Master of Public Health

MPH Public Health Policy & Administration


Why study Public Health Policy?

Public health policy includes local, state, and federal policies that directly or indirectly impact the level and distribution of health in the population. At the Zilber School, we take a broad inter-sectoral view that includes a “Health in All Policies” approach. This framework recognizes that the level and distribution of health and wellbeing in the population are fundamentally shaped by public policies that create the social and economic conditions that underlie population health and health equity.

What makes our program distinct?

The Public Health Policy & Administration (PHPA) track is nationally distinct in its inter-sectoral, systems-level, and justice focused curriculum. Emphasizing the social, political, and economic determinants of health, students in the PHPA track gain foundational understanding of social and policy theories, and their relevance to public health practice and policymaking in various contexts.

The PHPA track also uniquely trains students in both quantitative, econometric policy analysis and qualitative research methods, with application to real-world public health policy problems.


What skillset do PHPA graduates acquire?

Through coursework and applied learning via the field experience and capstone, students will gain specific PHPA competencies and graduate with well-rounded knowledge and a solid set of skills in research-driven policy analysis, advocacy, and administration, applicable in a variety of health-related public and private settings.

PHPA MPH curriculum (46 credits)

All students enrolled in the MPH program take a common set of core classes. The core curriculum consists of at least 20 credit hours, including at least three credits in Field Experience and a two-credit capstone seminar. In addition to the common core, students must complete the below required coursework for the PHPA program.

MPH Required Common Core Courses (at least 24 credits)

PH 702: Introduction to Biostatistics (3 credits)
PH 703: Environmental Health Sciences (3 credits)
PH 704: Principles and Methods of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PH 705: Public Health Policy and Administration (3 credits)
PH 706: Perspectives in Community and Behavioral Health (3 credits)
PH 708: Health Systems and Population Health (3 credits)
PH 790: Field Experience in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 791: Leadership in Public Health (1 credit)
PH 800: Capstone in Public Health (2 credits)

PHPA Required Courses (18 credits)

PH 776: Qualitative Approaches in Public Health Policy and Administration (3 credits)
PH 779: Public Health Policymaking and Policy Analysis (3 credits)
PH 785: Principles of Public Health Economics (3 credits)
PH 781: Public Health Administration (3 credits)
PH 777: Quantitative Research Methods for Public Health Policy and
Administration (3 credits)
PH 759: Intro to Regression for Understanding Social Determinants of Health (3 credits)

Content Elective – choose at least one (3 credits)

PH 700 Structures of Inequality and Population Health (3 credits)
PH 769: Critical Perspectives on Nutritional Epidemiology and the Food System (3 credits)
PH 774: Violence and Health
PH 784: Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy (3 credits)
PH 820: Maternal and Child Health Foundations, Policy and Practice (3 credits)
PH 859: Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States (3 credits)

Other classes as approved by advisor.

Methods and Practice Electives – Choose at least two (6 credits)

PH 726: Community Assessment (3 credits)
PH 727: Program Planning and Implementation in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 728: Program Evaluation in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 729: Survey Research Methods in Public Health (3 credits)
PH 763: Epidemiology for Equity (3 credits)
ED POL 601: Foundations of Community-Based Organizations (3 credits)
ED POL 602: Proposal Writing and Fundraising Skills for Community-Based Organizations (3 credits)
ED POL 711: Community Change and Engagement Strategies: (3 credits)
NONPROF 791: Nonprofit Advocacy and Public Policy (3 credits)
PUB ADM 630: Budgeting and Finance in the Public Sector (3 credits)
URBPLAN 791: Intro to Urban GIS for Planning (3 credits)
BUS ADM 766: Marketing for Non-profit Organizations (3 credits)

Other classes as approved by advisor.

Please note: All courses subject to change. Please consult the Academic Catalog for the most up-to-date information.

PHPA competencies

  1. Distinguish public health policy and administration from health care policy and administration, and articulate the importance of health in all policies.
  1. Examine how public policy and established socio-economic structures influence population health and health disparities.
  1. Develop strategies for leveraging policy to promote population health, health equity, and social and environmental justice.
  1. Integrate ethical principles into public health policy, practice, research and administration by ensuring respect for diverse values, beliefs, and cultures and the dignity of individual and communities.
  1. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills to present, explain and advocate for public health policies and programs.
  1. Describe the policy-making process and identify the actors, structures and forces that influence and shape the public health policy process.
  1. Conduct policy analysis in public health policy and administration, identifying and assessing policy options, outcomes, and potential contributions to population health and health disparities.
  1. Apply appropriate methods to gather and analyze a robust basis of evidence to inform and evaluate public health policy, practice and administration.
  1. Assess and translate available evidence into public health policy and administrative planning, development and implementation to promote population health and health equity.
  1. Describe the organizational structures and administration of public health and health care systems.
  1. Describe best-practice leadership and management principles as they relate to public health practice


PHPA graduates can work for state and local health departments, nonprofits, policy think tanks, advocacy organizations, or with elected officials to analyze, develop, and implement health-related policies at the city, state, or national level, among other opportunities.

Job placements for recent PHPA graduates include:

Wisconsin Population Health Fellowship (Wood County Health Department)
National Cancer Institute Health Communications Internship
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
Medical College of Wisconsin

Health research consulting firms
Other non-profit organizations



Research expertise of individual PHPA faculty include:

D. Phuong (Phoenix) Do, PhD: Socioeconomic health policies; racial/ethnic segregation and neighborhood effects; racial/ethnic health disparities; quantitative methodologies

Linnea Laestadius, PhD, MPP: Public health and technology; social media communication; commercial determinants of health; tobacco regulatory science; qualitative methods

More information on PHPA faculty research, including descriptions of specific projects can be found on our PHPA Research page.

Become a leader for the public’s health.