Education

Master's of Public Health (MPH) Certificates

These certificate programs are offered through the Masters of Public Health (MPH) program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, through the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. 

Health Promotion Research and Practice

The terms health education and health promotion are often used interchangeably, with health promotion being the more recent of the two terms. The field of health promotion involves designing programs (often referred to as interventions) that cover the gamut from disease prevention and promotion of optimal health to detection of illness and provision of treatment, rehabilitation, and/or long-term care. Programs address infectious diseases and chronic diseases, with consideration of social and structural environmental influences on health and disease, and can be domestically or globally situated. To be effective, health promotion programs need to be based on theory, evidence, and data from at-risk populations. Unfortunately, many programs are designed based on precedent, tradition, and/or intuition, leading to limited success.

Students in the Certificate in Health Promotion Research and Practice will first learn how to design, conduct, and analyze results from a community needs and assets assessment. Then, based on the assessment, students will learn how to design and implement health promotion programs. Next, they will learn how to create program materials that attract attention and meet current national CLAS standards. Finally, students will learn how to evaluate these complex programs which target determinants of health and disease on the individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels of the social ecological framework. Students in this Certificate are required to complete 5 courses, including 1 elective course, amounting to 15 credits (see required course descriptions below). 

Graduates have taken jobs in a number of sectors including federal, state, and local health agencies; community based organizations in the U.S. and abroad; nonprofit agencies; academic settings; research institutions; and, foundations. Recent job titles have included Research Coordinator, Research Associate, Research and Evaluation Analyst, Market Research Analyst, Communications Associate, Health Policy Consultant, Quality and Systems Improvement Program Coordinator, Program and Outreach Coordinator, Healthcare Analyst, Chief Health Officer, Operations Manager, Performance Improvement Specialist, Program Development Specialist. 

Health Communication

Health communication involves the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that affect health. Health communication can take many forms, ranging from the use of modern mass and multi-media to traditional and culture-specific forms of communication such as storytelling, puppet shows and songs. With increased dominance of mass and digital media in a growingly connected world, the need for effective health communication strategy grows increasingly relevant. The scope of health communication includes research and practice to reach vulnerable and underserved populations, engaging communities or the general public on specific health conditions, framing health issues to advocate for policy change, increasing capacity for effective communication in clinical settings, and more. 

The Certificate in Health Communication enables students to design, implement, and evaluate health communication interventions; use and integrate various health communication methods and strategies (e.g., interpersonal communication, mass media, community mobilization, citizen engagement, policy communication, clinical communication, etc.); and acquire critical skills in health literacy, new media, risk communication, cultural competency, as well as a grounding in other contemporary issues and innovation in health communication. Students in this Certificate are required to complete 6 courses, including 1 seminar and 1 elective, amounting to 16 credits. 

Graduates may take jobs in marketing and communication firms; nonprofit organizations; foundations; government agencies; research institutions; hospitals; healthcare companies, and more. Job titles may include Communications Associate; Digital Media Manager; Social Media Officer; Marketing Associate; Program Coordinator; Consultant; Research Associate.

Summer Lerner Fellowship

The Summer Lerner Fellowship Program was established to support MPH students who are committed to the discovery and application of evidence-based health promotion and health communication practices. The program allows fellows to apply their academic training to the science of health promotion and health communication. Summer fellows are compensated, and work on multiple Center projects, guided under the mentorship of Center staff and faculty. 

Student Media Campaign Competition of the Core

The Center held the 2nd annual Student Media Campaign Competition through the Core Curriculum for first-year MPH students at the Mailman School. We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 competition: 

  • 1st place: A Handy Guide to Portion Control (poster), by Zahra Janoowalla, Oishee Sen, Bertilia Trieu, and Emma Zang-Schwartz 

  • 2nd place: #HelmetsOfNewYork (poster, digital/social media), by Meredith Jones, Karishma Patel, Phillip Perl, Alison Sutter, and Camille Tinder

  • 3rd place: Just Get Out and Play (video), by Mariam Besada, Shotaro Matsuoka, Zachary Schneider, and Sara Zufan 

  • 3rd place: Depression Matters, Treatment Helps (poster), by Wei Fang Dai, Monica Gierada, Frances Kim, and Karthika Parvathy

As an assignment from the Health and Behavior module of the Social, Behavioral and Structural Determinants of Health studio, students (in teams of 4-5) were asked to create innovative, theory-based media campaigns to address a public health issue of their choice. The students submit a variety of projects in various mediums (e.g. visual/print, audio, video). With the help of TAs and a panel of 7 judges who include Mailman alumni, media specialists and health promotion experts, the top media campaigns were selected based on a set criteria that considered the targeted health problem, target audience, health behavior change, medium of delivery, and creative appeal.

The 2015 judges included:

  • Ana Abraido-Lanza, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School

  • Danielle Bartolo, Research Director, The Advertising Council

  • Laura Fuentes, Deputy Director, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Johns Hopkins University 

  • Grace Lee, Deputy Director, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Mailman School 

  • Sid Lerner, Founder and Chair, The Monday Campaigns

  • Cynthia Morrow, Lerner Professor, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Syracuse University 

  • Renata Schiavo, Founder and President, Health Equity Initiative; Senior Lecturer of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School 

Cross Registration for Mailman Students

The Center believes that public health is an interdisciplinary field, and encourages students to integrate Mailman coursework with appropriate coursework from other schools at Columbia Univerity. There are many opportunities to cross-register without additional fees or dues. To do so, Mailman students must obtain permission from: (1) your academic advisor at Mailman, and (2) the non-Mailman school that offers the course for which you are cross-registering. Students with questions or concerns should contact the msph-osa [at] columbia.edu (Office of Student Affairs) (212-342-3128). Here are some useful resources: