Outbreak Investigation

This course on Outbreak Investigation provides an introduction to the basic principles and steps involved in investigating and managing infectious disease outbreaks. All components of this training are free, including registration, learning, testing, and a certificate of completion. This course is intended for undergraduate and graduate-level students of medicine, environmental sciences or public health. 

The Outbreak Investigation course was developed in partnership with Peoples-Uni. This course is co-sponsored by University of the Incarnate Word. Like all NextGenU courses, it is competency-based, using competencies from the ASPHER’s European List of Core Competencies for the Public Health Professional and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Core Competencies for EU Member States. This course uses learning resources from world-class academic and governmental organizations such as National Center for Biotechnology Information, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and Cambridge University Press. The course developers are Professor Dick Heller, MB BS MD FRCP FFPH FRACP FAFPHM; Hugo Andres Rojas Aldieri MD, MSc; and Valeria Reynolds, MD.

University Of The Incarnate World
People University

A special thanks to the Skills Online Programme of the Public Health Agency of Canada where this course first appeared, and was then used by Peoples-Uni. In 2020, the course was donated to NextGenU.org and underwent revision and restructuring with new modules, learning resources, and assessments. 

For a publication on this course’s efficacy, see “A Novel Integration of Online and Flipped Classroom Instructional Models in Public Health Higher Education,” (2014), BMC Medical Education, https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6920-14-181; see also “Building Public Health Capacity through Online Global Learning,” (2018), Open Praxis, https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/746/427; to see more research related to NextGenU.org’s educational model, have a look at NextGenU.org’s publication page.

There are 4 modules to complete, which provide: 

  • A basic introduction to the goal, objectives and steps of an outbreak investigation; 
  • An overview on descriptive and analytical epidemiology; 
  • Skills to conduct an Outbreak Investigation.

The completion time for this course is estimated at 16 hours: 4 hours of didactics and curated resources and 12 hours of work studying the resources and participating in activities to assist the student in synthesizing the materials.

You’ll need to connect with a mentor with professional health care training who has both a Master of Public Health (MPH), and epidemiological experience (or their equivalent) to guide your addressing mentor-requiring competencies if you decide to engage with this course’s mentored activity. The mentored activity is required for those aiming to fulfill the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Core Competencies for EU Member States oriented for public health epidemiologists, public health microbiologists, and NFP for preparedness. We hope this is a wonderful learning experience for you, and the feedback you provide after completing the course will help us improve the course for future students. 

The course requires completion of all case studies and peer activities. At the end of each lesson, there is a practice quiz. At the end of the course, after you’ve completed each lesson, quiz, and activity, you’ll have access to a final exam, and a chance to evaluate this course. Once you’ve passed that last test, you will be able to download a certificate of completion from NextGenU.org and our course’s co-sponsoring organizations (listed above). We keep all of your personal information confidential, never sell any of your information, and only use anonymized data for research purposes, and we are also happy to report your testing information and share your work with anyone (your school, employer, etc.) at your request. 

Engaging with this Course:

You may browse this course for free to learn for your personal enrichment; there are no requirements. To register in this course, it is required that learners have obtained a college-level/bachelor’s degree.  

To obtain a certificate a learner must successfully complete

  • all the reading requirements,
  • all quizzes and pass with a 70% with unlimited attempts,
  • all case studies,
  • the peer activity,
  • the final exam with a minimum of 70% and a maximum of 3 attempts, and
  • the self and course evaluation forms.

To obtain credit 

  • complete all requirements listed above for the certificate, and
  • your learning institution or workplace should approve the partner-university-sponsored NextGenU.org course for educational credit, as they would for their learner taking a course anywhere.  

NextGenU.org is happy to provide your institution with

  • a link to and description of the course training, so they can see all its components, including the cosponsoring universities and other professional organization cosponsors; 
  • your grade on the final exam;
  • your work products (e.g. case study activities), and any other required or optional shared materials that you produce and authorize to share with them;  
  • your evaluations — course, and self assessments;
  • a copy of your certificate of completion, with the co-sponsoring universities and other organizations listed.

To obtain a degree, NextGenU.org co-sponsors degree programs with institutional partners. To obtain a full degree co-sponsored with NextGenU.org, registrants must be enrolled in a degree program as a student of a NextGenU.org institutional partner. If you think that your institution might be interested in offering a degree with NextGenU.org contact us.

We hope that you will find this a rewarding learning experience, and we count on your assessment and feedback to help us improve this training for future students.

Here are the next steps to take the course for credit.

  • Complete the registration form.
  • Take the pre-test.
  • Begin the course with Module 1: Introduction to Outbreak Investigation. In each lesson, read the description, complete all required readings and any required activity, and take the corresponding quizzes.

This course was first developed by Skills Online from the PHAC, then adapted by Peoples-uni, then revised by NextGenU