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Self‐directed (distance) learning infectious disease control MPH program: Educational preferences of students

David Birnbaum (Applied Epidemiology, Sidney, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 8 February 2008




The purpose of this paper is to confirm what program features potential students would view as incentives or disincentives toward enrolling in a unique self‐directed (distance) learning infectious disease control MPH (Master of Public Health) program currently being developed.


An internet discussion list announcement invited infection control professionals to participate in structured telephone interviews. This pilot study survey was conducted to confirm underlying assumptions about program features that might be viewed as incentives or disincentives by prospective students.


Responses were received from all regions of the USA except Alaska. Findings from 78 interviews confirm our underlying assumptions about delivery preferences, critical features, perceived value and reasonable cost for a self‐directed (distance) learning Infectious Disease Control MPH degree. Respondents clearly expressed a preference for distance education, but exhibited lack of familiarity with the various types and relative merits of different distance delivery modalities.


“Build it and they will come” has long been a widespread assumption in curriculum development. However, continuing education and advanced credentialing needs of health professionals can be better served by executive‐MBA‐style programs. One lesson from examining the experience of our academic MBA colleagues is to know your clients. This study uniquely confirms assumptions about the educational preferences of infection control professionals.



Birnbaum, D. (2008), "Self‐directed (distance) learning infectious disease control MPH program: Educational preferences of students", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 41-46.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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