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College of Health Offers Unique Masters Program PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Contact Van Arnold - 601.266.5568   

With an eye trained to the burgeoning health care system in this country, the University of Southern Mississippi College of Health is offering a unique masters degree program designed to meet the growing needs within that industry.

The Executive Master of Public Health (EMPH) program differs from all other post-graduate degree programs at Southern Miss in that experienced healthcare professionals are sought for the comprehensive training. Beyond the customary educational requirements, applicants in the EMPH program must also have at minimum of three years working experience in the healthcare field. The average student in the program has 14 years professional experience.

The fall semester will see 23 new members of the EMPH program, which covers approximately 22 months. A total of 41 students are currently enrolled in the program. Among them are registered nurses, social workers, two dental hygienists, a pharmacist, a veterinarian and five members of the uniformed services, including the Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service Corps.

“This program is taught in an executive format for healthcare professionals who want to pursue an advanced degree in administration,” said Ashley Atherton, EMPH program manager. “And these are people who have been working in the front lines of healthcare, so to speak, thus they come into our program with a solid knowledge base of how the changing healthcare system is affecting our communities.”

EMPH students attend class one weekend per month with the remainder of the curriculum completed online. And the students in this 14-course graduate program receive unique perks along the way.

“We register our students for their classes, bring books to them, cater their meals on campus, essentially take care of everything they need,” said Atherton. “It’s a very customer service-oriented program.”

Dr. Gordon Whyte, associate professor in the College of Health, helped design the EMPH program five years ago with former Dean Peter Fos. Whyte said the continued growth within the healthcare industry places even greater importance on executive education programs like the one Southern Miss offers.

“Regardless of what’s going on in other parts of the economy, the healthcare system is going to keep growing,” said Whyte. “A lot of healthcare professionals have reached a crossroads in their careers and begun to ask themselves, ‘do I want to continue at the bedside or begin to influence healthcare at the systems level or institutional level?’

“We’re fortunate to work for a university that provides massive support to a program like ours. And it’s a real asset to the state of Mississippi that our university is able to offer this kind of training.” 

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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