Core Curriculum

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 HealthLife Course.

  6. 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.

The Mailman School's core curriculum meets the Association of Schools of Public Health requirement that all MPH graduates receive training in the foundations of public health.

Work Commitments

During the first semester of the Columbia MPH and the Accelerated MPH, while engaging in the integrated core, students are strongly advised against extra-curricular work commitments. In second, third, and fourth semesters of the program, schedules are more flexible and students may engage in some part-time work.