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August 16, 2011
By Claudene Wharton
The University of Nevada, Reno Master of Public Health (MPH) Program has received notification of accreditation by the Council of Education for Public Health for a five-year term, extending through July 1, 2016. The program, in the University’s School of Community Health Sciences, is the only accredited MPH program in the state and is one of only 23 programs west of the Mississippi to hold the accreditation.
“This is very significant for our state,” said Trudy Larson, director of the school. “All you have to do is look at Nevada’s statistics for health. We have a severely strained infrastructure. We need people with this level of education and training to tackle our challenging health-care issues.”
The program offers two areas of specializations. Those specializing in epidemiology focus on the distribution and determinants of health, disease, injuries and disability in populations. As practitioners, they will gather and analyze data to identify public health trends and issues. For example, they may identify and study geographic clusters of specific diseases, or track and compare rates of childhood obesity across communities.
Those specializing in social and behavioral health focus on the psychological, behavioral, social, cultural and institutional factors that affect individual and population health. They often work to help solve the public health problems identified by the epidemiologists by designing and implementing programs that include health promotion, health education, public policy, services and interventions.
Because many of those seeking a Master of Public Health degree are working professionals, most of the courses are offered in the evening or online. Larson said the degree and its rigorous 43-credit curriculum makes its graduates “very employable,” and that many recent graduates hold leadership positions in health and human services in the state and western region.
“Now, with the accreditation of the program, our graduates will be even more sought after by potential employers in public health and related disciplines,” Larson said. “The accreditation is proof of the quality and rigor of our program, and there is a dire need for this higher level of understanding and skill set, not just in Nevada, but nationwide.”
The accreditation of the program in the School of Community Health Sciences means that each of the four schools that comprise the University’s Division of Health Sciences is now accredited or has an accredited program: