Curriculum

Research, practice, service — all three guide our approach to education at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Developed by faculty and students, our curriculum trains public health professionals to tackle even the most complex challenges with confidence and conviction. Your courses — the same ones we offer on campus — emphasize:

Evidence-Based Solutions

Draw on research to identify and deliver solutions that serve local and global communities.

Interdisciplinary Knowledge

Learn how to work with diverse teams and collaborate across disciplines and sectors.

Experiential Learning

Practice in actual public health settings, and see your ideas move from concept to reality.

Program Requirements

As a public health leader, you’ll need to see both the big picture and the critical details. Our Master of Public Health (MPH) course sequence is designed to broaden your perspective, and it empowers you to make a difference even while you’re still taking classes.

MPH Leadership, MPH Nutrition or Applied Epidemiology

  • Gillings MPH Core (15 Credits)
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Concentration Courses (15 Credits)
  • Electives (9 Credits)
  • Gillings MPH Practicum (200 Hours)
  • Culminating Experience (3 Credits)

MPH/Registered Dietitian (MPH/RD)

  • Gillings MPH Core (15 Credits)
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Concentration Courses (24 Credits)
  • Supervised Practice Experiences (1,000 Hours)
  • Culminating Experience (3 credits)

Explore sample course schedules.

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Gillings MPH Core

Taught by an interdisciplinary team of instructors, the MPH Core gives you an integrated foundation in public health. In addition to studying essential principles, frameworks and methodologies, you’ll learn how to collaborate and think critically about 21st-century public health problems.

View all MPH Core courses.

Comprehensive Exam

Upon completing the Gillings MPH Core, you’ll schedule your comprehensive exam. This 20-minute oral assessment tests your ability to apply foundational public health knowledge and skills to novel contexts and problems. It’s also an opportunity to sharpen your integrative and critical thinking abilities and practice communicating about public health issues with colleagues, interdisciplinary stakeholders and the general public.

Concentration Courses and Electives

After completing the Gillings MPH Core, you’ll delve into concentration-specific courses. These classes strengthen your understanding of the cultural, environmental and social issues that shape today’s public health landscape. If you’re a student in our MPH NutritionMPH Leadership or Applied Epidemiology concentrations, you’ll also customize your training with three elective courses.

View all concentration courses.

Gillings MPH Practicum

If you’re enrolled in our MPH Leadership, MPH Nutrition or Applied Epidemiology concentrations, you’ll complete the MPH practicum — a planned, mentored and evaluated work experience that enables you to apply your training in a real-world setting. To reduce program costs, we don’t assign any credits to your practicum hours. The practicum breaks down into three parts:

Prepare

Complete SPHG 701: Leading from the Inside Out, a 2-credit course that prepares you for the practicum experience.

Practice

Complete at least 200 hours of in-person fieldwork in a public health environment — be it practical, professional, public or private.

Reflect

Complete SPHG 702: Practicum Evaluation and Interprofessional Practice, a 1-credit course that connects your experience to your coursework.

Choosing Your Practicum

While it’s your job to secure your practicum placement, we offer resources to support you along the way — including a dedicated placement specialist who can help you navigate the placement process and find options close to you.

We also encourage students to look beyond their employers and established UNC Gillings School networks. This is an opportunity to seek out new challenges, experiences and perspectives.

Learn more about practicum requirements.

Supervised Practice Experiences (MPH/RD Only)

If you’re enrolled in our MPH Registered Dietitian (MPH/RD) program, you’ll complete 1,000 hours of supervised practice experiences in four primary areas:

  • Public Health Nutrition Management.
  • Clinical Nutrition.
  • Food Service/Systems Management.
  • Advanced Nutrition.

Before these experiences, you’ll take NUTR 701: MPH Practicum Preparation, a 2-credit course that prepares you to go into the field.

Learn more about supervised practice experiences.

Culminating Experience

Before you graduate, you’ll complete an interdisciplinary, project-based course centered on a problem relevant to public health practice.

Sample Course Schedules

You can complete any of our concentrations on a full-time or part-time basis. If you enroll full time, you can complete the program in as few as 20–24 months. If you enroll part time, you can set your own pace as long as you complete all program requirements within five years. Most part-time students complete the program in 28–36 months.

MPH Nutrition students who are prepared for the demands of an accelerated schedule can complete the concentration in as few as 16 months. With the accelerated schedule, you will complete standard degree requirements in a shorter timeframe, taking more courses per term and fewer terms overall. You will also begin your practicum earlier. This option is a full-time commitment, so you may not work while enrolled. If your needs change, however, you are free to adjust your pacing and keep learning on a schedule that works for you.

Standard 24-Month Schedule

Term 1

  • Course 1: Understanding Public Health Issues (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Methods and Measures for Public Health Practice (2 credits)
  • Course 3: Data Analysis for Public Health (2 credits)
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 2

  • Course 1: Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Developing, Implementing and Evaluating Public Health Solutions (4 credits)
  • Course 3: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 3

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Leading from the Inside Out (2 credits)

Term 4

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Practicum (200+ hours)

Term 5

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Practicum Evaluation and Interprofessional Practice (1 credit)

Term 6

  • Course 1: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Culminating Experience (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: N/A

Standard 28-Month Schedule

Term 1

  • Course 1: Understanding Public Health Issues (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Methods and Measures for Public Health Practice (2 credits)
  • Course 3: Data Analysis for Public Health (2 credits)
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 2

  • Course 1: Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Developing, Implementing and Evaluating Public Health Solutions (4 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 3

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 4

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: N/A
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Leading from the Inside Out (2 credits)

Term 5

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Practicum (200+ hours)

Term 6

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: Practicum Evaluation and Interprofessional Practice (1 credit)

Term 7

  • Course 1: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Culminating Experience (3 credits)
  • Course 3: N/A
  • Practicum: N/A

MPH Nutrition Accelerated 16-Month Schedule

Term 1

  • Course 1: Understanding Public Health Issues (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Methods and Measures for Public Health Practice (2 credits)
  • Course 3: Data Analysis for Public Health (2 credits)
  • Course 4: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 5: Elective (3 credits)
  • Practicum: N/A

Term 2

  • Course 1: Conceptualizing Public Health Solutions (2 credits)
  • Course 2: Developing, Implementing and Evaluating Public Health Solutions (4 credits)
  • Course 3: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 4: Leading From the Inside Out (2 credits)
  • Course 5: N/A
  • Practicum (Term 2-3): Practicum (200+ hours)

Term 3

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 3: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 4: N/A
  • Course 5: N/A
  • Practicum (Term 2-3): Practicum (200+ hours)
  • Practicum: Practicum Reflection and Interprofessional Practice (1 credit)

Term 4

  • Course 1: Required Concentration Course (3 credits)
  • Course 2: Elective (3 credits)
  • Course 3: Culminating Experience (3 credits)
  • Course 4: N/A
  • Course 5: N/A
  • Practicum: N/A

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