Getting Into the Program of Your Choice

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1 Getting Into the Program of Your Choice Michele Moutappa, PhD 1 Jasmeet Gill, PhD 2 Graduate Adviser 1, MPH Search Committee Chair 2 Department of Health Science California State University, Fullerton Outline How do you choose a school? Application requirements Timeline for application Application review 1

2 Things to consider when choosing a public health degree program How long will it take to complete the degree? What are the degree requirements? Internship hours Comprehensive exam/thesis/ or something else? Elective units (number of units) Availability of and flexibility in taking elective courses Core class units (number of units) Things to consider when choosing a public health degree program Where are graduates placed? Statistics sometimes available on program websites What is sought from applicants? Work experience Research opportunities? Availability of financial aid 2

3 Preparing a Successful Application Criteria varies across different schools and programs (even departments within a school) Important components: Statement of purpose Letters of recommendation (need > 1 academic) GRE Resume Undergraduate GPA (and courses completed) Experience (employment, volunteer) Statement of purpose Often you are provided with a prompt This is your opportunity to tell your story Focus on WHY you are interested in public health as a career The reader should have a clear idea of why you want to get an MPH versus any other degree Avoid using general phrases I want to help people or catch phrases disease prevention is the key to a healthier life 3

4 Statement of purpose Your statement makes a strong impression on the admissions committee Stronger than recommendation letters Have a professor or academic advisor read your letter and provide input NO grammar or spelling errors (spellcheck doesn t catch everything) Write a generic statement, or make sure the statement has the correct university s name Letters of recommendation Often three letters are required The majority should be academic letters, unless you have extensive work experience, or you have been out of school for many years For example: If you graduated one year ago, but all your letters are from work or internship supervisors, it reflects poorly 4

5 Letters of recommendation Should ask a professor you feel comfortable with and who knows you Ideally, you should have done well in his/her class Ask for the letter well in advance of application deadlines Ask the professor in person, or send a very professional and polite Letters of recommendation Once you have three people willing to write you a letter, set an appointment to meet Come prepared; have your: Purpose statement Resume Program names, addresses, self addressed and stamped envelopes, and deadlines Recommendation forms (if the program requires they be filled out) Directions for online forms/links 5

6 Letters of recommendation: Meeting with the letter writer This meeting is your chance to share your public health goals with the letter writer. This is also the appropriate time to discuss any anomalies in your grades and your extracurricular/service activities while you were a student. For example, did you work 2 jobs and take a full course load? Did someone in your family become ill and need care? Etc. You don t want to make excuses, but you do want to explain legitimate circumstances and pressures. Letters of recommendation You are responsible for making sure the letter writer finishes the letter in time Ask the letter writer how best to remind them of due dates 6

7 General Record Exam (GRE) If a GRE is required, you need to sign up for a time to take the exam Take a preparatory course or buy a preparatory workbook Resume If a resume is required, make sure you have a professional resume: No spelling or grammar errors Professional address provided is not professional) Campus career centers can help with resume formatting and often will provide feedback 7

8 Work Experience An MPH is a professional degree, not an academic degree (like an MS or MA) Therefore, many programs require students to have or give preference to students who have relevant work experience If it is volunteer or internship hours, need to show you have gone above and beyond your required hours/duties Timeline for application Summer before you apply: Do internet web searches for MPH programs Learn about each program and make a list of programs you want to apply to Sign up for GRE, if required Start thinking about who you want to write your recommendation letters 8

9 Timeline for application Early in the Fall when you apply: Ask people for recommendation letters, at least 8 weeks in advance Create drafts of your purpose statement and have people review them Order transcripts to be sent to the programs you are applying to Timeline for application Late in the Fall when you apply: Make sure your letter writers have written your letter by the due date Possibly visit campuses Ask to meet students who are currently enrolled 9

10 Applying to Graduate Schools Accredited Schools of Public Health Usually apply through SOPHAS: Schools of Public Health Application Service (www.sophas.org) May apply to many Schools of Public Health by filing one application through SOPHAS Additional cost for each additional School applying to Many or most Schools also require small supplemental application filed with them (modest additional fee) Public health programs: individual application required Application Review Process Apply to specific specialization & degree Completed applications forwarded to Admissions Committee of specific department Review all documents Independent recommendations made Chair of committee makes final decision Application deadlines vary across schools Check each school or program for dates CSUF deadline: February 15 10

11 GOOD LUCK!! 11

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