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Brown vs. Boston University MPH


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Hey everyone,


I recently heard back from both Brown and BU with good news. I got into both school's MPH program with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. I figure the easiest way to explain my concerns is by listing what each school's pros and cons. Some of it is, of course, subjective and based on what I have gathered so far from researching both schools, experiences visiting, and communication with the schools thus far. It's a privilege to have to make such a decision, but nonetheless it's difficult and any input would be greatly appreciated!





-Faculty with research interests that align with my own

-Good location

-Internship component of curriculum 

-High faculty to student ratio

-Offered $10,500/year (tuition: $42,000/year)

-It's an Ivy



-School of Public Health not ranked

-School of Public Health created 2013, program is relatively new? (prior to creating its own SPH, Brown had an MPH degree program, but not sure about history of program)

-Can't find much information about their program in general






-Top 10 program (#10)

-Faculty with research interests that align with my own

-Very good location

-Very well established program (http://www.bu.edu/sph/careers/graduate-employment-data/ is very impressive)

-~90% employed full-time within 6 months of graduation

-One of the faculty members I mentioned in my application essay emailed me personally (I was very impressed; is this normal?)

-Offered me $7,500/year (tuition ~$45,000/year)



-Unsure of BU's reputation; general opinion from people around me seems to be that it's a good school, but not great and possibly not worth the cost





1) I would love any information anyone has on Brown's MPH program or School of Public Health. I can't really find any information outside of the school's own website and I'm starting to think that might be reason for concern.


2) Is BU worth the cost?


3) Does anyone have any thoughts about living in Boston or Providence (aside from warnings about the weather haha)? I really liked both cities when I visited, but I'm from California and either one will be a big change from me

Edited by vs2887
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I applied to Health Policy PhD programs, so I'm not very familiar with the MPH side of things.  But you're in for some disappointment moving from California.  I moved here from the SF bay area and it's been tough to adjust.


Bostonians are rude, the worst and most aggressive drivers I've seen outside of a third-world country, the food is so-so, housing is expensive (4th most expensive market in the US), and they are proud of it.  They smoke a lot. The big controversy right now is that an LGBT group gets to march in the Saint Patrick's Day parade for the first time.  So there's that.


And it's not just my opinion...



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Hi, I don't know much about Brown but I also got into BU's program (I haven't decided where I'm going yet). I went to undergrad in Boston and so let me paint a somewhat less antagonistic picture for you. Fair warning: I am originally from Canada - still a transplant but from a much less hospitable climate than California.


Boston is a lovely place to live for the following reasons:

- Easy to walk around

- Great shopping district

- Chinatown = amazing food for cheap

- Sporting events (even if you're not a baseball fan, Boston has hockey and basketball as well. Football is too far away.)

- Tons of college students and young professionals to meet and befriend


Things that aren't so great:

- The weather can be bad sometimes

- It's pretty expensive as cities go

- When the weather is bad, the MBTA stops working (it can be quite slow the rest of the time, as well)

- Townies can be mean and are best avoided

- Everything closes really early, even on the weekends


I absolutely loved living in Boston, even in spite of the cons. If you are prepared to make an effort to find hobbies and friends, and you're not super worried about living expenses, I would probably pick the better/more established school of public health.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am so glad that you posted about Brown vs. BU MPH programs, because I am essentially in the same situation. Both programs gave me money and both programs seen really great/align with my specific research interests. However, for me, I am leaning towards Brown for the following reasons:


1. Money: Brown offered me more money. AKA their partial scholarship is per year (assuming that I maintain the grades to not fail out after the first year) whereas BU offers decent merit scholarships--though, at least in my case, it's a one-time thing; not annually renewed.

2. Personal Outreach vs. Automated Outreach: I have received a LOT of emails and a phone call from BU. While some correspondence (usually initiated by me) resulted in a more personal conversation, I'm mostly receiving automated email messages and vague "Come to our school because..." promotions. On the other hand, immediately after receiving my acceptance email from Brown, I received a 100% personalized note of congratulations with information about my scholarship and the entire email was filled with references to my statement of purpose, my personal interests, and offered connections to specific faculty members to contact about shared research interests. Overall, Brown made me feel that they were excited that I was excited to research my particular public health interests.


I totally understand the concern about Brown's MPH program rank/legitimacy. Obviously, as an Ivy, Brown is super impressive and great. But, with that said, their specific MPH program is new and it's hard to figure out how it is viewed specifically within the Public Health world. In contrast, BU is a top ranked program. There is no doubt that BU is currently a leading MPH program and will likely continue to grow in size and prestige.


But, what it comes down to is what program fits you best. For me, my specific research interests align with Brown's faculty and the incredible research resources provided by Brown--and, it's a big bonus being an Ivy with a great reputation and strong alumni network. However, there is no "right" choice when it comes to picking graduate programs. There are pros and cons, ranks and reviews--but you have to simply choose which one is better for you, for what you want to study, and for what you want to do after getting your degree.


In a nut shell: BU has the stronger MPH program and Brown has the stronger overall academic reputation but either school is a solid choice that will help you achieve your public health-related career goals.


Side note: I agree with what others say: both cities can be cold and cranky, but as is the case with any city, there will be things you like and things you don't like. Just remember, you are choosing to head east for the education. After a couple years, you can leave and go back to warmth.

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