MPH: Population and Family Health

Students in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health get a robust academic experience that combines theoretical understanding of the complex factors that affect local and global health with skills-based training that prepares them to hit the ground running in roles as researchers, practitioners, policy advocates, evaluators and—often—future leaders in their field. 

The Heilbrunn Department shifts global health policy and practice to improve health systems and health outcomes for populations in low-income, unstable, or inequitable environments worldwide.

The Department uses varied interdisciplinary scientific and technological approaches and a justice framework to understand factors undermining health and wellbeing to shift policy and practice. Combining knowledge of the impact of law and global governance on public health at the local level, with complex health systems analysis and implementation science, the Department seeks to prevent or address public health threats in low-income, unstable, and inequitable environments globally. The Department emphasizes sexual and reproductive health, wellbeing of migrant populations, the health of children facing adversity, environmental justice, and human rights and trains public health leaders using an action-based curriculum designed to foster global partnerships.


The Heilbrunn Department offers 5 certificates. Students have the opportunity to choose one certificate to receive training in a second, more focused area of expertise beyond the primary discipline.

Certificate programs offered in the Department:

Additional certificates, which are officially compatible with the Department:

Work Experience

The Heilbrunn Department feels that students with prior work experience contribute most strongly to course and program dialogue and lead to creative research and problem solving.  Thus, applicants with at least one year of full-time, public health-related work experience are preferred. Those with less work experience but otherwise exceptional applications may be offered admission.

Degree Opportunities

In the Heilbrunn Department, the MPH degree is offered in three formats, the Columbia MPH (full-time), the Accelerated MPH (one-year), and the Dual Degree program. All programs require coursework, practicum, and a capstone paper.

MPH Program (52 credits minimum) The balance of the credits (52 minimum) for the MPH degree consists of certificate-specific courses and electives. Every student in the two-year Columbia MPH program enrolls in a certificate program that provides training in a focused area of expertise and leads to a Columbia University- and CEPH-approved credential.

Accelerated Program (42 credits minimum) The Accelerated MPH is an intensive, one-year program designed for highly motivated professionals seeking to enhance their career with a degree in public health. The curriculum is similar to the innovative curriculum of the two‐year Columbia MPH but completed in three semesters (fall, spring, summer). The profile of a typical Accelerated MPH student is an individual who has earned a doctoral degree, an MD student mid-way through their study, or an individual who as has several years of work experience. Students in the accelerated program are not eligible for a certificate. 

Dual Degree Programs (42 credits minimum) The Mailman School offers dual master’s degrees with 10 schools across the university through our MPH program. Applicants seeking admission to dual degree studies must apply separately to each of the two collaborating schools and must meet the admissions requirements of each. Once both schools grant admission to their individual degree programs, the student may begin an integrated dual degree program.

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