Online Master of Public Health

Program

Overview

For more than 50 years, the Master of Public Health program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has been a home for Volunteers passionate about making an impact through community health. We are renowned for the tight-knit relationships our students form with faculty, advisors, and peers, and the versatility of our course offerings.

Our online MPH provides prospective and established health professionals with access to the same quality of coursework and instruction as our residential program, with the added flexibility of virtual coursework. Online students have the opportunity to choose between concentrations in Community Health Education (CHE), Health Policy and Management (HPM), and Veterinary Public Health (VPH) while building the same foundational competencies as their residential counterparts.

Available Concentrations

A group of UTK students sit in a circle and present health education information to youth

Community Health Education (CHE)

Learn to use appropriate educational strategies and methods to facilitate the development of policies, procedures, interventions, and systems conducive to the health of individuals, groups, and communities.

Two health professionals discuss a patient case using a laptop

Health Policy and Management (HPM)

Develop comprehensive skills in team leadership, financial management, human resources management, communications, program planning and administration, and the facilitation of change.

A woman taking care of a horse.

Veterinary Public Health (VPH)*

Explore the interaction among animal, human, and environmental health (“One Health”) to expand upon the veterinary knowledge and skills you gained during your professional education.

*The Veterinary Public Health concentration is available only to veterinary students enrolled in a DVM degree program, graduate veterinarians, and licensed veterinary medical technicians (LVMT).

Applied Practice Experience

MPH students complete an Applied Practice Experience, similar to an internship, to apply classroom learning, develop practical skills, and demonstrate public health competency attainment. The Applied Practice Experience (APEx) is a 240-hour minimum work experience enabling graduate students to develop and demonstrate public health competencies while contributing to projects that benefit the organization.

An aerial view of the UTK campus in Knoxville, Tennessee at sunrise

As an MPH student, you will select an APEx site that aligns with your individual career and educational goals. The Applied Practice Experience typically takes place during your last semester so that you can leverage the opportunity as an entry point into the public health sector. The hands-on experience is a unique professional preparation dimension of our online MPH, and will allow you to actively integrate theory and concepts in the real-world.

Faculty

The Master of Public Health faculty are dedicated to bringing health in all communities, community in all places. For more information about the Online MPH faculty, please visit the faculty directory.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Jennifer Russomanno

Jennifer Russomanno, DrPH, MPH, CHES

MPH PROGRAM DIRECTOR AND ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE

Jennifer Russomanno received her doctorate and MPH from University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research focuses on examining food inequities and insecurities in under-represented populations.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Jiangang Chen

Jiangang Chen, MD, PhD

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Jiangang Chen researches potential environmental impacts on human reproduction. Chen received his Doctor of Philosophy from UC – Davis and Master of Medicine from Beijing Medical University.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Samantha Ehrlich

Samantha F. Ehrlich, PhD, MPH

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Samantha F. Ehrlich is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist whose research focuses on pregnancy exposures, behaviors and outcomes related to obesity and diabetes in women and their children.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Mallory Gary

Mallory L. Gary, PhD, CHES

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE

Mallory L. Gary has more than 20 years of public health experience with research interests in social health and spiritual health. She received her PhD from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Jennifer Jabson Tree

Jennifer M. Jabson Tree, PhD, MPH

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Jennifer M. Jabson Tree received her doctoral and MPH degrees from Oregon State University. Her research aims to document and reduce health inequity and health disparities among medically underserved groups. She specializes in addressing LGBTQ health inequities.

Headshot of Daleniece Jones, MPH, PhD

Daleniece Jones, MPH, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Daleniece Higgins Jones, MPH, PhD is a molecular epidemiologist whose research focus is on molecular microbial food safety epidemiology. She received her PhD from the University of Memphis.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Laurie Meschke

Laurie L. Meschke, PhD, MS

PROFESSOR

Laurie L. Meschke utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methodology in examining adolescent health. She most recently focuses on opioid use disorder and rape prevention education. Meschke received her graduate degrees from Penn State.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Chika Okafor

Chika C. Okafor, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVPM (Epi)

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Chika C. Okafor is an epidemiologist whose research is focused on improving judicious use of antimicrobials in animals. He received his DVM from the University of Nigeria and his graduate studies from Michigan State University.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Jennifer Perion

Jennifer Perion, PhD, CHES

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE

Jennifer Perion researches aging, including the needs of family and professional caregivers and the experiences of older adults with dementia. Perion received her PhD from the University of Toledo.

Headshot of Peyton Prothero, MPH

Peyton Prothero, MPH

APPLIED PRACTICE EXPERIENCE (APEX) COORDINATOR

Peyton Prothero (she/her/hers) is the Applied Practice Experience (APEx) Coordinator for the Department of Public Health. Peyton received her B.S. in Public Health, Health Promotion and Health Behavior from Oregon State University in 2014 and her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Community Health Education with a minor in Epidemiology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2022. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Headshot of Brittany Shelton, MPH, DrPH

Brittany Shelton, MPH, DrPH

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Brittany A. Shelton, DrPH, MPH (pronouns: she/her/hers), is a health disparities researcher who earned her MPH (2014) in health policy and DrPH (2022) in health policy and organization from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Headshot of Kenneth D. Smith, PhD

Kenneth D. Smith, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Kenneth D. Smith, PhD is a health economist and public health practitioner. He received his doctorate from The Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he studied economic demography and health economics.

A professional UTK MPH faculty headshot of Thankam Sunil

Thankam S. Sunil, PhD, MPH

DEPARTMENT HEAD AND PROFESSOR

Thankam S. Sunil researches health disparities at the local and global levels. Sunil received his PhD from the University of North Texas and MPH from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center.

Headshot of Phoebe Tran, PhD, MS

Phoebe Tran, PhD, MS

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Phoebe Tran, PhD, MS is a cardiovascular disease epidemiologist. Phoebe received her PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University, MS in Epidemiology form Harvard University, and BA in Biology from Emory University.

30%

Approximate amount of UT MPH students employed by their Applied Practice Experience site upon graduation

200+

Agencies and facilities across 32 states have provided practice sites for UT MPH students

100%

MPH graduates employed or pursuing further education within one year of graduation

Foundational Competencies

All MPH graduates demonstrate the following competencies.

These competencies are informed by the traditional public health core knowledge areas, (biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, health services administration, and environmental health sciences), as well as cross-cutting and emerging public health areas. They are in compliance with the most recent criteria established by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) in 2021.

  • Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context
  • Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate
  • Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice
  • Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice
  • Compare the organization, structure, and function of health care, public health, and regulatory systems across national and international settings
  • Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels
  • Assess population needs, assets, and capacities that affect communities’ health
  • Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs
  • Design a population-based policy, program, project or intervention
  • Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management
  • Select methods to evaluate public health programs
  • Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence
  • Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes
  • Advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations
  • Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity
  • Implement principles of leadership, governance and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration and guiding decision making
  • Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges
  • Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors
  • Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation
  • Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content
  • Perform effectively on interprofessional teams
  • Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue

Foundational Courses

Study of the environmental factors (natural, anthropogenic or combination) on human health and the integrity of the ecosystem.

Exploration of public health and healthcare systems, health policy formulation, and associated implications for management and leadership.

Application of descriptive and inferential statistical methods to analyze and interpret data for health-related problems and programs.

Introductory course on the different types of program evaluation, including formative research, process evaluation, monitoring of outcomes, impact assessment and cost analysis. Covers experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental study designs and the strengths and limitations of each.

The distribution and determinants of health-related outcomes in specific populations with application to control of health problems. Issues addressed include: historical origins of discipline, hypothesis formulation, research design, data and error sources, measures of frequency and association, etiologic reasoning, and disease screening.

This course applies an ecological framework to health assessment and program planning to address health disparities. Requires 25 or more hours of community service learning.

In-depth discussion of timely topics reflecting scope of public health as a discipline and its interrelation with many other academic and professional disciplines. Speakers both internal and external to The University of Tennessee are featured.

Program Governance

The MPH program is administratively housed in the Department of Public Health, which is one of eight academic departments in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Within the department, the MPH Academic Program Committee (MPH/APC) includes the MPH faculty representatives from each concentration of study plus the dual MS-MPH program, the MPH field practice coordinator, and a student representative from each concentration of study.

The committee provides program governance, curricular direction and integrity, and academic policy development. Student representatives have full discussion and voting privileges with all academic matters except review of applications for admission. To ensure MPH graduates are prepared to enter a competitive workforce, public health practitioners from various public health and health-related organizations are regularly invited to committee meetings to offer suggestions on skills, knowledge, and attitudes that MPH graduates should possess in today’s market. For example, the program evaluation core course is a curricular addition that grew out of workforce speaker input.

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