Program Details

MPH Overview

The Master of Public Health (MPH) program is a five-semester professional degree offering graduate students didactic and experiential training in public health practice, including areas such as epidemiology, infectious disease, outbreak response, applied research, and transformation of science into policy. The objective of the MPH program is to prepare students for careers in public health. This program is of interest to individuals holding an undergraduate degree in science or applied science seeking a career in public health, or to public health professionals (including physicians, veterinarians, nurses, and public health inspectors) wishing to upgrade their skills. The MPH program offers a practicum opportunity that is attractive for students looking for a graduate degree that includes a professional experience; creating a personal competitive advantage in the job market.

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Core Competencies for Public Health

The Public Health Agency of Canada led an initiative whereby 36 public health core competencies that all public health professional would be able to demonstrate within a professional environment were identified. All public health professionals would have each competency to some extent, but some may possess a competency at a greater level depending on their role and function within the public health system. The Public Health Agency of Canada defined core competencies as “statements [that] describe the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the practice of public health.”

Educational institutions use the core competencies to form the foundation of their curriculum. Please click on the following link to view the University of Guelph MPH program learning objectives.

Curriculum Outline

The MPH program typically consists of five consecutive semesters of full-time study. Full-time students will take three semester-length courses for four semesters (12 courses total) and a 12 to 16 week practicum in a public health setting. Students will begin their program in September.

The MPH program does not require students to specialize in one area of public health, as do some other MPH programs across Canada. Required courses will provide students with skills in core aspects of public health practice. Additional elective courses will provide students with the opportunity to develop added strength in specific areas - epidemiology, health policy, environmental public health, infectious disease, and zoonotic, foodborne, and waterborne diseases. Courses will incorporate case-based material to provide students with the opportunity to use a variety of problem-solving and communication skills. There is substantial community integration through the practicum placement and guest speakers from the profession. Much of the learning is based on group work and interaction with colleagues. Assignments are writing-intensive and practical, including two capstone learning initiatives; the Public Health Forum and the Public Health Program development.

Students will complete at least six (0.5 credit) courses before they begin the practicum (between May and August inclusive), which will provide the opportunity to add function to the knowledge base achieved during the didactic portion of the program. A research paper and seminar developed from data gathered during the practicum will illustrate the cumulative experience. This is a residency program as core courses and most electives are delivered fully in-class and are not offered through distance education.

During an extensive review, students were asked to evaluate their proficiency with the 36 core competencies outlined in the Core Competencies for Public Health, as well as rate the value of their practicum placement, and overall program experience. Of the respondents, 87% are currently employed in the public health sector. Of these, all obtained employment within 6 months of graduation, with 67% being employed within three months of graduation. Of the individuals who are not employed in the public health sector, all reported that they are pursuing further education. Click here to read further about this evaluation.

Collaborative International Development Studies (IDS) Specialization

Students can choose to combine their MPH with an IDS collaborative specialization. This specialization offers an interdisciplinary framework for the study of international development. In addition to eight MPH course requirements, which includes the Public Health Practicum, students take one course from each area of Geography, Economics, Sociology/Anthropology and Political Science. Students also take a seminar in International Development Studies. For a full list of courses, please visit the International Development Studies section in the Graduate Calendar. Completion of the IDS collaborative specialization adds the designation "International Development Studies" to the MPH degree. For more information on the IDS specialization, visit the IDS website.

Fast Track Option

Students can complete the program in four semesters if they choose to add one additional elective to their course load during each of the Fall and Winter first-year and Fall second-year semesters (four courses/semester).

Part Time Option

Students may enroll part-time while they continue to work in their public health or regulatory careers. Part-time students will normally take one or two courses per semester. There is no set schedule for this option.

Type 3 Graduate Diploma

A Type 3 Graduate Diploma is also offered for those individuals with public health-related experience that wish to increase their knowledge or acquire focused learning. To complete this diploma, students are required to complete four courses over two semesters including the Applied Public Health Research course. 

Practicum Information 

Students are required to complete the Practicum course during their third semester. During this 12 to 16 week workplace placement, students are under the supervision of host agencies across Canada, and even internationally. The MPH program relies on these hosts to provide practical public health training and supplement the student’s in-class learning experience. The students must have a meaningful public health experience within a public health agency and complete a significant project that they then present during the Public Health Forum. Student preceptors are often experienced public health professionals that have much to offer in terms of guidance and expertise. The Program has been successful in acquiring practicum placements for all students, and many of these agencies have been repeat hosts. Agencies are required to submit an interim and final report assessing student performance. Over 90% of these reports indicate the students have exceeded the agency’s expectations. To date, approximately 60% of practicum placements are paid positions. Students who complete an unpaid practicum may be eligible for a bursary. Please note that the practicum is a course, therefore you will be required to pay tuition.

Students now have the option to complete a second practicum placement as an elective course during their fifth (final) semester. 

See where our students and alumni have completed practicum placements on the Practicum, Career, and Future Learning Opportunities page.


Click here for all Population Medicine (POPM) course outlines.

The MPH curriculum is as follows:

Fall Semester (Year 1)

Winter Semester (Year 1)

Spring/Summer Semester (Year 1)

Fall Semester (Year 2)

  • Infectious Diseases and Public Health (PABI*6500
  • Public Health Leadership and Administration (POPM*6580)
  • Public Health Capstone (POPM*6570)
  • Elective

Winter Semester (Year 2)

  • 3 Electives


Four electives (or 2.0 credits) are required to complete the program. Choose at least two electives from the following list. The remaining courses may also be selected from this list or from those listed elsewhere in the Graduate Calendar. All electives must be approved by the MPH program coordinator in advance.

Click here for all Population Medicine (POPM) course outlines.