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Master of Public Health

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All students applying to the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program must also apply to the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS)

This program promotes an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach to research and interventions to address health problems. It offers students many opportunities to practice public health skills in communities and organizations.

The program also fosters critical thinking about issues addressed by the students, who have backgrounds in a broad range of social science, biomedical science and clinical disciplines.

Students have 7 years to complete the required 42 credit hours, including a practicum experience, and either a thesis, professional paper or an integrative experience course. In addition, students must complete an oral master’s examination. 

Master of Public Health Mission

The mission of the MPH Program in the COPH at the UNM HSC is to provide leadership in graduate and community-based education and research grounded in social justice to improve the health of the diverse populations in New Mexico and the Southwest. The MPH Program is committed to the idea that diversity and inclusion benefit everyone by offering a rich variety of experiences, backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas that improve and reflect the wonderful diversity of our population.   

The program encourages students to draw from a broad range of social science, biomedical science and clinical disciplines and promotes:

  • A comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to research and interventions to address health problems;
  • Multiple opportunities for students to practice public health skills in communities; and
  • Critical thinking about issues addressed by the students.

Students will draw from a broad range of social science, biomedical science, and clinical disciplines.

Application Information

Applications are due by Dec. 15 of each year. Students who are selected for the program must begin classes in the fall semester.

Preference is given to students who have public health experience in the following areas: public health practice in a health department, community development, research, health education, health promotion or other related work. Experience can be paid or voluntary.

With approval, students may transfer up to 17 credit hours with a B or better from other institutions or other non-degree or graduate programs within UNM. However, those hours cannot be applied to meet the requirements of another degree program.

MPH Admission Requirements

The program will consider applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • BS, BA or equivalent from an accredited U.S. institution, or a recognized foreign institution.
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, or 9 credit hours with a GPA of 3.0 or better in public health-related graduate courses.
  • Undergraduate basic statistics or graduate level basic biostatistics course with a 3.0 or higher. MD and PhD students who have received their accredited degrees from U.S. institutions are exempt from this requirement.

All students must have 1 of the following:

  • GRE scores taken within the last 5 years with preferred verbal, quantitative and analytical writing scores around the 50th percentile, or
  • MCAT with a preferred total score of 22, or
  • GMAT with a preferred score of 500 and above.

MD and PhD students who have received their degrees from accredited U.S. institutions are exempt from submitting the above tests scores. Foreign medical graduates are required to hold a license to practice in the U.S. or receive their degree from an accredited U.S. institution in order to be exempt from submitting the tests scores.

Foreign students should contact the UNM Office of International Admissions to find out eligibility status. In addition, foreign students are required to apply to both the UNM International Admissions office and SOPHAS.

For information, contact the office at:

UNM, Student Services Center, Room 140
Albuquerque, N.M., 87131-5267
Phone:  (505) 277-5829

Available concentrations

The mission of this concentration is to prepare students for leadership roles in population-based disease prevention and health promotion in public and private settings. The philosophical foundation of the concentration relies on the community-capacity building empowerment approach to promote social justice and equity in health. The concentration is designed for students with prior experience, education or interest in community-focused public health practice or research that values diversity, self-reflection and critical analysis of evidence-based practice and practice-based public health approaches.


Guided by the social-ecological approach, the Community Health Concentration emphasizes:

  • Basic core principles and community needs and asset assessment skills;
  • Program planning, implementation and evaluation; and
  • Policy development and application for a broad array of health and social issues in population and community-based public health disease prevention and health promotion.

Student will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to plan, implement and evaluate public health programs at multiple levels of the social-ecologic framework.


The Community Health Concentration requires:

  • 19 credits of MPH core courses and at least 18 credits in graduate-level courses in public and community health.
  • 2 credits of a practical field experience (PH 598 - Public Health Practicum) in a public health setting.
  • At least 3 credits demonstrating competencies in integrating community health perspectives through one of the culminating experience options of professional paper, integrative experience or thesis; and the oral master’s examination.
  • The Chair of the culminating experience committee must be a core faculty member of the concentration.  

More Information

Contact Dr. Victoria Sanchez with questions regarding the Community Health Concentration.

Students will attain the knowledge and skills necessary to collect, analyze and interpret epidemiologic data in order to solve public health problems. The concentration prepares students for employment as a master’s level epidemiologist or research scientist in various settings such as the New Mexico Department of Health, the UNM School of Medicine and other public health research and service organizations.


  • 19 credits of MPH core courses and 18 credits of required and elective graduate-level courses in the concentration.
  • 2 credits of a practical field experience (PH 598 - Public Health Practicum) in an epidemiologic setting.
  • At least 3 credits demonstrating competencies in epidemiology through one of the culminating experience options (professional paper, integrative experience or thesis, and the oral master’s examination).

More Information

Drs. Andrew Rowland, Kristine Tollestrup and Alexis Handal can answer questions regarding the Epidemiology Concentration.

The concentration in health systems, services and policy will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze health systems, public health and health care services and programs, and related governmental and nongovernmental policies. Students will develop the capacity to analyze and develop interventions and health policies at local, national and global levels. The goal of the concentration is to prepare students to work in health organizations and policy arenas to improve population health and decrease health inequities.


The health systems, services and policy concentration requires:

  • 19 credits of MPH core courses and of 18 credits in graduate-level courses.
  • 2 credits of a practical field experience (PH 598 - public health practicum) in policy, public health or health care service settings.
  • At least 3 credits demonstrating competencies in integrating health systems, services and policy perspectives through one of the culminating experience options (professional paper, integrative experience or thesis, and the oral master’s examination).

More Information

Contact Dr. Celia Iriart, director of the health systems, services and policy concentration, with questions regarding the Health Systems Services and Policy Concentration.


Students in the public health program must complete 2 credits in a public health practicum experience prior to graduation. Students with 5 or more years of public health experience are exempt from the 2 credits, upon written approval by the practicum director.

The practicum will provide MPH students with the opportunity to gain skills and experience in a real-world setting. National, state and local organizations, agencies and institutions interact with the public health faculty and staff to provide students with opportunities to refine their skills, as well as practice the concepts acquired through the academic program.

Professional Paper, Thesis and Master Exam

Students are required to submit an approved professional paper or thesis. The professional paper or thesis must be prepared following a specific process. Contact your faculty advisor for information on the thesis and master exam.

More Information

Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Provide comprehensive education in the core functions and areas of knowledge basic to public health.

    • Objective 1: Educate students in the public health competencies and skills that are necessary for competent public health practice.
    • Objective 2: Broaden student perspectives through incorporating a social-ecologic approach to public health across the curriculum.
    • Objective 3: Communicate effectively both in writing and orally to diverse professional and lay audiences regarding public health issues.
    • Objective 4: Apply public health theory, knowledge and skills in a practice setting.
    • Objective 5: Ensure that students are exposed to public health practitioners throughout their coursework.
    • Objective 6: Maintain a well-qualified and diverse student body, faculty and staff.

Goal 2: Address unique educational issues of minority and marginalized populations.

    • Objective 1: Ensure that core and elective courses incorporate social and cultural explanations of disease patterns in diverse populations and culturally appropriate interventions.

Goal 3: Provide academic, community and interdisciplinary learning opportunities that improve knowledge and practice of public health.

    • Objective 1: Develop interdisciplinary learning opportunities for MPH students. Percent of core courses with interdisciplinary learning experiences.
    • Objective 2: Continue to support and develop dual degree options and a minor in public health. Number of students completing a dual degree or minor in public health.

Goal 1: Develop a collaborative interdisciplinary research agenda throughout the region to improve population health and reduce health inequities.

    • Objective 1: For faculty members to conduct basic, applied and community-based research that contributes to the identification, management and resolution of public health problems.
    • Objective 2: For faculty members to demonstrate ability to work across disciplines in collaborative teams.
    • Objective 3: Mentor graduate students, post-doctoral students, medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty in public health research.
    • Objective 4: Develop community-based research and evaluation that promote partnership, collaborative learning and social justice.

Goal 1: Expand and strengthen partnerships to provide practice and service opportunities for students and faculty with communities, tribes, healthcare systems, governments and other private and public institutions.

    • Objective 1: Build on informal and formal working relationships with local, state, national, tribal and international organizations.
    • Objective 2: Target student recruitment efforts in and among underserved communities and from communities that have traditionally been under-represented in the public health field.
    • Objective 3: Continue to seek input regularly from program stakeholders including students, alumni employers and members of tribes, non-profit groups, public agencies, health care organizations and other community groups.
    • Objective 4: Actively serve on public and private agency governing and advisory boards, community-based organizations, professional organization committees and interagency work groups (e.g. review boards or editorial boards).

Goal 2: Provide education, training and technical assistance to improve community public health capacity by supporting individual and community health and health systems in New Mexico and the Southwest.

    • Objective 1: Provide capacity-building courses and workshops that include policy development, analysis and advocacy to public agencies, community groups and tribes.
    • Objective 2: Provide technical assistance in assessment, assurance and policy development to public agencies, community groups and tribes.
    • Objective 3: Partner with communities, local, state and tribal governments, UNM and other public health stakeholders to improve community public health capacity in New Mexico and the Southwest.

Answers about public health careers

  • Prevents epidemics and the spread of disease.
  • Protects against environmental hazards.
  • Prevents intentional and unintentional injuries.
  • Promotes and encourages healthy behaviors.
  • Responds to disasters and assists communities in recovery.
  • Assures the quality and accessibility of health services.
  • Develops community interventions.
  • Supports community coalitions.
  • Monitor health status to identify community problems and assets.
  • Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  • Inform and educate people about health issues.
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  • Enforce laws and regulations designed to protect health and ensure safety.
  • Participate in innovative research that leads to solving health problems.
  • Develop community interventions and support community empowerment.

Some jobs in public health are:

  • Epidemiologist: investigates and describes the causes and the distribution of disease, disability and other health issues and develops the means for their prevention and control.
  • Environmental scientist and specialist: applies biological, chemical and public health principles to control, eliminate, ameliorate and/or prevent environmental health hazards. Other related jobs include environmental researcher, food scientist, soil and plant scientist, air pollution specialist, hazardous materials specialist, toxicologist, water/waste water/solid waste specialist and sanitarian.
  • Environmental engineer: applies engineering principles to control, eliminate, ameliorate and/or prevent environmental health hazards.
  • Occupational safety health specialist: evaluates and analyzes workplace environments and exposures and designs programs and procedures to control, ameliorate or eliminate and/or prevent disease and injury caused by chemical, physical or biological risks to workers.
  • Health educator: provides advice on and evaluates educational programs designed to support and modify health-related behaviors, conditions and policies within organizations and communities.
  • Public health community advocate: works with organizations to promote community and policy change.
  • Public health policy analyst: develops health programs, facilities and resources; and analyzes and evaluates the implications of alternative policies relating to health care.
  • Public health physician, nurse, social worker, dentist, nutritionist: works in public health settings to assess the need for and to provide population-based and clinical preventive services.
  • Health service manager/ health service administrator: coordinates health services, education or policy in establishments such as hospitals, health clinics, public health agencies, managed care organizations and industrial organizations.

Many professionals with degrees in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, engineering, law, social work, health education, dentistry and other fields pursue graduate public health studies to provide them with the following skills:

  • analytic research;
  • communication;
  • policy development;
  • program planning and evaluation;
  • cultural;
  • health administration and management;
  • community development and group process; and
  • behavioral and social science.
  • The majority of graduates work for government health agencies, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions or other health-related systems.