Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of health-related events/outcomes in populations. A basic focus of epidemiology is to investigate the distribution of diseases in different populations. Determining the prevalence and risk factors associated with these events/disease outcomes, as well as measuring the magnitude of such occurrences, is the scientific backbone of public health. An essential part of epidemiological investigation involves the utilization of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods and appropriate research study design to evaluate the effectiveness of disease control measures.

Students enrolled in the epidemiology specialization are required to take advanced level training in chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, advanced biostatistics, and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from epidemiology electives in the following areas: infectious diseases (e.g. dengue virus, malaria, and HIV/AIDS), nutrition, neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s and Alzheimers), non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes and cardiovascular diseases), obesity, and cancer. Course work in specialized statistical methods and computer applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the UH Mānoa system or community during their field practicum assignment.

Health Policy and Management

The decisions, plans, and actions organizations and governments take to achieve health promotion and care goals are the jurisdiction of health policy and management (HPM). Delivering high quality, cost effective health care and developing policies that leadto health and reduce disparities are complex and dynamic processes that integrate topics from a diversity of disciplines and sub-disciplines including, but not limited to: health administration, economics, evaluation, human rights, ethics, anthropology and sociology, etc.. HPM is a diverse specialization that prepares graduates for health-related work across the health services continuum from policy development, program planning, implementation and management, program and policy evaluation, and health systems leadership to achieve intended health outcomes. 

The mission of the HPM graduate program is to promote and protect the public's health through the preparation of graduates for careers leading toward leadership in health services policy and management, and to conduct research and disseminate knowledge that will advance the organization, financing, and delivery of health services. HPM courses are designed to develop students' critical thinking and apply problem-solving skills across the public and private sector to address health challenges in the state of Hawai‘i, the Asia-Pacific region, and around the world.

Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Working Group defines Indigenous communities, peoples and nations as those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system. This MPH specialization is designed to provide students with skills and training necessary to serve Indigenous people and assist in addressing their health and wellness needs.

Indigenous people throughout the world experience grave health and socioeconomic disparities. Many of the current inequities are the result of historical national and local policies designed to eliminate and/or assimilate Indigenous people. Knowledge of history, policy, health determinants and ethics is essential to address and eliminate the inequities faced by Indigenous people.

Students enrolled in the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health specialization are required to take advanced level training in Indigenous health policy, ethics and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health electives in many areas across the campus. Students will participate in on-going research programs with Indigenous communities through a practicum assignment.

Social and Behavioral Health Sciences

Over the last century, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading causes of death and, despite advances in medicine and technology, health disparities are increasing in almost every country. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, unsafe sexual practices, substance abuse, and overexposure to the sun are major contributors to disability and death. Social and systemic factors, such as discrimination, poverty, dangerous living and work environments, and unequal distribution of resources (including health care resources), also affect health status. Course assignments will provide students with opportunities to apply knowledge, practice skills, and enhance computer literacy. Students will also be provided with opportunities to participate in university-based projects and/ or collaborate with non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and community groups to promote wellness in Hawai‘i’s diverse communities.

PhD in Public Health (Community-Based and Translational Research)

Translational research is the investigation of how to successfully transform scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into community applications to reduce incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) in health is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves investigators and members of the community in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. This approach increases the likelihood that interventions will be embraced by the community and that community members will gain knowledge, skills, and other benefits from the research.

PhD in Epidemiology

The PhD in epidemiology is comprised of graduate faculty from the Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, Department of Microbiology, and the Pacific Basin Research Center, thus offering training opportunities in multiple disciplines critical to public health and disease control and prevention. Candidates for the PhD in epidemiology collaborate on projects with the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, HMSA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies and organizations, attaining experience and expertise invaluable for their future careers as well as for the health and wellbeing of Hawai‘i's residents. Graduates of the program are employed in the U.S. and around the world in national, state and local departments of health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as educators and researchers at colleges, universities and research institutions, and as investigators in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries, and at international health agencies.