Things to Consider when Selecting a Graduate Program

By: Katherine Millsaps – Epidemiology

Congratulations! Hopefully when you are reading this it means you have been accepted to at least one graduate school program! All the time and effort you put into your studies and applications has finally paid off. Now its time for the hard part: picking a school. You may think it will be the same process as picking an undergraduate school, for some of you it might be, but if you’re like me there is additional pressure to make “the right choice”. Here is my list of things to take into consideration while picking a program to help you out during this pivotal time.
 Try to attend the admitted students’ day/weekend for those programs you are stuck between. Ours is known as Visit Emory and will be coming up soon on March 26th – 27th. This will allow you to picture yourself in the educational setting you will be in for the next 2 years, meet faculty and staff as well as potential classmates. You will get to experience the “vibe” the program gives off to see if it matches what you picture for your next steps.
Opportunities. You are starting the next steps so you will be expected to gain real work experience during this time. Check out what local public health hubs are available or if the schools you are looking at have an internship program to match students and employers together. At RSPH it is called REAL, Rollins-Earn and Learn, and we have an amazing career center that sets up multiple job fairs a semester to help student find those connections
Price. Everyone’s favorite part. How feasible is it for you to afford this degree? Are any programs offering scholarships? It is more difficult to find financial aid compared to bachelor’s degrees, but it is still possible. Make sure you reach out to the financial aid office of the schools you are considering. You also have to take housings, books, food, transportation into consideration since it’s more than just tuition.
Location. Can you picture yourself living in that area? You will most likely have to stay for a minimum of 2 years so it’s important to feel comfortable. How far away or close are your family members? How disruptive is the move going to be to your current lifestyle?
Degree programs. Is the school you are considering offer courses within the curriculum that align with your areas of interest? Are there specialty tracks or certification programs?
Faculty. How easy is it to connect with professor, advisors and mentors? Is there anyone working on research in your area of interest? Rollins sets students up with Assistant Directors of Academic Programs (ADAPs) as well as a faculty advisor within your degree department. This opens up the chance to network in their circles and most of the time they connect you with others to help collaborate on your thesis or Applied Practicum Experience.
Post-Graduation Advancement. Will this school give you the platform you need for your career? How easy is it to find a job once you graduate? RSPH has their own career center that is open for use even after you graduate to make sure you can enter the work force with confidence.

Personally, Emory felt like the right choice for the opportunities present in the area and support from the staff gives to each individual student. I knew I was in the right place just recently so it may take some time to settle into the new lifestyle but diving into all the resources the school has to offer makes everything worth it. I have been able to grow personally and professionally in just 6 short months and have found it easy to connect with public health professionals and classmates. I’m in the Epidemiology Department and was attracted to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Certificate (WASH) while I was looking into the different MPH schools and it is the ultimate reason I decided to come to Rollins. While you are on campus and in the classroom, you can feel that each person is invested in helping you reach your end goals which was important to me. In the end, it is most important to pick a program that fits with your path/dreams. There is no need to worry if it is the “right choice” in other people’s eyes, this is your next step and, in the end, everything will work out.

Good Luck!