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UNC vs Columbia (MPH)


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I got into UNC Chapel Hill's MPH in MCH and into Columbia's MPH in Epi. Both schools cost approximately the same price, however cost of living is obviously higher in NY. I' m negotiating funding with both school so its more affordable to study there. My main decision factor however is based on program and school not cost. I just cannot figure out what school to pick. Both are great schools with great programs! I have 3+yrs experience in public health in east africa and so far 2 ASTMH presentations (one oral, one poster) and a manuscript (first author) I'm almost done drafting for Malaria journal. Most of my work so far has been concentrating on Malaria and I want to expand my skill set. I didnt have a science background and kinda stumbled into the field after undergrad so the MPH is really important to me to build a stronger science foundation. 

Any and all opinions on both schools are welcome. 


I have visited both campuses and liked both of them.

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It depends on what you want to do first and foremost, since MCH is a completely separate field/skill set from epi. Neither are going to have any lab sciences, so if your intention is to develop a stronger foundation in biology, chemistry, etc., the MPH altogether is not what you are looking for. If by a science background you really mean data interpretation, then epidemiology would probably be more of what you are looking for. Maternal and Child Health obviously focuses on those topics exclusively, both in policy and research.


As far as the schools as a whole, UNC is technically higher ranked as of the 2011 rankings (new rankings are being released on March 10), but Columbia probably has more name brand recognition abroad.

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I am currently an undergrad in UNC. I took several SPH courses and I loved it. The fundings in UNC SPH are a lot, from my knowledge but I am not sure about MCH program. Plus, unc has a really greta infectious disease program in school of medicine and I think you can collaborate with them to do some research (if that's what you are interested.)


As for Columbia, I heard they had many opportunities for MPH but there are some concerns with regard the funding in Columbia .

I got into both, but I just do not really wanna spend another 2 years in UNC so I choose Columbia instead. But if you really wanna do research in the long-term, UNC is a better place.

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@Femtastic Yes I got an email from them end of Jan asking me to come in for an interview early Feb, I asked them to do it via skype because flying in was going to be extremely costly. My interview was done via skype around mid Feb and I got interviewed by the chair of the MCH department. It wasn't as formal as I was expecting, it was quite laid back, mostly just checking to see how well I would fit into the program and if it suits my needs etc. Was about 20 mins long. 

Edited by zalidina
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i'm an alum from UNC MCH and while it's a great program, if you're interested in topics that don't deal exclusively with reproductive health, adolescent health, or HIV, you're going to have to be motivated to find opportunities to work on things you're interested. to my knowledge, there is no one in the MCH dept who works on malaria. there's one guy in Epi (Meshnick) but he's more lab focused. there is malaria work through the school of medicine as UNC is one of the malaria vaccine centers, but to work with those programs you'll need a skill set that MCH won't necessarily prepare you for. However, I do have to add that while there may not be a LOT of malaria work in the MCH dept, we are well connected to FHI360, RTI and other health orgs in the triangle area who DO malaria work. I loved that my professors were always willing to connect me with any resources outside the dept, especially our adjunct faculty.


I second the comment about skill set. MCH is more topical, while Epi is skills based. At UNC, MCH has skills classes focused more on programs such as M&E and program planning. If you want a bit more of a quantitative approach, you won't get that in MCH unless you plan appropriately to take the Epi sequence through the Epi dept. And you definitely won't get a science background through MCH. There are some ID epi courses you could supplement with that might provide that in the Epi dept at UNC.


UNC is a great school & I LOVED my time there. The program had its flaws but I don't think any MPH program is perfect.


I can't speak for Colombia although I had a friend do the global program and then she spent 6 months in India working for two different orgs, and she liked her program.

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