The MPH degree program trains students in the fundamentals of public health genetics within the context of law, ethics, and policy. The degree requirements include course work in epidemiology, biostatistics, health services, environmental health, law, ethics, and sociocultural aspects of public health genetics; a practice experience (practicum); and completion of a research-based Master's thesis. The program is designed to be completed in approximately two years.

Prospective students are expected to have an excellent academic record with a bachelor's degree and a background in human genetics or molecular biology. For information about admissions and financial aid, see Prospective Students.

Learning Objectives for the MPH Program in Public Health Genetics

The MPH degree provides broad interdisciplinary training in public health genetics and prepares graduates for careers in public health practice, governmental agencies, academic institutions, health care delivery systems and the private sector. The core curriculum develops competencies in genetic epidemiology, pharmacogenetics, and toxicogenomics, within the broader context of law, ethics, culture, and policy. The degree requires coursework in epidemiology, biostatistics, genetic epidemiology, health services, environmental health, law, and bioethics. Successful completion of the MPH requires a practicum, and a research-based master's thesis.

Upon satisfactory completion of the MPH in Public Health Genetics, graduates will be able to:

  • Meet the generic SPH learning objectives for the MPH degree (see Criterion 2.6.a) as detailed in the SPH Competencies for All Degrees section of the SPH website;
  • Meet the Core-Specific Learning Objectives for all MPH students (see Criterion 2.6.a) as detailed in the SPH Competencies for All Degrees section of the SPH website;

Competency in "Genomics in Public Health" (Core Knowledge Area A):

  • Apply knowledge of inheritance and genomic advances, including cellular and molecular mechanisms and technical developments, to understanding the etiology of a variety of rare and common, complex diseases and health conditions;
  • Apply epidemiological and statistical approaches to the study of risk factors and diseases with a genetic component;
  • Identify interactions among genes, environmental factors, and behaviors, and their roles in health and disease;
  • Describe how genetic principles and genomic technologies apply to diagnosis, screening, and interventions for disease prevention and health promotion programs;

Competency in "Implications of Genetics for Society" (Core Knowledge Area B):

  • Identify the impact of genomics on the public health activities of assessment, policy development and assurance;
  • Apply methods to address ethical implications of the use of genetic information and technologies in public health;
  • Describe legal concepts and the role of the law in the development of policies relating to genetics and genomics; and identify legal implications of the application of genetics and genomic technologies in public health;
  • Apply knowledge of key social science concepts in analysis of the political, social and cultural forces that influence the research and clinical application of genetics and genomic technology in public health;
  • Analyze the interaction and impact of market forces and public policy on the development and delivery of genetic services.


The MPH degree requires a minimum of 63 credits. Note, however, that most students take more than this total because they take electives, independent study, and/or thesis credits beyond the required minimum.

Students may choose the Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) grading option for approved elective courses, but not for required courses.

Required coursework
52 credits must be earned by completing:

  • 17 credits of graded MPH core courses
  • 15 credits of graded PHG core courses
  • 13 credits of Approved Electives
  • 6 credits of PHG Seminar (PHG 580)
  • 3 credits of Master's Practicum (PHG 595)
  • 9 credits (minimum) of Master's Thesis (PHG 700)

Elective courses
The approved elective credits may combine:

  • Approved elective courses
  • Independent study (PHG 600)
  • Master's Thesis (PHG 700) above the 9-credit requirement

For a partial list of available electives, see MPH Elective Courses.This list represents a sample of what is available. There are many other courses that will meet the elective requirement and are not on this list. If you are not sure whether or not a course meets the elective requirement, contact the offices of the IPHG for confirmation.

Course Prerequisites

Course prerequisites are described in the Required Courses list. Incoming students should have a fundamental knowledge of human genetics or molecular biology. Those who do not are required to complete the equivalent of GENOME 371 and GENOME 372 either before entering the program or during their first year of study in the MPH program.

Schedule of Coursework for MPH Students

A typical course of study leading to the MPH in Public Health Genetics takes two years (six quarters), although many students complete their thesis during a seventh quarter (usually Summer Quarter after the second year). Actual student schedules can vary, however, depending on a number of personal and academic factors.