“The online program allows professional students, who can’t necessarily move to Providence, to join the online MPH from different parts of the world,” said Jennifer Nazareno Ph.D. interim associate dean for academic affairs and innovation, Brown University School of Professional Studies. “It’s wonderful to have healthcare professionals like nurses, physicians, CNAs, dieticians, and community healthcare workers talking to folks with backgrounds in urban planning, law, tech, the military, and various industries in the private sector, so that we can further embrace our interdisciplinary field and venture beyond the walls of public health.”
Of the program’s first cohort of 61, there are students from the U.S., South Africa, Ghana, France, India, and Canada. “I think a huge strength of the program is that we are able to knock down geographic and disciplinary silos and have these really important conversations about public health challenges that affect us all,” Nazareno said.
The program’s case-based curriculum of 12 courses allows students to debate and help tackle real-world, present-day issues such as health care inequities and the COVID-19 pandemic. Its emphasis on using qualitative and quantitative data to make public health decisions hones students’ skills in data analysis.
“Theory is important,” Nazareno said, “and the combination of theory and practical application is what I think a lot of our students are really wanting to grasp at and can relate to, because they are already in the workforce. They can already apply their professional experiences to these cases, because they’re actually doing their Applied Public Health Experiences at their place of work or in their community.”
The online degree’s culminating project, the Integrative Learning Experience, is completed by students during their last semester. “Given their coursework and the global nature of the program, students will be asked to examine and provide actionable solutions to a public health challenge impacting their geographical region or a specific population,” Nazareno said. “They will gather and highlight various forms of data on their locale, identify stakeholders, and propose how they would advise their local or regional health authority.”
Nazareno says her hope is that the program meaningfully grows students’ careers, not least through the development of international cohorts of graduate student peers. “As they share cross-national perspectives and insights on public health challenges, it’s our program’s goal that our online cohorts will grow into lasting networks of global public health leaders solving some of today’s most pressing concerns.”