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Help! PhD in global health systems at Tulane or epidemiology at U Florida??


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I've been accepted to Tulane GHSD for a PhD where I would work with their malaria group on projects related to intervention and health systems evaluation. They do not have funding to offer me a tuition waiver, but do have funds for a stipend to cover living expenses. I love the work that they do and I think I can see myself doing program evaluation work for a career. I did my undergraduate degree at Tulane, I love New Orleans, and I would be working with the professor who got me interested in public health in the first place

I've also been accepted for University of Florida for a PhD in Epidemiology. I have funding (tuition and stipend) for at least another 2 years (I am already a graduate student here, not in th College of Public Health and Health Professions), and it is likely renewable. I wouldn't likely be doing applied research. I'm getting involved with multiple projects here, including getting written in on a grant. I'm interning at an NIH NIAID lab this summer to foster a collaboration between my boss at UF (who would be my PhD advisor) and the PI at NIAID, which could also turn into a dissertation topic. I'm sure that if I were to go to Tulane that I could still work on this, but it has nothing to do with malaria and would not be a viable dissertation topic for GHSD.

Benefits of Tulane:

Working directly with the people whose careers I wanted to have when I was in undergrad--can be easily re-integrated into the department

I would be working towards a professional niche

Moving back to New Orleans

Strong and highly ranked program

Lots of opportunities for field work in Africa and other countries

Doing an applied, program evaluation dissertation project

Drawbacks of Tulane:

No tuition waiver, only funding for a stipend (not sure how much that would be)--> Loans

I could probably not continue with the projects that I am currently getting involved with at UF, except maybe the NIH project

Program is in Global Health, not as marketable of a degree as Epidemiology

Few teaching opportunities (though I am not looking for a job in academia after I graduate)

Comparatively very small, with few research centers. Less grant money brought in than UF purely because of numbers

Benefits of UF:

Tuition and stipend

Working on 2 grant proposals right now--already have a professional network

Possibilities of NIH project

Epi is a more marketable degree

UF is hiring a bunch of prominent faculty in infectious disease dynamics other areas that I'm interested in

Cost of living is lower than NOLA

Major major research university with tons of resources and research centers on campus

Drawbacks of UF:

Gainesville, FL is a small college town, and I miss living in a city

The public health school at UF is not at all highly ranked, though I would be working with good people in their respective fields

My research would be less applied, though still interesting. And I would learn new methods--don't know how I could translate this into an applied public health career

I'm afraid that I won't become an expert on anything because I'll be involved with a bunch of diverse projects

I know that I will get unbelievable training in either program, but one puts me in a niche for careers, and the other could have me spread thin with different projects (which is not necessarily a bad thing).


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Who cares about the ranking of the school? It shouldn't matter because its always the outcome of the education you gain. 

The question you should ask yourself is, Which is affordable for you? Do you still get to work on malaria? I am sure you can focus yourself and you should take project that are of interest. Don't make yourself busier then you need to be and I think they are very good schools. 


University of Florida is Nationally ranked at 49, but the school of PUBH is 29,  anything in the top 50 is good to me.

UF sounds like the better option, Which one do you really want to do Global Health Systems and Development or Epidemiology that will help you with your goal?

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Epi is more marketable in the long run. I can't help but agree with and reference this blogger again: http://www.bdkeller.com/2014/02/is-there-a-global-health-bubble-or-should-you-get-an-mph/


What are your top priorities? funding? research interest? ranking? technical or programmatic skills? which best aligns with your ultimate future goals? You've listed out all the pros/cons of each school, now rank them. Go with the school that meets most of your top priorities. It sounds like both schools have lots to offer you and you already have established connections at both, so neither one seems like it would be a bad choice. 


Funding is my top priority followed by research fit. I personally don't think it's worth paying for a PhD because I'll be paying off my masters degree for 10+ years down the road unless I hit jackpot. I don't want to be miserable for the next 4-5 yrs so research/advisor fit are my also top  priorities. 

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