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Masters 411

Pursuing a Public Health Masters degree
By Dr. Senate Amusu
You are interested in and passionate about protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of people and communities. You want to prevent problems from happening or recurring by recommending policy, conducting research or implementing programs, and you are looking for the knowledge and skills sets that will enable you to do this. So, you have decided to pursue a graduate degree in public health. Through this overview of some important aspects of Master of Public Health (MPH) programs in the United States and advice based on my experience applying to these programs, you will be able to make better informed decisions and have an efficient and effective application process.

MPH programs in the US:
There are several concentrations offered by MPH programs- biostatistics, epidemiology, management, social & behavioral sciences, to name a few- and your studies must focus on one of these. (Needless to say, in deciding your concentration, you should consider in what direction you want to take your public health career, as well as your aptitude and interests.) Although you must choose a track, you will still receive instruction in the core aspects of public health. For example, if you are in the management track, you would still take epidemiology and biostatistics classes to meet core requirements. Some programs allow some combinations of these concentrations. Others permit, and encourage, their students to take classes from other schools in their universities. Many schools of public health also offer the option to choose between one- year and two- year programs. One- year programs however are usually open to people with advanced (doctorate) degrees. 

I am often asked about the significance of rankings in the choice of programs. While they are important, they should not be the cornerstone of your decision- making. Give more weight to the research interests of the school’s faculty, professional development opportunities that the program provides, as well as (honest) feedback/ perspectives of past and current students.

Applying to Schools of Public Health: 
The Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS)  is an online portal that allows applicants to submit their documents to the schools of public health in a single, convenient application. It is important to note though that not all programs use SOPHAS. The portal opens in the August before the academic year being applied for. For example, SOPHAS begins accepting applications for 2015 academic year in August 2014.  The best advice regarding applications is to start early. Carefully review the requirements of each of the programs you are interested in. I would recommend starting about 6 months before SOPHAS starts accepting applications. Generally, you will need letters of recommendation and transcripts (including an evaluation of your credentials, depending on the program’s requirements). You may also need to prepare for and take any requisite examinations such as English language proficiency tests and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

An MPH qualifies you for jobs in diverse environments, domestically and internationally. You will find the skills you will gain from graduate study in public health are applicable in a myriad of settings, from pharmaceutical companies and healthcare consulting to field work and research. Good luck as you put in your applications, and embark on a rewarding career in public health.

Dr S. Amusu MB;BS, MPH

1 comment:

  1. hi, kindly comment on the financial requirements for an MPH program in the US, canada and australia.
    Also, I understand that some schools are more IMG friendly than others. kindly suggest schhols that are more affordable and more open to IMGs.
    lastly, how easy is it for one to work and study? are jobs any easy to find?


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