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The Master of Arts in Public Health Biology is an interdisciplinary online degree. The topics and concepts allow graduates to apply biological principles to public health issues, conceptualize research questions, interpret results, and apply these skills in the context of human health.

Students will complete a minimum of 48.5 term credits to graduate. The program is designed to be completed within 8 academic terms of 8 weeks each – a total of two academic years (Sept-May), but students have up to four years to complete the degree. In addition to the coursework, students must complete a literature-based thesis, where newly acquired knowledge is employed in order to demonstrate critical synthesis and integration of existing primary literature.  

Students, with the advice and approval of the Program Director and the Advisory Committee, will identify a faculty member in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Environmental Health and Engineering, or Molecular Microbiology and Immunology with whom to prepare the master’s thesis for the MA in Public Health Biology. Together with the faculty member, students will identify at least one additional faculty member who also will review the thesis and provide critical input. Students will be expected to develop the thesis through frequent interaction with the faculty members, using online conferencing technologies available at the School. At the completion of the thesis, students will present their results to fellow students and faculty in a synchronous online presentation.

Program Competencies

By the end of the program, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the molecular, cellular, immunological, and physiological bases of selected human diseases and conditions.
  2. Describe the biological principles that underlie the development of disease and its prevention, control and management.
  3. Critically evaluate data described in scientific papers and integrate data from multiple papers into coherent theories about the regulation of complex biological processes and diseases.
  4. Apply statistical principles to the analysis of biological data and apply findings to the understanding and treatment of human disease.
  5. Compose, explain and defend a 20-30 page scholarly thesis that demonstrates a deep understanding of how biological principles and methods are used to understand, treat and/or prevent a particular condition of importance in the public health arena.

Curriculum Structure

Required Courses (16.5 credits):

  1. Introduction to Online Learning, must be completed prior to beginning program (non-credit)
  2. 550.630.81 Public Health Biology (3 credits)
  3. 550.631.81 Biological Basis of Public Health (3 credits)
  4. 550.855.81 MA Public Health Biology Thesis (5-6 credits)
  5. 552.601.81 History and Significance of Public Health Practices, Frameworks, and Ethics (.5 credits)
  6. 552.602.81 The Role of Quantitative Methods in Public Health (.5 credits)
  7. 552.603.81 The Role of Qualitative Methods and Science in Describing and Assessing a Population's Health (.5 credits)
  8. 552.604.81 Causes and Trends in Morbidity and Mortality (.5 credits)
  9. 552.605.81 The Science of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Prevention in Population Health (.5 credits)
  10. 552.606.81 The Critical Importance of Evidence in Advancing Public Health Knowledge (.5 credits)
  11. 552.607.81 Essentials of Environmental Health (.5 credits)
  12. 552.609.81 Psychological and Behavioral Factors that Affect a Population's Health (.5 credits)
  13. 552.610.81 Health Inequities: The Role of Social, Political, and Economic Determinants (.5 credits)
  14. 552.611.81 The Impact of Globalization on Global Burdens of Disease (.5 credits)
  15. 552.612.81 Essentials of One Health (.5 credits)

Optional Foundation Courses (11 credits):

  1. 140.611.81 Statistical Reasoning in Public Health I (3 credits)
  2. 140.612.81 Statistical Reasoning in Public Health II (3 credits)
  3. 340.721.81 Epidemiologic Inference I (5 credits)

Required Course, Environmental Health Sciences:

Choose at least one of the following

  1. 180.601.81 Environmental Health
  2. 187.610.81 Public Health Toxicology
  3. 187.632.81 Molecular Toxicology
  4. 183.631.81 Fundamentals of Human Physiology

Required Course, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:

Choose at least one of the following

  1. 120.620.81 Fundamentals of Reproductive Biology
  2. 120.600.81 Biochemistry An Introductory Course I
  3. 120.627.81 Stem Cells and the Biology of Aging and Disease
  4. 120.602.81 Introduction to Molecular Biology

Required Course, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology:

Choose at least one of the following

  1. 260.611.81 Principles of Immunology I
  2. 260.656.81 Malariology

Course Sequencing

JHSPH courses run on a term system rather than a semester schedule. Each term lasts approximately 8 weeks. Students who enroll on a part-time basis will take an average of 2-3 years to complete the degree. Students must take a minimum of 48.5 term credits in order to complete the degree.

Although students can plan individualized schedules, they will still need to adhere to course prerequisites or other applicable sequencing restrictions. For example, 140.611 should be completed prior to 140.612. Students who are receiving financial aid must be registered for a minimum of six credits each term. Students should plan to enroll in the MA Public Health Biology Thesis during their last term of enrollment, after most or all of their didactic coursework is completed. Students may enroll in final didactic course(s) concurrently with Thesis in the final term.

Please contact the program office to request course mapping by term or a sample program sequence for the MA in Public Health Biology:


State-specific Information for Online Students

Students should be aware of additional state-specific information for online programs.