About the Maternal, Child and Family Health Concentration
At the Gillings school, we're dedicated to improving the health of women, children and families - in North Carolina and around the world.  Women and children are the largest component of the global population, but experience has shown that — absent categorical attention — their needs are not equitably addressed.

Moreover, the health of this critical population provides key indicators of the well-being of the population as a whole across the life course. The World Health Organization’s current mission and global strategy reflect these realities, and women, children and adolescents are at the heart of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What You'll Learn

The Master of Public Health (MPH) concentration in Maternal, Child and Family Health focuses on the determinants, mechanisms and systems that promote and maintain the health and safety of women, children and their families to enhance the future health and welfare of society.

Our field is population-based and interdisciplinary, and we provide a strong foundation of knowledge, frameworks and methods for program monitoring, process/impact evaluation and program planning and implementation. As a graduate, you will be equipped with a highly adaptable toolkit and prepared to lead interdisciplinary efforts that require multiple perspectives and competencies in domestic and global contexts.

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

Substantive knowledge: Critically analyze determinants of health among infants, children, adolescents, women, mothers and families, including biological, behavioral, socioeconomic, demographic, cultural and health care systems influences across the life course.

Research: Contribute to public health evidence by applying rigorous research methods to address problems relevant to the health of maternal, child and family health (MCFH) populations.

Leadership: Lead the development and implementation of MCFH research, policy and practice across levels of the socio-ecological framework by incorporating family-centered, community-based, culturally competent and interdisciplinary/interprofessional concepts.

Practice: Understand and apply implementation, monitoring and evaluation strategies to improve MCFH programs in the U.S. and globally.

Policy: Advance MCFH policy and impact through critical analysis of research, monitoring and evaluation evidence.

Required Courses & Sample Plan of Study

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 14-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take seven concentration-specific courses covering topics such as data analysis, monitoring and evaluation and implementation science.

MHCH 701: Foundations of Maternal and Child Health, Part I

MHCH 702: Foundations of Maternal and Child Health, Part II

MHCH 713: Research Methods/Secondary Data Analysis in Maternal and Child Health

MHCH 713L: Research Methods/Secondary Data Analysis in Maternal and Child Health Lab

MHCH 723: Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation

MHCH 728: Introduction to Implementation Research and Practice in Maternal, Child and Family Health

MHCH 992: Maternal, Child and Family Health MPH Culminating Experience

Maternal, Child and Family Health Degree Requirements and Study Plan (PDF)


Meghan Shanahan, PhD

As Associate Chair for Academics, Meghan Shanahan, PhD, enjoys seeing students flourish and achieve their goals during their graduate education. She accomplishes this by supporting the Directors of the department’s Doctoral and Master’s Program and working with them to ensure the department’s curriculum meets the needs of the MCH workforce and our students. She also works with the UNC Graduate School to make sure that our academic programs are aligned with their requirements. Shanahan, an associate professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, has shared her enthusiasm for teaching, research and leadership since 2012. She has received multiple teaching awards - the Gillings School of Global Public Health Edward G. McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2021, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Provost Award for Engaged Scholarship in 2019 and the Gillings 2018 Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award.

In this concentration, which is hosted by the Gillings School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, you will gain the skills to develop and evaluate population-based solutions to complex, multi-factorial health problems. Our graduates hold positions across the United States and around the world at local, state and federal levels, in nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, hospitals and international health agencies, and within colleges and universities. Many of our alumni hold highly competitive senior leadership positions in the U.S. and in global settings.

Career Opportunities

Our Graduates Work As...
Project Director
Clinical/Medical Director
Program Planner/Evaluator
Health Scientist Consultant
Research Associate
Public Health Prevention Specialist
Developmental Services Coordinator
Our Graduates Work With...
Government agencies
Nonprofit organizations
Local health departments
Colleges and universities
Research and development firms
International health agencies

99% of Gillings graduates have a job or continue their education within one year of graduating.

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

Healthier families worldwide
Ready to apply?

Academic Coordinators
MPH Maternal Child Health: wgilliso@unc.edu

PhD Maternal Child Health: uhiggs@email.unc.edu

Concentration Lead:
Lead: Kavita Singh Ongechi, PhD