U of A, ASU add public health master's degrees

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(Alexis Macklin/DD)

William Riley has served as a director for ASU’s and the University of Minnesota’s public health colleges. Now, he is helping roll out new master’s degrees provided by an ASU and U of M collaboration. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

The University of Arizona’s The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health announced Wednesday it will be offering a new, accredited Master of Public Health in Health Services Administration degree beginning in fall 2014.

The announcement comes a little more than a month after ASU’s College of Health Solutions announced a similar degree program, which also will begin in fall 2014.

Cecilia Rosales, director of Phoenix programs for the U of A College of Public Health, said in an email that despite the timing, the new degree offering was not a response to ASU’s earlier announcement. The college has offered a certificate in Health Services Administration for several years, and the degree announcement was only delayed because the school was undergoing a reaccreditation process, Rosales said.

“Our public health program actually dates back to before 2000, prior to establishing the College (of Public Health),” Rosales said. “The public health program was housed within the College of Medicine. We recently received reaccreditation for another seven years and are the only accredited public health school in the state.”

U of A’s new degree is a two-year program for full-time students, with the potential for a part-time offering, as well. Students will take hybrid courses that feature online and classroom instruction at both the Phoenix and Tucson campuses.

Rather than establish its own school of public health, ASU decided to partner with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health to offer two new graduate degrees, a Master of Public Health in Public Health Nutrition and a Master of Public Health in Public Health Administration and Policy.

Students will receive a degree from U of M. Like U of A’s new degree program, these programs will use hybrid courses taught by ASU and U of M faculty.

William Riley, director of ASU’s School for the Science of Health Care Delivery, will direct the new program in Phoenix. Riley was previously associate dean and director of the U of M’s School of Public Health.

“It’s the best of both worlds for Master of Public Health students,” Riley said. “They will have the full experience of not only ASU faculty but U of M’s faculty, as well. As two very similar research institutions, we are collaborating to serve the community in a very positive way.”

John Finnegan, dean of U of M’s School of Public Health, said ASU and U of M are a good fit for each other because of their respective reputations for innovation in both the health field and in higher education as a whole.

“The fit is also a good one with respect to our mutual goals to increase the quality of our research, of our teaching and of our community relationships,” Finnegan said.

Even though ASU’s and U of A’s programs are similar, each has distinctive features, Rosales said. The U of A College of Public Health’s total degree offerings surpass the programs ASU is implementing, she said.

Both schools’ announcements come at a time when demand for public health programs is on the rise. With the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act, there’s an even greater need for trained health care professionals, Finnegan said.

“How can you bring healthcare together closer with public health to be able to do a better job addressing the issues with population and community health?” Finnegan asked. “So, it becomes about health, not just care of the sick. And that becomes really important because it changes the equation with respect to the kind of workforce that you want.”

Downtown Devil reporter Kimberly Koerth contributed to the reporting of this story.

Editor’s note: Ruby Ramirez is Downtown Devil’s inaugural editorial intern and the sole participant of a new internship program between Downtown Devil and Bioscience High School.

Contact the reporter at ruby.ramirez96@gmail.com