Master's Program

Be part of the health revolution

Population Health vs. Public Health: Here’s the Difference

Public health is what we do, as a society, to make health better. Population health is concerned with health in a population, including measurement, disparities, and adapting interventions specific to that population.

From Volume to Value: A Market Shift in Health Care

The pressure is rising for organizations to hire people who can use data to investigate, address, and solve real-world health care problems. Alongside research—data from environmental, social, behavioral, physical/biological, and genetic sources will inform policy, guide practice, improve population health, and bring about real change. 
Duke’s Department of Population Health Sciences is offering a Master of Science in Population Health Sciences (PHS) that takes a multi-faceted approach and trains in three disciplines that work synergistically to provide a solid methodological and analytical foundation for the next generation of health care scientists. 
  • Epidemiology 
  • Measurement Science 
  • Health Services Research and Implementation 


We’re Turning Health on Its Head

The Master of Science in Population Health Sciences is not a typical program that teaches individual methods so you can find an appropriate question to answer. It is a program where you’ll work with predictive models so you can ask the right questions and build your ‘toolbox’ to determine the answers and implement solutions.

Why Duke?

Because you'll have the Duke brand behind you and a department that boasts a strong connection to the Duke University Health System—a living laboratory for health services research, implementation science, and health policy analysis. Also, our expert faculty are continually making impactful, scientific contributions in the field—driving health care practice and policy—locally, nationally and globally.

Tailor Your Program

With a split academic and experiential curriculum, you’ll tailor your experience by choosing from either Population Health or other Duke department’s electives, and depending on your career goals, an internship or mentored research for your Capstone project. 

Make Your Mark with Applied Research

Learning research methods and writing an applied research thesis, you’ll gain a multidisciplinary skillset where you can solve problems and make an impact on the lives of individuals.

Be Career Ready

Your internship, as part of your capstone project, provides you with real-world skills that complement your classroom learnings and help in the recruitment process. You'll also have two years of career seminars covering the likes of interviewing and networking, leadership and management, research presentation, and grant/proposal development to help you succeed professionally and personally.

Dr. Hayden Bosworth

We’re Small and Part of Something Much Larger

Our class sizes are small—with an impressive faculty to student ratio of 1:2—and the program connects you with departments within the larger university and research within the Medical Center. You’ll have ample opportunity to build bonds with your instructors and cohort while leveraging the institutions that have been part of Duke University for decades.

Core Competencies

Upon graduating with a Master of Science in PHS, you'll have the following skills for a successful career:

Foundational Knowledge in Population Health Science
Understand the organization, structure, and function of healthcare systems across state, national and international settings.
Master the concepts of health as a product of factors operating at multiple levels in dynamic ways over time.
Discuss health and illness from a population perspective.

Evidenced-Based Population Health Sciences & Research Methods

Demonstrate familiarity with foundational concepts in population health sciences.
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of research designs.
Show introductory knowledge on a range of population health sciences disciplines.
Selects appropriate interventional, observational, or qualitative study designs.
Interpret research results of data analysis for population health sciences research, policy, or practice.

Quantitative and Analytic Skills

Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using appropriate techniques and software.
Understand the basic analytical principles and their practical importance.
Understand the value of data quality, data management, and reproducibility.
Know how to assemble secondary data from existing public and private sources.
Understand appropriate methods for data presentation.

Research and Program Planning and Management

Ensure ethical and responsible conduct of research.
Demonstrate an ability to develop an applied project.
Design a population-based policy, program, or project.
Explain basic principles and tools of resource management.
General understanding of managing/budgeting projects.

Systems Thinking and Policy in Population Health Sciences

Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue..
Understands the basics of the policymaking process.
Discuss and assess multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
Propose strategies to identify and engage stakeholders in coalitions and partnerships.
Evaluate policies for their impact on population health.

Leadership and Team Practice

Demonstrate an ability to equitably collaborate with multiple stakeholders.
Apply principles of leadership, governance and management
Work collaboratively in teams across disciplines

Communication and Knowledge Transfer

Communicate with practitioners, policymakers, the media, and other relevant audiences about findings and significance of research
Summarizes and communicates the importance of a body of research for relevant audiences
Understands how to engage networks, knowledge brokers, social media, and other avenues to disseminate research
Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors

Our Location

Located in a newly renovated tobacco warehouse with state-of-the-art classrooms, the Department of Population Health Sciences sits in the heart of downtown Durham and is just a mile from Duke's main campus. Downtown Durham is a thriving city center with an active restaurant scene and night-life.

Faculty spotlight


Focusing on palliative care, health, and resiliency and spirituality, Dr. Karen Steinhauser primarily studies the composition and measurement of the quality of life for patients and caregivers at the end of life. Learn about her research and delivering palliative care for an aging population. Read More