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Didn't earn an undergrad degree in science but interested in public health? New master's could be the perfect fit

Didn't earn an undergrad degree in science but interested in public health? New master's could be the perfect fit

Journalism grads, political sciences majors, psychology alumni and others all have a role to play in public health

February 13, 2024 at 9:44am

This fall, FIU will launch its Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in global health, a 45-credit degree that will train students on how to respond to the domestic and international health challenges of today and prepare for those that can impact populations in the future. The MPH program can be completed in two years or in one year through an accelerated track.

“This is a degree that doesn’t require you to have a health background,” says Rajiv Chowdhury, chair and professor of global health at the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work (Stempel College). “There are many ways students coming from different fields can contribute to global health—these complex cross-border challenges require interdisciplinary expertise and solutions.”

Chowdhury shares that there are three main steps for tackling a global health problem: identifying the problem, developing the solution, and implementing the solution.  “In each of these steps, you need people from a wide range of backgrounds working together,” he says. “From scientists pinpointing health threats, legal practitioners shaping health policies, to the collaboration of public health experts, journalists and community organizations in effectively communicating to the public—each contributes significantly to shaping global health.”

In 2023, the World Health Organization’s largest global collection of health inequality data revealed disparity patterns in major global diseases, like emerging infections and growing cardiometabolic and mental health conditions. It also reported major inequities in how health policies are made, followed, and kept in place on a global scale.

“Health disparities within any community, global or local, increase the likelihood of negative population health outcomes that for many will be catastrophic,” says Gilbert Ramirez, visiting professor of global health. “The intersection of globalization and an aging public health workforce has exacerbated a long-standing societal challenge for confronting the population health threats not only of today, but far into the future.”

The MPH program focuses on building the knowledge and skills students need to help improve population health locally and globally. The curriculum covers core public health concepts, including epidemiology, biostatistics, health promotion and disease prevention, and environmental health sciences. Through the concentration-specific courses, students will explore topics like mental health and aging, health safety and quality, and planetary health. The program will also offer a course developed and led by the World Health Organization focusing on global health and diplomacy, offered exclusively at FIU and the University of Oxford.

In 2021, the Department of Global Health was launched by Stempel College to center its work around building research, innovation and capacity strengthening to help support people affected by today’s global health threats.

Although this is the first degree offered by the department, the college, through its Global Health Consortium, has fostered scientific engagements and an interdisciplinary network of academic institutions throughout Latin America for nearly a decade. Its annual Global Health Conference of the Americas, which convenes leading public health, medical and academic experts to speak on global health issues, will take place at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus on September 3-5, 2024.

“FIU’s health initiatives across the Americas and beyond have paved the way for a global health program that meets 21st century needs,” said Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “Understanding global health and its principles can help provide students with new perspectives on how to tackle these pressing health challenges.”

Guilarte adds that FIU’s international collaborative partnerships and diverse academic programs, including doctoral degrees in public health, can help open doors for students to pursue future research and career opportunities.

Students interested in enrolling in the program for fall 2024, can visit its site for more information.