Master of Public Health in Urban Health (MPH)

Take the first step in improving the health of urban populations!

Program Overview

The Master of Public Health Program in Urban Health at Northeastern University seeks to provide society with knowledgeable, professionally-educated, racially and ethnically diverse individuals who promote and protect the health of urban communities through innovation in practice-oriented education, research, and service.

In order to help prepare the next generation of urban public health leaders and professionals, the MPH Program in Urban Health offers our diverse graduate students:

  • A flexible curriculum and course structure
    • Many courses available online (learn at home, on the road, or on campus)
    • Full-time or part-time study options (ideal for working professionals)
    • Evening classes (most classes meet once a week from 5 to 7:30 PM)
  • Electives can be selected from Northeastern’s vast offerings
    • online or with different Northeastern programs, all on the same campus (Law, Business, Policy, Social Sciences, Criminal Justice, and many more)
  • Small class sizes
  • Strong mentoring
  • A supportive learning environment

We welcome your interest in our unique program. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Urban Health Focus

Rapid urbanization worldwide drives the need for innovative public health approaches that take into careful account the unique characteristics, challenges, and opportunities that exist in urban environments.

The Master of Public Health Program in Urban Health at Northeastern University has been developed specifically to meet the growing demand for public health professionals who have the ability to navigate the complex issues inherent to the urban context.

One of the few of its kind, our program brings together interdisciplinary faculty with expertise in working with diverse urban populations and builds upon Northeastern’s rich history of community engagement to provide students with the experience and skills needed to address urban public health issues.

With a focus on racial and ethnic health disparities, students examine how the characteristics of the urban environment can effect health and wellbeing. Sample topics include:

  • The built environment
  • Poverty, violence, and substance abuse
  • Health education and promotion
  • Barriers to health and healthcare
  • Preventing and controlling chronic diseases
  • Immigration, migration, and suburbanization
  • Childhood obesity
  • Adolescent health behaviors
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Health and political advocacy
  • Evaluation techniques
  • Municipal policy and administration
  • Global health concerns
  • Containing outbreaks and epidemics
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Theories of social and behavior change

We are committed to building an effective and diverse public health workforce. Our students are motivated by the urgent need to address the inequities in health that burden urban populations, both within the United States and abroad. Graduates from our program have both the technical expertise to handle complex urban health problems, as well as the cultural sensitivity to interact effectively with and advocate for diverse urban populations.

Program Goals

Education Goals

  • Educate students in program identified core public health competencies with an accredited curriculum
  • Provide students with community-oriented education and practice opportunities that will prepare them to effectively address the multi-level public health risks faced by diverse urban population

Research Goals

  • Generate public health knowledge using interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, emphasizing urban, community-engaged, and translational research
  • Provide urban opportunities for students to apply research and evaluation skills and complete experiences in inquiry (eg, coursework, directed studies, faculty projects)

Service Goals

  • Participate in public health advocacy, policy, and practice at local, regional, national, and global levels
  • Establish collaborations among Northeastern University, community organizations, and the private sector with the intent of improving the health of diverse urban communities

The MPH Program in Urban Health has identified the following core public health and urban health competencies which guide all program activities:

General Public Health Competencies
Analytic/Assessment Skills

  • Assess the health status of populations and their related determinants of health and illness
  • Selects variables that measure public health conditions
  • Interprets qualitative and quantitative data
  • Utilizes data to address scientific, political, ethical, and social public health issues

Policy Development/Program Planning Skills

  • Articulates the implications of policy options

Communication Skills

  • Communicates in writing and orally, in person, and through electronic means, with linguistic and cultural proficiency
  • Applies communication strategies in interactions with individuals and groups

Public Health Sciences Skills

  • Describes the scientific foundation of the field of public health
  • Applies the basic public health sciences (including, but not limited to: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and social and behavioral health sciences) to public health policies and programs
  • Determines the limitations of research findings

Cultural Competency Skills

  • Explains the dynamic forces that contribute to cultural diversity

Urban Health Specific Competencies
Analytic/Assessment Skills

  • Describes the characteristics of an urban population-based health problem
  • References sources of urban public health data and information

Policy Development/Program Planning Skills

  • Articulates policy options to address urban health issues.

Communication Skills

  • Solicits input from individuals and organizations in urban environments
  • Presents demographic, statistical, programmatic, and scientific information for use by professional and lay audiences

Public Health Sciences Skills

  • Conducts a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence related to an urban public health issue, concern, or intervention
  • Retrieves scientific evidence related to urban public health from a variety of text and electronic sources

Cultural Competency Skills

  • Considers the role of cultural, social, and behavioral factors in the accessibility, availability, acceptability and delivery of urban public health services

Shan Mohammed MD, MPH
Program Director
312 Robinson Hall

Alison Gillis

Alison Gillis, MPH
Program Manager
308 Robinson Hall

Council on Education for Public Health

Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health


The MPH Program in Urban Health is a professional (non-thesis) master’s degree program offered by the Bouvé College of Health Sciences Department of Health Sciences. Characteristics of the curriculum include academic rigor and competency-based education in a supportive and engaging learning environment. The curriculum components meet the Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH) accreditation requirements.

All MPH degree candidates must complete a total of 42 credits consisting of:

5 courses, 3 credits each = 15 credits

  • Biostatistics in Public Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health Administration and Policy
  • Society, Behavior, and Health

3 courses, 3 credits each = 9 credits

  • Principles and History of Urban Health
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Health in the United States
  • Urban Community Health Assessment

1 course, 3 credits = 3 credits

Students choose either:

  • Health Education and Program Planning
  • Techniques of Program Evaluation

3 courses, 3 credits each = 9 credits

Elective courses may be taken on a range of public health topics. Cross-departmental offerings are included in elective courses and provide MPH students with unique opportunities to focus their interests in emerging areas of urban public health practice. Some areas of interest and sample electives include:

Health Promotion/Education

  • Health Advocacy
  • Health Education and Program Planning
  • Techniques of Program Evaluation


  • Advances in Measuring Behavior
  • Advanced Methods in Biostatistics
  • Applied Regression Analysis
  • Intermediate Epidemiology
  • Principles of Population Health
  • Qualitative Methods in Health and Illness


  • Economic Perspectives on Health Policy
  • Evaluating Healthcare Quality
  • Food, Food Policy, and Health
  • Health and Human Rights
  • Strategic Management and Leadership in Healthcare

Special Interest

  • Exercise in Health and Disease
  • Global Health
  • Neighborhood and Public Health
  • Public Health Nutrition

Minimum 200 hour, community-based internship (3 credits)

The goal of the Practicum is to provide the opportunity to integrate and apply classroom learning in a public health work environment, enabling students to observe and learn from professionals in the field. The student contributes to a community’s resources and to the solution of public health problems, while developing practical skills and personal confidence as a public health professional. The practicum serves as a transition point for the student from education to professional practice.

The nature and location of the practicum is flexible. Students have completed their practicum in many different settings, including:

  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • Veteran’s Association Medical Center
  • Brookline Public Schools
  • Multicultural AIDS Coalition
  • Boston Urban Asthma Coalition
  • Granada Health Clinic, Nicaragua
  • Harvard Catalyst Public Communication Program
  • Synthesis Health Systems
  • Massachusetts Joint Committee on Health Care Finance
  • MyTown
  • Beacon Health Strategies
  • Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
  • Massachusetts Internation Community Economic Development
  • JRI Health
  • John Snow, Inc.

Capstone Project (3 credits)

As a culminating experience, students are required to complete a Capstone Project, an extension of the required Practicum. The Capstone Project provides students with the opportunity to develop or take on projects of mutual interest to a public health agency and the student in a range of diverse public health practice settings reflective of a particular urban health focus.

The Capstone Project provides students with the opportunity to integrate their theory and practice experiences in a major research, program planning, policy development, management, service delivery, or evaluation project. Community-based participatory projects are actively encouraged and, to the extent possible, Capstone Projects have as a goal the active contribution to the health of the local community.

Capstone Projects are student led and designed in consultation with community partners. Faculty members provide guidance and mentoring. Students participate in a Capstone Seminar intended to support the integration of their practice and analytic experiences.

Students may enroll in the MPH program on a part-time (1 to 2 courses per semester) or full-time (4 courses per semester) basis. In general, the curriculum requires two years of full-time study to complete, but can be completed in up to five years, if done on a part-time basis.

The 8 core Public Health and Urban Health courses meet once a week and are taught from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, facilitating enrollment for students who work full or part-time. Various electives are also offered during the evening, the summer, as intensive courses, or in hybrid on-campus/online formats.


The MPH Program accepts students for entry in both the Fall and Spring semesters. The application deadline for Fall entry is 6/1 and for Spring entry is 10/1. The Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications in February for the Fall; submission by 3/15 is recommended for scholarships and financial aid consideration.

Requirements for admission to the MPH program include:

  • Completed online application
  • Undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (B) or higher
  • Official transcript(s) of all college-level study
  • Official test scores
    – GRE scores (taken within the last give years) are required of all non-Northeastern University graduates∗
    – In addition to the GRE, TOEFL scores are required of all international students♦


  • Three letters of recommendation: Two academic references and one professional reference are recommended
  • Personal goal statement: Approximately two to three pages in length, describing your interest in and commitment to urban public health, including:
    – Your interests and experiences in the field of public health
    – What your goals are for a career in urban public health
    – Why you would like to complete your MPH degree at Northeastern University
    You may include any other information that you feel might be useful to the Admissions Committee


  • Interview: The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an in-person or telephone interview with certain candidates 

∗ The Admissions Committee requests that all applicants complete the GRE and typically looks for scores at or above the 50th percentile in each domain. In very rare circumstances, when the applicant has already obtained a PhD, MD, JD, or similar advanced degree, this requirement may be waived. If an applicant wishes to submit a petition to have the GRE waived, the GRE Waiver form should be sent to the MPH Program Director with supporting materials (CV and/or transcripts). The petition will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

♦ The Admissions Committee looks for TOEFL score of >100. Please note we do not accept IELTS scores. Exemptions to this policy are reviewed by the program director. To request a petition to waive the TOEFL, the TOEFL Waiver form along with supporting materials (CV/Transcripts) should be sent to the MPH program director. Exemptions to this policy are in very rare cases when an applicant’s education has taken place in an English-speaking country.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your application deadlines?

The MPH Program accepts students for entry in both the Fall and Spring semesters. The application deadline for Fall entry is 6/1 and for Spring entry is 10/1. The Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications in February for the Fall and in October for the Spring; submission by 3/15 is recommended for scholarships and financial aid consideration.

How many students do you accept each year?

The MPH Program in Urban Health admits 25 students per year. We value small class sizes so that students are able to receive personal attention and have opportunities to learn in interactive, rigorous, and supportive learning environments.

From February through May, the Admissions Committee meets monthly to review completed online applications for the Fall. From October through November, the Admissions Committee meets monthly to review completed online applications for the Spring. Typically, for the months in which the Admissions Committee meets, application decisions will be made within a four-week time frame.

What are the tuition costs for the MPH Program in Urban Health?

The program is 42 semester credits. For up-to-date information regarding Northeastern University tuition per credit, please refer to the University’s tuition page.

What kind of financial assistance is available?

Federal financial aid and institutional scholarships may be available to qualified students. The Office of Student Financial Services provides the most up-to-date information. You may also call 617.373.5899 or email

Dean’s Scholarship

Tuition scholarship subject to the following guidelines:

          • Full-time students in graduate degree and certificate programs are eligible for a graduate tuition scholarship of up to 1/3 of their tuition to a maximum dollar amount not to exceed the tuition charged for 4 semester hours in each term of full-time registration.
          • Part-time students in graduate degree and certificate programs are eligible for a graduate tuition scholarship of up to 1/4 of their tuition to a maximum dollar amount not to exceed the tuition charged for 2 semester hours in each term of part-time registration.
          • Provisional, special, and other students are not eligible for scholarships.
          • All applicants are automatically considered for this scholarship. Nothing additional, besides a completed application, is needed.

Double Husky Scholarship

The Double Husky Scholarship helps Northeastern alums returning to the institution to earn their graduate degrees by providing a tuition discount of 25 percent. Alums are automatically considered for the scholarship when they apply to the MPH Program.

Full-time students and part-time students starting in Fall 2014 and beyond are eligible. If students receive other grants or scholarships from Northeastern, the award of higher value will be given.

Graduate Fellowships in Urban Health Research

The Student Research Fellowship Northeastern Tuition Waiver Program offers outstanding educational benefits to active eligible faculty and staff and to their qualified dependents. Tuition benefits are available to full-time and part-time employees.

This fellowship provides graduate students with valuable opportunities to gain hands-on experience working on urban health research studies, learn about preparation of grant applications, attend research seminars, receive mentoring from experienced researchers, and meet local and national experts in the field. To date, the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice (IUHRP) has funded 25 fellowships (2 undergraduates and 23 graduate students) in its Student Research Fellowship Program. Some of these student fellows have had multiple year awards. Student Fellows are assigned to an ongoing research project at the IUHRP through which they receive training in: data management, coding, and analyses; conducting critical literature reviews; grant writing; preparation of manuscripts and presentations; and field data collection. For further information please visit the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice‘s website.

Martin Luther King Fellowship Scholarship

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellowship Program provides up to nine graduate student scholarships each year, covering full tuition and general fees for the student’s graduate program. The Program is administered by the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an accomplished scholar who exemplified the utmost qualities of leadership. In keeping with the high standards exemplified by Dr. King, recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellowship should be of African origin, demonstrate high standards of leadership, and have a record of community service.

Can I take a class without being admitted to the MPH Program in Urban Health?

If you would like to take a class in the MPH Program without officially enrolling, you may register as a Special Student at Bouvé College of Health Sciences. You may complete up to 12 credits of MPH core courses and then apply to the program.

Is the MPH Program in Urban Health accredited?

Yes, the The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) has accredited the MPH Program in Urban Health.  Students who graduate from the MPH Program in Urban Health are eligible for the Certification in Public Health Exam.

What employment opportunities are there for a graduate of the MPH Program in Urban Health?

A graduate from MPH in Urban Health program has both the technical expertise to address specific urban health issues as well as the strategic and cultural competency needed to interact effectively with and be an advocate for diverse urban populations. Completing your public health training at Northeastern University affords the opportunity to learn from and work with urban public health professionals striving to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities in the Greater Boston area and beyond.

Graduates with an MPH degree are employed in number of varied professional settings including: federal, state, and local health agencies; universities and colleges; hospitals; ambulatory medical centers; nonprofit organizations; community-based agencies; insurance and pharmaceutical industries; health maintenance organizations; and private foundations.

There are a number of online resources with open positions for individuals beginning or continuing their careers in public health. A few are listed below:

Whom should I contact for more information?

Please feel free to contact the Program Manager, Alison Gillis, at, or the Program Director, Dr. Shan Mohammed, at, with any questions. Additionally, if you’d like to get the perspectives of current students, please email our Student Representatives at