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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 22, 2024
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Public Health Genetics, MPH

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The MPH in Public Health Genetics Program integrates genetics and the public health science disciplines of epidemiology, pathobiology, biostatistics, environmental health, and health services research, with ethics, social sciences, public affairs, economics and law. Public health genetics focuses on phenotypic disease prevention in populations, not just individual patients and their families. It addresses society’s legal, ethical, financial, regulatory, and organizational responsibilities in offering genetic services, and devising environmental and occupational interventions to prevent disease in populations.

More information regarding the program can be found on the Pitt Public Health website, Department of Human Genetics, under the Master of Public Health (MPH) in Public Health Genetics designation.

MPH Requirements

The MPH in Public Health Genetics curriculum is designed to give students a strong knowledge base in Human Genetics with a broad understanding of the field of public health.  Through the coursework, students are immersed in current topics in human genetics, public health, and the ethical, legal and social issues important to the field of public health genetics.  The curriculum, practicum experience, and public health essay focus on the development of skills that are desirable to employers after graduation including critical thinking, scientific writing, and statistical analysis.  

A minimum of 47 credits is required for the MPH. This total is made up of school core courses, a core of required courses in the department of Human Genetics, and electives relevant to the student’s program goals.  The entire program can be completed in 1 1/2 years, although most students prefer to spread it out over two years.  There is also the option to complete the program on a part-time basis. 

The MPH in Public Health Genetics course schedule can be customized to meet individual student goals, interests, and circumstances.


Public Health Essay and Practicum

Students must write a master’s essay, which may be based on the practicum experience or on another topic related to public health genetics. All essays must include analysis of data. The essay topic must be approved by the Directors of the MPH in Public Health Genetics program. The essay is read and approved by an MPH Essay Committee that must consist of at least one of the Public Health Genetics faculty members in Human Genetics and one from outside the department. The MPH Essay Committee must be approved by the Office of Student Affairs. The essay must be approved by unanimous vote of the committee.

All students in the MPH in Public Health Genetics program are required to complete a Practicum.  The Practicum is a supervised practice experience of at least 200 hours, providing students an opportunity to learn how genetics is applied in a public health setting and in the formulation and application of public health policy.  MPH students are encouraged to seek out opportunities that fit their interests and goals with guidance provided by program leadership.  Students may choose to complete their practicum in the city of Pittsburgh or in a location outside of the city.  Many students will complete the practicum during their summer semester, but scheduling is flexible based on student needs.


MPH in Human Genetics Program-Specific Competencies

A student completing the MPH program in Public Health Genetics will be able to:

(1) Apply knowledge of inheritance, including basic cellular and molecular mechanisms, and risk factors for disease to understanding a variety of rare and common health conditions.

(2) Identify interactions among genes, environmental factors, and behaviors, and their effects on public health.

(3) Assess the ethics of the application of genetic technologies to public health

(4) Communicate genetic and genomic principles to the general public as part of current public health initiatives

(5) Evaluate how genetic principles/technologies apply to diagnosis, screening, and interventions for disease prevention and health promotion programs


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