Domains and Competencies Only [doc]
AJPH Article on the core MPH Competencies [pdf]
Introduction to the Model
ASPH, as representative of the CEPH-accredited graduate schools of public health, which provide approximately 85% of the public health graduates in the U.S., has identified these core master of public health competencies for students upon graduation.
Public health, as a profession and a discipline, focuses on population and society’s role in monitoring and achieving good health and quality of life. Public health professionals work in many settings to guarantee:
- optimal human growth, development, and dignity across the life-span;
- respect for community participation and preferences in health;
- air, food, and water safety;
- workplace, school and recreation site safety;
- timely detection of disease outbreaks and public health threats;
- science-based responses to public health problems;
- health care access, efficiency, and effectiveness;
- encouragement of healthy choices that prolong a high quality life; and
- design and maintenance of policies and services to meet community and individual needs for physical and mental health.
Public health professionals also recognize the contributions of other disciplines, including but not limited to the health professions, business, economics, education, engineering, law, political science, psychology, public administration, and sociology.
The master of public health (MPH) curriculum in graduate schools and programs of public health is organized around the five core disciplines of public health: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Science, Health Policy and Management, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Knowledge and skills in these disciplines equip the graduate to analyze and consider solutions to public health problems at the community, institutional, and societal levels. Graduates typically have concentrated in one of the core discipline areas, but some choose to focus their studies on particular population groups or subject areas such as maternal and child health, international health, mental health, or aging studies.
While the five discipline-specific competency domains have been generally accepted since the 1970s, the interdisciplinary/cross-cutting competencies in the six initial domains selected for the ASPH model – Communication and Informatics, Diversity and Culture, Leadership, Professionalism, Program Planning, and Systems Thinking – formerly lacked such consensus. These six areas, however, have become increasingly important to effective public health practice and, thus, are included, along with the five discipline-specific competency domains, in the ASPH model. In addition, Public Health Biologywas added as a seventh domain to the interdisciplinary/cross-cutting core competencies.
These competencies are not designed to serve as a framework for certain required core courses or for one-to-one development of a core curriculum, but they are aimed at providing a baseline overview of the knowledge, skills, and other attributes that might be expected for emerging public health professionals. The competencies are anticipated to serve as a useful guide for faculty to include, as appropriate, relevant content in their existing courses; as well as for MPH students to seek opportunities to comprehensively update their understanding.
The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) launched an initiative to develop Master of Public Health (MPH) core competencies in 2004 as a result of the:
- Challenges of 21st century public health practice;
- Proliferation of competency-based training in the field of public health;
- Increased emphasis on accountability in higher education;
- Recommendations by important national organizations regarding competency domains in graduate public health education (GPHE);
- Increasing incorporation of competencies into accreditation criteria; and,
- Potential development of a voluntary credentialing exam for public health graduates.
This final set of MPH core competencies includes:
- Five core discipline areas (Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Policy Management, and Social and Behavioral Sciences)
- An integrated interdisciplinary, cross-cutting set of overall competency domains (Communication and Informatics, Diversity and Culture, Leadership, Professionalism, Program Planning, Public Health Biology, and Systems Thinking)
The competencies are intended to serve as a resource and guide for those interested in improving the quality and accountability of public health education and training. They were developed with respect for the uniqueness and diversity of the schools of public health (SPH). They are not meant to prescribe the methods or processes for achievement, recognizing that implementation of the competencies may vary as a function of each school’s mission and goals.
ASPH will disseminate the competencies to a wide audience beyond its member schools. In particular, it is anticipated that the competencies could be useful to colleagues at graduate public health programs, employers, practice and agency partners, CEPH, and the board that will credential graduates of schools and programs. Through this process, ASPH aims to fill the void that exists regarding an MPH core curriculum, and thus provide leadership in GPHE that will help define contemporary and future education in public health.
MPH core competencies are defined in this process as a unique set of applied knowledge, skills, and other attributes (KSO’s), grounded in theory and evidence, for the broad practice of public health (ASPH, 2004).
The process, as described below, was split into two phases:
Public Health Biology was included in this model in recognition that while historically the MPH curriculum had served to augment students' medical sciences degrees, contemporary reality in public health education programs demonstrates that most students enter into masters-level degree programs without a grounding in the biologic bases of health and illness. As a result there exists a gap between the historical and current backgrounds of students seeking the MPH degree. Public Health Biology competencies, therefore, serve to inform both faculty and students of the relevant biologic processes that influence population-based health.
Updated on September 9, 2010.