MSU Dubai to open public health master's program
In an effort to expand its academic reach abroad, MSU will begin offering a new master’s program in public health this fall at its campus in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to increase academic involvement for students in the Middle East.
The degree, which focuses on strengthening regional health care, was officially launched last week by Michael Rip, director of MSU’s Program in Public Health, and officials at the Dubai International Academic City, or DIAC, with which MSU has been a partner since 2007.
MSU Dubai Executive Director Kevin Dunseath said the degree, currently offered online, will be offered beginning in October as a “blended learning format” of face-to-face instruction, online coursework and practical experience in a professional setting.
“Our new focus on a less broad range of activities, with a special emphasis on high-quality graduate and executive education programs, has enabled us to concentrate our energies, strengthen our presence in the region and build new and strong relationships,” Dunseath said in an email.
Jeffrey Riedinger, dean of International Studies and Programs, said any MSU student around the world could take the online version but the new degree would create a more practical environment for students beyond just virtual coursework.
“This opens up other opportunities for Michigan participants in the (masters in public health) program to go to Dubai and rub shoulders with professionals in the UAE,” he said.
Riedinger said the degree had been planned for more than a year as MSU examined the “market” in Dubai for a new professional degree.
DIAC Managing Director Ayoub Kazim issued a statement last week commending the launch of the new degree.
“In our endeavour to create and sustain a knowledge-based economy in the region, Dubai International Academic City supports MSU in Dubai in its mission to create a rich learning environment that meets the regional requirement for higher education of international quality,” Kazim said in the statement.
The new degree comes at a divisive time for MSU Dubai’s future, having closed its undergraduate programs last year amid budget problems from low enrollment after two years of operation. At the time of the closure, there were 85 undergraduate students. Returning students had the option of relocating to MSU’s East Lansing Campus or transferring to other American universities in the United Arab Emirates.
“MSU is, as we are all aware, an extremely strong and well-established institution with a powerful global presence and reputation,” Dunseath said. “Closing the Dubai-based undergraduate programs last year was a difficult but necessary decision in the light of economic realities.”
The decision to launch a master’s program reflected the market of other academic institutions in Dubai, Riedinger said, which maintain a constant presence in the region. Riedinger said the closure of the undergraduate programs was a way for MSU to reevaluate the market in Dubai and rebuild its program with more “executive education” opportunities.
Dunseath said MSU Dubai plans to offer additional graduate degrees in the future, including master’s degrees in U.S. law and jurisprudence, as it continues to rebuild its academic presence in Dubai.
“Looking ahead, the main challenge will be in continuing to introduce relevant new programs and activities to the region while ensuring that everything we do for MSU in Dubai serves indisputably to further enhance MSU’s brand,” he said.