General Public Health

General Public Health is intended for candidates with health-related professional training or work experience. Either a higher-level degree, such as an MD, or at least two years of full-time, health-related work experience are required for admission. The program, through the Accelerated MPH, offers students broader participation in the field of public health as well as formal training in the methods and substantive areas of public health.

Career needs of General Public Health candidates often require an interdisciplinary approach that goes beyond the scope of any single department within the school. One of the primary benefits of the program is that students can take advantage of the educational resources of more than one department.

Applicants to General Public Health are expected to identify their substantive area(s) of interest and the technical skills (administration, research, program development, etc.) they want to acquire from the public health curriculum. Residencies and fellowships, such as the SUNY–Stony Brook Preventive Medicine Fellowship and the New York City Department of Health Preventive Medicine Residency Program, are available by separate application.

General Public Health is available to students in the School’s dual degree programs, offered in collaboration with other schools at Columbia University. The program is occasionally offered to students with other professional degrees, such as law, journalism, or business, for which an individualized, interdisciplinary curriculum is deemed particularly suitable.

Contact Us

Director
Dr. Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
60 Haven Avenue, B3 Room 316
212-304-6128
mc2840 [at] cumc.columbia.edu

Faculty Advisors
Linda F. Cushman, PhD
60 Haven Avenue, B-2
212-304-5270
lfc2 [at] cumc.columbia.edu

Cassie Landers, Ed.D, MPH
60 Haven Avenue, B-2, Room 226
212-304-7823
cl689 [at] cumc.columbia.edu

Program Coordinator
Juli Parker
600 West 168th Street, Suite 405
jp3600 [at] cumc.columbia.edu

Curriculum

Each student’s program is planned individually. The course of study includes all components of the Accelerated MPH, except that instead of focused work in one discipline, GPH students draw their coursework from departments and certificate programs throughout the Mailman School.

In addition to the Mailman School’s Core curriculum and department resources, students may draw from other Columbia University electives to supplement a particular area of focus. Emphasis is often given to a substantive interdisciplinary area covered in the School’s curriculum by a series of related courses. In addition, each student is expected to develop and demonstrate improved skills in a technical area, such as research design, program evaluation, health education, health program planning, or administration, and select from the School’s curriculum, in consultation with their academic advisor, those courses that help meet this objective.

The practicum experience, which provides students opportunities to test and apply their academic training within a work setting, is also required. The practicum is individually selected, tailored to meet the needs of each student, and may take a variety of forms. See practicum information.

During the practicum, students will:

  • Apply this learning to distinct, coherent practicum projects focusing on a specific area of public health practice

  • Provide host sites with valuable materials, services, analyses, and/or research that relates directly to the ongoing activities and mission of the site, and that meets the defined healthcare needs of the site’s surrounding community

Decisions on the nature, location, objectives, and activities of the practicum are made through discussion and agreement among the student, faculty advisor, and practicum preceptor/site supervisor.

Scheduling/Time Requirements

General Public Health students can conduct a practicum at any point after the completion of the Core curriculum. A minimum of 140 hours of fieldwork is required for GPH students. This is usually accomplished by working approximately 10 hours per week during a 14-week semester, or 15-20 hours per week during the summer months. GPH students can also do a January intensive practicum experience, completing all 140 hours in the month of January. Many students exceed this hourly requirement, particularly those who seek summer-long, intensive experiences.

Medical residents and fellows often identify a project in conjunction with their parallel residency or fellowship program, although the component(s) of that project intended to fulfill the MPH practicum must be clearly identified. Many dual degree students have scholarly work that they are completing for their partner school (medical, dental, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy) and can identify an aspect of that work or project as their practicum if it is separate and has clear public health significance. Even if the practicum is part of a pre-existing project, a scope of work must be submitted and approved. 

Arranging the Practicum

Students take an active role in identifying a practicum project, site, and onsite supervisor. There is an annual Practicum Information and Planning session held at the end of the Fall semester to assist in this pursuit. In conjunction with (potential) onsite supervisors, faculty, colleagues, and the GPH advisor, students develop a scope of work. The advisor must approve the scope of work before any practicum work commences. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the scope of work form via an online database.

jp3600 [at] columbia.edu (Julianne Parker) can assist students in accessing the practicum-site database, which lists a variety of potential practicum sites for students to consider. In order to make an appointment with a GPH advisor to discuss potential practicum opportunities, students should complete a Practicum Assistance form (PDF) and return it to Parker.

Completion/Practicum Paper

To fulfill the practicum requirement, students must successfully carry out their approved practicum plans, including completion of all activities and deliverables, and prepare a ten-page practicum paper. This paper will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis and must be submitted at least two months prior to a student’s planned graduation date. See Guidelines for the practicum paper.