Public Health Degrees in San Francisco, CA with Course Summaries

There are three schools within 35 miles of San Francisco that have public health degrees. Read an overview of their program and admission requirements to find out which university is the right one for you.

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San Francisco Public Health Schools

Students who want to enroll in a public health program in the San Francisco area have multiple schools to choose from; however only one is actually located within the city limits. This article highlights the courses and fieldwork opportunities at universities who all have programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). It also includes a table of additional details on the institutions.

  • San Francisco State University is the only school located in the city and is about 10 miles from downtown. The university offers a Master of Public Health (MPH) through its College of Health and Social Sciences.
  • The University of California - Berkeley, the largest school in the area with a public health program, is located approximately 13 miles from central San Francisco in Berkeley. The school offers a master's degree with a number of specialties and two doctorate programs, all within the School of Public Health.
  • A third option is Touro University California, a 4-year, private school located roughly 34 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo. Students can earn a Master of Public Health or enroll in the physician assistant/public health joint master's program.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

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  • Public Health Medicine, Treatment

Comparison of Schools

Compare facts and figures for the three universities by reviewing this table. There's info on graduate tuition rates, enrollment figures and more.

San Francisco State University University of California - Berkeley Touro University California
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private, not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2014) 29,465* 367,565* 1,378 graduate students*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city Midsize city
Graduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016) $7,742 in-state;
$16,670 out-of-state*
$13,431 in-state;
$28,533 out-of-state*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University was established in 1899 as a teacher-training school and went through 5 name changes before taking its current name in 1974. Today, the school enrolls nearly 30,000 students annually and has over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. SFSU's Master of Public Health in Community Health Education program is based on national competencies stated by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH).

Master of Public Health

SFSU's 44-credit MPH in Community Health Education program can be completed through an accelerated 5-semester option or a more moderate 6-semester option. Both tracks integrate lectures, hands-on training and teamwork building into a rigorous curriculum that teaches students to advocate social justice in public health. Applicants must have a minimum of 2 years' work experience in the health sector to be considered for admission. Coursework includes community organizing, theories of social behavior change, community health assessment, biostatistics, program planning for community change, environmental health, and public health policy. In conjunction with the required coursework, students participate in intensive group experiences and a community assessment, both of which contribute to the final electronic portfolio and project.

University of California - Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California - Berkeley is a 4-year, public university that enrolls nearly 38,000 students annually and offers more than 350 degree programs. In 2010, the National Research Council found that UC - Berkeley has the most top-ranked graduate programs of any institution in the U.S. The School of Public Health was established in 1943 and was the first in the public health field west of the Mississippi. The school has a variety of programs and degree offerings including a doctorate program, several dual degree options, and more than 10 master's degree concentrations.

Master of Public Health

UC - Berkeley's MPH is a 2-year or 11-month program that allows students to choose from a number of concentrations. The 2-year program requires students to complete 48 credits and a 480-hour supervised practical experience. Coursework includes public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, toxicology, and exposure assessment. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to successfully complete the program. Students can choose from 7 areas of concentration: environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health and social behavior, health policy and management, infectious disease, maternal and child health, and public health nutrition. The 11-month MPH is a 42-credit program designed for students who already hold an advanced degree in a relevant field. Students can choose from the following areas of concentration: environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, interdisciplinary, and maternal and child health. The majority of programs require an internship, practical experience, or clinical training.

Master of Arts in Biostatistics

The MA in Biostatistics within the School of Public Health is a 2-year program where students take 40-48 credits of required coursework. Students must take at least 12 credits per semester, and coursework covers public health, biostatistical methods, probability and statistics, statistical models, consulting, and experimental design. Upon completion of the program, students can work toward a professional degree or gain employment in research or analytical positions in the healthcare sector or federal agencies.

Doctor of Public Health

The DrPH program prepares students for leadership positions relating to public health research, policy making and programs. Students must complete 48 credits of interdisciplinary coursework within the schools of public health, education, public policy, social welfare, and business. Students are required to take coursework in the following areas: management, research design and methods, public health ethics, leadership, health politics and policy analysis, public health interventions, and environmental health sciences. Additionally, students complete a 12-credit research practicum in a public health setting.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences and Policy Analysis

The PhD in health sciences and policy analysis program takes 4-5 years to complete, including a required residency. Coursework includes economics, public health, epidemiology, political science, and research methods. Students take additional, specialized coursework in an area of concentration, such as health economics, organizations, politics, and policy or population health. A dissertation and paper on research methods are required.

Touro University California

Touro University California is a Jewish-affiliated institution that was established in 1997 and offers a number of graduate degrees within its 3 colleges. Through the College of Education and Health Sciences, students can earn a Master of Public Health or a joint degree with a program from the College of Osteopathic Medicine or College of Pharmacy.

Master of Public Health

The 42-credit MPH can be completed in 4 semesters for full-time students and 5 years for those enrolled part-time. Classes are held for 3 hours in the evening Monday through Thursday. Students choose a community health or global health concentration. Required coursework (totaling 15 credits) for both tracks includes 5 core areas of public health: biostatistics, health policy and management, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, and environmental health science. Additionally, students must complete a 400-hour field study in a public health setting, selecting from a wide variety of community organizations, non-government organizations, or health departments throughout the country; there are also international options in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Bolivia.

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