New Master of Science Program Announced in Partnership With the Institute for Population and Precision Health

The program will include classes in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and population health, and will prepare students for careers in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and academic research.


By Gustavo Delgado, Contributor

The University of Chicago’s Institute for Population and Precision Health has introduced a new program, Master of Science in Precision Health (MsPH). This program will look at broader population health through a combination of new cutting-edge technology and innovative research methods.  

This program consists of ten courses, six of which are a predetermined core, three of which differ based on the concentration, and one that focuses on a summer capstone project, which concludes the program. The MsPH has concentrations available in data science, clinical research, and entrepreneurship. The preexisting departments responsible for the coursework of this program include the statistics department, the biological sciences department, and the Polsky Center. The courses that make up the foundation of precision health include epidemiology, bioinformatics, population health, biostatistics, and inclusion and equity in precision health.  

The summer capstone project will act as an overview of the material covered and can either be research-based or applied. Students will receive the guidance of a faculty mentor to determine the best path for students to take based on their interests, and a final presentation will be given during the summer quarter.  

Dr. Habibul Ahsan, director of the Institute for Population and Precision Health, will serve as the dean for this program within the Biological Sciences Division. Ahsan told The Maroon the motivation behind this program is that nothing like this has existed thus far for the field of precision medicine, which is still up and coming.  

“You can use information to make public health intervention more effective by targeting those where the impact would be greatest and what the needs are,” Ahsan said. Precision health “draws upon expertise and knowledge from multiple domains, traditional classical medicine, molecular genetics, genomics, data science, and quantitative research methods, all of those you need to integrate together to really understand and apply.”  

The program website highlights that, after one year, students will become qualified after for positions like healthcare administrators, healthcare research consultants, healthcare data analysts, pharmaceutical company scientists, and academic clinician-scientists.  

“They want to do something beyond their undergraduate degree. They want to do a one more year investment in upgrading their skill and knowledge in a specific health-related field,” Ahsan said. “And then they can go to the workforce right after that, and it could be in the working in the pharmaceutical industry.” 

Ahsan encourages applicants who are later in their graduate education to apply to the MsPH, as it could expand their thinking in improving personalized care and assist in reorienting their career path.  

Ahsan also said that, although the program currently exists only for full-time students, he is hoping it will be adapted into a two-year part-time program. The program is currently accepting applications until March 15 and does not require the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) to apply.