Public Health

The MPH at Tulane Creates Public Health Leaders

The MPH at Tulane Creates Public Health Leaders
Tulane is one of the preeminent research universities in the United States. It's also home to the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (or Tulane SPHTM), which has trained public health leaders for more than a century. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry September 23, 2020

The School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University has high-profile faculty and a long list of master's concentration options. A vast professional network further enhances the degree's value.

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The leadership role Tulane University of Louisiana in New Orleans holds in public health education befits the school’s origins: it was founded as a medical college in 1834 in response to a yellow fever epidemic. Nearly 200 years later, Tulane is one of the preeminent research universities in the United States. It’s also home to the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (or Tulane SPHTM), which has trained public health leaders for more than a century.

The master’s in public health programs at Tulane University are among the nation’s best, ranking thirteenth in U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best public health graduate schools. An independent study conducted by Harris Search Associates designated Tulane’s program among the nation’s top programs training public health leaders. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranks Tulane an R1 school for the high-level research it undertakes.

The Master’s in Public Health (MPH) is only one of the many public health degrees offered at Tulane. The university has several degree programs—offered both on-campus and in a distance-learning format—to prepare students for leadership careers in this discipline. Each covers the five core areas of public health: epidemiology, behavioral science, environmental health, biostatistics, and management. Students can also choose from among various public health concentrations (more on this below). Consequently, earning a degree from Tulane can prepare you for careers in the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and local, state, federal, and international agencies.

In this guide to the masters in public health at Tulane, we cover:

  • What sets the public health department at Tulane apart
  • Public health degrees offered by Tulane University
  • MPH concentrations at Tulane
  • The Foundational MPH Curriculum at Tulane
  • Research, internships, and other opportunities outside of class
  • Tuition and financial aid options
  • Public health research at Tulane

What sets the public health department at Tulane apart

Students in the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine:

  • Receive a solid education in public health: All MPH students and other students in SPHTM master’s degree programs complete five foundational core courses focused on the principles of public health.
  • Get hands-on experience: All public health master’s students at Tulane can participate in research, shadow professionals in partner hospitals, study abroad, and put their new knowledge and skills into practice through internships, assistantships, and volunteer placements.
  • Explore a variety of public health concerns: The public health focus areas at Tulane include cardiovascular disease, health disparities, reproductive health, and disaster response.
  • Dive deep into the study of neglected tropical diseases: Tulane was the first school of tropical medicine in the country. It remains a leading research center for malaria, dengue, and Ebola, as well as more obscure conditions.
  • Help address public health concerns unique to New Orleans: Public health students at Tulane are exposed to various on-the-ground issues, from health disparities to inequality of healthcare access to maternal-child health concerns to managing COVID-19 in an urban environment.

“I’m ready for a degree!”

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Public health degrees offered by Tulane University

Tulane students can pursue both professional public health degrees and academic public health degrees in a total of 16 programs offered through six departments:

  • The multidisciplinary full-time 45-credit MPH program prepares students to practice in a wide range of public health settings
  • The 42-credit Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is a practice-oriented public health degree with a focus on infectious tropical disease
  • The 42-credit Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) is a science-oriented program for students who want to pursue careers in research

In addition to its highly respected on-campus MPH and MSPH programs, the Tulane SPHTM also offers a number of online MPH degree options, including an:

  • MPH in Community Health Sciences
  • MPH in Disaster Management
  • MPH in Occupational and Environmental Health
  • MPH in Occupational Health and Safety & Management

The school also offers joint degree options partnership with the Tulane University School of Medicine and the Tulane School of Social Work. Dual degree pathways include the:

  • MD/MPH

MPH concentrations at Tulane

Because public health is such a broad topic, Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine doesn’t offer any generalist master’s in public health degrees. Instead, all students choose from among the following concentrations:

  • Biostatistics
  • Community Health Sciences
  • Disaster Management
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Education and Communication
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Health Systems Management
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • International Health and Development
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Nutrition

The Foundational MPH Curriculum at Tulane

In 2019, SPHTM updated its core on-campus and online Master of Public Health curriculum to reflect the fact that public health is an interdisciplinary field with a range of practical applications. The 15-credit Foundational Curriculum at Tulane is a sequence of five rigorous courses taken by students in the first year of the program:

  • Biostatistics for Public Health
  • Design Strategies for Public Health Programs
  • Epidemiology for Public Health
  • Foundations in Public Health
  • Health Systems, Policy, and Management

These courses “provide fundamental knowledge and skills for all public health disciplines” and are designed to be applicable in all areas of professional public health practice.

Research, internships, and other opportunities outside of class

Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine can participate in a variety of volunteer activities, technical research programs, population-based research programs, independent research opportunities, internships, and public health-focused study abroad programs. Frequent events, lectures, and other public health happenings take place on campus and around New Orleans. The city is home to the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, Ochsner, and multiple hospital systems where graduate students can shadow public health professionals, participate in research, and get valuable hands-on experience. There are also clubs and student-run organizations for graduate students and undergraduate students studying public health, and summer, semester, and year-long study abroad opportunities. All the above resources help students build their professional networks and prepare them for successful careers.

Didi Ikeji, a student in SPHTM’s combined 4+1 BSPH/MPH program, shared about how she benefited from these opportunities on the Tulane University Admissions Blog:

“I joined a club through Newcomb Institute called Women in Science. Every year the club hosts a panel where female doctors in the community are invited to come speak to club members and answer questions. After the meeting, I became really interested in the work one of the doctors was doing; a senior club member was working with the doctor at the time and gave me her contact information and invited me to come see her work firsthand at Ochsner. Starting that semester, I began shadowing the doctor and have worked summer internships through Ochsner two years in a row. I am now writing my thesis based on the clinic I work in, and it all began from a club I joined freshman year!”

Tuition and financial aid options

Tulane University is not inexpensive; you won’t find it on lists of the most affordable public health schools. That said, Master of Public Health students at Tulane pay less than students in many of the other top U.S. News & World Report-ranked public health programs. Tuition per credit hour for both in-state students and out-of-state students is $1,422 plus fees, and students have access to federal financial aid, work-study assistance, and student loans. There are also several partial need-based and merit-based master’s scholarships available each semester through endowments, Dean’s Grants, and department resources, as well as paid assistantships and professional opportunities.

Public health research at Tulane

There’s a lot going on in Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The school’s Office of Global Health creates new educational and research opportunities for students and faculty. Currently, faculty research subjects include a virome database of marine mammals to monitor emerging infectious diseases, contraceptive use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the impact of climate change on the indigenous United Houma Nation.

Tulane is home to research centers like the Tulane Center for Lifespan Epidemiology Research (CLER), Tulane Global Research Data Center (GRDC), Tulane Hypertension and Renal Center of Excellence, and Tulane Obesity Research Center (TUORC). It also is a part of several inter-school research centers, including the:

  • Center for Applied Environmental Public Health (CAEPH)
  • Center for Applied Malaria Research and Evaluation (CAMRE)
  • Center for Emerging Reproductive Perinatal Epidemiology (CERPE)
  • Center for Global Health Equity
  • Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership and Strategic Initiatives
  • Center for Studies of Displaced Populations (CSDP)
  • Health Systems Analytics Research Center (HSARC)
  • Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Research Center

Clearly, there are many compelling reasons to choose Tulane if you’re passionate about public health and global community health. The most compelling reason, however, may be the school’s vast network. SPHTM’s 98 percent career placement rate likely results from the many opportunities students get to hone their skills in real-world and interdisciplinary academic settings.

“I’m very glad I chose to go here,” wrote one commenter in a Reddit thread about Tulane’s MPH program. “One of Tulane’s best attributes is the connections you’ll have if you play your cards right. We have some very high-powered faculty in all the departments who can help you land a prestigious practicum and a job when you’re done.”

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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