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CHHS To Offer Master of Public Health Degree

Melissa Sharer

Melissa Sharer, PhD, director of the Master of Public Health program

October 2017


St. Ambrose University will offer a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year.

The new program is made possible by a $1 million gift from Thomas Higgins, a St. Ambrose alumnus and member of the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees since 2008. Higgins earned his St. Ambrose Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Leadership Studies in 1967, and has built a successful entrepreneurial career around a passion for improving the healthcare industry.

Higgins also is helping to fund and create the Institute for Person-Centered Care (IPCC) at St. Ambrose.

The Master of Public Health degree will be offered as a fully online program with courses delivered in eight-week sessions. Full-time students can complete the degree in 18 months, while part-time students can earn their degree in as little as 33 months. Course content can be accessed online at any time, meaning students can work on and around their own schedules.

The program will enroll its first cohort of up to 30 students in August 2018. Applications will be accepted beginning in the spring of 2018.

St. Ambrose will be the third university in Iowa to offer a graduate degree in public health. The program plans to apply for accreditation through the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Classroom content will include epidemiology, biostatistics, qualitative research, behavioral, social, environmental health, ethics and social justice, health systems policy, and evidence-based practice and application.

The MPH program adds to a robust menu of health-related graduate-level degree programs in the St. Ambrose College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). Existing graduate level health sciences programs at St. Ambrose include the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD), the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), the Master of Speech-Language Pathology (MSLP), the Master of Science in Exercise Physiology (MSEP) and the Master of Social Work (MSW).

St. Ambrose University also offers two pathways to an undergraduate nursing degree along with degrees in psychology, sociology and exercise science, all of which can lead to careers as health professionals.

Sandra Cassady, PhD, St. Ambrose vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the MPH is a degree students in any of the existing graduate programs might consider for a dual degree. She said the program also may provide a career pathway for students majoring in many undergraduate programs at St. Ambrose.

Working professionals will find opportunities to bolster their healthcare industry credentials or as a means of continuing education, Cassady said.

Melissa Sharer, PhD, a native of Geneseo, Ill., was hired in June as the MPH program's first director.

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