Core Courses

Students must successfully complete 30 credits to satisfy degree requirements for the Master of Science in Health and the Public Interest program. Registration in an elective course is subject to approval by the HAPI Program Directors and the instructor for the elective course. Course availability is subject to change by term and course capacity.

Cultural, social, political, economical, and business forces influence health. This course offers a variety of social science views on how contextual and biological variables interact to influence public health. It will also investigate individual experiences and manifestations of physical and mental disease and wellbeing. This course exemplifies the program’s multidisciplinary nature while summarizing the present level of knowledge about social and cultural determinants of health. Additionally, it explores the effects of all non-medical variables on perceptions of wellness and disease, treatment choices, and health outcomes. Additionally, it touches on how we conceptualize who decides what health is and what is in the public interest. It also explores who has the right to access treatments and how health fits in with other social issues such as philosophy, economics, and ethics. This course will examine the key issues in the field using theoretical papers and recent empirical case studies.

This course will focus on understanding and critically analyzing medical literature regarding diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic interventions in humans. It will cover basic epidemiology and evidence-based medicine. This includes the appropriate and inappropriate use of observational studies (cross-sectional, cohort, and case-control studies) and randomized controlled trials. The course will also cover adverse event assessment through passive and active “pharmaco-surveillance” systems. It will also explore premarket pharmaceutical and medical device testing required by regulatory authorities. The course will cover sensitivity, specificity, odds ratios, relative risk, power, and confidence intervals.

Understanding biomedical literature, appropriate trial design, and perceptions of healing require a basic grounding in physiologic concepts. This course will focus on major biological systems and cover aspects of the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Students will develop basic knowledge of and an appreciation for human function in health and disease.

This course uses the principles of economics to study the allocation of resources used to provide health and long-term care. It also examines market inadequacies and failures that have affected the financing, organization, and delivery of care. Additionally, students analyze the impact of private and public insurance programs on the organization and delivery of health care, and the relationships between politics, policies, and the health care markets. This course teaches and applies basic economic principles to the study of health care.

The weekly seminar series is a highlight of the program. We take full advantage of the plethora of scholars and policymakers in the Washington D.C area. Speakers have included Peter Lurie MD, Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Cindy Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network; Thea Lee, President of the Economic Policy Institute; and Greg Pappas MD PhD, of the Food and Drug Administration.

In this highly experiential class, students will learn about advocacy strategies and why they are effective. Students will participate in and analyze advocacy events; create and implement group advocacy campaigns with the aim of influencing policy; and will critique current advocacy efforts by national organizations. This course will foster an understanding of cross-disciplinary approaches necessary for creating successful medical and public health interventions.

This course will cover the basics of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. The primary goal of this course is to prepare students to select the best analytic approaches, analyze data, and interpret qualitative and quantitative data presented to them. For qualitative skills, we will cover grounded theory, content analysis, and semantic analysis, including an introduction to participant-observation methods, interview techniques, focus groups, archival research, and discourse analysis. For quantitative skills, we will cover basic research design and statistics, including the fundamentals of probability, statistical inference, basic statistical assumptions, and hypothesis testing using correlations, non-parametric tests, analysis of variance, and linear and logistic regression. The course will also focus on ways to integrate these skills in mixed-method designs.

This discussion-based course uses a case-study approach to provide a practical overview and working knowledge of health communication strategies. This is done with the goal of informing and influencing individual and community decisions that enhance health and implement public health programs. Participants will become familiar with a range of resources and organizations, debate the merits of various approaches, and analyze health communication programs and materials. The course interweaves ample examples from past pandemics.