Overview of the Master of Public Health Program (MPH)

MPH Student Handbook


Develop, disseminate, and apply knowledge with an ecological approach to promote in the health of populations.

School's Vision

Foster equitable and healthy communities. We achieve this vision through these values:

  • Advancing knowledge
  • Embracing diversity
  • Demonstrating integrity
  • Inspiring learning
  • Succeeding through collaboration

Description of Values

  • Advancing Knowledge: We are committed to asking and answering important questions to advance public health through influential research.
  • Embracing Diversity: We value the backgrounds and experiences of our students, faculty, and staff as partners with diverse communities to reduce disparities and promote equal opportunities to achieve optimal health.
  • Demonstrating Integrity: We Strive in all endeavors to consistently demonstrate honesty, fairness, and respect to promote mutual trust and understanding
  • Inspiring Learning: We cultivate a dynamic learning environment that includes meaningful conversations and experiential learning to engage and inspire professionals who are committed to advancing community health.
  • Succeeding through collaboration: We appreciate the importance of partnerships for achieving public health outcomes and endeavor to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones.


The goals of the SCHS programs are:

  • To prepare future public health practitioners, researchers, educators and leaders
  • To develop the knowledge base for public health through research
  • To be recognized for leadership in innovative approaches to public health
  • To engage with multiple communities through professional and scholarly service
  • To expose students to diversity in multiple venues

Summary of Degree Requirements

  • All MPH students must complete a minimum of 45 graduate level credits: 18 credits from the MPH core courses, 15-18 credits in the student's area of emphasis, 3-6 credits from elective courses, and a culminating experience that includes a 3 credit internship (270 working hours) and a 3 credit capstone course. Completion of the MPH program requires a professional paper and presentation during the last semester of study.
  • The MPH program uses WebCampus and email for communication with students. Students are expected to maintain an active email account, which is listed in the MyNevada system, and to regularly (at least weekly) check both email and the Graduate Student and Faculty Information‖ course in WebCampus for information, announcements, and other communication.

Graduate Courses and Course Load

  • Only graduate courses (numbered 600 or higher at UNR) are applicable toward the MPH degree. These can include web-based courses, if available.
  • According to Graduate School policy, up to nine transfer graduate credits are permitted. However, with the approval of the faculty advisor and the graduate director, and under special circumstances, a student can petition the Graduate School to accept additional transfer credits. The Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request Form should be used to evaluate transfer credits.
  • Graduate credit may not be obtained through Professional Development, Extension or Correspondence courses.

Continuous Enrollment

  • Each graduate student must register for a minimum of 3 graduate credits each fall and spring semester until graduation. A minimum of 6 credits per semester is required to receive financial aid or to hold a graduate assistantship.
  • A leave of absence may be requested. The Graduate School's Application for Leave of Absence Form should be used for this purpose. Both the MPH Director and the Graduate School must approve the leave request. The leave period cannot generally exceed one year. Any leave of absence period will be counted as part of the 8 years allowed for completion of the MPH degree. At the end of a leave-of-absence period the student must also complete a Notice of Reinstatement to Graduate Standing Form, which will be reviewed by both the MPH Director and the Graduate School.

Significance of Grades

All graduate students must maintain a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. If their GPA drops below 3.0 they are either placed on probation or dismissed. Undergraduate courses will not count towards graduate GPA.

Probation: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .1 to .6 points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are put on probation. Students are placed on academic probation for one semester. If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 by the end of one semester, they are dismissed from their graduate program. Thesis, dissertation, S/U graded credits, and transfer credits have no impact on a student's GPA.

Dismissal: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .7 or more grade points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are dismissed. Dismissed students are no longer in a graduate program but may take graduate-level courses as a Grad Special. Students wishing to complete their degree must obtain approval to take graduate-level courses, raise their graduate GPA to at least 3.0 and then re-apply to a graduate program. Any courses taken to raise their GPA will be included in the graduate special/ transfer credit limitation (9 credits for master's degrees).

Masters degrees: All course work must be completed within eight years preceding the awarding of the degree. Credits transferred into doctoral degree from a completed master's degree are exempt from this eight-year limit.

MPH Grade Requirements
To be counted toward the degree, each graduate course must be completed with a grade of "C" or better. To remain in good standing in the program, students are required to maintain a 3.0 "B" grade point average in both the core and the specialization, individually. To clarify, you must have a 3.0 average in your core courses and a 3.0 average in your specialization courses.

Graduate students dropped from graduate standing because of GPA deficiencies may enroll as Graduate Special students (if they have not already used their 9 possible Graduate Special credits) but must receive instructor, department, and graduate dean approval to enroll in courses. Graduate students on probation are not eligible for graduate assistantships.

Transfer credits
Transfer credits are credits transferred from another institution. Credits completed at UNR in another program do not need to be transferred. Transfer credit is requested by using the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form available on the Graduate School website and must be signed by the student, advisor, and graduate director.

Important - Please Note: In order to be able to register for the internship (CHS 798), several courses must be completed with a passing grade of "C" or better. Students will not be allowed to enroll in CHS 798 or begin an internship until all of the noted courses (see below) have been passed successfully.

  • Prerequisites for CHS 798 for Biostatistics Students:
    • CHS 700 Research Methods for Public Health
    • CHS 701 Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health
    • CHS 712 Epidemiology in Public Health
    • CHS 780 Biostatistics in Public Health
    • CHS 703 Applied Health Data Analysis
    • CHS 753 Health Informatics
  • Prerequisites for CHS 798 for Epidemiology Students:
    • CHS 700 Research Methods for Public Health
    • CHS 701 Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health
    • CHS 703 Applied Health Data Analysis
    • CHS 709R Epidemiological Research Design and Planning
    • CHS 712 Epidemiology in Public Health
    • CHS 780 Biostatistics in Public Health
    • CHS 753 Health Informatics
  • Prerequisites for CHS 798 for Health Administration and Policy Students:
    • CHS 700 Research Methods for Public Health
    • CHS 701 Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health
    • CHS 712 Epidemiology in Public Health
    • CHS 720 Health Program Planning
    • CHS 755 Health Policy and Administration
    • CHS 756 Organizational Behavior in Health Services
  • Prerequisites for CHS 798 for Social and Behavioral Health Students:
    • CHS 700 Research Methods for Public Health
    • CHS 701 Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health
    • CHS 712 Epidemiology in Public Health
    • CHS 705 Theoretical Foundations of Health Promotion
    • CHS 720 Health Program Planning
    • CHS 721 Program Evaluation in Public Health
    • CHS 747 Applied Research Methods in Public Health

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships may be available for full-time and part-time students who qualify. Graduate Special students and students on probation are not eligible for an assistantship. Applications for the upcoming Fall semester are taken until February 15 and are awarded before the end of the Spring semester. Persons interested in a graduate assistantship should contact the MPH program director.

Assistantships may be for 10 or 20 hours of work per week. Typically, graduate assistantship work is teaching or research related. In addition, Graduate Assistants are expected to serve in leadership positions, be on search committees, assist in recruitment of new MPH students, assist with new MPH student orientation, and serve as mentors to newer students. All Graduate Assistants must maintain satisfactory work performance during the duration of the assistantship. International students serving as teaching assistants must meet a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 650/280. Students may be able to get an overload memo from graduate school, director and advisor to work 30 hours per week, depending on circumstances.

All graduate students holding an assistantship (teaching GTA or GRA) are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship. To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship.

State-funded assistantships (GTA/GRA) may be held for a maximum of three (3) years for master's degree students.

Program of Study (POS)

The POS is a written plan of the courses a student will take for their MPH degree. Forms can be found at the Graduate School Forms page. Students will work with their academic advisor to discuss and complete a planned program of study, a written plan of the courses a student will take to complete their MPH degree. This plan must be approved by the student's advisor, committee members, and MPH program director and should be completed by the end of the third semester.

Graduate Student Association and Government

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) represents all graduate students and promotes the welfare and interests of the graduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The GSA works closely with appropriate university administrative offices, including the Graduate School and Student Services and reports to the President of the University. The GSA government functions through the Council of Representatives, Executive Council and established committees.

MPH Student Grievances

We honor differences and diversity of opinion, and will create opportunities for fair and equitable resolution. If there is any student grievance, whether it be regarding a grade, advisor, policy, or another issue, the grievance process should begin with the student's advisor, then the MPH Graduate Director, followed by the Director of the School, and lastly the Vice-President of the Division of Health Sciences.

Students may also utilize Student Representatives to assist them in problem solving and enhancing the communication between students and faculty as necessary. The Student Affairs Committee (Faculty) meets at least once a semester to review student progress. Students may also utilize this group for academic and non-academic problem-solving and support.

Although uncommon, circumstances may arise that require the change of graduate advisor. The School of Community Health Sciences (CHS) will consider the request for an advisor change for a legitimate, professional reason. All conversations and documents relevant to an advisor change are confidential, will be added to the student's personal file, and will not be disclosed to unrelated parties. Either the student or the faculty advisor may initiate a change. In the event that a student wishes to initiate the change, please communicate directly with the Graduate Director about your intention to change advisors and s/he will go over the required procedure and documentation.

Graduation Process

All MPH students graduate in the Spring semester that they take the MPH capstone course. Students have a total of 6 years to complete all master's degree requirements.

The student should purchase a Graduation Application and submit this completed form to the MPH Director according to the deadlines listed in the printed semester schedule and on UNR's Graduate School webpage.

A Program of Study Form must be completed by the student and approved/signed by all members of the student's advisory committee upon completion of 12 credits toward the MPH degree, and the Fall semester prior to the MPH Capstone semester. The program of study form is then forwarded to the MPH Director for department approval and then to the Graduate School for final approval.

An oral presentation and defense of the student's MPH capstone paper to her/his advisory committee and other interested faculty and students must occur prior to the final exam period in the Spring semester.

Following the successful completion of the above, the MPH Director will send a Notice of Completion to the Graduate School-a necessary component of the final approval of the student's graduation.

The MPH Hooding Ceremony is the highlight of the Graduation Process - all family and friends are invited. The timing of this allows for MPH students to also go to the UNR Graduate Student Commencement as well.

An updated list of forms and requirements can be found on the graduate school website.

Health Insurance

All domestic degree seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). If a student has other comparable coverage and would like to waive out of the student health insurance, it is the student's responsibility to complete the University online waiver form prior to the deadline. If approved, a health insurance waiver is good for the current academic year only. A new waiver must be submitted each academic year. All international graduate students are required to carry student health insurance, and the cost will be automatically added to your student account. Any international graduate students with insurance questions must contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) directly.

Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Accreditation

In order to serve our students and the State of Nevada in the highest academic and professional manner, we continue to enhance our programs. The School of Community Health Sciences (public health) has received program accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health for the both the Epidemiology and the Social and Behavioral Health emphases.

Successful accreditation of the MPH program is a major accomplishment with immediate and long-term benefits for students, faculty, community partners, and alumni. Among other things, MPH graduates of an accredited program or school (and graduates for the three years prior) are able to sit for the new national Certified in Public Health (CPH) certification examination in public health once the program has been granted accreditation.

ASPH and UNR MPH Competencies

The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) has identified public health competencies for students. View the full set of competencies. More specifically, the UNR MPH Program has narrowed the focus of the competencies for the MPH core courses, as well as the competencies for the Epidemiology, Health Administration and Policy, and Social and Behavioral Health areas of emphasis. These selected competencies are posted on the CHS MPH website and the "Graduate Students and Faculty Information" course on WebCampus.

These are the competencies that our course curricula are based upon and will be the focus of the coursework. Each core course is assessed based on those competencies. Your awareness of them and subsequent ability be able to apply them in a professional capacity will be your responsibility. The Certified in Public Health (CPH) exam is based upon many of our competencies as well as the others from ASPH.