Skip to main content
School of Public Health
block W logo University of Washington
MPH Program in Health Services

MPH in Health Services Competencies

To prepare leaders to improve health in diverse populations and solve problems, the MPH Program in Health Services offers competencies in three areas -- theory, context and populations, and methods. (see figure below)

illustration of points below

  • Theory from the social and behavioral sciences prepares students to apply concepts that might explain why problems in population health and health disparities exist (for example, social determinants, life course theory, economic theory, behavior change theory at the individual, organizational, community levels, health care and public health systems) and change theory (such as diffusion of innovations, communication theory, community organization and other participatory models) to guide the development and implementation of effective strategies and health policies to address the problems.
  • Research methods prepare students to test theories that explain why some populations are healthy and others are not, and why some interventions work and others do not, which cumulatively build the evidence base for public health. The core functions of public health - needs assessment, policy development, and assurance - provide students with problem-solving skills to translate theory and evidence into effective, multilevel strategies and health policy to improve population health and reduce disparities. The Program assumes that strategies based on theory are more likely to produce expected outcomes than strategies that are not.
  • Context and Populations offer students an in-depth understanding of the public health and health care systems and how to change health systems to improve population health and reduce disparities, particularly in underserved groups. The Program offers advanced training to understand the complex factors influencing health and illness in maternal and child populations and to collaborate with community and government partners to improve health and reduce disparities in these populations.