Columbia Master of Public Health (MPH)
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
New York, USA
USD 43,476 / per year *
Earliest start date
* anticipated 3% increase for flat rate and per point tuition for 2023-2024 academic year. Additional fees may apply
Interdisciplinary. Integrated. Collaborative.
The innovative structure of the two-year Columbia Master of Public Health (MPH) program integrates seven components to ensure that learning in one part of the program informs activities and assignments in another.
Applicants for the Columbia MPH must select a department. While most candidates require two years to fulfill their requirements, a one-year Accelerated MPH program is available to select candidates.
The Core curriculum, taken by all incoming students in their first semester, consists of six broad areas of study known as “studios.” These studios, which are broken down into 16 modules, build on each other to provide a broad, interlocking foundation of knowledge essential for a career in public health.
Your cohort will move together through the Core during your first semester, and faculty will help you make connections across the studios by exploring questions like What factors underlie the patterns of disease and premature death in the United States and around the world? What role do environmental factors play? What accounts for health disparities within nations and around the world? And what values come into play in designing interventions to prevent illness and systems to promote health?
The six studios that comprise the Core:
- Foundations of Public Health examines public health history, ethics, and health and human rights and serves as a stepping stone for understanding patterns of health disparities and domestic and international policy.
Modules: Ethics of Public Health, History of Public Health, Human Rights.
- Research Methods and Applications provides an introduction to scientific inquiry and evidence, their relationships to public policy, and an integrated approach to the disciplines of biostatistics and epidemiology. Students gain an introduction to measurement, inference, and the language and tools of science, views on the differences between scientific and other types of inquiry and knowledge, classical models of how science and evidence can inform policy, and sources of tension at the science-policy interface.
Modules: Qualitative Foundations, Quantitative Foundations.
- Determinants of Health examines the fundamental biological concepts and environmental factors that impact health status.
Modules: Biological Basis of Public Health, Environmental Determinants of Human Health, Social Determinants of Health.
- Public Health Interventions introduces students to the key drivers of population health that arise from features of the social environment. The SBSA multi-disciplinary approach is situated at the intersection of the social and behavioral sciences and exposes students to major theories of both disease etiology and intervention. The studio focuses on multiple crosscutting themes and introduces frameworks to address the complexity inherent in complex public health problems.
Modules: Applying Theory to Interventions, Program Planning and Evaluation, Systems Thinking.
- Global and Developmental Perspectives consolidates and extends students’ analysis of the field of public health through the exploration of global and developmental perspectives on challenges and strategies to address them.
Modules: Globalization and Global Health, Life Course.
- Health Systems delves into the workings of the United States healthcare system, comparing and contrasting it to those of other nations. This studio includes modules on health economics and healthcare systems throughout the world.
Modules: Comparative Healthcare Systems, Health Economics, United States Public Health and Healthcare Systems.
During the first semester of the Columbia MPH, while engaging in the integrated core, students are strongly advised against extra-curricular work commitments. In the second, third, and fourth semesters of the program, schedules are more flexible, and students may engage in some part-time work.
The practicum—essentially an internship in the field—is both a required component and a highlight of the MPH experience. You will work alongside public health professionals, experience the day-to-day realities of the field, and apply what you’ve learned in class to advance the cause of public health.
You will be supported before, during, and after your practicum. Introductory workshops orient you to fieldwork and prepare you for professional practice. In collaboration with a faculty advisor, you will select a site, project, and plan for your practicum experience. Faculty at the Mailman School has well-established relationships with government agencies and healthcare institutions in New York City and around the globe—offering you many options for completing your practicum. Once deployed in the field, you will receive support as needed from your onsite supervisor and departmental advisor. Upon completion of the practicum, you will formally present your work at departmental or school-wide events. Many students use the data from their practicum experience as a component of their Master’s thesis or capstone paper.
Even though public health is a field of collaboration and teamwork, formal coursework in teamwork and leadership skills was not always a required element of public health education. Recognizing these as essential competencies, the new curriculum incorporates a leadership and innovation program unique among schools of public health into the second semester of the MPH.
This course aims to develop and improve abilities in three key areas: leading teams in a variety of settings, working effectively as a team member, and implementing fresh, innovative ideas within an organization or larger community.
Leadership education is experiential and participatory. Working in small teams, students engage in role-play, simulations, group work, and case analysis, sometimes using video and online tools, and receive systematic feedback from faculty and students that mirrors the 360° assessments that students will encounter in the workplace.
Along the way, students learn team management, negotiation, effective communication, and conflict resolution strategies. Hands-on workshops and lectures by invited public health leaders provide opportunities to collaborate with working professionals in hospitals, research centers, public health organizations, and NGOs—wherever the career path may lead.
Integration of Science and Practice
Integration of Science and Practice (ISP)—small group sessions that are an integral component of the MPH curriculum—bridge the gap between traditional classroom education and the real-world experience of working as a public health professional.
The curriculum consists largely of case studies drawn from recent history and current events, providing opportunities for students to apply facts and information to solve complex problems and gain important professional skills like negotiation, persuasion, team thinking, public speaking, and critical judgment in the process.
Small interdisciplinary teams analyze cases under the guidance of a faculty member and teaching assistant. Over the course of three semesters, students build relationships with their ISP professor, teaching assistant, and other teammates as they grapple with challenges and dilemmas that have challenged practicing public health professionals.
Through these cases, students confront the tough questions of public health: What happens when programs intended to improve the health of a community conflict with local values and traditions? Where does state control end and individual liberty begin? In a world of ever-evolving scientific knowledge, when do we have adequate evidence to recommend policies that keep people safe?
Assignments come in the form of collaborative labs that hone problem-solving skills and the ability to apply public health theory to professional practice. Students may be asked to write a policy brief, identify what evidence is missing or necessary to make a decision, plan a media briefing, find citations in the scientific literature relevant to a case study, or identify the key aspects of an effective health intervention program.
Upon completion of the first-semester Core Curriculum, you are able to:
Evidence-Based Approaches to Public Health
- Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice
- Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming , and software as appropriate
- Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy, or practice
Public Health & Health Care Systems
- Compare the organization, structure, and function of health care, public health, and regulatory systems across national and international settings
- Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels
Planning & Management to Promote Health
- Assess population needs, assets, and capacities that affect communities’ health
- Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs
- Design a population-based policy, program, project, or intervention
- Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management
- Select methods to evaluate public health programs
Policy in Public Health
- Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence
- Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes
- Advocate for political, social, or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations
- Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity
- Apply principles of leadership, governance, and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration and guiding decision making
- Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges
- Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors
- Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation
- Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content
- Perform effectively on interprofessional teams
- Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue
Scholarships and Funding
The Financial Aid Office is dedicated to identifying the best sources of financial support for Mailman School students. Financial aid packages can include a combination of institutional funds, loans, and student employment opportunities.
Awards are based on the expected student contribution and the standard student budget, which is created each academic year to account for variable costs. Students should evaluate the standard budget when planning for the upcoming academic year.
When calculating the student budget, special accommodations may be made for students with additional expenses like child care or a computer purchase. Students should set up a meeting with a Financial Aid Officer to discuss this. Note: It is very uncommon for financial aid to make accommodations for anything other than rent expenses, a one-time purchase of a computer, or child care.
Develop a Budget
There are five steps involved in developing your in-school budget:
- Identify your financial goals (i.e., what you need vs. what you want)
- Calculate your non-loan financial resources (i.e., grants, jobs)
- Estimate your education expenses (i.e., tuition/fees, books, supplies, etc.)
- Estimate your living expenses (renting vs. housing)
- Do the math. A deficit, if any, represents the amount you may need to borrow.
For any related questions or information on waiving your health insurance fee, please contact Student Health Services.
It is important that you build up some form of liquid savings that can be used prior to arriving on campus. This will help you cover initial costs such as the first month's rent, security deposits, moving expenses, etc., while waiting for your financial aid to deposit into your student account.
All students who enroll in a degree program must arrive in New York City with at least one month of living expenses (preferably two), as the federal loan disbursement process does not take place until two weeks into the start of every semester.
The Mailman School offers students and families a single, simple approach to meeting the cost of attendance. The plan is a combination of federal, institutional, and private sources of funds that provide options for part-time, full-time, and international students and families.
The following types of assistance may be available to students:
Columbia University students have a wide range of financial assistance options from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. The rates for both the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan for 2020-2021 are 4.30% and 5.30%, respectively. The Department of Education determines new annual rates after July 1st of the new fiscal year. To learn more about obtaining a loan, including a detailed description of each of these funding sources, please see the University's overview on Graduate Financial Aid.
Students applying for the Graduate Plus Loan should log in to complete the required forms and manage their accounts.
Scholarships, Fellowships, and Grants
Scholarships, fellowships, and grants are awarded based on need or merit. Amounts and availability vary by school.
Student Employment Opportunities
Mailman School students can access school-related employment through one or more of the following:
- Work-Study: Students certified by the Financial Aid Office as eligible for federally funded work-study can choose from a variety of part-time employment positions. Jobs are available in many offices throughout the University. Learn more.
- Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA): Departments offer these positions in which students gain valuable experience working part-time on faculty-run research projects and receive a stipend and/or tuition assistance on a limited basis. These positions are not available to first year Master's students.
- Teaching Assistantship (TA): Some departments have limited teaching assistantship positions available to students with substantial preparation in their area of study. TAs provide part-time assistance to faculty members in instruction, grading, and course administration and receive a stipend and/or tuition assistance. These positions are specifically offered to Doctoral students and second-year Master's students.
Institutional and Supplemental Aid
Note: Almost every state has at least one grant or scholarship available to residents, and many have a long list of student aid programs. Eligibility is usually restricted to state residents attending a college in-state.
Funding options are available for international students.
English Language Requirements
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Program Admission Requirements
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