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The Public Health, M.S. (formerly Community Health, M.S.) is a fully online degree program that prepares students to take on leadership roles in agencies that respond to the most pressing public health problems. Graduates of the MS Public Health are trained to plan and evaluate public health programs, analyze public health policy, manage healthcare industries, and conduct theoretical research in preparation for a Doctoral degree. The curriculum fosters development of core public health competencies, with coursework in epidemiology, program planning and evaluation, health policy and administration, and applied fieldwork experience. Through this coursework, research, and community engagement, students will acquire the practical skills necessary to work as leaders in a local, national, or international entity addressing public health needs. Alumni have gone on to a wide variety of careers, including directors of public / community health agencies, health educators, medical service managers, grant writers, public health planners, and policy advocates. By design, this program is highly experiential. Over 25% of the program includes applied fieldwork, designed to provide practical experiences (both simulated and actual) so that graduates are equipped and prepared to make significant contributions in the field immediately after graduation.

What You Will Learn:

  • Develop the skills necessary to assume leadership roles in initiatives designed to prevent the most pressing public health problems
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills needed to work in prevention at the community level through programming, advocacy, as well as needs and needs/outcome assessments.
  • The ability to use a multidisciplinary approach to examine organizational and public policy issues that influence the operation and outcomes of public health and health care services.
  • Examine the behavioral, social, psychological, cultural, economic, and demographic factors related to individual and population health and how these contribute to equity in health. Learn to evaluate and communicate the importance of these factors in making health program decisions.
  • Design culturally relevant, evidence-based strategies for influencing, formulating, and advocating for social and organizational programs and policies.
  • Acquire an understanding of the environmental (physical, chemical, biological) factors influencing the health of populations
  • Explore epidemiology as the foundation of public health practice. Topics include disease transmission and progression, measures of morbidity and mortality, surveillance, screening, and outbreak investigation.

"With support from the dedicated faculty, I was able to enter the job field feeling not only competent in the work I was doing, but also confident. No matter where you are in life, SUNY Potsdam will be there to support and guide you.”

Whitney Callaghan ’17 & ’21, director, Northern Area Health Education Center
Combating Disease Through Education

Like an antibiotic rapidly flowing through the blood stream to combat an infection, Whitney Callaghan ’17 & ’21 has used her knowledge to help fight the spread of diseases in Northern New York. The SUNY Potsdam alumna took her degree in community health and parlayed it into a career with the St. Lawrence County Department of Public Health—where she’s busy overseeing contact tracing efforts in response to COVID-19.

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Coming Full Circle

Ever since graduating from SUNY Potsdam with a degree in community health, Missi Wooldridge ’08 has continued to make a positive impact on the world around her—focusing her career on drug policy reform and harm reduction. This fall, she will be giving back to her alma mater, and returning as an adjunct professor in the College’s fully online master’s degree program in community health.

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The Fieldwork Experience:

  • Completion of a full year applied fieldwork experience designed to meet the needs of each individual student. In this experience, students put knowledge into practice through hands-on experience. This can be an internship, professional project, or research project. Past experiences have been with the Essex and Franklin County Public Health Departments, the Seaway Valley Prevention Council, and many other places throughout the state and country.
  • A close relationship with your faculty mentor and field supervisor, who is committed to offering the support and insight you need to reach your highest potential as a public health professional.
  • A culminating final project includes planning, implementing, evaluating and communicating the results of a public health initiative such as a program or intervention.

Unique Program Features:

  • A network of public health professionals, and the confidence and tools needed to contribute to the field immediately upon graduation.
  • Small class sizes promote close relationships with professors and fellow community health classmates. Students graduate with a cohort who provides support throughout the length of their future careers.
  • Flexible scheduling with full-time and part-time options, and early afternoon and nighttime classes offered.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic, Public Health Workers and Health Educators are among the fastest growing occupations. Job growth was estimated to be 15-17% between 2020-2030.

Program Contacts

Graduate & Continuing Education, Raymond Hall 206
(315) 267-2165

Program-Related Information
Dr. Kelly Bonnar
Associate Professor
Department of Public Health and Human Performance
100A Dunn Hall(315) 267-3188