FAQs: Academic & Highly Specialized PH Degrees

No, the criteria differ in their expectations for curricular alignment with competencies for MS and PhD degrees when compared with MPH and DrPH degrees. It is a common mistake to take an identical approach to both degree types! This guide summarizes the key differences.

We don’t require that the competencies for academic degrees all be different. As long as the competency set, as a whole, reflects the nature of the degree and the intended preparation of researchers/scholars (as opposed to practitioners), it makes sense that some of the basic skills would be the same. However, identical full sets would not be acceptable.

There is no required number of concentration competencies for an academic public health degree; however, the competency set should reflect the nature of the degree and intended preparation of researchers/scholars (as opposed to practitioners). Schools and programs must develop appropriate sets of competencies that are distinct for each concentration and articulate what graduates will be able to do at the completion of the specific program of study.

The criteria do not state how many courses or credits are required; rather, the review is focused on competencies. Reviewers need to see an appropriate set of competencies for each concentration that articulate what students are going to be able to do by completing the specific program of study, and then they’re going to validate that there is appropriate coursework to allow that to happen.

Academic & highly specialized public health master’s degrees (e.g. MS) are offered in public health fields but do not function as MPH equivalent. Highly specialized degrees prepare students for highly technical and specific job functions (e.g. laboratory technician, data scientist).