October 8, 2018


At the Gillings School, we are committed to students’ success. A new set of online training modules, which students complete prior to arriving on campus, is a concrete representation of that commitment.


This cartoon shows a person searching among the stars.

“COMPASS, an acronym for ‘core online modules to promote and accelerate student success,’ is an innovation of which we’re very proud,” says Aiya Williams, MS, instructional technology manager at the Gillings School. “It is part of the Gillings School’s commitment to ensure that students have the background, skills and support to succeed in the Master of Public Health (MPH) or Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) program from day one.”

Aiya WilliamsWilliams notes that many students entering an MPH or MSPH program benefit from early assessment of skills in two areas – quantitative and writing. When these two modules are completed, results can help students identify gaps in their skills. Resources can be provided by the School to fill those gaps and help support student success.

Current students, faculty and alumni have helped develop COMPASS. For instance, the ethics and justice module, a cornerstone of the MPH degree program, is an introduction to a School that has a long and proud history of working for social justice and equity in North Carolina and around the world.

Leadership and teamwork are a key competency for MPH/MSPH graduates. Students will build on the topics described in this module in all aspects of their training at the Gillings School.

This infographic lists some of the available COMPASS modules.Resources and research ethics modules help students with practical information and required trainings. Free access is provided to CITI Research Ethics (citiprogram.org) certifications, which are required for research involving human subjects. Students also receive a technology orientation so they can become familiar with the Sakai learning management system before they start classes, which saves time and prepares students to engage quickly.

Students are encouraged to begin COMPASS immediately after the initial welcome email arrives.

“Rather than waiting until a student gets to campus – where there is potential to be overwhelmed by all the information typically shared at orientation – students can learn about essential information and expectations before they arrive,” says Dr. Laura Linnan. “Upon completion of COMPASS, we believe students will ‘hit the ground running’ on the first day of their training program at the Gillings School, which will position them on an excellent pathway for success.”

—Linda Kastleman and Aiya Williams


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Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit sph.unc.edu/cph.