SVSU now offers Masters degree in Public Health


SVSU has added a master’s degree in public health to the curriculum in the Fall 2018 semester.

The curriculum will be centered on the increased demand for public health services in the Tri-City area and across the state.

“Our goal is to provide students with the core knowledge and skill level involved to actively engage in a variety of public health professions and occupations,” said Christine Noller, SVSU’s director for the implementation of the public health program. “Our goal is not only to focus our attention locally, but across the state for anyone that would like to be able to complete their masters degree here at SVSU.”

The idea for the program started with a needs survey in the community four years ago, which found that public health was an area that needed to be addressed. An advisory board of stakeholders in the tri-county was also put together, which found that there was an overwhelming interest in the community for a public health program.

“There are so many things in this area that need the attention of public health,” said Judith Ruland, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “They can work in public health departments, environmental departments, hospitals and a multitude of other areas.”

The new program is a generalist program that is 30 credits and covers the five core areas of public health, including biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, public health services and social and behavioral sciences.

The program will start out hybrid and online, and within a two-year period, courses will be completed. New technology will be utilized for the program, as the university recently onboarded technology that will allow students to dial into the course online if they are unable to meet face to face.

“I’m excited that so many students chose to apply for the short period that admissions were open,” Ruland said. “It’s really exciting to know that we are meeting a need, and that we bring a unique approach to the table.”

The first cohort will start this fall and graduate at the end of spring 2020.

“Public health is everything and everywhere, which is why we draw upon a vast pool of different majors,” Noller said. “We are creating a true interdisciplinary approach that is bigger than health itself.”

Previously, students who wanted to seek out a masters degree in public health would have to transfer to neighboring programs. According to Meghan Baruth, an associate professor of Health Sciences, this was taken into account throughout the creation of the program.

“I think it’s going to be a great program (that) allows students to expand on their undergraduate studies and find great jobs in the community doing all things related to public health,” Baruth said. “Students were going elsewhere to complete their masters, but wanted to stay here because they felt like this was home to them.”