School of Population Health

About the school

On March 21, 2023, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) accepted and approved Virginia Commonwealth University’s proposal to establish a dedicated School of Population Health.

Close ties to our academic health system, other health sciences programs, as well as our world-class art, business, and social work programs provide unlimited opportunities for interdisciplinary research and collaboration.


Health, well-being, and longevity for all 


As part of an urban public University and safety-net health system, the VCU School of Population Health is committed to improving health and well-being for all populations through education, discovery, knowledge dissemination, and co-learning from the communities we serve. To fulfill this mission the VCU SOPH:

  • Cultivates innovative thought leaders, creative scholars, informs communities and trains a diverse workforce equipped to serve Virginians, the nation and world.
  • Leads research that is collaborative, rigorous, impactful and that promotes opportunities for all populations to have equitable health and well-being.
  • Focuses on diverse populations with an emphasis on those who experience a disproportionate burden of illness or adverse outcomes to enhance opportunities for vibrant and healthy lives as a result of our education, research, practice, and service.

Departments and programs

The School of Population Health will have four founding departments: Biostatistics; Epidemiology; Health Policy; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Degree programs include:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH) in Public Health
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biostatistics
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Biostatistics
  • Graduate Certificate in Genomics Data Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Epidemiology
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Healthcare Policy and Research
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social and Behavioral Sciences

We are the only in Virginia …

  1. Tied to an academic health system with a teaching hospital, children’s hospital, NCI-designated cancer center, and a Center for Clinical Translational Science.
  2. Part of a robust health sciences campus, with programs in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and health professions.
  3. To offer a Master of Public Health program with a focus on cancer health equity science.
  4. Recognized as a minority serving institution.

And we were the first in Virginia to have an accredited public health program. It currently awards an MPH in three concentrations: applied public health, epidemiology, and cancer health equity science.

Interim founding dean

Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D.

Interim Dean, School of Population Health

Professor and Theresa A. Thomas Memorial Chair in Cancer Prevention and Control

Associate Director, Community Outreach Engagement and Disparities Research
Massey Cancer Center
Virginia Commonwealth University

Contact information

For more information about the School of Population Health, email: