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Sunday August 14th

The School of Public Health is making it easier for you to get your degree online

<p>Todd Nicolet is the Vice Dean of the Gillings School of Global Public Health. &nbsp;Photo courtesy of Nicolet.</p>
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Todd Nicolet is the Vice Dean of the Gillings School of Global Public Health.  Photo courtesy of Nicolet.

Starting fall 2018, students can earn a master’s degree in public health online with a concentration in public health leadership through the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The Master's of Public Health (MPH) has been available online for many years, but the School of Global Public Health is working to expand the program and make it accessible to more students. Currently, separate degree programs are being consolidated into one MPH degree with multiple concentrations.

The new online core curriculum includes five courses, ranging from Data Analysis for Public Health to Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions. The core creates a foundation for the different concentrations.

“The MPH core is required for every MPH, and we are completely redeveloping so it is interdisciplinary and interconnected,” Todd Nicolet, vice dean of the Gillings School of Public Health, said. “(The pieces of the core) are being developed in relation to each other.”

The Leadership in Practice concentration is the newest concentration in the online MPH program, but is already offered as a program within the school. According to the information page, students in the program will learn leadership skills that they can apply in a local and global public health context.

“The program is new for us, but online teaching is not,” said Anna Schenck, director of the Public Health Leadership Program. “In public health leadership, we have had an online presence for years.”

On-campus, the Leadership Program at the school has had more than 1,400 students graduate. 

Nicolet said the coursework and admissions process is just as rigorous online as it is for residential students. Like many classes at UNC, the online MPH program uses the philosophy of a flipped classroom, where students learn materials at home and conceptualize them in class. They can also work with other students and faculty in weekly live sessions on an online campus.

“(Online school) is not what most people would imagine,” Schenck said.  “It’s the same course residential students would take. Lectures are recorded and taken online, and they can listen at their own time.”

The school began promoting the expanded online program recently.

“The initial response has been really strong,” Nicolet said.  “A lot of people are really interested from in state and outside the state, too.”

The program appeals to students who have to juggle other responsibilities, as they can be part-time online. Currently, Nicolet estimates there are 60 total students enrolled in the online MPH program.

Nicolet said the School of Global Public Health, which was ranked first in the 2015 U.S. News and World Report among public health programs at public universities, is dedicated to creating a high-quality learning experience for its online students.  

“It’s not only being more convenient for students,” Nicolet said. “We want to build on it and make sure it is the same experience but just done in a way that is more flexible.”


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