Development of a Master of Science in Population Health Curriculum

Katherine Puskarz, MPH, Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University
Drew Harris, DPM, MPH, Jefferson School of Population Health
Caroline Golab, PhD, jefferson School of Population Health

Document Type Poster



Health system leaders must be prepared to meet the challenges of rising healthcare costs, troubling concerns about healthcare quality, and a growing awareness of the role social, environmental and community factors play in determining individual health outcomes. Population Health has emerged as a new discipline encompassing activities and interventions designed to address these issues at both the clinical and community levels.

Population Health Defined

There is no standard definition of population health and therefore no accepted set of learning objectives and competencies for a comprehensive population health curriculum exists. Population health has been described broadly as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group”1 (p.380) or narrowly defined as managing the health care of specific and enumerated patient populations.2

Current Curricula

Most existing graduate population health programs focus on preparation for research in the field rather than application. Population health and its emphasis on prevention and community health is being incorporated as a topic in some medical school coursework.3,4 The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health’s (ASPPH) Framing the Future initiative recommends that population health concepts be incorporated into MPH core curriculum.5


The new Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH) Master of Science in Population Health degree program needed a skills-based curriculum to enable graduates to lead, develop and implement new health-related initiatives. The objective of this study was to develop and validate an organized list of topics encompassed in the emerging population health discipline for use in the new curriculum.