All about classes


By: Penelope Stird – 2nd Year – Epidemiology

As we near the end of the semester and our to-do list expands, it is important to plan time to develop your course schedule for the next semester. Emory’s course sign-up for spring occurs near the end of October. As an incoming student, fall course sign-up occurs during the summer. But not to worry, you will receive many reminders! This post provides some of my tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of your credits during your time at Rollins.

Each department at Rollins has different requirements for graduation, so it will be important that you are familiar with your departments’ degree requirements. Class sign-up occurs through OPUS, the same portal where you can pay your student bills, and change your contact information. TIP: Make a document for yourself planning out when you plan to take your core courses, department required courses, and electives.

Core courses are the 500-level classes focused on introducing you to the departments that are not your primary concentration. For example, I am in the epidemiology (EPI) department so my core courses included the 500 level general course in: behavioral science and health education (BSHE), environmental health (EH), global health (GH), and health policy and management (HPM). These class are an excellent opportunity for you to get to know other Rollins’ students that may not be in your department or graduating class.

Department required courses are preplanned based on your declared degree path (i.e. department concentration, 3 or 4 semesters, MPH or MSPH) as these classes are taken in series.

Each department requires a different number of elective credits. Certificate programs are a great way to learn more about a topic you are interested in, and most of the classes can count towards your elective credits! Additionally, your elective credits are not limited to your department. Some of my personal favorite electives have been: human toxicology (EH), adolescent health (BSHE), interdisciplinary perspectives in human rights (GH), and psychosocial epidemiology (EPI). TIP: Take electives in other departments to have a well-rounded public health education.

Rollins releases a course catalog each year with a description of each class that will be offered. When I enrolled at Rollins, I went through the course catalog and made a list of all the courses I thought sounded interesting. Then, as I made my schedule each semester, I would look to see if any of the courses on this list could fit in my schedule. Your tuition pays for 18 credits a semester, and required courses typically do not take up more than 12 credits, so you have 6 credits to explore with! Furthermore, you are not limited to classes at Rollins. Perhaps you take extra Rollins’ electives, but you could also take a class at the law school, business school, or an undergraduate class. TIP: Check out the other schools’ course atlas. Some class may require instructor permission, or you may have to wait to sign-up until all students within that department/school have had the opportunity to sign-up first.

The best way to decide on what electives to take is by talking to your peers. Some classes may be primarily comprised of guest lectures, while others may be collaborative work, lab work, or a traditional class format. Additionally, all students have access to prior years student course evaluations, as long as 2/3 or more students responded. Students also have access to most course syllabi on the Emory shared computer drive (S drive). When deciding on electives, don’t forget to consider the work-load of your departments required courses as some semesters will be more intensive than others. Additionally, consider when you will be completing your practicum and thesis. You only sign-up for thesis credits during your last semester, however your thesis work is not limited to the final semester. Most students start their thesis during the second semester. Finally, consider your responsibilities outside of course-work. Although it would be wonderful for all students to be able to enroll in 18 credits, it may not be practical due to your job schedule or childcare services. You will find what works best for you, but know many resources are available to help you decide what classes to take!


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