Pursuing public health programmes in USA

Students should research accredited colleges and universities that offer public health programmes in the US.

Welcome back, readers, to our weekly column DestinationUSA. In our series on popular fields of studies, we have been discussing public health programmes in the United States.

In the last column, we learned about public health, career options in the field, programmes of study in public health at undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States, and available specialisations. We also looked into the differences between research-focused and professional programmes in the field.

Today, we discuss coursework options in public health programmes, things to keep in mind while shortlisting the programme, and application procedures.

The coursework generally focuses on subjects such as epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, health policy, health management, health administration, and behavioural health. In addition, based on the specialisation chosen for their degree programme, students enrol in optional coursework in their field of specialisation. For example, a student pursuing a biostatistics specialisation may choose courses on data collection, survey methods, etc. Research-focused programmes also have a thesis requirement.

When applying for public health programmes in the US, like any other programme, students should research accredited colleges and universities that offer these programmes. The US Department of Education publishes the database of accredited programmes and institutions at https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home and the Department of Homeland Security at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search.

In addition, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency that is recognised by the US Department of Education to accredit public health programmes and provide information about the accredited schools and programmes of public health. Students may find more information at https://ceph.org/about/org-info/who-we-accredit/accredited/

Further, students applying for a research-based masters or PhD programmes should review literature and explore the research interests of the faculty in the public health departments at a few prominent US institutions. This will help students in identifying institutions, departments, and faculty that match their research interests and accordingly choose the best-fit programme for their application.

The application process for public health programmes varies by institution. At the undergraduate level, the application process commonly involves an online application, essays, recommendation letters, official transcripts, SAT score (if required), English language proficiency, and a financial statement. For graduate-level programmes, students should submit the online application, a statement of purpose, resume/CV, reference letters, bachelor’s programme transcripts (also master’s transcript for PhD applicants), GRE score (if required), and English language proficiency.

Many graduate-level programmes use a common application SOPHAS (https://sophas.org/) that allows students to apply to multiple institutions and public health programmes through one application.

Students should check the application requirements of their shortlisted universities before registering for any test and submitting their applications. If a student is looking for funding support, they should submit their applications earlier than the regular deadline.

– Monika Setia, Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the US – India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate-General, Hyderabad


Q1. I plan to apply for MS in the US. Where can I find financial information? – Shruti.

Financial information can be found on the admissions page of the university or on the ‘office of the bursar’ webpage on the university website (bursar is the office of budget and finance at a university). Make sure to take note of both the tuition fee and other additional costs, including the cost of living. Also, make note of whether the tuition is for residents or non-residents (as an international student, you will be paying the non-resident fee). Financial support may also be made available by some universities, and this information can be found on the financial aid page of the institutions. The department webpage also carries information on whether they offer financial support.
You may also refer to websites https://educationusa.state.gov/your-5-steps-us-study/finance-your-studies, www.fundingusstudy.org, and www.finaid.org for further information about financing your studies in the US.

Q2. If I want to apply for MS degree at a US university, what are the deadlines for applications? – Niranjan.

Each institution sets its deadlines, and it is usually firm about not accepting applications after that time, particularly if a college is very popular. There are two common application cycles for the US – Fall semester starting August/September and Spring semester starting January/February. For Fall semester, deadlines for applications are generally between October and March and for Spring semester, between July and September. If, however, a college indicates that it operates “rolling admissions,” late applicants may still have a fair chance of acceptance. It is nonetheless a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible, especially if you want to be considered for financial support. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents, application forms, references, and official score reports reach the universities safely and on time.

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