Date February 23, 2022
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Brown launches online-only master’s degree in public health

An innovative new version of Brown’s MPH program, delivered exclusively online, will expand access to a top public health education for learners nationally and around the world.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To expand the ranks of public health leaders across the globe equipped with the knowledge and skills to take on urgent and complex health challenges, Brown University is launching a fully online master of public health program.

The two-year School of Public Health degree program, which is now accepting applicants, aims to provide working professionals with greater access to a graduate education from one of the country’s top-ranked schools for public health.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health, said that COVID-19 — which has impacted communities worldwide, exposed weaknesses in public health systems and showed the inability of many of those systems to meet the urgent challenges of the time — was a key inspiration for creation of the online-only MPH.

“As we continue to battle the global pandemic, I believe it is our moral obligation to share our knowledge with others to improve global public health,” Jha said. “Our new online MPH program will allow us to demonstrate our commitment to educational equity by diversifying and vastly expanding access to the knowledge and wisdom of our faculty as well as other global public health leaders.”

Jha noted that the online format will improve access and serve global participants with diverse perspectives and experiences. “The online extension of the MPH program strengthens our commitment to ensure that more people can access a Brown education and that we stay true to the University’s mission to serve the community, nation and world.” 

As we continue to battle the global pandemic, I believe it is our moral obligation to share our knowledge with others to improve global public health.

Ashish Jha Dean of the School of Public Health
Ashish Jha

Jennifer Nazareno, who has a dual faculty appointment at the School of Public Health and Brown’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, will serve as associate director of the online MPH, which marks Brown’s first exclusively online degree program. It will add to a set of campus-based public health programs including undergraduate concentrations, a traditional MPH and other master’s, doctoral, postdoctoral and certificate offerings.

Nazareno said that among the likely enrollees are domestic students who can’t leave their families, jobs or communities to relocate to Providence, as well as international students who similarly do not have the ability to come to Brown to enroll in campus-based programs. 

“Expanding the campus in this way invites a broader range of experiences and perspectives, and lifts some of the most practical restrictions on who can be in the classroom,” said Nazareno, who also co-directs the Philippine Health Initiative for Research, Service and Training. “Students will gain the knowledge and global context to examine how historic and present-day power relations produce health inequities, critically evaluate policies that impact public health, and advocate for policies and programs that improve the health of diverse populations.”

The program consists of 12 courses to be completed over two to three years. To make the most of the online learning environment, courses will combine synchronous (real-time) discussions and asynchronous components. Asynchronous elements include interactive multimedia, recorded lectures and demonstrations; lecture videos by guest experts; and discussion boards where students can interact on their own schedules. Weekly virtual meetings with course instructors will be recorded and available for access at any time. 

Expanding the campus in this way invites a broader range of experiences and perspectives, and lifts some of the most practical restrictions on who can be in the classroom.

Jennifer Nazareno Associate Director of the Online MPH Program
Jennifer Nazareno

“To create the public health workforce of the future, we need to create new modes of public health education,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, academic dean at the School of Public Health and director of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health. “That’s why we’re so excited to be launching Brown’s first online-only master’s degree, accessible to adult learners from across the world. Only by diversifying the ways we teach will we be able to make great public health available to all.”

Nazareno said one feature that distinguishes the program from other MPH degrees is a focus on case-based learning: “In keeping with the Brown University School of Public Health motto to learn public health by doing public health, students will study current real-world public health issues,” she said.

These will include issues in which School of Public Health faculty have expertise, such as COVID-19, the opioid crisis, aging and long-term care, HIV/AIDs, and social inequities in health care access and outcomes.

In the spirit of collaboration and cross-disciplinary learning, Jha and Ranney will host interviews and learning modules with prominent health leaders from around the world as part of the program. Students will also have the opportunity to share expertise, learn from each other’s challenges and frustrations in the field, and share perspectives, insights and proposed solutions.

The first cohort will begin in Fall 2022. The program is currently seeking a diverse student population from across the world, Nazareno said, and highly desirable applicants are those individuals with at least two years of professional work experience.

Additional information on the online MPH is available at