Program Attributes and Learning Objectives: COPHP MPH

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  6. Program Attributes and Learning Objectives: COPHP MPH

The UW Community-Oriented Public Health Practice Master of Public Health (COPHP MPH) program highlights key attributes and learning objectives that complement our mission and commitment to a student-centered program.

Program Attributes

Our alumni, students, and faculty worked together to create this list of the top ten attributes of the COPHP MPH program.

Social Justice

The COPHP MPH program is for people who care about communities and would like to learn how to organize and affect policy. Social justice is our foundation; it is what unites our students and faculty and orients our problem-solving. Our alumni mobilize communities and catalyze grassroots public health initiatives to challenge health inequities and make positive changes to systems.

Problem-Based Learning

COPHP MPH is founded on the principle that adults learn best through discovering, doing, experiencing, and thinking via problem-based learning (PBL). COPHP students learn how to find the information they need to solve problems rather than memorize solutions. Our graduates can rapidly synthesize evidence to develop and evaluate public health programs.

We also recognize that graduates don’t need to be experts on everything, but rather they do need to know how to learn from, and share power with, experts in the community.


Leadership is a core learning objective in COPHP MPH. Our students develop leadership skills through facilitation and working in teams. Students gain project leadership experience through hands-on projects with community partners and problem-based learning cases.

Small Groups

COPHP MPH students learn collaboratively in problem-based learning classes no larger than ten people. These groups mimic workplace teams. Mutual accountability is a core value, and also a learning strategy, as it models most work environments our graduates enter after completing their degree. Our graduates know how to design, facilitate, and mediate group processes, especially in settings of competing views, and how to make sound and considered team-based decisions in public health. Most importantly, our alumni know how to draw out diverse perspectives to ensure all voices are heard.

Trusting Relationships

We solve problems and overcome challenges by building trusting relationships in our classrooms, with community-based organizations, and directly with community members. COPHP MPH students are tight-knit cohorts of brilliant and curious adult learners and often remain each other’s best resources long after graduation.

Strong Community Networks

We have strong community networks and partnerships that help us design our problem-based learning cases, which are often reworked to emphasize current public health issues. During both the first and second year, students engage in community-based projects for their courses, practicum, and capstone. The program boasts great community-based faculty, many of whom are alumni.

Evidence-Based Practice

We are grounded in cutting-edge science and evidence-based practice. COPHP MPH students learn about the realities of health inequity and disparities in the United States and internationally. Our alumni skillfully develop and employ modern public health communication tools and techniques to effectively reach a variety of communities. COPHP also follows the best practices for community-based participatory research by compensating community members for their time and wisdom.

Interpersonal Skills

COPHP MPH students develop strong interpersonal skills through high-intensity individual and group work. We learn to sit with discomfort and explore our own imperfections and positionalities. All members of the COPHP community are proud adult learners committed to learning from and with each other. We find the problem-based learning environment cultivates high emotional intelligence and unparalleled communication skills that are transferrable to many sectors of public health.

Meaningful, Real-World Change

The COPHP MPH program produces meaningful, real-world change. Our students have worked on projects that influenced policy development for Seattle and Washington state. Policy project topics include gun violence, sick leave, and pedestrian safety. These projects act as apprenticeships and immersive training opportunities to provide students with real-world work experience, not simply classroom learning.

Remarkable Graduates

Our remarkable graduates built, and continue to build, the COPHP MPH reputation for producing quality public health practitioners. Employers know that COPHP MPH students and graduates are reliably versatile, analytical, and nimble. They can think systematically and contribute to social equity. Our alumni skillfully and confidently practice systematic problem-solving approaches to resolve complex public health challenges. Our graduates remain deeply engaged in public health throughout their careers and often stay or return to our program to act as site supervisors for projects or instructors for problem-based learning courses.

Learning Objectives

The COPHP MPH program goals are based on a common set of core MPH competencies for all UW students seeking a master’s in public health. Every case study that our students analyze has learning objectives that contribute to overall learning goals.

After successfully completing the COPHP program, students can:

  • Assess community assets and needs
  • Find, evaluate, and synthesize information from multiple sources
  • Facilitate meetings to ensure group objectives are met
  • Engage and mobilize communities around public health challenges
  • Work productively in teams
  • Challenge the causes and effects of oppressions in our communities
  • Evaluate health programs and policies
  • Intervene to improve community health and well-being
  • Develop, implement, and manage public health programs
  • Communicate effectively with communities and professional audiences
  • Identify and address structural bias, social inequities and racism that undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels