MPH, MSPH, EMPH Program? Which One Should I Choose?

By: Andrea Torres

When I applied to Emory, I was in between two-degree tracks. I applied to both the EMPH (Executive master’s in public health) Epi program and the traditional MPH Epidemiology program. I had to sit down and make a pros and con’s list, which also included the MSPH (Master of Science in Epidemiology). I graduated with my B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science in 2018 and proceeded to work professionally in different children’s hospitals (Immunology department, hematology department, and chemistry department). I took a 3-year break from studying so I wasn’t too sure about how to dive back into studying as well as cut back on work hours. I have been used to working 40+ hours a week as well as holidays and going on paid vacations; the idea of cutting work hours concerned me since I have car payments, rent, insurance, and personal things to pay for. There are pros and cons to the 3 MPH programs, which I personally have listed below (this is based on my experience). 

As a student who took a 3-year break, worked professionally at a well-paid job, and experienced education and graduation before a pandemic, I was scared of having to go to class during a pandemic as well as keeping up with the discipline of newly graduated students as my classmates. I divided the 3 programs in this manner based on my personal wants and needs:

      Traditional MPH Epi  42 credit hours, APE, ILE         (thesis or capstone)         EMPH Applied Epi42 credit hours, APE, Thesis                MSPH Epi  48 credit hours, APE, Thesis
PROS:-in person classes, promotes networking opportunities, meeting new friends/people-can join clubs on campus and be a part of student government-set foot at Emory, my dream school-infectious disease certificate program-room for electives that shape the degree to my interests -exposure to other public health disciplines-Moving to a new city-view of the CDCPROS:-mostly online courses, cutting the cost of moving to a new state-flexible and made for working professionals; option of taking 2 or 3 classes per semester, could still work 40+ hours!-applied epi caters to disease modeling and indicators of disease-requires strong quantitative and analytical skills which suits me well as a lab scientist-mandatory in person meeting at Emory two weekends each semester, which is do-able. PROS:-more in-depth education in epi methods, designing advanced methods of surveillance and investigation-APE (internship and applied experience) would be more interesting at is it quantitative based-more programming classes, which increases higher coding level and experience (CDC loves SAS)
CONS:-in person classes means potential exposure to COVID-19 (I was applying in 2020* things have improved)-scared of not meeting anyone my age (I was 26 when I was admitted) -would cutting back from 40+ hours to 4-6 hours once a week enough to cover costs?-Moving to a new city-take out loans to afford educationCONS:-will NOT get networking opportunities in person-will not meet new people or form new friend groups/study groups-will not get the full grad school experience-will not finish degree as fast as I would like-will not get to enroll in a certificate programCONS:-48 hours, so heavier course load for someone that has been on a long study gap-mostly research based, which is something I am not sure I’d like to do-requires calculus; my undergrad degree did NOT require calculus courses-because of the calculus course and extensive BIOS classes, more math based than the other two tracks

Ultimately, I decided to enroll in the traditional MPH Epi track! I have enjoyed every moment of my graduate experience as I have done a lot of networking, volunteering, and met my new friends that have been so good to me. I also enjoyed that masks were implemented during our first semester, which allowed us to feel safe. I also joined the RSPH ambassador program and would love to be an orientation leader over the summer! Although I chose the traditional track, the other two tracks are just as amazing. The EMPH is perfect for professionals that want to advance their studies but not want to compromise their income (maybe the applicant needs to support family, bills, etc.). The MSPH is perfect for those students that want to dive into research and are interested in data management at a deeper level (coding is heavier in this course). No matter which track you choose, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory is truly incredible and will assist you in achieving your career goals!

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