required for your initial masters or doctoral degree, you may be required to take as few as 21 additional credits in order to earn the MPH degree. Once you are accepted to the MPH program, we can do a full analysis to determine how many courses from the first master's degree will meet the requirements of the second. Here is what the UAA Course Catalogue says about this:

Students who have received a master 's degree from a regionally accredited college or university may earn another master 's degree by completing at least 21 resident credits beyond the previous master's degree. The student must meet all the Graduate General University Requirements, University Requirements for Graduate Degrees, School or College Requirements, and Program Requirements; fulfilling all university, college, and program requirements may require more than the minimum of 21 credits beyond the previous master 's degree.

Note that while the above quote only mentions "a master's degree," the Provost has interpreted the intent of this quote to include doctoral-level degrees as well.

Q6. What is a "Professional Program Fee?"

A6. Several graduate programs at UAA charge Professional Program Fees as authorized by the Board of Regents when new graduate programs are approved. Graduate programs are considerably more expensive to maintain than undergraduate programs, and these fees help defer the additional costs. A Professional Program Fee is required for many of the courses taken as part of the MPH program. The Fee is a sum equal to 50% of tuition (e.g., 2014/15 graduate resident tuition per credit = $403 + 50% Program Fee of ~$202 = ~$605 per credit hour). The fee is charged upon enrollment in relevant courses, independently of whether or not the student has been accepted into the MPH program. Note that, even with the Professional Program Fee, our distance delivered MPH program costs the same or less per credit compared with most other distance delivered MPH programs in the United States.

Note that periodically the schedule of courses and/or fees may be adjusted or expanded. However, at this time Professional Program Fees are charged to all students who enroll in the following courses or sections:

  • HS A605 Public Health and Society
  • HS A610 Environmental and Occupational Health
  • HS A615 Health Services Administration
  • HS A624 Circumpolar Health Issues
  • HS A625 Biostatistics for Health Professionals
  • HS A626 Principles of Epidemiology
  • HS A628 Program Evaluation
  • HS A629 Public Health Research Tools and Methods
  • HS A630 Public Health Emergencies and Disasters
  • HS A690 Selected Topics in Public Health
  • HS 697 Independent Study
  • HS 698 Project Practicum
  • HS A699 Thesis Practicum

In addition, the fee applies to other HS courses when offered by MPH faculty, and/or when offered to support the MPH program.

Q7. What do you mean by "substantial professional writing sample"?

A7. The purpose of the writing sample is to enable us to assess the level of your writing, organization, and communication skills, and perhaps give us insight regarding your views about public health. This is important in this program because, as a primarily distance delivered program, it is writing intensive. What have you written that might help us with our assessment? For example, have you written a peer reviewed publication, a substantial term paper, or a professional report? Note: Please do not send confidential or sensitive documents. If you do not have an appropriate writing sample, please send an expanded essay about your understanding of public health, how obtaining this degree will benefit you, how this degree corresponds with your goals, etc.

Q8. I never took an undergraduate statistics course, (or...) I took one years ago, (or...) I took an undergraduate statistics course, but I got a poor grade. Now what?

A8. One of the admission requirements for the MPH program includes
"documentation indicating a grade of 2.00 ("C" or higher) in an introductory statistics course which covers descriptive and inferential statistics." If you never took such as course, or you did but you did not do well, we advise you to sign up and take one. The following introductory statistics courses offered at UAA are particularly appropriate: AS A252, PSY A260, or SWK A324. UAF also offers an online statistics course, PSY F250. For more information about this course, call 1-800-277-8060, M-F, between 8-5 PM. A working knowledge of basic statistical methods is an important expectation of public health practice and our curriculum reflects this fact.

Note that you may apply for admission into the MPH program on a conditional basis while you finish the undergraduate course.

Q9. Can I start taking the required courses now, and transfer those credits into the program if I am accepted at a later time?

A9. According to the 2012-2013 UAA Catalogue, "Up to 9 semester credits not previously used to obtain any other degree or certificate may be transferred to UAA from a regionally accredited institution and accepted toward a graduate degree or certificate…Acceptance of transfer credits toward program requirements is at the discretion of the individual program." If you intend to exercise this option, you are strongly advised to have a chat with the MPH program academic advisors before taking any courses.

Q10. How long will it take to get the MPH degree?

A10. If you take a full load (9 or more graduate credits per semester) and average 20 credits per year, you can graduate in about two years. If you are a working professional, you are strongly advised to take one class at a time--about three or four classes per year including summers. At this rate, you can graduate in three-and-one-half to four years.

Q11. When will core courses be offered?

A11.Course schedules are always tentative, reflecting shifting demand and faculty availability. See course schedule.

Q12. Will all courses be available by distance delivery?

A12. All core courses are offered via the Internet using the Blackboard Course Management System. There is, however, one required face-to-face meeting in Anchorage each year so that all MPH students have an opportunity to meet each other and the faculty in person and participate in important program activities and updates. While the details may vary year-to-year, this meeting will likely be in conjunction with the annual Health Summit in December or January and may last several days. Details will be provided to students well in advance of the event. Students must also present highlights from their culminating practicum experience in person in Anchorage near the completion of their studies.

Q13. Are any entrance exams, such as the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) or the Miller's Analogy Test (MAT), required for admission to the MPH program?

A13. No.

Q14. What are the requirements for the practicum experience and how do they relate to my final thesis or project?

A14. Requirements for the practicum component of our culminating experience are always under review as a result of our CEPH self-study process. The UAA MPH program combines the practicum and culminating experiences into one final course: HS 698 Project Practicum or HS 699 Thesis Practicum. This 5 credit experience requires application of course content and demonstration of competencies gained through the development, implementation, and defense of an individualized project that builds on both Emphasis and core courses and is approved by a committee that includes both academic faculty and at least one community practitioner or professional. The combined project or thesis practicum will thus reflect at least 225 hours of work, and in our experience takes at least two full semesters to complete (once an approved proposal, including IRB approval, is in place).

CEPH guidelines require that all students have a planned, mentored, and evaluated practice experience as part of their professional degree program. In our program, we depend on the community-based practitioner/professional who serves on the practicum committee to play a key role in this mentorship and evaluation. Note that it is the community member of the Practicum Committee that completes the Preceptor evaluation form (while all committee members come to consensus about the letter grade that will be assigned after completion of the project).

Per CEPH guidance, we anticipate that our MPH program will increase focus on the Ten Essential Services of public health in the practicum experience this coming year (in addition to our own MPH program competencies that are already reflected on the Preceptor Evaluation), so it is probably wise to review the Ten Essential Services and plan to cover as many as are relevant in all Practicum proposals.

After successful oral defense, students are also expected to complete a brief reflective paper on the overall Practicum experience. It should focus not only on the overall project, but also on the MPH competencies, and how the Practicum reflects and/or addresses at least one of the Ten Essential Services. Please be sure to consult with your Committee Chair about these expectations so you can plan accordingly.

Visit the APHA web site for a brief description of the Ten Essential Services.

Q15. How is the new HS 698 Project Practicum different (and the same) as the HS 699 Thesis Practicum?

A15.

  • As discussed at the January 2012 MPH Symposium, the Project Practicum and Thesis Practicum will be equally demanding, and both still require an independent proposal, at least one community partner, committee approval, a written paper and an oral defense.
  • Students completing the HS 698 Project Practicum will need to adhere to all university guidelines for graduate projects, including college and departmental policies regarding review and approval. In general, there is more flexibility in format for the Project option. The primary audience for the products of the project are the community partner/agency, and the primary goal is to meet an identified public health need. The review process includes the Committee, Department Chair and Dean.
  • Students choosing the HS 699 Thesis Practicum option will need to adhere to all university requirements for theses, including format guidelines and graduate school policies regarding review and approval. Please see the UAA Graduate School web site for more guidance about important thesis expectations and deadlines. The primary audience for the products of the thesis are the scientific community and the primary goal is to contribute to generalizable knowledge. The review process includes the Committee, Department Chair, Dean and Graduate School.

The written document and oral presentation are  outcomes of the Thesis or Project  Practicum. The public health practice-oriented practicum should reflect application not only of the content of the MPH core courses, but also the advisor-approved electives. In this way, the practicum becomes a way to demonstrate mastery, and transition to professional public health practice.