College to Offer Fully Online MPH Program This Fall
An online MPH program in Health Policy & Management, with all the excellence and rigor of the college’s full- and part-time face-to-face programs, will be offered by Kent State starting Fall Semester 2014. This is the first fully online Health Policy & Management MPH program available from an Ohio university and one of only a handful nationwide.
“So many professionals in need of advanced training simply can’t take the time for a face-to-face or ground-based program,” says Professor Jonathan VanGeest, PhD, chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management. “Kent State’s College of Public Health is stepping in to fill this need,” he declares.
“Both prospective students and public health employers have been clamoring for the flexibility to fit additional training into busy work and personal lives, and the online format allows participants to engage in the learning process any time of the day or night from anywhere in the world,” says VanGeest. “All that’s required is an Internet connection,” he explains. However, course content is highly structured. There is a start and finish date to each semester, and work must be completed and submitted according to course deadlines established by faculty.
“This is a full MPH curriculum in Health Policy & Management. Nothing is truncated. Students will achieve all of the same competencies, but get it through a modality that accommodates their other obligations,” VanGeest says. And it’s a modality that’s not just flexible, but proven effective, as Kent State’s College of Public Health is a pioneer in online education. “We come with considerable experience in this area, having developed the university’s first fully online bachelor’s degree program,” VanGeest observes.
Design, development and implementation of the online courses is in the hands of the college’s full-time faculty. “Everyone has stepped forward in support, and all faculty will be teaching at least one course,” says VanGeest. Courses will be taught in asynchronous sessions, discussion and collaboration. In addition to working with course faculty, students will regularly confer one-on-one with a Health Policy & Management Department faculty advisor via phone, Skype or in-person meetings. In addition to coursework, the degree requires a practicum project, which is an applied exercise conducted in a “real world” setting with support and guidance from community preceptors and department faculty. Completion requires a minimum of 300 contact hours and the development and presentation of a portfolio. There also is a comprehensive exam at the culmination of the program.
Students averaging at least six credit hours per semester, including summers, can complete the degree program in about two years. Part-time students taking two courses each in spring and fall semesters and one in the summer can complete the degree in three years. Typically, students will spend about 10 hours per week per course on their studies.
“The MPH is the recognized terminal practice degree in the public health profession,” says VanGeest. “Whether you desire to move into a public health discipline or seek to advance within the discipline, this degree is a very natural choice and excellent place to start,” he observes. Students will build the skills necessary for addressing public health risks and developing effective programs in health services, research, health policy analysis and health care planning and management. Courses include those in cost benefit analysis, financial management for public health organizations, law and ethics and program planning and implementation. Further information about the curriculum and extensive FAQs are available on the College of Public Health website.
The new program will be coordinated by Willie H. Oglesby, PhD, assistant professor, Health Policy & Management. “The online MPH will serve a number of new audiences, including tech-savvy millennials looking for an alternative learning environment and working professionals who want to advance in their careers, but find it too difficult to schedule traditional in-person classes,” says Oglesby, who has the most online teaching experience among the college’s faculty.
The MPH prepares graduates for administrative and management positions in hospitals, clinics, state and local health departments, nursing homes and mental health facilities; policy analyst positions in health planning organizations and governmental agencies; and planning and management positions in health maintenance organizations and health insurance companies.
Since the Ohio Board of Regents approved the degree in May and its availability was made public, inquiry has been extensive, according to VanGeest. “There’s still time to register for fall semester, but interested parties need to apply as soon as possible,” he adds. Application to the program is made online, and admissions are rolling, meaning that students can start the program any semester.