UM-Flint's Master of Public Health receives national ranking

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Headshots of four Master of Public Health students and graduates - Brittany Jones Carter, Bushra Kawser, Hannah Theodorovich and Kim Snodgrass
Master of Public Health students and recent graduates (clockwise from upper left) Brittany Jones-Carter, Bushra Kawser, Hannah Theodorovich and Kim Snodgrass, all say that the nationally-ranked program has helped them grow in their careers.

Recent years have emphasized the important role that public health professionals play in our society. However, public health leaders were solving societal well-being challenges locally and globally long before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the field into the spotlight. Those specialists improve population health in many ways, such as through educating communities, helping government leaders create policies, and researching the many factors that impact health.

The Master of Public Health program at the University of Michigan-Flint is committed to serving the community in Flint and beyond, while training students to do the same. For those efforts, the program was recently ranked among the nation's best public health programs by U.S. News & World Report

"The program is fantastic," said Hannah Theodorovich, a 2023 MPH graduate. "The faculty have real-life experience and many are still working in the field. They opened my eyes to opportunities in public health and helped me grow in my career."

The program has two concentration options: health education and health administration. Graduates are also prepared to earn a Certified in Public Health credential.

Faculty work closely with students from the beginning of the program through the completion of an internship and capstone project, allowing learners to develop a portfolio that addresses a current public health challenge. Students can also get involved in faculty-led research and impact health outcomes through community-engaged public health practice.   

Students can attend classes in person or online and choose full- or part-time study. Because of its flexibility, the program is made up of students from diverse backgrounds, many of whom are already working in health care and desire to expand their knowledge and job opportunities. 

Students and graduates say that the flexible, hands-on curriculum and support from faculty and staff set them up to succeed. 


Kim Snodgrass of Dearborn has been working as a dietitian for 20 years and is pursuing her MPH at UM-Flint to be eligible for management positions. She said what she is learning has enhanced the care she is able to provide to patients with kidney failure in her current job as a renal care coordinator.

"This program has opened my eyes to all of the factors that impact people's health," she said. "It helps me look at more than just their lab work and to provide better care. There are so many nonmedical reasons that affect health – where they work, live and play. We have to combine the medical side with the social determinants of health to impact patient outcomes."

The program offers many real-world experiences. This was especially true at the height of the pandemic when Michelle Sahli, assistant professor of public health and health sciences, worked with students to quickly set up a system for managing COVID-19 cases on campus. 

Students learned contact tracing and handled every student-related case that was reported, also reaching out to their close contacts. Students developed the protocol and continued to improve their process as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines changed. 

"The students made sure it was done right," Sahli said. "It was a testament to how much they cared about public health and about other people."


Throughout the program, students get exposure to a variety of public health aspects. Theodorovich, who earned a bachelor's degree in public health before going on to the MPH, said that the program has allowed her to grow in her career. 

She works as a mentor coordinator with teens on probation at Peckham, a nonprofit vocational rehabilitation organization in Flint and Lansing. She said she has not only learned how to better understand the youth she works with, but also how to evaluate the outcomes of the work she is doing.

"Looking at social determinants of health really puts into perspective the challenges that the youth that I work with face," she said. "I learned how everything in their lives impacts their behavior. Society can often throw a lot of judgment at people without seeing their situation. When you can see that, you can figure out how to help."

Theodorovich was also able to conduct research in her passion area of criminal justice reform, working as a graduate research assistant with Julie Ma, associate professor of social work, on corporal punishment and youth development, and working with Sahli to complete a capstone project about Medicaid access for incarcerated youth.


Brittany Jones-Carter, a 2023 MPH graduate from Saginaw, pursued an MPH after completing her bachelor's in health care administration at UM-Flint because of the diverse job opportunities in the field. As a mother of a newborn when she began the program, the flexibility and convenience offered by the online classes were a must.

Jones-Carter worked as a graduate research assistant with Lisa Lapeyrouse, associate professor of public health and health sciences, on the latter's work on racism and how it impacts health outcomes in Flint and was attracted to research for the difference it can make. 

"I saw how impactful her work was in the community and fell in love with research," Jones-Carter said. "Research is how we understand people's behavior and learn how to make positive changes."

Jones-Carter completed her internship with the U-M Prevention Research Center and was hired after graduation. 

"I am grateful for what the program gave me," she said. "The faculty and staff make the program a very supportive community. You know that they care about you and want you to succeed."


Bushra Kawser worked as a dentist in Bangladesh before moving to Michigan. She originally enrolled in the MPH program thinking that it would enhance her work as a dentist once she can take the exam to practice in the U.S. 

A graduate student research assistant, she also plans to pursue a career in public health research after she graduates in 2024. She has worked with Gergana Kodjebacheva, associate professor of public health and health sciences, and is a co-author of a peer-reviewed manuscript on perceptions of pediatric telehealth among caregivers and adolescents that was accepted for publication.

"Choosing the MPH program was a great decision for me," she said.

While UM-Flint's MPH students and graduates can be found working in many different areas, they all are committed to improving population health. A common theme is a shared belief that they are able to make an impact because of the support they received in the program.  

"This program allowed me to fulfill my dream of going back to school," Snodgrass said. "The professors are amazing. I thought I wouldn't be able to build connections because I'm taking classes online, but I have been able to build strong relationships."

The program is accredited by the Board of Councilors of the Council on Education for Public Health. 

To learn more about the Master of Public Health program, visit its webpage

Martha Pennington is the communications specialist for the College of Health Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].