Interested in Public Health? Mila Taffe ’24 shares her experience applying for an MPH.

Applying to Public Health school, or graduate school in general can be especially daunting. As a senior finishing up this application cycle, below are some recommendations to make your application process smoother and less intimidating! 

The first step before applying to public health programs is to do your research. Public health is an extremely broad field with roles ranging from community health activists to infectious disease epidemiologists. An important question I recommend that you ask yourself before pursuing a Masters in Public Health (MPH), is what are you specifically passionate about when it comes to public health? This question, along with how your own health and lived experiences have contributed to this passion is a good stepping stone before deciding which programs are the best fit for you.

Now that you have an idea of what you want to pursue in public health, along with why, MAKE A LIST. This list will allow you to determine which program is best for you. Make a list with all your MPH programs of interest (between 5-10 is a good number to aim for) and their deadlines. Which departments or programs are the best fit for you? Which are more aligned with your future career aspirations? What are the program requirements? (GRE, transcripts, resume, letter of recommendation, etc.)? Here’s a good link from Knowlton Connect to help you stay organized with this process.

Write a strong personal statement. The majority of public health programs view your application holistically (not just your grades, test scores, and academic achievements), making your personal statement one of the most important components of your application. A strong personal statement will allow you to communicate who you are, elaborate on both personal and professional achievements, and why you would be a great addition to that particular program and the field of public health in general. Share who you are to a level that you are comfortable with–don’t be afraid of sharing things that have shaped you and your interest in public health.

Make an appointment with the Knowlton Center. There are many resources available where you can get help with reworking your resume to have it reflect skills that align with your public health goals, improve your personal statement and help with application fees. 

Submit your application early. While there may be multiple deadlines, programs are more inclined to consider applicants for merit based scholarships if their application is submitted by the priority deadline (sometimes as early as December 1st). After submission, and as you await your acceptance, this is where you can start thinking about funding. Apply to FAFSA and outside scholarship sources before committing. In the meantime, think about internships, fellowships and/or assistantships to further build on your experience in public health!

By Mila Taffe
Mila Taffe Peer Career Fellow: Social Impact, Education and Government