Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD RD, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD RD, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Gillings School of Global Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill joins us today to discuss public health education.

#1 Can you tell us about the public health program at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health?

The Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a long-standing leader in providing graduate public health education. Degrees offered include an undergraduate degree (BSPH); graduate academic degrees of master of science (MS) and doctor of philosophy (PhD); and graduate professional degrees of master of public health (MPH), master of science in public health (MSPH), master of healthcare administration (MHA), master of science in environmental engineering (MSEE), master of science in clinical research (MSRC) and doctor of public health (DrPH). We also have a number of dual degree programs with other schools in the University. All requirements for graduate degrees are administered by the faculty of the Gillings School of Global Public Health with the approval of the administrative board of the Graduate School.

#2 How long does a typical public health master’s program take at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion for a MPH?

On average, our MPH degrees can be completed within 24 months.

#3 What do you think makes UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health public health program stand out from other programs in the country?

We stand out from others due to our mission to improve public health, promote individual well-being, and eliminate health disparities across North Carolina and around the world. We bring about sustainable, positive changes in health by providing an outstanding program of research, teaching and service to:

  • Educate the next generation of public health leaders;
  • Discover, test and disseminate solutions to health threats and problems;
  • Translate research into effective practices and sound policies; and
  • Serve North Carolina and beyond through outreach, engagement, education of citizens and health professionals, and application of solutions to health threats and problems.

According to U.S. News & World Report’s current rankings, the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC is ranked the number two school of public health in the country (U.S. News & World Report, 2011). We are the top public school of public health. In addition, several departments have excellent rankings, including Nutrition, which is ranked among the top percentile in the NRC doctoral programs and Health Policy and Management’s master’s program, which recently was ranked second in online degree programs of this kind by U.S. News & World Report. ESE is ranked in the top engineering programs even though UNC does not have a school of engineering.

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#4 What are the advantages to earning a Master’s in Public Health degree?

The Master of Public Health (MPH) program is designed to prepare individuals for positions that require broad knowledge of public health as well as specialized knowledge in each discipline within the school (biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental sciences and engineering, health behavior, health policy and management, nutrition, maternal and child health, and public health leadership).

Our MPH graduates are exceptionally prepared to become part of the public health work force to face the demands and challenges associated with the present public health issues both globally and local such as obesity, clean water, HIV prevention and treatment, and quality of health care to name a few.

#5 Does UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health offer job placement for students who graduate in public health?

UNC’s University Career Services collaborates with our Office of Student Affairs to provide career counseling and job placement services for our students, including a 50% FTE staff member. In addition, Health Policy and Management has staff dedicated to providing its students tailored career and professional development services. In the remaining departments, student services staff offer assistance with internship and career placement. Our faculty members play a vital role in advising students about career opportunities and specific placements.

Throughout the School, career counseling includes workshops and individual advice on identifying public health careers, interviewing effectively, creating resumes and other job-related correspondence, effectively negotiating benefits packages, etc. Career placement services include programs that connect students with alums, providing Career and Internship Fairs, connecting individual students with potential employers, etc. University Career Services also supports a database of jobs, internships, and other opportunities that students access via our website. Finally, the Office of Student Affairs and the departments also support programs organized by our student organizations that focus on career development and placement opportunities.

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

The university provides estimated costs of attendance to help undergraduate and graduate students anticipate charges and expenses while attending UNC. Please visit this website, which features tuition and fees, important financial dates, a guide to charges on a student’s bill and student billing-related practices. If you have questions, please contact the departmental student services staff person who supports the program that you are interested in.

Types of financial aid

“Gift money” awarded on the basis of academic achievement or a combination of merit and financial need.

“Gift money” from School, University, and other funds awarded to support research or training opportunities and based on merit and/or need.

Money earned in return for work contributions via a variety of mechanisms or settings, including fellowships, community service agencies, or off-campus jobs.

  • Careerolina University Career Services job database
    (Incoming students will be given access in September.)

Money borrowed from University or federal loan programs or other lenders.

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

I advise them to get some real world experience in public health before coming to our school.  This experience serves to ground them in the field and allows them to be more focused when they come into our academic setting.

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#8 What do you enjoy most about your position at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health?

I enjoy my involvement with a prestigious yet collegial group of faculty in providing the best academic programs to our outstanding students in order to make them as successful as possible in whatever career path they take in the future.

For more information on the public health programs offered at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, visit them online

Thank you Anna Maria, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!

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