You’ve heard of Executive MBA programs
and maybe even Executive MPH programs, but an Executive MS program
in Epidemiology? What do executives and persons with advanced
health degrees or working professionals have in common? Well, it
turns out both have very busy schedules and many life obligations
which prevent them getting the training they would like, according
to Katherine Keyes, assistant professor of epidemiology and
program director of the new executive MS program at Columbia. And
for many professionals, that additional training turns out to be
epidemiology training because it will help them do research—from
getting the initial idea, designing a good study, collecting data,
analyzing data, to getting and interpreting results, says Keyes.
The new program is believed to be the first of its kind in the US.
The School of Public Health at
Columbia became aware of the need for a new format for
epidemiology training when good candidates for training stated
they could not attend full time and when existing students were
being hampered in their work by their schedules, according to
Keyes. The school undertook a systematic investigation to learn if
it could condense the material being offered and accelerate the
training in some way. Since Columbia already offered a couple of
other “Executive” training programs, it was possible to model the
new epidemiology training on that executive format.
“We have been really surprised by
the amount of interest,” Keyes told the Epi Monitor. There were no
precedents for doing this in epidemiology, but as the Columbia
organizers toured the city to publicize their program, they found
The backgrounds of the applicants
for the Executive MS in epidemiology are very varied and include
persons with MD degrees, persons with MPH degrees who did not get
enough epidemiology training, persons PhD’s in other fields, and
working health professionals with no formal training in
epidemiology. Also, the executive format can appeal to persons
residing outside of New York City who can travel to attend the
The format of the weekend training
days will involve being in class for full days on Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday on the first weekend of each month from 8:30
to 5pm, according to Keyes. To facilitate the process and save
students time, the School will serve breakfast and lunch and will
purchase the needed books and software. The plan now is to offer
two different classes per day.
There are important similarities
between the regular full-time epidemiology degree program and the
new executive MS. According to Keyes, the rigor of the program
will be the same and often the same faculty will be involved in
teaching. The cost of the full time program is similar to the
weekend program. To help assure that students are not deprived of
a broad experience because of the condensed time,
the organizers will also build in
optional talks and activities at the end of each day to make sure
the students have adequate opportunities to interact with faculty
and other students.
The application deadline for the
first cohort is June 15, 2012 with classes to begin in September.
The school is expecting some 20-30 students in the first cohort.
The program will take place on the first weekend of each month and
run for 22 months. The program will require completion of 30
credits at an estimated cost of $1,300 per credit. Other
miscellaneous fees will also apply.
Intended To Be Useful
An area of focus for the Executive
MS program will be on teaching applied skills. It will include
four methods courses, three biostatistics classes, and two
additional courses where students will learn to use software
packages. The idea says Keyes is for students to complete the
degree to be able to take their skills into the field right away
to do research.
For more information about the
program, visit <