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 Department uses varied interdisciplinary scientific and technological approaches and a justice framework to understand factors undermining health and wellbeing to shift policy and practice. Informed by a combined focus on the impact of law and global governance on public health, complex health systems analysis, and insights from implementation science, the Department seeks to address public health threats in low-income, unstable, and inequitable environments locally and around the globe. As such, the Department trains public health leaders using an action-based curriculum designed to foster both local and global partnerships. 

Work Experience

Strong applicants to the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health have demonstrated a commitment to action through professional work experience, part-time internships and research positions, community service, and leadership roles. The departmental application review process emphasizes public health work experience, with a preference for one year of full-time experience or the equivalent through part-time jobs and internships. Students with prior public health work experience are able to leverage and build on this experience in their coursework as well as other program requirements or opportunities.  

Degree Opportunities

In the Heilbrunn Department, the MPH degree is offered in four formats, the Columbia MPH (full-time), the Accelerated MPH (one-year), the Dual Degree program, and the 4+1 program. All programs require coursework, Applied Practice Exprience, and an Integrative Learning Experience paper. 

  • MPH Program (52 credit minimum): In addition to the Core, and departmental requirements, 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 credit 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 has several years of work experience. Students in the accelerated program are not eligible for a certificate. 
  • Dual Degree Programs (42 credit minimum): The Columbia Mailman offers dual master’s degrees with many 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. Students in the dual degree program are not eligible for a certificate.
  • 4+1 Programs (42 credit minimum): Columbia Mailman offers 4+1 programs in which a student earns a Bachelor’s degree from their undergraduate college then continues on to an accelerated Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Columbia Public Health. Students in the 4+1 program are not eligible for a certificate. 


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: