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Metro Newsroom

U of L Degree in Public Health/ Urban Planning to Support Community Health Effort

Monday March 5, 2012

The University of Louisville is admitting students to a new master’s degree program that combines public health and urban planning. Designed to educate future professionals about how infrastructure and design affects the health and well-being of the community, graduates of the program receive two degrees: Master of Urban Planning (MUP) and Master of Public Health (MPH).

The MUP-MPH program prepares students for careers in urban design and health, urban public health planning and development, urban sustainability and health planning and policy.

The program is a collaboration of the MUP program in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Urban and Public Affairs and the MPH program in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS). It was developed as a project of Louisville’s Putting Prevention to Work grant awarded to the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010 through the federal stimulus program. UofL received $135,301 to create the joint degree.

The development of the degree was led by Susan Olson Allen, PhD, assistant professor, SPHIS, and David Simpson, PhD, associate professor, director, Master of Urban Planning Program, College of Arts and Sciences.

According to Olson Allen, those who pursue a profession in public health will have a better understanding about how to develop and implement programs aimed at the needs of a specific community, and those who pursue a profession in urban planning will have the tools necessary to create spaces that promote healthier lifestyles.

“In one of the classes I teach called ‘public health and the built environment,’ I ask students to evaluate a two-block section of downtown Louisville and design it in such a way to make it a healthier place to live,” Olson Allen said. “Some students incorporate safer paths for pedestrians, more green space and grocery stores that include healthier food choices.”

This exercise helps students think critically about possibilities for revamping established infrastructure and creating new designs with healthy opportunities, she said.

“This dual degree is important to the training of future public health professionals who will make our cities healthier through urban planning ingenuity,” said LaQuandra Nesbitt, MD, MPH, director, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

Students must be accepted to the MUP and MPH programs separately. The deadline to apply for Fall 2012 admission to the MUP program is July 15; the deadline is August 1 for the MPH program. Contact Yani Vozos, 502-852-8002 or Tammi Thomas, 502-852-3289 for more information on the application process.

For complete information on the dual degree program visit:

During National Public Health Week, an information session on the MPH program will take place April 4 from noon – 1p.m. in conference room 103 at the School of Public Health & Information Sciences, 485 E. Gray Street, and April 5 from noon – 1p.m. in Room W210 at the Ekstrom Library, 2301 S. Third Street. Lunch is provided for those who RSVP to by March 30.