What to Expect in COPHP
The COPHP program requires a significant commitment from its students in terms of working with the group process, taking responsibility for their own learning, and managing time efficiently. Our students must balance the following:
- Problem-based learning, which requires six hours of class time a week, and for every hour invested in class, at least one to two hours outside of class. Thus students should anticipate a weekly investment of 20-30 hours for PBL. Outside of class, this time may be spent pursuing learning objectives in the library, on the web, on the telephone, in community agencies, and planning learning strategies with their classmates. Cases come along frequently; COPHP students who graduated in 2005 worked 45 cases, including several that incorporated long-term assignments. Students routinely work through weekends on PBL cases.
- Traditional classes, including a skills seminar for first-year students, a topical seminar for second-year students, and electives. Students who are earning certificates usually choose electives in their particular specialty.
- Fieldwork, which for first-year students involves about six hours a week working in a local health department (Public Health - Seattle & King Co.) or another community-based agency. In addition, students take a fieldwork seminar that meets roughly every other week. Second-year students concentrate on their capstone projects, which requires a partnership with a community-based agency or organization and concludes with a formal paper and oral presentation.
- Paid work, which, remarkably, many COPHP students do. The School makes every effort to connect students with paid employment when they need it, both inside and outside the University of Washington.
Not surprisingly, most COPHP students characterize the experience as "intense" - but so are the public health careers they are embarking on. To determine whether the COPHP program is the MPH program you're looking for, consider the following questions.
Are you preparing for a practice career?
Although the COPHP covers the same core public health topics as do other MPH programs at the University of Washington and at other graduate schools, it addresses all these topics with a distinct practice focus. The COPHP program is not designed to meet the needs of students who are planning careers in research.
Are you a non-traditional learner?
PBL is the opposite of a lecture, and it can be a messy way to learn. In PBL, faculty serve as facilitators, not "teachers." Although all COPHP faculty use traditional didactic methods when they teach in other programs, in the COPHP program they are in class to assist students in working cases and to support their learning. Students take responsibility for their learning, just as they do in work environments.
Do you work well in small groups?
We keep our PBL classes to eight students or fewer. The small groups are a luxury in a large research university such as the University of Washington, but they can also be a challenge. COPHP students depend on each other to do a serious job of deconstructing cases, to pursue learning objectives thoroughly, to attend class and to meet deadlines. They must be comfortable sharing their work not just with a faculty member but also with all the members of their PBL groups.
Are you looking for a high level community interaction while you are in
Early in their graduate school experience, COPHP students work closely with communities. This interaction occurs through fieldwork as well as when they are pursuing learning objectives. Thus the COPHP program can involve more "work" and less "school" than do most traditional MPH programs.
COPHP students emerge from this rigorous program with the skills they will need on the job. Many consider PBL and the other program features to be invaluable training. We invite all applicants to visit, attend a PBL class, and talk with students and faculty. Please contact our program office if you are interested.