By: Nayantara Venkataraman – Health Policy & Management
If you are reading this, you might be in the thick of your MPH applications, or you might be thinking about applying to an MPH program, or you might just be interested in learning more about Emory’s MPH from the perspective of current students. Regardless of which bucket you fall into, deciding on which MPH program at Rollins is the best fit for you can be a challenge. I was in the same boat just two years ago. I first thought about pursuing a career in public health several years back when I was an undergrad student. At that time, however, I only knew that I wanted to do something related to improving public health, and I wasn’t sure which MPH program made the most sense for me. After taking some time after undergrad to gain some work experience, I started thinking about applying to MPH programs. I was interested in many different aspects of public health, and given that the field is interdisciplinary by nature, I tried to then be intentional about what specialisation in public health made the most sense for my career goals. These are some steps I took to decide on my program of choice:
- Start at the beginning: what interests you about public health, and where do you think you might fit in?
To help you think about which of Rollins’ MPH programs is best for you, start simple by thinking about what interests you most about the field of public health. Think about your experiences – academic, extra-curricular, and professional – that made you interested in this field. Think about what kind of work you would ultimately like to be doing. Are you interested in research? Are you interested in community engagement and grassroots work? What kind of organization would you like to work in? Public health is a broad field, and there is room for all types of careers within it. In my case, I had the chance to gain professional experience in hospital administration after undergrad, which really shaped my interest in healthcare management and was what ultimately helped me identify my interest in the Health Policy and Management program at Rollins.
- Do your research.
Once you start to narrow down on some areas of interest, research those programs on the Rollins website. Look at the curricula, degree requirements, course offerings, and electives to see which program seems the best fit for your career interests. You may also want to take a look at the faculty listing for each department and each of their career/research focuses. Make sure you have a good understanding of the competencies covered in the programs you’re interested in. For example, some MPH programs focus on building competencies that are directly applicable to research methods and analysis, whereas others may build more competencies that focus on applying research and data. As you research these programs, think about the skills you would like to gain out of your MPH degree.
- Reach out to current students and alumni.
Part of doing your research into MPH programs involves reaching out to current students and alumni as much as possible to get their perspective on their programs. This was definitely something that helped me in my decision to pick the HPM program. The Rollins Student Ambassadors and other Admissions Department events are a great way to get this first-hand information! Reach out to us and ask to speak to current students in your departments of interest so that you can get that first-hand perspective of course offerings, electives, professional opportunities, skills gained, etc. Try to also reach out to alumni, who can give you a different perspective on how their degree programs helped them in their career.
These are some of the key steps I took that helped me decide on my MPH program of choice. I hope this helps you too as you prepare your graduate school applications in the coming weeks, or if you are simply thinking about MPH programs for the future!