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What is Urban Health?

Dornsife's Urban Health Collaborative defines "urban" as "the geographies where people’s homes, workplaces and gathering spaces are concentrated."

While cities are prominent in discussions of urban health, the definition of urban areas is often inclusive of areas surrounding cities as contexts for the diverse sectors of daily life.

By 2050, more than 65 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. This shift in demographics means that cities not only present complex, large-scale health challenges, they also offer one-of-a-kind opportunities to translate public health solutions to communities of all sizes.

Urban Health Issues

Urban health issues at Drexel Dornsife include an extensive range of subjects, including:

  • Effects of urban policies on health
  • Impact of neighborhoods and communities on health
  • Preventing overdose deaths
  • Air pollution health effects
  • Injury prevention and worker safety
  • Improving health care access
  • Health impacts of racism and discrimination
  • The fight against hunger
  • Strategies to prevent the health consequences of urban violence
  • Global health, and more

Addressing the problems that develop in urban environments leads to new ways to improve health for city residents, while also applying inventive solutions to public health issues found in suburban and rural communities.

About the Online Masters in Urban Health

Students in the online MPH in Urban Health train in the foundational principles of urban health practice. This is an asynchronous, online program.

Rooted in the concept of health as a human right, this program teaches students to develop culturally competent programs, policies, and solutions to contemporary urban health challenges, including built environment, healthy housing, and ecological concerns.

The Urban Health MPH program prepares students to:

  • Apply theories and frameworks from urban social sciences to identifying social and other determinants of health and developing solutions to major urban health problems
  • Collaborate with other urban health professionals by developing a presentation and report that examines and describes the policies and programs that contribute to promoting the health of urban populations and reducing urban health inequalities
  • Engage various constituencies including policymakers, community residents and leaders, civil society organizations, social movements, and public agencies in identifying and reducing health problems facing cities
  • Apply an ecological model to an urban health program evaluation to identify appropriate solutions to the health problems of cities at the individual, family, community, municipal, regional, national, and global levels
  • Assess population data to characterize patterns of health and disease and inequalities in health in urban populations and subpopulations

Earn your MPH at the number one graduate school of public health in Philadelphia in a program fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Read more about the Online MPH in Urban Health on the Drexel University Online website.


The Dornsife School of Public Health seeks students with intellectual and interpersonal competencies as well as those with potential for leadership. The school has set a high priority on establishing a student body that is representative of the nation's population. We strive to recruit and to admit applicants from underrepresented minority groups who can contribute to the richness of our student population and to that of the nation's public health professionals.

To be considered for the Online MPH in Urban Health program, students should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or an equivalent international institution. A GPA of at least 3.0 is preferred.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

  • Online application
  • Official transcripts from every college-level institution you attended (academic records from institutions outside the U.S. must undergo a credentials evaluation)
  • English proficiency test score (TOEFL or IELTS), if applicable
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives

Applications for the online Master’s in Urban Health program do not require the GRE.

To learn more about admission and application requirements, visit Drexel University Online.


All students will begin their studies in Public Health Foundations and a three-course sequence on Public Health Methods. These courses meet the core competencies outlined by CEPH that all MPH students must achieve. The foundations sequence is designed to run over two quarters and will introduce you to the theory and practice of public health. In the Methods sequence, students will take one course on epidemiology, one course on biostatistics, and one course on qualitative methods.

Discipline-Specific Required Courses

  • CHP 673 Process Monitoring and Outcomes Evaluation for Community Health Programs - 3 credits
  • EOH 550 Introduction to Urban Health - 3 credits
  • EOH 642 Healthy Housing & Built Environment - 3 credits
  • EPI 633 Urban Inequality and Health: Theory, Evidence, and Action - 3 credits

Earn a minimum of 56 quarter credits to complete this degree program.

Customize Your MPH Degree

You may elect to take courses in the following focus areas or tailor your electives to your own areas of interest:

  • Maternal Child Health
  • LGBT Health
  • Infectious Disease and Population Health
  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness
  • Global Health
  • Latino and Immigrant Health

MPH Applied Practical Experience

All MPH degree students develop skills in basic public health concepts and learn to apply these concepts through a practical experience relevant to their area of specialization. “Practice” refers to implementing (doing) public health, rather than understanding (studying, researching) public health.

The practical experience is an applied, field-based requirement that gives students experience in the practice of urban public health.

Learn more about practical experience

Integrative Learning Experience

The integrative learning experience (ILE) is the culminating requirement for MPH students. It requires students to take 3 credits near the end of the program and engage in a project that emphasizes practical applications of concepts and skill development. Students are required to complete a high-quality written product and presentation at the end of the experience.

For the Urban Health MPH, the ILE is a capstone course. The instructor will present an Urban Health problem to students. Students will each select an Urban Health issue and propose the scope and format of their written report, with opportunities for feedback and issue-specific connections from a practice partner, which changes year to year. The Urban Health issue will then be the focus of further project development, including accessing and incorporating relevant literature on action strategies, placing these in the context of a theory and framework, and conducting or proposing related research design and data analysis approaches.

Some recent practice partners include:

  • Marion County, Oregon public health practice professionals
  • City of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability
  • Chief Epidemiologist of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Some recent written reports by our students include:

  • Increasing Community Utilization of Environmental Justice Tools: A Scoping Review
  • Youth Advisory Structures - A Systematic Literature Review
  • Amplification of Green Space and Parks in Urban Areas and their Health Benefits – A Literature Review
  • Childhood Blood Lead Levels: A Literature Review on its Relationship to Socionomic Factors and Race
  • Affordable Housing Programs and Health among Low-Income Families: A Literature Review
  • Evaluation of a school-based gatekeeper suicide prevention program in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Learn more about the integrative learning experience

Master's in Urban Health Career Options

A degree in urban health can prepare you for a career as:

  • Health educator
  • Community health program manager
  • Urban or regional planner
  • Research associate
  • Policy analyst

In your career as an urban public health practitioner, you may work on issues such as equitable housing and neighborhoods, safe and active transportation, physical and mental health, infectious and chronic diseases, and toxic environmental exposures.

To learn more about urban health career opportunities, visit Drexel University Online.


Alex Quistberg, PhD, MPH
Director, Urban Health MPH Program
Assistant Research Professor
Environmental and Occupational Health, Urban Health Collaborative

David A. Wood, MBA, MS
Executive Director, Enrollment Management