The Health Systems MSPH Program prepares students to take on leadership and management roles in health policy and planning, health financing and management, and monitoring and evaluation of health programs. Our graduates contribute to strengthening health systems through the implementation of equitable and cost-effective interventions for improving access, quality, and efficiency of health services for underserved populations.
Students are trained in the toring and evaluation of large-scale programs, health policy analysis, comparative health systems analysis, and health financing. Students also receive a strong background in key areas such as primary health care and maternal and child health.
The practicum experience and capstone paper allow students to apply the knowledge gained through academic coursework to solving pressing health problems and challenges in global health and to make meaningful contributions to the health of underserved populations. For the practicum, students have the opportunity to work on faculty projects or to be placed within a number of organizations across the world, including the School’s wide array of international collaborators. Research centers based in the Department of International Health, for example, offer a variety of opportunities for students.
Special strengths of the Health System program include:
Emphasis on using a systems approach to health program planning, management, and evaluation
Development of evidence-based understanding of health systems strengthening approaches
Special focus on issues such as humanitarian assistance, maternal and child health and services, injury prevention and ethics of delivery systems to vulnerable populations
Graduates of the program go on to work at international, government, academic and non-governmental organizations, such as the WHO, ministries of health, USAID, Save the Children, and the International Rescue Committee. Many of the research centers based in the Department of International Health also offer opportunities for graduates of the program. See where more of our recent graduates work.
Students can complete their degrees in 1.5 years. All requirements should be completed within 2 years.
Students enrolled in the program take a common core of courses and have the opportunity to specialize, based on their interests and experience, by taking additional elective courses. The curriculum focuses on planning and managing health projects and programs at the community, district, national and global levels; the Academic Guide contains degree-specific information, competencies, learning objectives, and course requirements. A written comprehensive exam at the end of the first year of the Program tests students on core competencies.
The required 4-month practicum experience is an important additional component of this degree program. Typical practicum experiences include working in health programs directly serving disadvantaged populations in low- and middle-income countries, working at an organization’s headquarters or regional office to provide technical support to field programs or to help improve management of an organization’s programs worldwide, and working on a research project related to health systems management. After the practicum, students complete a scholarly paper, called a capstone, usually related to their practicum experience, which integrates material from multiple courses applied to a specific topic of interest. The Program takes 18-24 months to complete.
Academic Terms 1 - 4
Comprehensive departmental examination at the end of the first academic year
Academic Terms 4 – 6 (minimum)
Practicum: field placement or School-based investigation and analysis of a significant issue related to the health of underserved populations
Practicum update at the end of every term
Capstone essay reviewed and approved by two faculty readers. The capstone should provide tangible evidence of expertise on a specific applied topic of international health relevance.
In addition to completing the requisite coursework, students must gain practical experience in the application of the principles and methods learned through a practicum. Ideally, students will complete their practicums abroad. The Department has many field sites across the world where students are often placed. Faculty and staff also help students find opportunities with other global health organizations.
Typical practicum experiences include working in health programs directly serving disadvantaged populations in low- and middle-income countries. Examples of places where our students have completed their practicum include UNICEF, UNAIDS, USAID, WHO, PAHO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and through various Johns Hopkins-affiliated institutes.
Upon graduation, our MSPH graduates take on strategic and management roles in health services organizations in a variety of national and international settings. Alumni enjoy careers in academia, government and non-government sectors, and industry. Graduates become public health practitioners who provide technical assistance to public health researchers and public health managers in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs to address public health problems facing underserved populations in the US and abroad.
Where our recent alumni work:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Clinton Health Access Initiative
Catholic Relief Services
ORISE Research Fellow
Innovations for Poverty Action
Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance
All applications should be submitted through SOPHAS.
In general, degree applicants will need to submit the following:
Official transcripts from EVERY college-level institution you attended (academic records from institutions outside the U.S. must undergo a credentials evaluation).
Standardized test score (Please review for Covid-19 Pandemic related policies)
English proficiency test score (TOEFL or IELTS), if applicable
Three letters of recommendation
Resume or curriculum vitae
Statement of Purpose and Objectives
International Applicants are welcome and should review additional instructions for applying from outside the U.S.
Successful applicants possess a strong academic record with a particular emphasis on excellent quantitative and writing skills, which are reflected in transcripts and standardized test scores (GRE or MCAT). For the 20-21 Application season, GRE scores are highly recommended but not required.
Baccalaureate-level degree in a related field. Students must have a prior degree in biological or health sciences or alternatively in management or social sciences.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE). For the 2021/2022 academic year, GRE scores are highly recommended but not required.
Personal statement of professional and/or research goals
Official transcripts from all institutions attended
TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English speakers. Minimum scores:
TOEFL: 100 iBT; 600 PBT (paper-based test)
Three letters of recommendation
Eva Leidman, MSPH ’12"The Hopkins faculty are an unparalleled resource. Find faculty members working on research that interests you and see how you can contribute. - Leidman in Haiti working on earthquake recovery."
Prianca Reddi, MSPH '20"Through the engaging classroom discussions, robust methods curriculum, and hands-on experiences of the program, I’ve learned skills that are needed to look at the evidence and ask the right questions at the right time."
Mary Qiu, MSPH '16"From my practicum experience in Angola, I gained more hands-on skills to implement a study overseas. It prepared me to implement studies of larger scale and to deal with any problems that arise." Mary now works at Innovations for Poverty Action as a Research Coordinator in Tanzania.
Mariya Patwa"I am constantly drawing on the invaluable skills I gained during my practicum at an operational research clinic site in Johannesburg, South Africa." Mariya now works at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Bhavya Gowda, MSPH ’11"It was very useful to get hands-on experience in a classroom environment prior to having to do it on the job." Bhavya is now an Access to Medicines and Diagnostics Program Manager at the Clinton Health Access Initiative.