Public Health Genetics

Advances in genetics are occurring at a pace that challenges our collective ability to respond to the many social, legal, ethical, and public health policy implications generated by this revolution of knowledge. The purpose of this certificate is to provide graduates with a basic grounding in public health genetics that will enable them to function as public health professionals at the cutting edge of this important new area. You will be trained to incorporate knowledge of how genes, together with the environment and behavior, influence health and apply this insight into their area of practice or research. Additionally, you will:

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of the role that genetics plays in the development of disease.
  • Identify the limits of your genetic expertise.
  • Identify ethical and medical limitations to genetic testing, including uses that don't benefit the individual.
  • Determine the role that cultural, social, behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors play in the development and prevention of genetic-related diseases.

Academic Requirements

15 credits (at least 12 must be traditional classroom courses). The remaining three credits can be seminar, project, or practicum work, as described below.

Students enrolled in Human Genetics degree programs other than the MPH in Public Health Genetics may receive the certificate, with the stipulation that the certificate curriculum must include at least six credits of coursework that is not part of the coursework for their degree and three credits of project or practicum work.

Please note: All students receiving the certificate must give a presentation in a public health genetics course.

Required Course

  • HUGEN 2049 Introduction to Public Health Genetics (3 credits)

At least six credits from the following five courses are required:

  • HUGEN 2010 Bioinformatic Resources for Geneticists (1 credit)
  • HUGEN 2022 Human Population Genetics (2 credits)
  • HUGEN 2031 Chromosomes and Human Disease (3 credits)
  • HUGEN 2034 Biochemical and Molecular Genetics of Complex Disease (3 credits)
  • HUGEN 2040 Molecular Basis of Human Inherited Disease (3 credits)

A maximum of three credits may come from the following courses:

  • HUGEN 2052 Ethical Issues in Clinical and Public Health Genetics (1 credit)
  • HUGEN 2050 Human Genetics Journal Club and Peer Review (1-3 credits)
  • HUGEN 2047 Clinical Genetics Case Conference (1 credit)

Additional courses permitted for the certificate include:

  • All other Human Genetics courses
  • EPIDEM 2601, 2 credits, Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory
  • BCHS 2572, 3 credits, Risk Communication

Other courses may be permitted, but must be pre-approved by the director of the MPH in the Department of Human Genetics.


The program is open to currently matriculated Pitt Public Health graduate students and also to non-degree students who hold at least a bachelor’s degree. The standards for admission are the same as those for the MPH, i.e. an adequate background in mathematics, biology, and social science to successfully complete the required coursework for the certificate. Applicants who are not enrolled in degree programs in Pitt Public Health must demonstrate prior public health experience in the form of academic work or appropriate job experience. In addition, applicants must demonstrate prior public health experience in the form of academic work or appropriate job experience.

Admissions decisions for the certificate program will be made by the Human Genetics MPH admissions committee.

How to Apply

This program is managed by the Department of Human Genetics.