Milken Institute School of Public Health
Gillings School of Global Public Health
A master’s of public health, or MPH, is a highly desirable degree for people who are both interested in health care and in helping the public. People who work in public health are focused on preventing health problems before they occur, so this is becoming a very popular way to control costs in the health care systems around the world. The demand for public health professionals, therefore, is booming.
This means that the competition to be admitted to the top master’s of public health programs is intense. Requirements for admission will vary, but most MPH programs in the U.S. will have rigorous requirements similar to those outlined below.
Also, you will find that most public health programs in the United States have a similar mission. For example, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health mission is to provide a top-rate educational program in public health so graduates can become leaders in public health. Also, their goal is to conduct the best quality research on important public health issues, and to collaborate with local groups and health providers to create the best programs that will respond to community needs.
Most MPH programs are designed to be completed in two years, although there are some programs that may be completed in one year. Also, many MPH programs can be completed entirely online.
A typical MPH admissions process includes:
Most MPH programs now have an online admissions application that you must submit, and it includes your resume and personal statement. In most programs, you will need to choose early on which concentration that you want for your MPH. Generally, concentrations include biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy, population/family health and socioemedical science. The earlier you choose which concentration you want for your MPH, the more likely that you will be able to complete your degree in two years, which is the typical program duration.
You should send in an official transcript of every college that you have attended and wrote in your application. Many top MPH programs do not have an exact cut off point on GPA, but most of the top applicants to the best programs are going to have a 3.3 GPA or better.
If you have a lower GPA, you are going to want to address this with an additional statement that you can include with your standard personal statement.
Letters of Recommendation
Usually you will need three letters that are both professional and academic in nature. Recommendation forms generally are found online with the application materials.You should select recommendations from people who are the most familiar with your academic and professional achievements. Keep in mind that being admitted into top tier public health programs is very difficult, and you need to have a top application to be considered for admission.
Standardized Test Scores
You will need to have test scores from one of these tests: GRE, MCAT, GMAT or LSAT. If you are not able to demonstrate strong quantitative skills, you will have trouble being admitted into top MPH programs. You may be able to have your application reviewed without test scores, IF you have earned another advanced degree. You may be putting yourself at a disadvantage, however, when compared to other MPH applicants.
You will probably need to have completed college coursework in mathematics (calculus or algebra), general biology, and any health-related science. You also should have some bachelor’s degree courses in public health education, psychology, human development and foreign languages.
Generally, you should have two years of full-time health-related experience in the workplace. This may be waived in some instances when you are applying for an MPH combined with another degree. Your CV should include the degrees that you have; your full employment history; all public health-related experiences; your professional accomplishments and skills; and any volunteer activities that you have that are related to public health.