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Master's Dual Degree Program
2012-2014 Student Handbook

Program Description and Goals Master of Public Health Informatics Admission Process
Transfer Credit Degree Requirements for the Master of Public Health Informatics
Course of Study for the Master of Public Health Informatics Practicum

Program Description and Goals

The Master of Science/Master of Public Health dual degree program combines the MPH from the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston with the MS degree from The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston. The training and curriculum in the dual degree program will provide students and future leaders in public health the necessary skills to be leaders in the field of Public Health Informatics. The dual degree program provides an integrated curriculum that includes a number of shared courses as well as a practicum experience and/or the thesis topic in the area of public health informatics. The selection of specific academic programs, and scheduling of specific courses, fieldwork, and practica for individual students is guided by an advising committee to satisfy admission requirements. The advising committee includes faculty from both UTHealth schools.

Students in the dual degree program must be admitted separately to each UTHealth school. Students must meet the requirements of each UTHealth school for its respective degree. Admission to one program does not ensure admission to the other. Students in the dual degree program will receive a diploma from each degree program after meeting the individual requirements of each program.

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Master of Public Health Informatics Admission Process

The applicant should present to the Registrar’s Office the following:

  1. Official transcripts from every post-secondary school attended, both in the United States and abroad. All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a professional agency (such as Educational Credential Evaluators or World Education Services) on a course-by-course basis. This evaluation is at the applicants’ expense.
  2. A baccalaureate or higher degree in an appropriate area, e.g., science, medicine, nursing, dentistry, MIS, engineering, or computer science
  3. A personal statement detailing the applicant’s interest in the program
  4. A resume or curriculum vitae (as appropriate)
  5. A Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) score
  6. Grade Point Average (GPA) in previous (degrees) coursework
  7. A minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test; a score of 87 (writing 26, speaking 23, reading 21, listening 17) on the internet based test; or a minimum score of 213 on the computer test is required for international students.
  8. Three letters of reference from educators and/or employers
  9. Courses taken and degrees received at U.S. schools must be from regionally accredited schools.

Applicant materials will be organized into a portfolio for review by the admissions committee. The admissions committee will consider such areas as:

  • Health, MIS, Computer, or Engineering related degree
  • Health-care work experience
  • Database work experience
  • Informatics work experience
  • Demonstrated expertise in programming
  • GRE or MAT score
  • GPA in previous degree
  • Success in overcoming social, economic or educational disadvantages, race and ethnicity.

Master of Public Health Informatics application deadlines:

Fall admission - July 1
Spring admission - November 1
Summer admission - March 15


The second component for admission is a personal interview. Applicants who have been recommended by the admissions committee will interview with two faculty members. Faculty members are either requested by the applicant or assigned by the admissions committee. If offered admission, these faculty members will become the students’ advising committee. Separate interviews may be conducted due to scheduling conflict. The interview is expected to focus on the applicant’s goals and how they can be achieved in the master’s program, communication skills, and understanding of the program.

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Transfer Credit

Transfer credit for equivalent courses taken elsewhere may be awarded and used to meet degree requirements if their equivalency to a SBMI degree program course is approved through a Petition for Equivalency Credit.

Support courses that are taken at other institutions that enhance a student’s degree plan should be determined by agreement and approved by their advising committee. A Petition for Equivalency Credit is not required for these support courses.

The maximum number of transferable semester credit hours is 12 for the master’s program.

Applicants who are presenting coursework from universities or colleges outside the United States to meet admission or graduation requirements are referred to the section on International Applicants in this catalog for a listing of additional requirements.

Public Health Informatics Core Competencies:

The curriculum is designed to deliver training and improve skills in the following informatics competency domains.

  • The ability to determine and operationalize the existence, structure, and utility of the public health and health data standards, databases and networks within a specific domain area.
  • The ability to determine, translate and operationalize the functions and operations of information technologies that have significant application to public health practice (such as graphical information systems and the web-based information dissemination) in daily public health practice.
  • The ability to specify the requirements for the development and adaptation of information systems to address informational needs and requirements of a real world public health setting.
  • The ability to plan, analyze, evaluate and manage implementation of public health information system projects in their organization within a specific domain area, within the core competency areas of public health practice and in accordance with national, academic, and industrial frameworks and standards governing the design, implementation and evaluation of public health information systems and health data definitions and standards
  • The ability and skill in information technology planning and procurement related to public health information systems.

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Degree Requirements for the Master of Public Health Informatics

Academic Requirements

Credit hours must total at least 42 semester hours for all courses in the degree plan. Six of those semester credit hours will be in support courses, which might not be offered by the school. Support courses could include areas such as cognitive sciences from Texas A&M University, computer science from Rice University, mathematics from the University of Houston, measurement courses from The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston or courses studying healthcare outcomes from The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston. Each student follows a degree plan developed with an advising committee. A total of 42 semester credit hours listed in the sample curriculum matrix in this catalog for Health Informatics must be completed prior to graduation.

A full-time student in the Program in Health Informatics has up to four years (12 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work. A part-time student has up to eight years (24 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work. Continuous enrollment is required unless approval from the advising committee is obtained. A maximum of one year of an approved leave of absence will be allowed for continuance in the program. If more than one year of leave occurs, the student must apply for readmission to the program.

Each course with a HI prefix in the Health Informatics degree plan is a graduate level professional course and must be passed with a grade of “B” or better. Only one course grade of “C” is allowed. The minimum grade point average (GPA) required for graduation is 3.0 on all HI courses.

Other Requirements

In Residence Requirement - the term “in residence” refers to the requirement that a student completes a total of 30 semester credit hours over the course of the program at UTHealth. A student must fulfill his or her in residence requirement in order to receive any academic degree from the School.

Computer Requirement

Every student is required to have reliable access to a computer that meets the minimum requirements. Students are encouraged to purchase a laptop that meets the minimum UTHealth requirements.

Computer requirements are listed on the website ( and are subject to change.

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Course of Study for the Master of Science in Health Informatics

The curriculum for the Master of Science in Health Informatics and the Master of Public Health include required didactic courses and a practicum. Didactic courses (lecture/discussion, demonstration and student laboratories) are presented to provide facts, concepts, and theories related to the techniques and procedures of public health informatics. The courses include instruction in basic informatics, research informatics, advanced informatics, public health courses, and support courses. The public health informatics practicum is designed to give the students the opportunity to apply theory and techniques in the hospital, research, or private laboratory setting. A full-time student in the Program in Public Health Informatics has up to six years (18 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work.

Each student will develop a degree plan with written approval of their advising committee. A degree plan will be filed that includes a minimum of:

  • 6 semester credit hours in foundation courses
  • 6 semester credit hours in basic informatics (includes 4 shared credit hours with SPH)
  • 6 semester credit hours in research (includes 2 shared credit hours with SPH)
  • 3 semester credit hours in advanced courses (includes 6 shared hours with SPH)
  • 6 semester credit hours in support courses • 6 semester credit hours in practicum courses.

Changes to the degree plan must have the written approval of the advising committee.

The advising committee must approve support courses before they are taken unless they are transferred in at the time of admission. Approval of the transferred courses must be completed at the time of transfer to the program. Only six semester credit hours of support courses will be accepted toward the degree requirements.

As part of the practicum, students must prepare a ‘state of the science’ paper based on research in the student’s area of interest. The ‘state of the science’ paper will be developed in cooperation with the student’s advising committee. Students will have the experience of disseminating the knowledge they have gained by sharing it with the larger community. It will not be a requirement that the paper actually be published, due to the inability to predict journal-publishing times. However, the paper must be of sufficient quality to be accepted for publication in a refereed journal and must be submitted for publication. The advising committee will be responsible for monitoring the quality of this paper, as well as the practicum. The ‘state of the science’ paper approach has been chosen because it gives more flexibility to conduct different kinds of research, such as concept analysis, discussion of implementation issues, or investigation of new data in Public Health Informatics. All research papers, theses, and dissertations authored by degree candidates are available to interested members of the general public upon request.

Program Required Semester Credit Hours
Master's in Health Informatics (MS) 42
Master's in Public Health (MPH) 45
Total Semester Credits 87
Shared Courses -13

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Sample Curriculum  
Course No. Course Title Semester Credits
Fall Semester  
HI 5310 Foundations of Health Information Sciences I 3
HI 5380 Principles and Foundations of Public Health Informatics 3
PH 1110 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Community Health (shared course) 3
Total 9
Spring Semester  
PH 1690 Introduction to Biostatistics (shared course) 4
HI 5354 Cognitive Engineering I in Health Informatics 3
HI 5311 Foundations of Health Information Sciences II 3
Total 10
Summer Semester  
HI 6323 Datamining in Bioinformatics 3
Total 3
Fall Semester  
HI 6301 Health Data Display 3
Support Course 1 3
Total 6
Spring Semester  
Support Course 2 3
PH 9997 Practicum in Public Health (shared course) 3
PH 9998 Written Paper Option (shared course) 3
Total 9
Summer Semester  
HI 6000 Practicum in Health Informatics 6
Total 6
Grand Total 43

For further curriculum information, please contact:

Keith Burau, PhD
1200 Herman Pressler Drive
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-9472
Email: [email protected]
Juliana Brixey PhD, RN
7000 Fannin Street
Suite 600
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3643
Email: [email protected]

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