Master of Public Health in Urban Health (MPH)

Apply to the MPH Program in Urban Health.

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:

  • Small class sizes
  • Strong mentoring
  • A flexible curriculum
  • Full-time or part-time study options
  • A supportive learning environment

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

Urban Health Focus

The Master of Public Health Program in Urban Health at Northeastern University was developed in response to the growing need for professionals versed in the diverse public health problems facing cities today. A worldwide trend toward urbanization drives the need for individuals with specific expertise in navigating the unique public health challenges and opportunities existing in urban environments. The MPH program brings together inter-disciplinary faculty with expertise in working with diverse urban populations and builds upon Northeastern’s history of community engagement to provide students with the experience and skills needed to address urban public health problems.

One of few programs focused specifically on urban populations, the Master of Public Health Program at Northeastern University focuses on challenges facing modern cities including:

  • Illnesses associated with the built environment
  • Health threats connected to density and poverty including substance abuse, community violence, and racial and ethnic health disparities
  • The challenges of effective health education and promotion for diverse populations; and access to timely, appropriate health services
  • Complex air, water, and food quality management issues
  • Control of infectious diseases
  • Prevention and treatment of chronic diseases
  • Global and national trends that affect public health such as migration, immigration, and suburbanization
  • The diverse health impacts of municipal policies such as housing and zoning policies
  • The way in which the unique urban environment shapes implementation of public health interventions and informs research questions

Central to addressing all of these concerns, but with particular focus on those associated with racial and ethnic health disparities, is the commitment the program undertakes to build an effective and diverse public health workforce who emerge from the program well-trained in the complex issues associated with disparate health status and health care access.

The MPH in Urban Health trains public health professionals who understand their concomitant obligations to advocacy, evidenced-based practice, and research, and who are animated by the urgent need to reduce racial, ethnic, and class-based health disparities that currently burden urban populations in the US and globally. 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.

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 (e.g. 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 sample electives:

  • Intermediate Epidemiology
  • Applied Regression Analysis
  • Social Epidemiology
  • Strategic Management and Leadership in Healthcare
  • Evaluating Scientific Evidence
  • Neighborhood and Public Health
  • Economic Perspectives on Health Policy
  • Health and Human Rights
  • Exercise in Health and Disease
  • Health Advocacy
  • Food, Food Policy, and Health
  • Principles of Population Health
  • Community-Based Participatory Research: Environmental Health
  • Directed Study
  • Independent Study
  • Directed Study
  • Advanced Methods in Biostatistics
  • Qualitative Methods in Health and Illness
  • Public Health Nutrition
  • Global Health
  • Evaluating Healthcare Quality
  • Advances in Measuring Behavior

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

The practicum or field experience is an important part of the Master of Public Health program. Practical experience provides an opportunity for students to synthesize, integrate, and apply practical skills and knowledge learned through courses to gain professional experience in a public health work environment. The practicum is an effort undertaken by students in the MPH program in cooperation with community organizations, government agencies, and other workplaces. It requires students to spend a minimum of 200 hours working in public health environment. 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 9 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.


Requirements for admission to the MPH program include:

          • Completed online application
          • Official transcript(s) of all college-level study
          • Undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (B) or higher.
          • Three letters of recommendation – 2 academic references and one professional reference are recommended.
          • Personal goal statement 2-3 pages in length, describing your interest in and commitment to urban public health. Your personal goal statement should briefly describe: 1) your interests and experiences in the field of public health, 2) what your goals are for a career in urban public health, and 3) why you would like to complete your MPH degree at Northeastern University. You may include any other information that you feel might be useful.
          • Interview (in person or via phone) – Optional, at discretion of Admissions Committee
          • International students must also submit official scores of the TOEFL examination – The MPH Program looks for IELTS score of 7.0. 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.
          • Official GRE Scores* (taken within the last 5 years; required of all non-Northeastern University graduates)

*The MPH Program in Urban Health Admission Committee requests all applicants complete the GRE. 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..

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

The Admissions Committee meets monthly to review applications from February through May to review completed online applications. Typically, a decision will be made within 4 weeks of the Admissions Committee receiving a completed application.

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 Universities 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 hour 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 hour in each term of part-time registration.
          • Provisional, special and other students are not eligible for scholarships.

Graduate Fellowships in Urban Health Research
The Student Research Fellowship The 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 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 (IUHR) 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 IUHR 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.

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 in the MPH Program 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 working to improve the health of individuals, families and communities in the Greater Boston area.

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 us with any questions. Shan Mohammed