By Sho Takeuchi, MPH’23 in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences
My dream was to study public health in the United States. And finally, I made it! But the process was not easy. I had to read multiple websites in English during the application process, which overwhelmed me. You are not alone if you are struggling to get information about which school you can apply to.
International students do not always have the same page on the application. Some prospective international students are already in the United States, probably as undergraduate students. Other prospective international students have busy lives with their families and jobs outside the United States. They wonder how they spend their limited time on the application process.
First, you could think about the contents of the program. It is an essential perspective for anyone. What (specialty/department), how (in-person vs. online), or how long (1 year, 1.5 years, or 2 years) do you want to study? Rollins’s curriculum is perfect if you are new to public health (except EMPH). The non-EMPH MPH/MSPH curriculum does not require students to have working experiences before admission. Then, many students come directly from their undergraduate. You can study public health from scratch!
Before coming to Rollins, I worked as a physician in Japan for more than 7 years. I learned basic knowledge about public health at the medical school, but I chose Rollins because I wanted to spend more time re-learning public health from the basic levels in English and adjusting to a new life in the United States. I preferred the 2-year course to a shorter program (of other universities) because I could spend more time exploring public health field experiences and new out-of-campus experiences in the United States.
Second, you could think about Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is an off-campus work opportunity for F-1 Visa holders during degree programs. The important characteristic of the Rollins MPH program is Applied Practical Experience Program (APE). Rollins requires MPH students to have more than 200-hour practicums for graduation. Yes, it is a “required” component of the curriculum. If you visit Rollins with F-1 Visa, the requirement allows you to work off-campus, including CDC, in your first year. APE is required for all domestic/international students, and Rollins has many support systems to help students look for and apply for jobs. Rollins MPH programs help you learn not only in classrooms but also out of classrooms. (I am not a visa specialist; please make sure about the website for CPT Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students (emory.edu))
In my case, I am not an F-1 Visa holder, so the situation is a bit different. However, I am doing a CPT-ish thing for my APE. I am working with a part-time faculty at Rollins and collaborating with a dance studio in Atlanta to research motivation for physical activity for older people and people with disabilities. My APE supervisor is an Emory employee; I met her through my class instructor. What I want to say here is that faculties and instructors at Rollins help students have as good in-classroom and out-of-classroom experience as possible.
Third, you could also think about Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT gives F-1 Visa holders working experiences after graduation. It is typically up to 1 year, but some STEM programs allow you to have OPT longer (typically in total 3 years). Simply put, BIOS, EH, EPI related programs are recognized as STEM programs at Rollins. (Again, I am not a visa specialist; please make sure about the website for OPT Optional Practical Training (OPT) (emory.edu) and STEM Rollins School of Public Health | Information for International Applicants (emory.edu)) In Georgia, there are many OPT opportunities. Emory and CDC will be very popular OPT opportunities for international students. Emory has much ongoing research, so it won’t be hard to find one or two projects you are interested in when you graduate!
Again, I am not an F-1 Visa holder, so the situation is slightly different. However, I am now looking for a job for my OPT-ish thing. Rollins has a great Office of Career Development; they are awesome resources for students. Finding an ambassador blog about how students utilize Office of Career Development won’t be hard. The advisors are experts in guiding international students. I am happy to have their advice!
Fourth, Emory has many international students. In the class of 2024, 21 % of the cohort are international students based on the website Rollins School of Public Health | Information for International Applicants (emory.edu). Emory has an office that supports international students and scholars called ISSS International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) (emory.edu). Once you are admitted, you will have an ISSS advisor based on the first alphabet letter of your last name Find your student advisor (emory.edu). They are very helpful!
In my case, I talked with my ISSS advisor when I had questions about SSN (Social Security Number: when you work for paid jobs, you need to get SSN), and their advice was beneficial! If you are an F-1 Visa holder, you will contact your ISSS advisor about OPT/CPT.
Moreover, Rollins has more support resources for international students, including ESL classes (the instructor is fantastic!! I enjoyed her classes!!), academic writing centers, and a student organization for international students called RISA, etc.
It is a long blog. Still, I don’t think it is a comprehensive list of support systems for international students at Rollins. Emory and Rollins have other excellent resources to help international students. And the education at Rollins is exceptionally high-quality. Rollins will be a great fit if you are interested in these study environments!