Marie Diener-West, PhD, Chair of the MPH Program, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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Marie Diener-West, PhD, Chair of the MPH Program and Abbey-Merrell Professor of Biostatistics Education at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD joins us today to discuss public health education.

1. Can you tell us about the public health program(s) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health?

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg is the oldest and largest school of public health in the world and has consistently been ranked #1 by US News and World Report.  Current students benefit from the skills and experience of over 500 full-time faculty members from 10 departments who work on research and practice projects across the world as well as over 600-part time faculty.  There are 2,000 current students from over 80 nations enrolled in masters and doctoral degree programs.  These students join a network of more than 20,000 alumni.

Our full-time Master of Public Health (MPH) program provides 10 superb elective areas of concentration (child and adolescent health; epidemiologic and biostatistical methods for public health and clinical research; food, nutrition and health;  global environmental sustainability and health; health in crisis and humanitarian assistance; infectious diseases, health leadership and management, health systems and policy; social and behavioral sciences in public health; women’s and reproductive health)  as well as the opportunity for students to customize their elective choices to meet their individual goals and needs.

The part-time online MPH program has been in place for over 12 years; there are currently over 100 online course offerings and over 100 courses delivered in a face-to-face setting in condenses institute courses held in Baltimore, Washington DC, Barcelona and occasionally other locations.   The admissions requirements as well as curricular requirements are identical for full-time and part-time students.

2. How long does a typical public health master’s program take at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion for a MPH?

Our full-time on-campus MPH program is 11 months long, starting in July and ending in May.  Students enrolled in our part-time online program typically complete the program in 2 ½ years with a maximum completion time of 3 years.   Each year there are three time-periods at which students may matriculate into the part-time online program: June, November and January.   There is also flexibility for students to be enrolled either as part-time or full-time across the program period.

3. What do you think makes the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health public health program stand out from other programs in the country?

Our MPH program is a School-wide program and is not based in individual departments.  It benefits from the great diversity of research and public health practice being conducted by our faculty as well as the diversity of backgrounds and nationalities of our students.   Our School has over 60 multidisciplinary centers or institutes conducting research in topics ranging from health disparities, aging, and vaccines to gun policy, obesity and tobacco.  In addition, our inner city location in Baltimore plus geographic proximity to government agencies in the Washington DC area provides a rich source of opportunities for students to engage in public health practice, research and policy.

Our full-time dual degree programs greatly enrich our student body:  MSN/MPH, JD/MPH MSW/MPH and MBA/MPH.  Also, our 11-month program makes it possible for medical students to complete an MPH degree between their 3rd and 4th years of medical school.

One of our admissions criteria is that an MPH applicant must have at least two years of post-baccalaureate health experience.  Our students include a rich blend of experienced physicians, nurses, lawyers, community health workers, ministry of health officials, public health administrators, international aid workers, health educators, leaders of non-profit organizations, journalists, laboratory scientists and veterinarians, among others

4. What are the advantages to earning a Master in Public Health degree?

An MPH degree is a broad-based degree that equips students with the skills, knowledge and perspective in the core areas of public health in order to take a population approach to health and disease.   The degree enables individuals to define a problem, learn the scientific evidence, identify the types of actions that might be taken, and to develop skills to manage, intervene and communicate in an organizational setting.   Our graduates are in positions as health officers, policy and data analysts, and public health consultants in governmental, non-governmental, and private sector positions across the globe.

5. Does the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offer job placement for students who graduate in public health?

Our Office of Career Services provides career counseling for all students and alumni.  The office sponsors job fairs, help in preparing a resume, networking and interviewing, and provides an extensive database of public health jobs and internships.  The Office of Career Services works with our Office of Alumni Affairs to invite alumni speakers and career panels and sponsor receptions for current students and alumni.  A successful MPH alumni mentoring program was initiated two years ago to individually match current MPH students with alumni facilitating advice, networking, career development and counseling.

6. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in public health? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

All admitted applicants, both domestic and international, are considered for merit-based scholarships, some of which include full tuition and stipend.  Financial aid packages are available for US citizens and at least 80% of students receive some form of financial aid.   In addition, some scholarship support is available to applicants from countries with sponsorship by Fulbright, World Bank, USAID and other organizations.

7. What advice do you have for students who are considering public health for their graduate study?

There are so many ways in which an interested individual might begin to explore graduate studies in public health at our School.  As a first step, individuals might explore the free course content of many of our public health courses through our OpenCourseWare project  (http://ocw.jhsph.edu) or by taking mini-courses through Coursera  (https://www.coursera.org/#jhu).   In addition, there is the ability for a prospective student to begin taking up to 16 units of coursework as a non-degree student that can later be applied toward the total 80 units of our MPH degree program.  Non-degree students can also consider completing a certificate program at our School; the units earned toward a certificate may also be applied to the MPH degree.

8. What do you enjoy most about your position at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health?

In my position as Chair of the MPH program, I treasure the ability to meet talented, dedicated and passionate individuals from around the world who are dedicated to pursuing further education in public health in order to improve health and prevent disease and disability around the world.  The students provide a microcosm of public health professionals around the globe and it is such a thrill to see them thrive and contribute to our School.  But, it is even more of a thrill to learn of their future accomplishments.   They truly affirm our School’s slogan which is “Protecting Health, Saving Lives – Millions at a Time.”

For more information on the public health programs offered at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, visit them online:

Master of Public Health
http://www.jhsph.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-of-public-health

Certificate Programs for Degree and Non-Degree Candidates
http://www.jhsph.edu/academics/programs/certificates

OpenCourseWare Project
http://ocw.jhsph.edu

Coursera
https://www.coursera.org/#jhu

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