Programs of Study

MPH Program

Comprehensive Examination

Students graduating from the MPH Program in Infectious Diseases are expected to possess core knowledge and critical thinking skills in the area of infectious diseases and a basic understanding of the scope of public health. Students are evaluated for competency in these areas through

  1. Preparation of an analytical paper on a topic involving infectious diseases in the public health context, and
  2. Passing of an oral examination.

The course “Current Issues in Infectious Diseases” (PH 264) serves as the forum for the preparation of the analytical paper (this is not a research thesis). Students are to identify their paper topic early in the Fall term. The topic may build upon the student’s own experience, e.g., a laboratory research project or a community intervention project. Alternatively, the student may develop a novel topic of his/her own interest, e.g., a policy proposal on a public health issue or a research proposal. Once topics are approved, students will be assigned to faculty mentors who will help them with the development of the paper.

During the Fall term PH 264 course, students will present their comp paper topics and project for peer critique. The course will discuss past comp papers and formats.

Students will start to work on their comp paper at the later part Fall term while PH 264 course is in session.The paper is completed in the beginning of the following Spring term under the mentorship of a faculty member in the program under the PH 296 (Special Study) course number taken for 2 units. Papers are typically 10-15 pages in length (single spaced).

Students are eligible to take the Oral exam after submission of the final written analytical paper, per approved by their faculty mentor, in mid March to IDV office.

Oral exams are typically administered during the two-week period following Spring Break. Each student will be examined by two members of the faculty. The exam is designed to assess the student’s knowledge of infectious diseases in the public health context. Oral exams are one hour in length and are in two parts.

Part A comprises questions and discussion concerning the analytical paper and general public health issues.

Part B comprises about 6-7 questions drawn during the Oral exam from a previously distributed list of 82 questions to students.

Both parts must be passed.


"The ideal way to spend one's life, in my view, is to have the freedom to pursue whatever questions one finds interesting. I have had the good fortune to live this life, made richer by the diversity of problems worked on, the achievement of outstanding students, and the association with first-class colleagues and collaborators."

-Dr. George Sensabaugh