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Moving from Anthropology to MPH: Need applicant advice

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The short version: I am going into my second year of my Masters work in medical anthropology, but I am having issues with thesis research. False starts and closed doors restricting access to interviews and information, with a serious conflict of interest (company's demands) that short circuited IRB approval. So now I am on the hunt again.

Like anthropology, I discovered public health late and feel like I am hurrying to catch up. Two of my recent biological anthropology classes included a lot of epidemiology and public health articles, and I found a new thirst for knowledge. But I am afraid that my undergraduate degree in anthropology is not a highly preferred background among committees for epidemiology programs.

Here are my questions/concerns:

Should I take more biology classes? This fall I will be taking intro to molecular biology and a biostatistics course to fulfill my research skills requirement; Should I take more?

What kinds of thesis research in medical or biological anthropology would help make me a better MPH candidate? What kinds of organizations would let me volunteer and collect data? Or should I find people to interview on my own.

What else should I do to increase my chances of being accepted?

PS - Not talking about top ranked schools - mostly unranked or underneath the top 20 ranked programs (whatever that means). My undergrad GPA was 3.82 and my current graduate GPA is 4.01 - I plan to retake the GRE to move it from 1100 range to whatever the new equivalent for 1250-1350 would be.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm not an admissions officer, but I think you're positioned well for an MPH program. Just having a prior Masters should elevate you above many other applicants. Also, don't undervalue yourself; there are quite a few anthro students in public health. I think that medical anthro is a great background for PH, depending on what you want to pursue in the field. Paul Farmer is a hero to most of my PH friends.

Now, if you're asking about what to take to prepare you for an MPH, you'll need some more statistics. Most of my anthro friends took no quantiative coursework in their programs. Especially if you're interested in epi, you'll want to learn some stats. Most MPH programs should have the option to start with Stats 101, but a headstart never hurts.

As for bio, if you're interested in something like immunology or vaccine development, I could see its usefulness. I haven't found too much utility for bio in my (limited) public health experience, however. Depends on where you'd like to specialize.

Hope that helps.

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