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Is the debt worth it for Boston University's MPH

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I don't think so but you decide for yourself. For 1.5 years of tuition not including anything else you will have $60,000 of loans to pay off. The cost of living in Boston is really high and if you get lucky and find something cheap and try to cook at home and not drink you would probably spend around $20,000 for a year and a half. The school has almost no money for student orgs, so little scholarships that you should bet on not having a chance at getting them, and no work-study jobs unless you want to become a full time employee. There is a drop in the bucket merit scholarship given to students when accepted which is usually around $10,000.

So all together the most minimum cost you are looking at is $80,000 and if you subtract the scholarship you will be in $70,000 of debt.

Is that worth it? Is Boston offering some extraordinary education that just can’t be offered at a lower tuition or compensated with more scholarships?

Absolutely not!!!

Just to let you know something like 40% of the tuition from the MPH goes to the medical school. It's like the MPH is the med-school's side business. And the education structure at BUSPH does not favor students. In fact the way the classes are scheduled is detrimental to student education. The classes meet once a week for 3 hours for a 4 unit class. I never adjusted to a 3 hour class in the evenings where the teacher kept skipping through slides because she was more tired than the students. By the way there are almost no classes in the mornings. Most classes are at night. Making your way home on foot or public transport at 8 or 9pm during wenter temperatures less than 20F is torture. It is much warmer in the day during the winter. The school isn't thinking about the students.

Take note that a 4 unit class costs $5,000. If you are planning on studying international health and working in Africa... you should not tell any of the people you will be working with how much you paid for school. They will call you a hypocrite and question your ability to set priorities. In the most health deprived areas of Africa a family struggles to make annually just a forth of the money you pay for one class at BU. If you want to help Africa why spend the rest of your life making a salary off of the disparity there while paying $70,000 (not including interest) to banks. I think it would be better if you skip the MPH and donate even a small fraction of that would be loan money (even if it is on credit) to send African students to school!

The education at BUSPH is nothing you couldn't get by reading on your own, finding a mentor in public health, and volunteering/working for a public health oriented institution.

What you learn in school is not comparable to what you will have to teach yourself while working. An MPH is a professional skill building degree. It's not like you will focus on one topic and learn everything you need to know about it. Not even 2 years of is not enough time for that in an MPH especially when the quality of education for public health students is an afterthought to the institution.

Anyway you decide what is best for you. But as someone who has gone to BUSPH, who is working in public health, and who has several friends from all the major schools of public health.... I say you are a fool to think the $70,000 at BU is worth it.

You are much better off working in a restaurant to pay your bills, working hard for no pay at a public health institution, and reading as much as you can about public health (there are tons of information and books out there that courses at BU don't even talk about). After you do this for a year you will have $0 debt, a whole year of work experience, and probably a more real and genuine understanding of public health than an MPH at BU will give you. If you did this with dedication and discipline, you would be equally or more employable than someone with a MPH. Also remember some employers will pay for you to take classes they think you might need.

Don't get exploited! Only go to school if it's free or almost free!

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Interesting post, and you make some valid arguments. I am not in public health, but I am getting a Masters too at BU and my gf graduated from Harvard last year with a MPH. I agree that BU is extremely expensive and I am sure the school is profitting from you expenses. However, why is this so different from any other school? You should realize that your cost is not just paying an hourly rate for somebody to teach you material. You are paying for resources, networks, recruitment events, a grad experience, access to profs in your field, and most importantly a degree with a school's name attached to it. I don't think you realize the value of having that piece of paper. I know there are successful people without fancy degrees, but that is not the norm and there are plenty of employers that won't even consider you without that degree. Now, I am not saying this is the way life should be, but I recognize that is how it is at this time.

You should also realize that you are doing a professional degree and for the majority, these are always non-funded and quite expensive. Think of MBAs, law school, med school, etc. They accumulate A LOT more debt than you and they aren't complaining. They realize this is the way it works and what you are paying so much for has value.

If you are upset with BU and their program, that is one thing. But to be surprised that you are doing a professional Masters that is expensive and be mad about that is your own fault. Most people spend lots of time thinking about costs and benefits and decide beforehand if it is worth it to them. If you didn't do this planning and just jumped into $60k+ debt, that was your responsibility.

Thousands of people make this choice each year and accept what that means and are fine with it. I have the same amount of debt as you from my Masters but I am not worried about it as I know the degree will pay for itself. My gf has that same amount of debt too, but got a consulting job after getting her MPH and she makes well over $100k salary and now she will pay that off in like 2 years. I can guarantee you she would not have gotten her job without paying for that expensive degree. She even told me that her company ONLY goes to recruiting events that aren't opened to the public and therefore you can only access them if you goto top institutions. This is the type of thing you are paying for. Of course anyone can read books and teach themselves the material for really ANY degree if you are bright enough. But to tell people there is no value in a degree because of the cost is misleading.

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I'm not aware of any MPH programs that are 'free', but it has been about a year since I looked last. That said, there are better regarded programs at public universities, which are certainly much less expensive than BU if you live in one of those states. I did my undergrad at the University of Washington (a public school), and the public health program there is basically a branch office of the Gates Foundation, which is based 2 miles away.

I think comparing the costs and rewards of a Harvard MPH with a BU one is a false analogy--employers will hire someone with a Harvard degree pretty much regardless of all other considerations--that is what you pay for! And Harvard's program is considered one of the top couple globally to boot.

I do think it makes sense to explore alternative paths to the same goal--why not do a degree in microbiology or biochemistry, and leverage that more technical coursework and degree into the public health work you are excited about? You don't have to be in an MPH to do public health, and depending on what you are excited about the lab-based degree can get you where you want to be with less hassle. More importantly, these are programs that tend to pay their students (~$30k a year income, free tuition), rather than rack up student debt.

Edited by Usmivka

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Nope nope nope. Not worth it in the least---especially if you are coming out of school without some significant work experience. I also applied for BU and Yale MPH...couldn't get past the almost $70K in total tuition balance...for an MPH?? Ridiculous.

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sorry. i saw this post and really had to reply because i disagree

 

i went to a pretty prestigous public undergrad.. learned NOTHING.

went to busph  graduated in 2 years (last semester I only took 1 class) and  i worked part time for over a year while attending. which really helped with having a  night class schedule. having only 1 long class a week really helped because i could schedule my work hours more freely AND i could study by my own during the day

 

i had a few scholarships totalling to ~15k ... but other then that everything else is in loans. working while in school helped pay for living expenses and i lived further.. so my rent was cheap even though communit was an hours b*tch

 

graduated.. found a job within 2 months of graduation with a starting salary is 63K raised to 68K after 6mo.....i had never had a full time job experience prior to busph... it was there through classes and internships i l basically gained all my skills and experience. salary is not that high up but its definitely enough for me myself and i

 

so all in all to me.. my time at busph was pretty dang worth it. 

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sorry to resurrect this thread but I'm interested to hear from ilikegreen (if you're still here!)-- how did you graduate in 2 years with only taking 1 class/week? I'm assuming that you took 2 classes max per semester. Isn't a FT student course load 3-4 courses/semester?

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I'm not ilikegreen, but having done a public health degree at another SPH I think they meant that each class only met once a week for 2-3 hours instead of meeting 2-3 times a week for 50-75 minutes, the way undergrad classes do.  I agree that having 3 classes that are each once a week for 2-3 hours gives you more flexibility to schedule work and research around the classes.

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This isn't really that impressive considering education is free, or nearly so, in a lot of countries.

Yes, well, some of us are limited by geography and can't just fly over to those countries for free/cheap education. So you can't really compare the cost of BU compared to what it would take for a German citizen to get a degree in Germany (to pull a country out of my ass). You have to compare the cost of BU and the benefits of the resources it provides to something like the cost of UMass-Boston and the resources it provides.

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Yes, well, some of us are limited by geography and can't just fly over to those countries for free/cheap education. So you can't really compare the cost of BU compared to what it would take for a German citizen to get a degree in Germany (to pull a country out of my ass). You have to compare the cost of BU and the benefits of the resources it provides to something like the cost of UMass-Boston and the resources it provides.

 

That's not the argument I'm trying to make. I'm blaming the US rather than anyone in particular. The United States, as a modern Western country, should try to emulate other Western countries in this regard. There's no excuse for the insanely high costs of education.

Edited by Chiki

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Yes, well, some of us are limited by geography and can't just fly over to those countries for free/cheap education. So you can't really compare the cost of BU compared to what it would take for a German citizen to get a degree in Germany (to pull a country out of my ass). You have to compare the cost of BU and the benefits of the resources it provides to something like the cost of UMass-Boston and the resources it provides.

 

It's funny you mention Germany. Because that's one of the countries that gives free college education, even to non-citizens (or so I hear).

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My ex-GF went through the MPH at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  She was accepted into that program and the one at University of Washington.  Both had a price tag of ~$80K/year but John's Hopkins offered a 75% reduction in tuition for the second year.  The program condensed two years of schooling into one, so she did four "quarters" of full time course load.  Insane if you ask me.  During the second year MPH students get an internship or straight-up job placement which they need to hold for I believe 6 months, 9 months, or a full year if I remember correctly in order to fulfill graduation/program requirements.  

 

She took out a PLUS loan to pay for the first year AND living expenses.  She also came into the program with roughly $80K of student loan debt from graduation from a Top 20 and then later on from a BSN program.   She ended up doing an internship out-of-state, which because she was full on adult and had many years of real-life work experience, she was able to get a real job instead of an internship.  So that paid for the second year.  

 

Since then she has gotten a job with a hospital and makes good money.  She has also become a single mother, which based on my understanding was her choice.  Despite having $160K or so in student loan debt and being a single mom she is far from living in the poor house.  

 

It is all in what your priorities are and how you live that makes the costs worth it or not.  

 

If you want to buy a new car every five years, take on additional credit card debt to pay for all of your 55" TVs or thumping sound system, or travel extensively, then no-it will not be worth it.  If you are the type who is has a few nice things but is generally content with what you do have, then you'll be fine.  If you want to keep up with the Jones', then don't do it.  

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I had to reply to the initial reply which is riddled with false statements. Full disclosure: I currently work for BUSPH (and have attended as a student) and have previously worked in a number of global health organizations.

SPH and the med school have 0 affiliation other than both being on the med campus of Boston University. 0. The commenter might be confusing the fact that BUSPH most likely needs to pay a lot of money to BUMC--this is the medical campus, not the med school. BUMC owns all the buildings, maintains all the conference rooms, pays all the utilities, handles security, and handles many other general services. BUSPH pays for the space it uses and all the related costs. The med school and dental school do the same thing.

At two of my global health jobs we very much preferred hiring BU MPHers, especially over Harvard and Yale (only picking on them because due to geography we got a lot of applicants from these schools). This isn't a knock on those great schools, but the fact that the BU MPH is more practical in design and the graduates tend to be more ready to jump into the trenches so to speak. They interviewed better. Many of the other top ten schools of public health are a bit more research and publications focused.

BU is expensive. It does not have a huge endowment and it does not receive much public funding. It does end up around $60k to get an MPH, but almost no one pays the whole thing themselves. If you can score a full time job at BU (not hard, they are one of the largest employers in the state) you can get tuition remission (it would take 2.5 years to get the MPH this way). The majority of students receive some sort of aid (grant/fellowship) package as well. Most of my friends who went here paid about 25-35k of their own money.

I'll also point out that BU is about the same price as many of the other elite schools of public health, other than the ones that are part of state university systems.

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