By Lindsey Burton-Anderson, MPH’23 in Behavioral, Social, Health, and Education Sciences
November marks the start of the nitty and gritty of application season! While applying for different programs, there are so many questions to ask yourself. What school do I see myself at? Do I want to earn my MPH? Wait, what’s an MSPH?! Can I see myself gaining from this department? Where do the alumni end up? Don’t worry as I am here to narrow down your questions into 10 steps.
Since you’ve made it to this page, you may have decided to earn your degree in Public Health! While there are many other factors to consider when selecting the right school and program for you, follow these 10 steps and you will be well on your way to selecting the right department for you at Rollins.
As a reminder, when you submit your application to Rollins, you will have the option to select your top 3 programs of interest.
- What is your undergraduate degree?
Utilizing the knowledge you gained from your undergraduate degree may help inform you of what department would be best for you. For example, I majored in Sociology as an undergraduate, and now I am in the Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences (BSHES) department! The connection of social sciences with health seemed like a perfect mix for me. Other undergraduate majors of people at Rollins: Anthropology, Gender Studies, Global Health Studies, Psychology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Nutrition, Healthcare Management, Laboratory Sciences, Neuroscience, Microbiology, and so much more!
- What are your current academic, research, or professional interests?
If you participated in a research project, on a research team, or even completed a thesis during your time in college, what topic(s) did you like? Was the topic based on social theory? Did you like the coding you did in R or SAS? What problem was it solving? Were there any class projects that stood out to you? If you are currently employed, what about the content of your job do you wish you could improve? Take a look at your academic and/or professional history! You will discover a lot in your past years.
- What are your personal interests? Do you want to connect your identities in your work? What significant events have occurred in your life that is still with you?
Sometimes, your personal interests, identities, and life experiences can greatly inform you about what you want out of your education and career. For example, my personal interests are meditating, journaling, kickboxing, and keeping up with important social justice texts. I identify as Afro-Latina. Therefore, one of my academic and research interests pertains to mental health in BIPOC communities as this is often overlooked in society. Because of this, and many other factors, I felt the BSHES department was the most suitable for me. Now ask yourself, how can I connect myself to my work? You’d be surprised by what you discover!
- Research each department and take note of key areas of interest.
I will provide a brief overview of each department and the skills, methods, and competencies commonly focused on. I will also briefly note employment sectors of recent alumni as well as department requirements and some faculty.
Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences (BSHES)
The BSHES department makes sure their students explore human behavior and sociocultural contexts on population health. Students will also learn about the importance of health education.
- Skills, methods, competencies: Strong scientific and methodological foundation with an emphasis on health equity and disparities.
- Employment Information: Median starting salary is $53,750. 79% of recent graduates found full-time/part-time positions, and 7% continued their education. Government (State, Local, Federal) agencies are the most common sector (32%) followed by the University or Research sector at 22%.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all BSHES students include coursework on theory, research methods, public health history, program evaluation, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
- Key BSHES Faculty:
- Dr. Don Operario: The Chair of the BSHES Department and specializes in social inequality and syndemics of HIV, mental health, and structural violence in historically marginalized communities.
- Dr. Kimberly Jacob Arriola: Tenured professor in BSHES, Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs & Dean of Laney Graduate School. She specializes in culturally-sensitive interventions to improve public commitment to organ and tissue donation among African Americans as well as improve the accessibility of cancer screening for underserved and underinsured populations.
- Dr. Robin McGee: Dr. McGee specializes in public mental health, career development, and emerging adulthood. She is also the Lead Evaluator of the Research Education Programs of the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance.
Biostatistics & Bioinformatics (BIOS)
- Skills, methods, competencies: Extensive training in study design, data management and analysis, and statistical software.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $62,963. 76% of recent graduates find full-time/part-time work. 64% of these graduates found full-time work in Public Health. University or Research is the most common sector (33%) followed by Hospital or Health Care Facility at 28%.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all BIOS students include coursework on statistics at advancing levels, regression, probability theory, statistical programming, and multivariate analysis.
- Key BIOS Faculty:
- Dr. Robert Krafty: The Chair of the BIOS department and specializes in time series, signal analysis, and mental and behavioral health.
- Dr. Howard Chang: Jointly appointed in Environmental Health. He has projects on exposure assessment for air quality and extreme weather events, and spatio-temporal data integration methods for infectious disease surveillance.
- Dr. Mary Kelley: Research professor who focuses on the biological predictors of treatment response in depression and predictive risk models for cardiovascular outcomes.
Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health (EH)
- Skills, methods, competencies: Depending on the program (EH, EH-EPI, GEH), students have extensive focus on environmental factors that influences human health, mechanisms of toxicity, demography, epidemiology, and environmental health policy.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $55,393. 72% found full-time or part-time employment soon after graduating. Government and University or Research sectors were the most common at 39% and 23%, respectively.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all EH students include coursework on toxicology, epidemiological methods, research design, and exposure science.
- Key EH Faculty:
- Dr. Yang Liu: The Chair and Gangarosa Distinguished Professor of the EH Department. His research interests include satellite aerosol retrieval and product design, and GIS and spatial statistics.
- Dr. Dana Barr: Dr. Barr co-directs RSPH’s Laboratory for Exposure Assessment and Development in Environmental Research. Her research focuses on analytic chemistry and maternal-child health issues as it relates to environmental health.
- Dr. Marlene Wolfe: Dr. Wolfe focuses on the environmental detection of pathogens in understanding population health and risks as well as how to minimize environmental exposures to pathogens.
- Skills, methods, competencies: Extensive focus on advancing epidemiological analysis, and managing and interpreting population-based data.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $55,000. Of those that recently graduated, 73% are employed. Government and University or Research sectors are the most common sectors at 40% and 28%, respectively.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all EH students include coursework on epidemiological studies, and statistical methods and software.
- Key EPI Faculty:
- Dr. Timothy Lash: The Chair of the EPI Department. His research focuses on surveillance and predictors of cancer recurrence and bias analysis to understand heterogeneity in epidemiological research results.
- Dr. Allison Chamberlain: Dr. Chamberlain focuses on biodefense policy, public health preparedness, and vaccine promotion. She is currently the Director of the Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research and the Emory COVID-19 Response Collaborative.
- Dr. Tene T. Lewis: Dr. Lewis holds research interests in health psychology, psychosocial epidemiology, and cardiovascular health in women. A project she leads focuses on psychosocial stress, resilience, and ambulatory blood pressure in healthy African-American women.
- Skills, methods, competencies: Key skills learned include biostatistics, educational theory, research writing, and community assessment and evaluation depending on the track.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $100,000. 85% found full-time/part-time work after graduation – most of which were still employed while completing the program. The most prominent sectors are Government, University or Research, and Hospital or Health Care Facility at 41%, 26%, and 22%, respectively.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all EMPH students include coursework on data analysis, social behavior, biostatistics, and public health informatics.
- Key EMPH Faculty:
- Dr. Melissa Alperin: The Director of the EMPH program, Dr. Alperin focuses on health education, public health practice, and scholarship of teaching and learning.
- Dr. Linelle Blais: Dr. Blais is the Executive Director of the Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance. She focuses on translating science into practice, professional development, and community coalition building.
- Mr. Jonathan Edwards: Mr. Edwards, PhDc focuses on data consulting and spatial modeling of HIV multi-morbidity disorder in sub-Saharan Africa.
Hubert Department of Global Health (GH)
- Skills, methods, competencies: Students will gain knowledge on program management, public health surveillance, qualitative and quantitative data methods, applied laboratory skills, scientific writing, and an understanding of health inequities in different contexts.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $54,096. 70% of recent graduates are employed. University or Research, Nonprofit/NGO, and Government sectors are the most common at 33%, 28%, and 26%, respectively.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all EMPH students include coursework on evidence-based policy programs, global public health program evaluation, and quantitative and qualitative data analysis. There are four concentrations which each have different requirements such as community interaction, life course nutrition, population dynamics and health, and public health surveillance.
- Key GH Faculty:
- Dr. Usha Ramakrishnan: The Chair and Distinguished Richard N. Hubert Professor. Her research focuses on global maternal and child nutrition and health. She has led large-scale randomized controlled trials about nutrient interventions during pregnancy and early adulthood.
- Dr. John Blevins: Dr. Blevins focuses on the intersection of religion and public health with an emphasis on the global collaboration of religious leaders to address HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Dr. Kenneth Castro: Dr. Castro is jointly appointed in the Epidemiology Department and has extensive experience in infectious diseases (TB & HIV) and internal medicine.
Health Policy & Management (HPM)
- Skills, methods, competencies: Students will gain knowledge in public health policy and management, health economics, economic evaluations, and healthcare marketing strategies.
- Employment Information: Median salary is $65,424. 76% were employed soon after graduating. The most common employment sectors are Hospital or Health Care Facility, Proprietary Organizations at 35% and 32%, respectively.
- Department requirements: In addition to the RSPH MPH Core Requirements, specific requirements for all EMPH students include coursework on health economics, public finance, public health law, and financial accounting.
- Key HPM Faculty:
- Dr. Kenneth Thorpe: The Chair and Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the HPM Department. He has extensive experience in healthcare reform, financing, and the role chronic disease plays in the growth of healthcare spending.
- Dr. Deborah McFarland: Dr. McFarland is a faculty member of the Global Health Department and is jointly appointed in HPM. She has extensive experience in health policy, health financing issues, and the interface of disease control programs and health systems.
- Dr. Ilana Graetz: Dr. Graetz has extensive experience in health information technology to improve patient outcomes, data analytics, and app-based intervention to improve patient-provider communication and treatment adherence. She is the principal investigator on a study that aims to reduce racial disparities in treatment and outcomes for women with breast cancer.
- Who will I be learning from?
Take the time to research professors at Rollins in each department who have similar academic and research interests as you! Sometimes, professors are affiliated with more than one department. At the link provided, you will be able to filter by department, areas of interest, and role. Currently, there are 647 professors affiliated with Rollins!
- Ask an Ambassador!
Who better to ask than a current student? Feel free to reach out to one of us! We are happy to answer any questions you have about our unique experience at Rollins, Emory, and the general Atlanta community.
- Determine if you are interested in a two-department program.
There are 3 possible options for obtaining a degree within two departments.
This program combines core courses from the Hubert Department of Global Health and the Epidemiology department and is housed in the epidemiology department. Students learn qualitative and quantitative research methodologies that can be applied on a global scale.
This program combines core courses from the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health (GDEH) and the Epidemiology department and is housed in GDEH. Students gain a solid foundation in analytical epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental and occupational health.
This program combines core courses from the Hubert Department of Global Health and the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health (GDHE) and is housed in GDEH. This program enables students to focus on issues such as poverty, environmental disasters and injustices, and sustainable development.
- MPH, MSPH, or EMPH?
At Rollins, you have the option of 3 different Master’s programs: 1) Master of Public Health (MPH), 2) Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), and 3) Executive Master of Public Health. The table below shows the similarities and differences between them.
|42 credit hours (2-year completion)||48 credit hours (2-year completion)||42 credit hours (2- or 3-year completion)|
|6 departments to choose from||4 tracks to choose from||2 tracks to choose from|
|Depending on the department, you have the option of completing a thesis or capstone||Depending on the department, you have the option of completing a thesis, capstone, or special study project. Most require a thesis.||Depending on the track, you have the option of completing a thesis, capstone, or special study project|
|APE required||APE required||APE required|
|Work experience not required||Work experience not required||Must have 3+ years of relevant professional work experience|
- Don’t forget about certificates!
Even if you feel the departments don’t fully fit your interests, be sure to check out certificates! At Rollins, we offer 11 different certificates to choose from. Certificates are a great way to explore specific areas of interest and be rewarded with a certificate for it! Each certificate program has different requirements. Be sure to check out the link for further information. For example, you could be in the Epidemiology department and pursue a mental health certificate. Also, a former Rollins student ambassador wrote about certificates! Check it out to get a student’s perspective.
- Remember that you are able to take courses in every department!
What is great about the Rollins curriculum is that it allows you to take courses in any department as electives. You can be an EPI major and take electives in HPM. There are many variations. Use the flexibility to your advantage!
A department can be difficult to choose, and you may need to extensively research each institution you’re considering. Just know that Rollins’ staff and faculty work hard to assist students as they pursue academic and professional goals. They care about their students. No matter what department you’re in, you’ll end up getting a fantastic education and creating a network of friends and colleagues that will support you for a lifetime.