Master of Public Health

Graduate Advisors: Chávez, Cushing, Eliason, Lam, Love, Mamo, Martinson, Moore, Rebanal, Sanchez-Vaznaugh, van Olphen

The Master of Public Health program in Community Health Education at San Francisco State University shares the mission of the Department of Health Education to promote health at the individual, community, and structural levels through transformative education, research, scholarship and service, all of which value diversity, engage communities, and are grounded in cultural humility.

To further this mission, the Master of Public Health program:

  1. Provides professional preparation in the core competencies, functions, and responsibilities required of master level community health educators.
  2. Embraces an ecological approach, including a curriculum that addresses determinants of health at the individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels.
  3. Builds the specialized professional competencies required to promote health and prevent disease among culturally diverse populations.
  4. Incorporates the principles of adult learning in the application of knowledge and skills to specific public health problems.
  5. Engages students in applying theory and research to practice in partnership with communities to address the social determinants of health, reduce inequities, and contribute to building healthy communities.
  6. Emphasizes collaborative leadership and team building through a cohorted learning community approach.
  7. Serves the campus community and the communities of the Bay Area through developing mutually beneficial partnerships with communities, community-based organizations, public health departments, and other public and private institutions.

Admission Criteria

  • A minimum of 4,000 cumulative hours of previous health-related work experience; paid and/or volunteer, part-time or full-time positions. Application strengthened by public health/health equity positions, particularly post-baccalaureate and leadership roles, and by additional public health/health equity work experience beyond the required 4,000 hour minimum.
  • Evidence of academic excellence, as reflected in a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in a baccalaureate degree or the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted of higher education coursework or a previously earned post-baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test
  • Graduate-level proficiency in written English, as demonstrated by a 4.0 or higher on the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE General Test
  • A completed college course in each of four areas: statistics or calculus, social science, composition, and cultural, ethnic, or social diversity (CESD). Strong academic performance in the four prerequisite course areas further strengthens the application. View detailed information about the prerequisite courses on the departmental website. The statistics/calculus course must have been completed with a grade of B– or higher within six years of the M.P.H. program application year. If an applicant has not completed the statistics/calculus course within six years of applying to the program or has not met the minimum B– course grade requirement, admission to the program may still be recommended, but with the admission condition that a refresher statistics course is completed with grade of B– or higher before the first fall semester of intended enrollment.
  • If applicable, TOEFL test or equivalent:
  • Linguistic competence in English and a second language strengthens the application.

Admission Procedures

  1. Strongly Recommended: Attend a Prospective M.P.H. Student Information Session. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend one of these sessions. See the Department Events webpage for the calendar of information sessions offered each academic year. These faculty-led sessions provide detailed information about the program, curriculum, admission criteria, selection procedures, and the application process. To reserve a space in one of the sessions, email with your name, your email address, and the date of the session. For directions, parking and a campus map, view the SF State Parking & Transportation website. Out-of-area applicants unable to attend an information session can email to receive a set of program informational documents by email.
  2. Application Process: New M.P.H. students are admitted only during fall semesters, as a cohort learning community. An applicant must submit all required application materials by the March 1st priority application deadline for the application to be considered during the priority admission review period for subsequent fall semester admission. These application materials include both those required by the SF State Division of Graduate Studies and those required by the SF State Department of Health Education. After the March 1st priority application deadline, if spaces remain in the incoming fall cohort, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 31st, or until the subsequent fall cohort is filled, whichever comes first.
  3. Admission Decision Notification. Applicants who apply by the March 1st priority application deadline will receive an admission decision notification from the Division of Graduate Studies by mid-April. For applicants who submit their applications after the priority deadline during a rolling admission period, admission decision notification will take place within 2–3 weeks of application submission.
  4. M.P.H. Student Move to Classified Status. Admitted M.P.H. applicants enroll in the SF State M.P.H. program with conditionally classified status. To move to classified status, a student must meet all of the conditions specified by the Division of Graduate Studies and the Department of Health Education. These include any specialized conditions indicated in the Department of Health Education admission recommendation letter and M.P.H. Student Handbook, both the Level One and Level Two written English proficiency requirements for Master of Public Health students, meeting all the course grade thresholds as specified in the M.P.H. Student Handbook, completion of at least two consecutive semesters of coursework of 3.0 or higher grade point average, and the demonstration of professional ethics and effective collaborative learning skills. In addition, in order to continue in the M.P.H. program, a student must make satisfactory progress toward degree completion each semester, including meeting all standards as stipulated by the department. Departmental standards, detailed in the M.P.H. Student Handbook, include meeting the specified departmental grade thresholds for individual courses. M.P.H. students are allowed a maximum of two attempts to complete a required course at or above the threshold grade specified in the M.P.H. Student Handbook. A course withdrawal counts as a course completion attempt. Students who do not meet the grade threshold after two attempts at a course will be declassified.

Application Period

New students are admitted as a cohorted learning community for fall semesters only - there are no spring admits. The priority application period is October 1st through March 1st for subsequent fall semester admission. If spaces remain in the cohort after the March 1st priority application deadline, then there will be a rolling admission period from March 2nd to May 31st or until the incoming fall cohort is filled, whichever comes first.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

The university has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different levels.

Level I

Students must demonstrate graduate-level proficiency in written English prior to admission to the M.P.H. program with a score of 4.0 or higher on the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE. An applicant who scores below a 4.0 on the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE is required to submit an academic writing sample with the application, and may be admitted to the M.P.H. program, but with the stipulation that the student engage in additional writing skills development activities before program commencement and/or during program enrollment. The enrolled student must also meet the Level II written English proficiency as specified below.

Level II

The student's ability to write in a scholarly manner in the major field must be demonstrated by successfully meeting the B or higher grade thresholds of the first-semester first-year courses H ED 810, H ED 815, and H ED 884.


The M.P.H. curriculum emphasizes critical thinking skills, collaborative learning, problem-solving, practical experience, social justice, and advocacy. The program consists of 44 units, scheduled to accommodate working professionals while maintaining sound pedagogy. The program can be completed in a minimum of five semesters, which translates into two academic years, including a summer semester between the first and second year. More moderately paced degree completion plans are also available.

Master of Public Health — 44 units

Required Courses (44 units)

H ED 810Public Health and Principles of Community Organizing3
H ED 811Community Health Education Skills ePortfolio1
H ED 815Theories of Social Behavioral Change in Community Health Education3
H ED 820Community Health Assessment3
H ED 821Public Health Profession Practice3
H ED 822Advanced Public Health Profession Practice3
H ED 825Epidemiology3
H ED 828Biostatistics Lab1
H ED 829Biostatistics and Public Health3
H ED 830Health Education Planning, Management, and Administration for Community Change3
H ED 835Public Health Policy3
H ED 840Program Evaluation Design and Research3
H ED 845Educational Processes, Training and Curricula in Public Health3
H ED 855Environmental Health1
H ED 884Seminar in Applied Community Health Education Research (Public Health Inquiry)2
H ED 890Master of Public Health Culminating Experience Seminar3
Elective Course: a faculty advisor-approved upper division or graduate level course