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Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


Online Public Health Education

As we look to the future, Hudson College of Public Health leadership, faculty, and staff are committed to increasing access to public health education for students across the globe. Halley Reeves, HCOPH director of online education, has been working diligently to develop online Master of Public Health and Graduate Certificate programs for the College. “The online MPH in Population and Community Health is currently accepting applications for the spring 2024 semester,” she says. For now, the college mainly targets existing students, medical students who might want to expand their public health knowledge, and career professionals looking for additional public health training. “I like that the Graduate Certificate in Population Health is embedded in the MPH, so someone who may be uncertain about applying to the MPH program could opt to get the certificate and then decide to continue with their training to complete the MPH,” comments Reeves.

Reeves is working with a steering committee of individuals from each HCOPH department (including the chairpersons), faculty, administration and finance, and student services to develop and expand online courses and degree offerings in the college. Several online courses are asynchronous, meaning students can watch the lectures and complete the course independently. However, some online courses meet virtually on specific days and times. Recognizing that many prospective students are already employed and may need flexibility, Reeves is committed to developing convenient online content. “Essentially, we are trying to expand how our services can be delivered in different formats,” states Reeves. When asked about the number of students per online course, she notes that the steering committee is discussing the maximum number of students. “It’s not unlimited, but it will increase the number of students that we can have in the program for sure,” she says. 

Beyond expanding services, the college is also broadening its reach by encouraging students across the globe to enroll in its online programs. “We recognize the importance of international students and the value of breaking down barriers for folks to receive an OU education in all sorts of settings,” Reeves remarks. Another benefit of online courses is that the cost is the same for every student. The current fee is $575 per credit hour for the online MPH and Graduate Certificate in Population Health. This amount is roughly between in-state and out-of-state student tuition and fees. “As we’re reviewing the curriculum of the different programs, our team is working to identify ways to make the programs more efficient, which might include reducing hours,” comments Reeves.  

Reeves explains that university in-person enrollment across the country was down before the pandemic. “When the pandemic hit, it created a perfect storm to tank a lot of enrollment numbers,” she says. Many programs were forced to move their in-person course content to a completely online format. “A lot of programs just took their in-person offerings and recorded their lectures (sometimes with suboptimal audio and visual) and pushed it out with minimal changes to the curriculum,” notes Reeves. “There has been a decrease in online program use over the past couple of years because the quality of online education has been questionable and inconsistent.” The silver lining is that the pandemic created an ideal opportunity to learn how to provide more flexibility in educational offerings. The HCOPH is working to rethink the existing curriculum to make it more interactive for students, increase educational outcomes, and offer new opportunities for students to engage with materials. “We’ve created online education workshops for faculty to help them learn best practices for teaching in an online environment as well as provided tips and tricks on the practical application of producing online lectures,” says Reeves. 

“Creating online course content is a way to modernize our programs.”

For now, the college is focusing on its MPH program. “At the moment, we are exploring other programs’ viability for online. We have a few current applications which are going through the approval process at the university,” says Reeves. “It's an exciting time to expand the learning opportunities for students.”