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MSc vs MPH


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Hey guys, I could really use some advice and guidance:

I've been accepted to the MPH Epidemiology program at UofT as well as into the MSc Epidemiology program at uOttawa. I really don't know which one to lean towards though..



- world renowned school and faculty members

- professional program (so no scholarships or funding)

- practicum placements in the summers (usually paid)

- no thesis (negatively affecting ability to a PhD)

- high cost (tuition $10000 plus the cost of living in Toronto)

- ability to do a research based practicum (which could lead to a research report, but its still not considered a thesis) if so desired

- opportunity for global health focus (which I love)


- MSc

- not as well known as Toronto, but still some pretty big name professors

- no placements

- thesis (the main focus of the first summer, and the whole of second year)

- low cost (scholarships, living at home) which essentially means I pay nothing over the 2 years

- very statistics focused (I prefer some of the social,global, etc aspects of public health)

I am still considering pursuing med school after all this is said and done as well. I also wish to use epidemiology as a means of achieving my goals in working in the fields of community and global health (I don't want to be the guy who sits in front of a computer crunching numbers for the rest of his life).

please help me with your opinions, advice and comments! thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not in your subfield, but I just wanted to comment on the lack of a thesis being a negative. For my master's, I did not do a thesis. At the time, everyone told me it was a bad decision and that it would negatively affect my ability to get into PhD programs. Instead of plugging away at a thesis that could possibly just sit in a desk drawer, I got research experience. I published an article with a faculty member and wrote a book chapter. I think that helped me way, way more than having a thesis title under my degree and I consider it an added bonus that I can be more enthusiastic to do my dissertation vs. all of my friends who had to endure a thesis and are likely fatigued with the process (especially if they went straight from a master's program). Many of the newer assistant/associate professors (at least, in my subfield) I've spoken to agree: the master's thesis is starting to become outdated and some departments are moving towards just doing comprehensive exams. Not to mention, I know several successful professors who did not do a thesis for their master's.

Edited by xxcheshirecatox
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I'll be starting at UofT in Health Services Research (MSc.-thesis) in the Fall, and I was considering the same when I applied, earlier this year. I too am considering med school after the two-year thesis gets over. It seems we may have similar goals - mine are to eventually get into clinical research, with med school offering that extra funding/clinical leverage, so here is my 2cents.

I'm working under a cardiologist/clinical researcher, and even before the program has started, I've started a placement at the Toronto Rehab for the next two months. I chose to do a thesis simply for the chance to work with a very well-known researcher, and the opportunity to do clinical research. I figure this won't be bad for future med apps either. My prospective thesis committee are also very well known physician/researchers, and not only does that help in terms of references, I'm getting the chance to make first hand contacts. This is not to say you won't be able to do this with a practicum placement, so it depends who you work with and the subfield you want to specialize in. I think another advantage of doing research is that you have the opportunity to publish papers, which is a criteria in med schools apps. These are advantages for a thesis in Ottawa.

I'm not sure about the health network in Ottawa as I've never been there, but the UHN associated with UofT is huge, and very promising. This might be important if choosing a practicum placement, as you get a pick from top-class hospitals. I'm not sure how you came across that huge tuition amount. That sounds close to US fees. I assume you're international then, tuition would be around $25k a year, no? Toronto also hosts many important clinical/research conferences, with many happening within the UofT campus, so that is also something to consider.

All in all, you have to consider the opportunities you might have in the future, the networks you could make, the quality of the program and future direction in medicine you're considering.

Edited by MaxiJaz
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