Program Planning and Evaluation


MPH@GW’s program planning and evaluation elective courses are designed for students interested in assessing, implementing, managing and evaluating health promotion and education programs. Courses in this area of public health may be of interest to the analytical, observant and strong communicator.

Professionals with a public health program planning background strategize, document, review and assess reports and data related to health promotions, interventions and training. They relay this information to the public and communicate their findings to other health professionals.

What Is Program Planning and Evaluation?

Skilled public health professionals must evaluate the effects of public health actions, including but not limited to the spread of infectious disease, violence, chronic disease, pathogens and threats of bioterrorism. Public health program planning is rooted in social and behavioral approaches, and evaluation should be done scientifically, which requires students to eliminate any biases they have about the subject or information under evaluation. As a program planning and evaluation student, you will be trained to intervene at the individual, group, organizational and societal levels.

Fields of Interest

If you choose to take program planning and evaluation elective courses, you can expect to learn about and research a range of public health issues, including disease prevention, women’s reproductive health, domestic and child abuse, mental health awareness and more.

You will hone your skills in the following areas:

  • Qualitative Research Methods — Explore the philosophy, goals and basic methods of qualitative research as applied in public health (i.e., behavioral research, program development and health policy).
  • Social Marketing — Apply a range of marketing strategies in a real-world setting in order to change the behavior of people, populations and policy makers.
  • Marketing Research — Improve program design, implementation and effectiveness by using marketing research techniques to better understand clients of public health programs.
“My background in infectious disease research and my current goal of working in a program planning [and evaluation] capacity fit well with these discussions, and I found them very fruitful.”
— Hidemi Nagao DeHays, patient care coordinator at a private concierge clinic

Job Outlook

Employment of market research analysts is expected to grow by 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations1. With advancements in technology, companies are constantly trying to adapt and find cost-effective solutions. Professionals with a background in program planning and evaluation, who also want to make a difference in public health by providing trustworthy data and resources, will be in high demand as this trend continues.


With MPH@GW, you will complete 9 to 11 elective credits hours. Interested in program planning and evaluation? Consider choosing the following elective courses to match your interests.

Researching Violence Against Women and Girls


This course provides a detailed overview of the intersection of violence against women and girls (VAWG) and public health, given the demonstrated and significant impact that violence has on the health of the survivor, her current and future children, and communities. Through readings, lectures, and assignments, students will become acquainted with the set of rigorous methods and best practices for designing applied research on VAWG. The course draws from Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists (Ellsberg & Heise, 2005), which was crafted by the collective experiences and insights of many international researchers and advocates. The class will build on methods learned in other public health courses and will cover ethics, qualitative and quantitative research design, and monitoring and evaluation interventions specific to VAWG, culminating in the development of a full research proposal. After completing the course, students will be able to design research that is fully grounded in the principles of scientific inquiry and generate knowledge that can be used for social change.

Design, Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programming in Low and Middle Income Countries


This course has been designed to give students a practical overview of key sexual and reproductive health challenges in low and middle-income countries and insight into how to design and measure programs to address, those challenges (namely: family planning, abortion, maternal health and gender-based violence). We have developed the course from the perspective of applied researchers working within an organization that implements sexual and reproductive health programs and services. The course is structured in three sections. Section one provides an overview of sexual and reproductive health conditions relevant for low- and middle-income countries. Section two discusses intervention strategies appropriate to these sexual and reproductive challenges. The final section covers monitoring and evaluation approaches to assess program effectiveness and impact in this field. Reading and coursework will provide students with practical tools to design and measure their own program strategies. Students will complete a series of assignments building to a final project proposal designed to address a specific sexual and reproductive health problem in a country of their choosing. These assignments will make use of foundational skills developed in previous MPH@GW coursework identified in the course prerequisites.

Social and Behavior Change Communication in Middle to Low-Income Countries


This course will illustrate the ways in which social and behavior change communication (SBCC) programming influences behavior change in resource-constrained settings. The overall objective of this course is to demonstrate the ways in which behavior change and sociocultural theories underpin the development of SBCC programs in politically, culturally, and socially diverse settings. The course will make clear the importance, and challenges, of generating and applying high-quality evidence that can inform evidence-based programming. “Real-world” SBCC interventions will be used to illustrate the unique challenges faced when implementing programs in settings that require the coordination of international donors, host country governments, and implementing organizations.

Qualitative Research Methods In Public Health


This course provides an introduction to qualitative data collection and analysis for public health practice and research. The course presents the philosophy, goals, and basic methods of qualitative research as applied in various public health disciplines (e.g., health services research; health education and promotion; health communications development; program development and evaluation; and health policy analysis). Through readings, lectures, and short field exercises, students will become acquainted with the set of methods most commonly used to collect and analyze qualitative data. Data collection techniques explored will include in-depth interviewing, mapping, participant observation, focus groups, and other systematic methods of qualitative data collection. After completing the course students will be able to prepare an interview guide, conduct an in-depth interview, conduct a basic observation, analyze findings, and write up the results from a qualitative project. Students will also become familiar with working collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team.

Social Marketing: Theory & Practice


This course focuses on the use of marketing principles and techniques to develop population-based health promotion and disease prevention programs. The emphasis is on learning how to incorporate a marketing orientation and marketing techniques to address the diverse range of issues and problems that are encountered in the modern day practice of public health. Students in this skills-based course will study and work in teams to apply a range of marketing strategies to real-world situations.

Marketing Research for Public Health


This course focuses on the use of marketing research techniques to better understand customers of public health programs, and thereby to improve program design, implementation, and effectiveness. A range of qualitative and quantitative techniques will be studied for their relevance to program planning, development, continuous improvement, and outcome evaluation.

Cost Effectiveness in Health Promotion Programs


Policymakers and program planners are increasingly required to prioritize investment in public health promotion interventions based on the value that these programs provide to society. The course provides an introduction to the theoretical basis and practical skills needed to estimate the effectiveness, population impact, and cost of health promotion interventions to inform policy and practice using cost effectiveness and cost-utility analyses. Case studies and presentations will allow students to apply these skills and to critically evaluate the assumptions and methods used to incorporate economic evaluation into public health program planning and evaluation. Cases and lectures will address the use of economic evaluation in the U.S. and globally, including in low- and middle-income countries. Health promotion examples include but are not limited to obesity prevention, smoking cessation, syringe exchange programs, and national immunization planning. The course will address the need to place economic evaluation into the broader context of the implementation, equity, and political considerations driving prioritization of public health promotion investments.

Take the Next Step

If you are ready to advance your career in public health with an online MPH from GW, request more information today.

1 (2017) (Accessed March 2, 2018)Return to footnote reference