Health Sciences Bulletin

Program in Public Health

DIRECTOR: Lisa A. Benz Scott
OFFICE: Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Room 071
PHONE: (631) 444-9396

  • About the Program

    About the Program

    The Graduate Program in Public Health was established at Stony Brook to train people who wish to integrate the knowledge, skills, vision and values of public health into their careers and provide leadership in the field. The Program leads to the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree as well as a variety of combined and concurrent programs.

    The Program advocates a population health approach to public health. The hallmarks of population health include ecological understanding of the determinants of health and a systems approach to solving health problems; emphasis on proactively stabilizing and improving health among all populations; and insistence on accountability, evidence-based practice, and continuous performance improvement. The population health approach requires multi-disciplinary collaboration among scholars in the social, behavioral, clinical, and basic sciences and humanities. Furthermore, it incorporates the development of comprehensive health information systems, and the use of advanced analytical tools to examine health problems and evaluate responses.

    The population health orientation is consistent with the traditions of public health and with recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for public health education, although it expands upon them. The IOM recommends that public health:

    “Adopt a population health approach that builds on evidence of multiple determinants of health... (Develop) appropriate systems of accountability at all levels to ensure that population health goals are met; ...Assure that action is based on evidence;”

    The population health orientation of the program is also compatible with the educational philosophy of the Hospital. The Health Sciences Center, opened in 1971, emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary education and collaboration, and recognizes the need for health professions to work together. The Graduate Program in Public Health values the importance of a collegial atmosphere at an early stage in an MPH student’s education in order for the student to gain respect for the diverse backgrounds and competencies of fellow students.

    The emphasis of the Graduate Program in Public Health reflects the changing environment in which public health practice occurs, and recent thinking about how to respond to these changes. Public health retains its distinct role as the specialty emphasizing prevention, with the object of its work being populations, in contrast to the historical role of medicine, dentistry, and other clinical disciplines that focus on healing, with the object of their work being individuals. “The public health professional is a person educated in public health or a related discipline who is employed to improve health through a population focus.”

    Since the 1980s, the three main functions of public health have been identified as assessment, policy development, and assurance. However, the knowledge and skills needed to perform these functions optimally has changed radically in light of advances in information technology and increased knowledge about the determinants of health and disease. These changes are occurring at all levels of inquiry, from the micro (genetics and microbiology) through the macro (the social sciences). Changing political, economic, demographic, and social conditions in the United States and the world make the application of new knowledge and technologies all the more important.

    As one recent Institute of Medicine report states: “The beginning of the 21st century provided an early preview of the health challenges the United States will confront in the coming decades. The system and entities that protect and promote the public health, already challenged by problems like obesity, toxic environments, a large uninsured population and health disparities, must also face emerging threats, such as antimicrobial resistance and bio-terrorism. The social, cultural, and global context of the nation’s health is also undergoing rapid and dramatic change. Scientific and technical advances, such as genomics and informatics, extend the limit of knowledge and human potential more rapidly than their implications can be absorbed and acted upon. At the same time, people, products, and germs migrate, and the Nation’s demographics shift in ways that challenge public and private resources.”

    Recent, influential reports regarding public health education suggest ways to address the evolving training needs of public health professionals. These publications include one report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —Public Health’s Infrastructure — and three reports from the Institute of Medicine: Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?; The Future of Public Health in the 21st Century; and Crossing the Quality Chasm. The recommendations in these reports challenge new public health programs to train public health leaders to be boundary spanners — able to use the new tools and knowledge available in order to formulate solutions to the complex public health problems facing us. “Public health professionals have a major role to play in addressing these complex health challenges, but in order to do so effectively, they must have a framework for action and an understanding of the ways in which they do affect the health of individuals and populations.”

    These recent recommendations regarding public health can be synthesized as follows. In addition to the traditional knowledge, including epidemiology and biostatistics, public health leaders need:

    • An ecological understanding of the causes of poor healing including social, behavioral, environmental, occupational, demographic, policy, economic and genetic factors as well as the interrelationship of these factors;

    • A thorough understanding and appreciation of the cultural heterogeneity of populations, its impact on public health initiatives, and tools to deal with issues arising from cultural heterogeneity;

    • A thorough understanding of the current system of addressing poor health — medical, dental and public health — including organization, financing, regulation, accessibility, quality, effectiveness and efficiency;

    • An orientation toward policy, as well as programmatic, solutions to public health problems and the skills to assess, develop, implement and evaluate policies;

    • An orientation favoring evidence-based decision-making and the skills to develop evidence for public health decision-making including study design and analysis of data;

    • An orientation favoring accountability and continuous quality improvement in public health and the skills needed to measure accountability and assess performance;

    • Informatics skills including application of information technology to obtain, organize, and maintain useful data for public health decision-making;

    • Leadership skills including the conceptual and analytical tools to prioritize problems and make sound decisions.

    Instilling a population health orientation and fostering the skills necessary to act upon it provide the program’s graduates with the ability to meet the basic needs of public health today — defined as provision of the Essential Public Health Services and the three core public health functions (assessment and monitoring; formulating public policies; and assuring access to appropriate and cost-effective care) — as well as to expand the work of public health to achieve its broad mission “to fulfill society’s interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy.”

  • Mission, Vision, Goals

    Vision, Mission and Goals

    The vision of the Program in Public Healthis to improve the health of populations on Long Island and in the region, state, and nation through education, research, and community service that utilizes all of the scholarly resources of Stony Brook University in a collaborative and boundary-spanning manner.

    The mission of the program is to promote improvements in the health of the public through excellence in education, research, and community service locally, nationally, and globally.

    The specific goals and measurable objectives developed by the faculty (with feedback from our public health community and constituents) of the Program in Public Health can be found on the program’s website.

    To achieve its general educational, research and community benefit goals, the program trains public health professionals who:

    • Understand the multiple determinants of health and illness including the social, behavioral, environmental, demographic, occupational, policy, economic, genetic, and health care determinants; 

    • Appreciate the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in order to understand population health problems and develop optimal strategies to address them; 

    • Have the strongest analytical, conceptual, and communication skills in order to facilitate development and implementation of optimal strategies for addressing population health problems. 

  • Program Values

    Program Values

    The Program in Public Health embraces as a core value adherence to all ethical standards of conduct and academic integrity. The program’s culture inherently values: beneficence, diversity and inclusiveness, reduction of health disparities, protection of vulnerable populations, the balance of public health with human rights, and community engagement. In support of the mission statement, the program values the training of students as public health problem solvers with a population health orientation by a multi-faceted team of faculty, staff, and public health practitioners. The program operationalizes its values through the following pillars upon which the program stands: education, research and service.

  • Education


    The Program in Public Health values high-quality education that moves beyond the simple transmission of information to produce creative and critical thinkers. This value is operationalized through the provision of Core and Concentration curricula that lead to the MPH degree. The program emphasizes the development of analytical and critical thinking skills and an ecological approach to health improvement and disease prevention. 

  • Research


    The Program in Public Health values research that contributes to the health improvement of all populations and the elimination of health disparities. This value is operationalized by leading and facilitating interdisciplinary and collaborative research by the faculty and students, including work that emphasizes health improvement through community engagement and community-based participatory research (CBPR).

    Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research

    Cost control and quality enhancement remain elusive goals in the U.S. healthcare system. More and better evidence is required to help direct scarce healthcare resources to many competing uses, and to evaluate alternative strategies for promoting more cost-effective care. In recognition of this need, the Graduate Program in Public Health has established the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research (CHSOR). The Center is a multidisciplinary research unit that combines expertise in economics, statistics, epidemiology, medicine, and other clinical disciplines to address substantive issues in healthcare delivery. As part of its research mission, the Center seeks to develop joint projects with researchers at Stony Brook University and with health organizations throughout Long Island.

    The Center has two divisions: (1) Children’s Environmental Health; and (2) Long Island Prevention Research. The Children’s Environmental Health division is part of the New York State, regionalized children’s environmental health system, which includes eight Children’s Environmental Health Centers in New York State (CEHCNY). The mission of CEHCNY is to be a clinical, research, educational, and community referral center for pediatric environmental diseases on Long Island, working in collaboration with the other seven statewide CEHCNY centers. The Long Island Prevention Research division develops research and innovative strategies to prevent disease and promote healthy communities. The focus is on collaboration with communities, as both participants and partners, and other organizations on Long Island including the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and Winthrop University Hospital’s Office of Health Outcomes Research.

    Center for Public Health and Health Policy Research

    The Center for Public Health and Health Policy Research has an active agenda aimed at improving health in minority communities on Long Island. In collaboration with Literacy Suffolk, the Center has received a National Institutes of Health Partners in Research grant entitled Community Alliance for Research Empowering Social Change (CARES).

    CARES consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers, community-based organizations, and community members working together to improve minority health outcomes through evidence based public health. The Center has also hosted the Think Tank for African American Progress on Long Island in the spring 2010. The focus of the meeting was to inspire and assist young, black women to develop their full potential. The Center collaborates closely with the Suffolk County Minority Health Action Coalition, which has held three mini-summits on Long Island to develop partnerships for health improvement projects. The Center also collaborates with the Witness Project, which seeks to educate women in minority communities about cancer prevention and screening.

  • Service


    The Graduate Program in Public Health values three types of service: Community, Professional and University.

    • Community: The Program values direct service to communities. This value is operationalized as advocating for improving population health and eliminating health disparities, providing needs assessments and guidance for solutions to community health problems, and assisting the public heath workforce. One example is a partnership with the New York City- Long Island Tower- Lower Tri-County Public Health Training Center (PHTC). The PHTC, a collaboration between Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is one of the 37 Public Health Training Centers across the nation funded through August 2013 by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide continuing education, training and technical assistance to local, regional and state public health workers.

    • Professional: The program values faculty members’ contributions to organizations that advance their professional fields. This value is operationalized by the faculty promotion and tenure criteria and by expectations for annual performance evaluations.

    • University: The program values service to the University, which is operationalized as mentoring other faculty and serving as members or leaders on committees that advance the mission and goals of the University and the Program in Public Health.
  • Accreditation


    The Program in Public Health actively sought accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) by planning from our inception to meet CEPH standards and criteria.  The Program hosted a successful Site Visit in March 2008 and was officially accredited in October 2008 through 2013. In May 2013, the Program completed an extensive self-study process, which culminated with a Site Visit in October 2013 and in June 2014 received notification of re-accreditation through 2020.

    Because the Program in Public Health is accredited, our alumni are eligible to be certified in public health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).  This organizationwas established in September 2005 for the purpose of ensuring that students and graduates from schools and programs of public health accredited by CEPH have mastered the knowledge and skills relevant to contemporary public health. The certification exam serves this purpose.  Visit their site for more information about NBPHE and the certification exam.

  • Policies

    Program Policies

    For more information about these and other policies visit the program site


    The following grading system is used in the Graduate Program in Public Health:

    A (4.0), A- (3.67), B+ (3.33), B (3.00), B- (2.67), C+ (2.33), C (2.00), C- (1.67), and F (0.00). Unless specified differently in the course syllabus, course grades on a 100 point scale are: A (93-100); A- (90-92); B+ (87-89); B (83-86); B- (80-82); C+ (77-79); C (73-76); C- (70-72); F (69 or lower).

    In order to encourage students to develop excellent writing skills, course grades will reflect the quality of writing in course assignments. The specific policy on grading the quality of writing will be the prerogative of the course instructor and it must be explained in the course syllabus. 

    Academic Process

    Students must maintain a B average (3.0) in all the MPH Core Courses and a B average (3.) in the MPH Concentration. All electives must be listed as selectives or approved by the student’s faculty advisor or Academic Coordinator in order to count toward completion of the MPH degree. In evaluating a student’s standing, the program will not include electives in the GPA that are not listed as selectives or approved by the faculty advisor or Academic Coordinator.

    When a student's cumulative graduate GPA falls below B (3.0) for grades earned in courses numbered 500 and above taken at Stony Brook, the student shall be placed on probation. If the student's overall GPA has been raised to B (3.0) by the end of the next semester of enrollment after being first notified of probation, the student will be returned to regular status.

    Students may be on probation for a maximum of two semesters. A student on academic probation who fails to achieve a 3.0 cumulative GPA by the end of the second semester on probation will usually not be permitted to re-enroll.

    A student enrolled part time who has accumulated six semester credits with a cumulative average below 3.0 will have two semesters, or six additional credits (whichever comes first) to bring their cumulative GPA to 3.0.

    Temporary grades (I and NR), missing grades and those grades for which no numerical equivalents are defined (P, S, U, and R) are not calculated in determining the eligibility for academic probation. The MPH degree requirements are rigorous, and students must be able to devote sufficient time to meet the performance standards required. The program accommodates full-time and part-time study.Part-time students typically complete the program in 3 years. If a part-time student carries 7-8 credits per semester, including two summers, the MPH degree can be earned in two years. The Program also accommodates full-time study leading to completion of the degree in as short a time as 18 months.

    Enrollment Notification Policy

    • Students must enroll in at least one course per semester (Fall and Spring) unless they complete a Change of Enrollment Form and submit this form to the MPH Academic Coordinator.

    • A Leave of Absence (LOA)  of more than one year requires a written justification that must be approved by the Director of the Graduate Program in Public Health.

    • When a student wishes to return to active status after a LOA, a Term Activation Form must be completed and submitted to the MPH Academic Coordinator in order to enroll in courses. 

    Time and Location of Courses

    Most courses are taught on the Health Sciences Center campus and are offered in the late afternoon or early evening.

    Time Limits

    Not including granted leaves of absence, all requirements towards the MPH degree, the BS/MPH degree, the MBA/MPH, and the MPH/MAPP degree must be completed within five years from matriculation in the program. The MD/MPH joint degree and DDS/MPH concurrent degrees can take six years. 

    Credit Transfers

    All core courses must be taken at Stony Brook University, unless an equivalent was taken in an accredited public health program with a grade of B or better within the last five years. All concentration courses are to be taken at Stony Brook University, unless an equivalent course, with a grade of B or better, was taken at an approved graduate program in the past five years and transfer of credits is approved by the MPH Academic Coordinator. The student must request a credit transfer and complete the necessary forms. In all respects, the Graduate Program in Public Health follows Stony Brook’s Transfer of Credit policy: Graduate candidates may petition the school to accept credits from another institution toward his or her degree. The school has the responsibility of deciding on the applicability of credits to the specific program. Normally, transfer credits will be limited to no more than twelve credits.

    Non-Matriculated Students

    The Graduate Program in Public Health only allows students who have been admitted into the program to take courses as a non-matriculated student. A maximum of 12 credits may be taken as a non-matriculated student in the Graduate Program in Public Health. Permission to enroll in courses must be obtained from the MPH Academic Coordinator.

    Public Health Grand Rounds

    To provide MPH students with information on emerging and important public health issues, the Graduate Program in Public Health sponsors a Public Health Grand Rounds lecture series each academic year.

    Competency Assessment

    Each Core Course in the Graduate Program in Public Health curriculum aims to develop specific competencies among MPH students through a set of Learning Objectives. In order to assess how well we are conveying these competencies, we require every MPH student to complete a Competency Assessment survey at the beginning and end of each Core Course. All information from the Competency Assessment surveys is kept strictly confidential and is not, in any way, used to evaluate a student’s academic progress in pursuit of the MPH degree. This information is analyzed only for the purpose of improving the Program and maintaining accreditation by the Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH). The Graduate Program in Public Health reserves the right to withhold grades or prevent subsequent course registration for students who do not complete both the pre- and post-survey.

    Advising Policy

    Each student is assigned a faculty advisor upon matriculation into the program. Whenever possible, that advisor will be a faculty member in the student’s concentration: Evaluative Sciences, Community Health, or Public Health Practice. The student may change advisors at any time with the consent of the director of the Graduate Program in Public Health. In addition, students who change their concentration will be assigned, or may select, a faculty advisor in the new concentration.

    Faculty advisors must meet with their advisees at least twice a year to discuss student progress through the program, assess academic growth, and provide guidance with independent study and practicum projects. The faculty advisor also discusses the student’s expectations for the future and acts as a touchstone if the student is having problems. The two mandatory meetings take place at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters and can be conducted in person or by phone, whichever is preferred by both the student and faculty advisor. Students will be contacted by the program to schedule an appointment with their faculty advisor. At other times, students should contact their faculty advisor directly to make appointments.


    The Graduate Program in Public Health has only one graduation ceremony (convocation), which is held each year in the spring. This ceremony serves all students who graduate from the program during the year.

    Academic Integrity

    Intellectual honesty is a cornerstone of all academic and scholarly work. Therefore, the Graduate Program in Public Health views any form of academic dishonesty as a very serious matter. The program treats each suspected case of academic dishonesty on a case-by-base basis. The course instructor may choose to handle an incident or bring it to the Executive Committee for review and recommendations. In this case, the director will make the final determination of action, based on the recommendations of the Executive Committee. The student may appeal the decision of the course instructor or the director, following the guidelines of the Program’s Academic Appeal Policy (see Graduate Program in Public Health Student Handbook).

    Penalties for misconduct may vary according to the circumstances of each particular case. Penalties may range in severity from verbal warning to expulsion from the University with the reason recorded on the student’s permanent transcript.

    The Stony Brook University Academic Judiciary Committee defines academic dishonesty as follows: Academic dishonesty includes any act that is designed to obtain fraudulently, either for oneself or for someone else, academic credit, grades, or other recognition that is not properly earned or that adversely affects another’s grade.

    The following represents examples of this and does not constitute an exhaustive list:

    • Cheating on exams or assignments by the use of books, electronic devices, notes, or other aids when these are not permitted, or by copying from another student.

    • Collusion: two or more students helping one another on an exam or assignment when it is not permitted.

    • Ringers: taking an exam for someone else, or permitting someone else to take one’s exam.

    • Submitting the same paper in more than one course without permission of the instructors.

    • Plagiarizing: copying someone else’s writing or paraphrasing it too closely, even if it constitutes only some of your written assignment, without proper citation.

    • Falsifying documents or records related to credit, grades, status (e.g., adds and drops, P/NC grading, transcripts), or other academic matters.

    • Altering an exam or paper after it has been graded in order to request a grade change.

    • Stealing, concealing, destroying, or inappropriately modifying classroom or other instructional material, such as posted exams, library materials, laboratory supplies, or computer programs.

    • Preventing relevant material from being subjected to academic evaluation.

    • Presenting fabricated excuses for missed assignments or tests.

    • Some ways that student can protect themselves from involvement in academic dishonesty are as follows:

    • Prepare thoroughly for examinations and assignments.

    • Take the initiative to prevent other students from copying exams or assignments (for example, by shielding answers during exams and not lending assignments to other students unless specifically granted permission by the instructor).

    Check the syllabus for a section dealing with academic dishonesty for each course. There may be requirements specific to the course.

    • Avoid looking in the direction of other students’ papers during exams.

    • Use a recognized handbook for instruction on citing source materials in papers. Consult with individual faculty members or academic departments when in doubt.

    • Use the services of the Writing Center for assistance in preparing papers.

    • Discourage dishonesty among other students.

    • Refuse to assist students who cheat.

    • Do not sit near students with whom you have studied.

    • Do not sit near roommates or friends.

    Many cases of plagiarism involve students improperly using Internet sources. If you quote an Internet source, you must cite the URL for that source in your bibliography. Copying (or closely paraphrasing text) text or figures from a website without citing it and placing it in quotation marks is plagiarism. It is no different from doing the same thing with a printed source. Professing ignorance of this rule will not be accepted as a legitimate basis for appealing an accusation of academic dishonesty.

    For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, please refer to the academic judiciary website.

    Student Conduct

    Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of the Student Judiciary any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students’ ability to learn. Faculty in the Health Sciences Center Schools and the School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures.

    Attendance Requirements

    Attendance is mandatory, unless there is a medical reason or the student is excused by the program director or course instructor. If a course instructor has no written policy in the syllabus regarding the consequences for being absent from class, the Graduate Program in Public Health policy will apply: three or more unexcused absences from class will reduce the final course grade by a full letter grade (e.g., A to B).

    HIPAA Training

    The Graduate Program in Public Health requires all students to complete training in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by the start of the fall semester.

    The requirements are as follows:

    • Review And Understand. Each student must review and understand the SBU Policy and Procedure on Research Subjects’ Right to Privacy.

    • Undergo HIPAA Training. Each student must carefully read and understand the HIPAA awareness training materials for research investigators and study staff.

    To satisfy this training requirement, each student must send an e-mail to Mary Ellen Herz at with the subject reading: HIPAA RESEARCH TRAINING COMPLETED, and the body of the text reading: “I have read and understood the HIPAA awareness training materials and agree to comply with the SBU Policy and Procedures on Research Subjects’ Right to Privacy.”

    Protection of Human Subjects Training

    The Graduate Program in Public Health requires all students to take the Stony Brook University online training program in protection of human subjects in research, offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). Information about this training program is available on the website of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

    This training is part of the Human Subject Protections Program at Stony Brook, which ensures that the University keeps safe those individuals who volunteer to participate in our research activities.

    Protection of human subjects training must be completed prior to the start of the fall semester. A copy of the certificate of completion from CITI must be provided to the MPH Academic Coordinator.

    Organization of Public Health Students and Alumni of Stony Brook University (OPHSA)

    The Graduate Program in Public Health graduated its first class in May 2006. Since that time, the alumni of the program have organized with students to create an association that serves both groups: Organization of Public Health Students and Alumni (OPHSA).

    The purpose of OPHSA is to organize current students and alumni to achieve the following goals:

    1. To promote the general welfare and professional image of Stony Brook University and the GPPH.

    2. To foster a strong relationship between the school, faculty and members of the organization.

    3. To foster and sustain collegial relationships between members of the student body and alumni of the GPPH.

    4. To promote participation between alumni and students in educational, scientific and public health research activities.

    5. To identify and develop resources to assist students, alumni and faculty in their careers.

    6. To maintain student and alumni representatives who will advocate for the needs of the student population on standing committees of the GPPH.

    7. To promote educati onal activities necessary for the maintenance and promotion of certification in the public health professions.

    8. To promote public participation and advocacy for public health issues.

    The Graduate Program in Public Health strongly supports the development of OPHSA and encourages alumni and student participation. We view this initiative as the next important step in furthering the vision, mission and goals of the program.

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