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Help on finding a MPH concentration / school


crider

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Hi all!  Currently a senior about to graduate, but taking a gap year before hopefully pursuing a MPH Fall 2016.  Still attempting to narrow down my interests into a concentration as I was lucky enough to do research on a wide variety of topics during undergrad.  (gbd of mental health, vaccine-preventable diseases & vaccine policies in general, malnutrition, MERS-CoV in draft animals, weather disasters...literally all over the board.)  I did my first 1.5 years as a nursing major and was heavy in the sciences, and then switched over to public policy with minor in public health.  GPA first 3 semesters was decent for nursing, but low compared to most (2.9ish).  Last 4 semesters haven't gone below a 3.5/3.6.  Spent last semester studying public health in DC/India/South Africa/Brazil which just reaffirmed the fact that I want to pursue this.  Unfortunately, I'm just not exactly sure what "this" is specifically yet.  

During the past four-ish years I've spent my free time teaching debate/public speaking/civic engagement/various public health topics with Model UN programs to high schoolers, helping to develop a new weather warning app with CASA tech, interning at a center that works to educate the public on the science of vaccines...as you can see I really don't know how to pinpoint my interests that well. 

 

I really find myself drawn to infectious diseases and vaccines, but I'm pretty positive most programs require a more science-based undergrad than what I've done.  I also feel like I want to pursue a more tangible and practical MPH than what my undergrad has been (social sciences for the most part,) so I've been taking a hard look at epidemiology.  Infectious disease epi is definitely on my short list of interests, but I'm not sure if theres a better fit out there. 

Anyone have experience in pursuing ID epi out there/any recommendations of concentrations or schools?  (Schools I'm looking at right now- McGill,JH,Emory,Tulane,Cape Town,SDSU,USC..UCs..everywhere) THANKS!

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Hi all!  Currently a senior about to graduate, but taking a gap year before hopefully pursuing a MPH Fall 2016.  Still attempting to narrow down my interests into a concentration as I was lucky enough to do research on a wide variety of topics during undergrad.  (gbd of mental health, vaccine-preventable diseases & vaccine policies in general, malnutrition, MERS-CoV in draft animals, weather disasters...literally all over the board.)  I did my first 1.5 years as a nursing major and was heavy in the sciences, and then switched over to public policy with minor in public health.  GPA first 3 semesters was decent for nursing, but low compared to most (2.9ish).  Last 4 semesters haven't gone below a 3.5/3.6.  Spent last semester studying public health in DC/India/South Africa/Brazil which just reaffirmed the fact that I want to pursue this.  Unfortunately, I'm just not exactly sure what "this" is specifically yet.  

During the past four-ish years I've spent my free time teaching debate/public speaking/civic engagement/various public health topics with Model UN programs to high schoolers, helping to develop a new weather warning app with CASA tech, interning at a center that works to educate the public on the science of vaccines...as you can see I really don't know how to pinpoint my interests that well. 

 

I really find myself drawn to infectious diseases and vaccines, but I'm pretty positive most programs require a more science-based undergrad than what I've done.  I also feel like I want to pursue a more tangible and practical MPH than what my undergrad has been (social sciences for the most part,) so I've been taking a hard look at epidemiology.  Infectious disease epi is definitely on my short list of interests, but I'm not sure if theres a better fit out there. 

Anyone have experience in pursuing ID epi out there/any recommendations of concentrations or schools?  (Schools I'm looking at right now- McGill,JH,Emory,Tulane,Cape Town,SDSU,USC..UCs..everywhere) THANKS!

It sounds like you should have no trouble getting accepted into a program. You have a lot of experience and appear to have a decent GPA. So just do well on your GRE and write a strong statement and you should be set for that aspect. In terms of not having a strong science course background, I definitely would not worry about that. Very few MPH programs require pre-requisites for entrance (barring maybe Biostats which tends to require stats/calc pre-reqs). Based on your interests, it sounds like ID Epi is the direction you seem to be heading. You could also look into health policy/management programs with a stronger focus on policy since you seem to have some experience with that. Although I am only just now matriculating into an MPH program, I am headed in the ID Epi/Global Epi direction myself. There are a lot of great schools out there for that, but in general you'll be able to find coursework in that area at most schools. What you should be looking at is professors that do research in your specific area of interest within infectious diseases. I'm very interested in HIV/AIDS research and was drawn to some of the research done at the school I chose to attend. 

 

Looking at your list, there are some pretty strong schools on there. Emory is great for infectious diseases if you're looking for more variety. Tulane would be very good if you're interested in tropical diseases. Obviously, Johns Hopkins is excellent overall. I see that you have McGill on your list. While they are a great school, keep in mind that they are not CEPH accredited. This accreditation is important if you plan to come back and work for governmental agencies such as the CDC, as many of the jobs require that your degree comes from an accredited school of public health. My biggest suggestion to you is to really look at the research and publications of the professors for various schools. It will give you the best idea of what school would be the best fit for you. Also consider location. A large portion of the network you form will reside within the area around your school. 

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