The Master of Public Health (MPH) is a common graduate-level professional degree that is offered by Canadian Universities. To date, few studies have examined competency-based MPH education in Canada.
To examine the degree to which MPH programs' course descriptions align with the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) core competency categories in order to identify strengths and training gaps in such programs across Canada.
A content analysis of MPH programs in Canada was conducted from July 2019 to November 2019. A sampling frame of programs was obtained from a list from the PHAC website. Program information, including mandatory and elective course descriptions was extracted from each program's website and analyzed in NVivo 12. Course descriptions were independently categorized by two researchers into one or more of the seven categories of the core competencies outlined by PHAC.
We identified 18 universities with MPH programs with 267 courses across Canada. Thematic analysis revealed that 100% of programs had coursework that addressed the “Public Health Sciences” and “Assessment and Analysis” categories; 93% addressed “Policy and Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation”; 67% addressed each of “Communication,” “Leadership,” and “Partnerships, Collaboration, and Advocacy”; and only 56% had course descriptions addressing “Diversity and Inclusiveness.”
We find that Canadian MPH programs may lack course offerings addressing core competency categories relating to diversity and inclusiveness, communication, and leadership. Our findings were limited in scope as we relied on program Web sites; thus, further research should explore course content in more depth than this course description analysis allowed and identify ways to close the MPH curricular gaps we identified.
Further research should be conducted to determine if the current model of competency education in Canada is successfully guiding MPH programs in meeting local and international workforce demands. Continued discussion is needed to raise the importance of MPH competency-based education in Canada.