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Master of Public Health (MPH)

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Study in Christchurch, Dunedin, or Wellington

The Master of Public Health (MPH) is an internationally-recognised qualification in its field. It will deepen your understanding of public health and give you research experience.

The supervised nature of the degree enables you to work in close association with active researchers. You will develop research skills that may be applied to public health policy, practice, or research settings.

The prerequisite for the MPH is the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH), or an equivalent public health degree. Candidates are expected to have achieved a B average overall for their DPH and have passed approved research methods papers worth 30 points; this must include a 15-point research methods paper, passed with a grade of B+ or better, relevant to the candidate's intended research design. All admissions to the programme are subject to the approval of the programme co-ordinator.

An MPH can be completed in one academic year of full-time study, or the equivalent in part-time study. You have the option of either completing a thesis (120 points) or undertaking a dissertation (60 points) and four additional 15-point public health papers.

Enrolments for thesis option may be accepted at any time, however you must first have discussed your proposed thesis or dissertation with a member of the academic staff.

New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine registrars may be eligible for early entry to the MPH in order to meet the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine training requirements to start the dissertation in the first year of their training. Such candidates must have achieved a standard satisfactory to the Public Health Academic Committee in the papers taken in the first semester of the DPH. New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine registrars cannot complete the MPH by thesis only.

Research areas and topics

Read about the huge number of researchers contributing to the advancement of health goals in Aoteaora New Zealand, and beyond, here:

Research in Public Health at University of Otago

View Campus-specific research themes:

  • Christchurch campus (Department of Population Health; University of Otago, Christchurch)
  • Dunedin campus (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine; Dunedin School of Medicine)
  • Wellington campus (Department of Public Health; University of Otago, Wellington)

Programme structure

Points required 120 points

1 year full-time
2 years part-time

Start date Thesis students can start at any time of the year (on the 1st of the month, as fees are charged for the full month)
Dissertation students start at the beginning of a semester
Prerequisite Have completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH) or equivalent, with at least a B average, and have passed approved research methods papers worth 30 points; this must include a 15-point research methods paper, passed with a grade of B+ or better, relevant to the candidate's intended research design.

Two options:
- Thesis (120 points)
- Dissertation (60 points) plus Public Health Papers to the value of 60 points

Thesis option

Coursework option

Students must have completed one of the following prerequisite papers as part of the DPH, or must include it as one of their four public health papers if completing with dissertation:

  • PUBH 721 Methods for Epidemiological Research
  • PUBH 723 Survey Methods
  • PUBH 724 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • PUBH 725 Applied Biostatistics 1 – Fundamentals
  • PUBH 726 Applied Biostatistics 2 – Regression Methods
  • PUBH 741 Hauora Māori - Policy Practice and Research

Or an equivalent research paper(s) approved by the Public Health Academic Committee.

Hear from past students

Masters' scholarships

General information for masters' students

English language requirement

If your first language is not English you must provide evidence of a satisfactory level of English language proficiency. Entry into the Master of Public Health requires an IELTS of 6.5, with not section less than 6, before an application for the programme will be considered.

If you are an overseas student wishing to enrol in the Master of Public Health, you should contact the University's International Office in the first instance:

Enquire about studying at Otago for International students

How to apply to enrol

There are two steps involved in enrolling in the MPH programme:

  1. An internal department process to assess your eligibility and to approve the proposed topic of study for your dissertation or thesis. Please contact your nearest department for further information.
  2. The online application and enrolment process with the University. This involves registration, payment of fees, and course approval. (We will guide you through this process if you are deemed eligible in step 1.)

Harakeke programme

Hands weaving harakeke flax
Postgraduate study in public heath is underpinned by the harakeke programme. It ensures Māori values, content, public health action, and support are integral for all involved in the programme. The programme includes a compulsory paper in hauora Māori; a paper in hauora Māori policy, practice, and research; hauora content in many other papers; strong Māori teaching team support to Māori students; and Māori support to Māori students.

Postgraduate prospectus

Cover image featuring a playful parent and child on a picnicPublic Health postgraduate prospectus (PDF)

This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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