School of Public Health debuts accelerated online courses

You can be anywhere in the world and never miss class. UNTHSC’s School of Public Health is the first in Texas to offer an accelerated online Master of Public Health Professional Option. You can complete a course in just eight weeks instead of the usual 16.

Matt Nolan Adrignola, EdD, MBA, SPH Associate Dean of Administration & Student Services and Assistant Professor of Public Health Education, said the eight-week option has been well received by students and faculty alike. Typical is Lesley Wheeler, Research Coordinator at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, who recently completed the Professional Option’s debut course, Biostatistics.

Combining career and coursework
"I could only take night classes with my work schedule, so the online classes are much preferred," Wheeler said. "I want to work while I continue my education, and this has been a great experience."

Wheeler’s research focuses on better ways to help newborns and children with limb deformities and injuries, and preventing those problems as well. "I have already seen the direct benefits of this class in my current occupation, as I have been running statistics for some of my studies," she said. 

By summer, SPH expects all its core courses to be available online, and by 2015, all Professional Option courses. SPH also is developing a library of online lectures.

Working adult students can concentrate on one class at a time, or take two eight-week classes in the traditional 16-week semester, thus accelerating their progress. Faculty can concentrate on their course for eight weeks, then spend the rest of the semester on grant or contract projects and publishing efforts.

The face-to-face option is still offered in the traditional 16-week classroom semester, although "the set-up of accelerated online Biostatistics felt very much like a traditional classroom," Wheeler said. "I listened to lectures and discussed problems with classmates and the teaching assistants."

She described communication with her professor, Subhash Aryal, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, as efficient and helpful: "I appreciated the commitment to ‘office hours,’ which allowed the students to engage with the professor in real time versus merely through email."

Going greener and more convenient
Students praised the class’ convenience. Said Wheeler, "Although there were deadlines and due dates, I did not have to abide by a rigid class schedule. This allowed me to work full-time and complete homework on my time."

Students also appreciated having no traffic hassles, saving gasoline money and reducing emissions. It’s another way the UNT Health Science Center creates solutions for a healthier community.

Wheeler described how she chose the Health Science Center. "I had been doing research on graduate schools in the area. UNTHSC was one of my top choices and when I found out they were offering an online program, this institution ended up being my one and only choice.

"My initial experience has only enhanced my opinion of the institution and the program."

Learn more about the School of Public Health’s MPH Professional Option.

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