Program Competencies

The Graduate Program in Public Health adopted program competencies in 2007. The competencies were based on those promulgated by the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice Core Competencies for Public Health Profession (the Council). The Council is a coalition of representatives from 17 national public health organizations. The Council updated and adopted a revised set of competencies in June 2014. These competencies are designed to foster workforce development by helping academic institutions and training providers to develop curricula and course content, and to evaluate public health education and training programs.

The Program uses competencies to guide overall program learning objectives, overall curriculum development, and course specific learning objectives. The Graduate Program in Public Health at ISMMS has reviewed and revised the core competencies and presents here updated Competencies devised specifically for our program. These competencies shall be the primary guide against which student achievement is measured in the classroom, in the practicum, in the culminating experience and in other service learning opportunities. Going forward the competencies herein replace those in previous iterations of the Student Handbook and all other program materials.

Core Competencies

Core competencies are those that all students, regardless of specialty track, are required to achieve while in the Program. The Graduate Program in Public Health continually evaluates these competencies for relevance and applicability:

  • Describe factors affecting the health of a community (e.g., equity, income, education, environment.)
  • Identify the behavioral determinants of contemporary public health problems, and apply behavioral theories to the development and implementation of policies and programs.
  • Assess the impact of social, political, economic, and cultural forces on the development and implementation of health policies and programs.
  • Evaluate the influence of social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors on the initiation and persistence of health disparities within communities both locally and globally.
  • Analyze how population exposures to environmental risk factors interfere with human biological systems to produce disease in communities.
  • Utilize descriptive and inferential statistical methods to critically evaluate and interpret scientific evidence from public health reports and published studies.
  • Apply epidemiological methods to reveal casual associations between risk factors and disease and to measure and describe patterns of disease occurrence in populations.
  • Analyze the validity and reliability of data.
  • Clearly articulate a public health issue and formulate relevant research questions.
  • Apply ethical principles in accessing, collecting, analyzing, using, maintaining, and disseminating data and information.
  • Demonstrate effective written and oral skills for communicating with a wide range of audiences and in a variety of public health practice settings.

General Public Health Track

Specialization is not required and students are free to pursue a general program of study consisting of an amalgamation of courses across all specialty tracks. General Track students, however, must still complete a set of required courses from each of the five areas of basic public health knowledge: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and social/behavioral sciences.

General Public Health Track Competencies

  • Demonstrate ability to employ a public health systems approach to assess the health status of populations, to identify determinants of health and illness, and to ascertain factors influencing the use of health services.
  • Utilize basic biostatistical concepts and appropriate study design methodologies to address public health research questions and to evaluate community-based interventions.
  • Apply descriptive and analytic epidemiology to population-based research, and develop disease control and prevention programs in conjunction with the community.
  • Specify approaches for assessing, preventing and controlling environmental and occupational hazards that pose risks to human health and safety.
  • Design, implement and evaluate public health programs and policies within a socioecological framework.
  • Apply principles of cultural competency to health promotion/disease prevention programs, policies and research, to improve patient and community health, and to reduce health disparities.
  • Support, promote and develop public health advocacy that informs, educates and empowers communities about public health issues and effects systems changes.

For track-specific competencies, please see below:


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