The Leadership in Practice concentration is designed to teach current and aspiring public health professionals to apply leadership principles in a public health context.

Our program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to lead teams, projects, organizations and systems in eliminating inequities, improving conditions and fostering change in local and global communities. Through this concentration, you will be prepared to empower populations to live their best lives — no matter their location.

What You’ll Learn

As a student in the Leadership in Practice concentration, you will gain the skills to:

  • Use critical-thinking, design-thinking and system-thinking to solve problems.
  • Advance knowledge using evidence-based research and practice-based evidence.
  • Mobilize others in order to strategically align organizations and systems and accomplish large-scale change.

UNC Gillings offers the Leadership in Practice concentration both residentially (on-campus) and through MPH@UNC (online).

Career Opportunities

Hosted by the Gillings School’s Public Health Leadership Program, the Leadership in Practice concentration is designed to support professionals at every level of public health practice, with specific regard to those currently in public health management and leadership roles. As a graduate of this concentration, you will be well-equipped to move into a variety of roles commensurate with your level of work experience.

The next generation of public health leaders needs to build strong relationships, not only with members of their own team but also with leaders from other sectors, political parties and disciplines. Skills in public health leadership are needed at every level in clinical, community-based and workplace settings, and hiring new talent with fresh perspectives is a priority for nongovernmental and governmental clinical and public health organizations.

Upon graduation, you will be prepared to:

  • Step into leadership roles in which you may work with multidisciplinary leadership teams, governing boards and system partners.
  • Work as a program or organizational manager responsible for supervising teams that focus on complex research or community and interorganizational collaborations.
  • Serve as a team leader or in a project management role in local, state, national and international public health organizations and industries.

Learn more about the opportunities that await you with an MPH from the Gillings School.

Required Courses

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 12-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take:

  • PUBH 791: Core Principles in Public Health Leadership
  • PUBH 718: Systems Design
  • PUBH 730: Quality Improvement Leadership
  • PUBH 745 Leadership Across the Program Development Continuum
  • PUBH 748: Policy for Social Transformation

Concentration Competencies

This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:

  • Integrate research and practice-based evidence to identify, design, implement and evaluate systems, structures, programs, policies and practices that promote well-being and improve health where people live and work in local, national or global settings.
  • Develop innovative strategies to facilitate constructive dialogue and collaboration across health professions and with diverse stakeholders to create effective, sustainable and resilient systems that address current and emerging public health challenges.
  • Employ adaptive leadership skills and systems thinking to optimize the use and management of public health resources to reduce morbidity and mortality, improve well-being of individuals and communities, and advance health equity.
  • Design multidimensional approaches to evaluate the processes, outcomes and impacts of complex public health systems, programs and policies.
  • Disseminate findings that enhance the rapid translation of knowledge into policy and practice in clinical, community and workplace settings.
  • Demonstrate effective advocacy skills and high ethical standards in communicating and promoting public health priorities and leading change to effect those priorities.
  • Adopt practices to engender leadership skills in others, recognizing and rewarding those whose work exemplifies the values, principles and practices of public health leadership, professionalism and commitment.


Want to learn more?

Contact Kristen Hurdle or Cindy Reilly, student services managers in the Public Health Leadership Program, at

Concentration Leaders

Vaughn Upshaw, DrPH, EdD
Public Health Leadership Program

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