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I want to pursue my masters in public health

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Hi guys. I will soon obtain my bachelors degree in Human services and I am planning of going for my Masters in Public Health! I believe both of these fields are similar in a way. My question is, would I be able to go straight into a Public Health Masters program with an undergrad in Human Services?

Thank you for your help in advance!

#human-resources #social-work #public-health #social-services

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Jennifer’s Answer


Hi Alexis!

I read this as well as the other questions that you posted.

I agree with what the others posted, but I would also add the following:

If you're interested in one-on-one counseling, you may want to consider LICSW programs (as opposed to other forms of an MSW degree). Keep in mind that you'll need on-going continuing education, post-degree, both to obtain & maintain your license as well as a certain # of directly supervised professional work hours from an LICSW prior to qualifying for the designation, which tends to be state-specific (meaning if you plan to move around a bunch after you finish grad school, it's something to keep in mind). My understanding is that LICSW's are very much focused on providing tertiary treatment (meaning downstream, once there's already a concern that has arisen, be it medical or social environment-based

An MPH, by contrast, is very much population-based and typically the point of intervention is upstream, and is preventive-focused. The size and construct of the population may vary, but the interventions tend to be more broadly focused.

As far as I could tell, the demographic makeup of individuals that I knew who pursued MSW degrees, in particular the LICSW), by an overwhelming majority, had majored in psychology as an undergrad. I would say in some ways, an MPH (depending on the concentration), is more like a sociology degree (which is what I majored in as an undergrad) in that you're studying & trying to help larger groups of people, with a healthcare-focus.

If you do pick an MPH program, I would strongly recommend picking one that's accredited, especially since there had been talk for quite some time about ongoing continuing education, although at this time, my understanding is that's not the case. You can check out ASPH or CEPH for a list of schools,

From what I've read, it sounds like you may be interested in a socio-behavioral concentration within the MPH programs, so it'd be worth looking into those.

There was another person who articulated very well the types of people who pursue an MPH. If you're looking to use the MPH as a terminal degree --- as opposed to using it as a stepping stone to make you a more competitive applicant to something like med school or as a secondary graduate degree for someone already working in a medical capacity (specifically an existing clinician) with a technical degree ---, then I would highly recommend pursuing as many relevant practicum opportunities once you're in the program, as well as joining APHA.

APHA has an annual conference in November (?) every year, and the last day of the conference (usually a Wednesday), students who register beforehand are able to attend the expo for free (i.e., a great place to meet others & learn of postentia, relevant job opportunities,). I think Emory has a great listserv you can sign up for & BU has jobs listed as well.

Because both the MPH & MSW are considered professional terminating degrees (even if they're not ultimately used that way), financial aid can be a bit more challenging to obtain. Make sure you study well for your GRE's, volunteer where you can, & do your best to write great admissions essays.

Something else to consider is tuition remission & tuition reimbursement. Both are present at certain schools in Boston & I imagine, to an extent, elsewhere. In the case of tuition remission - you work as a FT employee at the university (perhaps in something unrelated to your current field of study, but that depends on what's available, what you get invited to interview for, etc.), and after you've worked there for a period of time (varies by institution), you qualify to take classes as a PT student, and provided that you get above a certain grade, a percentage of that tuition is covered. There are limitations on it, but it's definitely worth researching. It'll likely mean that it'll takenyou longer to complete grad school, but you're more likely to graduate with less debt.

The second option is tuition reimbursement, where you work FT for a university, pay for your PT classes up front, and then after you get above a certain grade, you apply to get a percentage of that coursework reimbursed.

There are pros & cons to both, and typically, a university (if it has such a program) will only offer one or the other. You'll want to do your research on which schools offer it, which type, & how much.

If you're interested in international relations at all, I think BU had an MPH program with an international development track where a number of Peace Corps volunteers either went into the MPH before or after & I want to say some of it was paid for or discounted, but I'm unsure.

BU, my alma mater, was also rare in that in grew from a night-school set-up, where it used to be that most of the people who were students worked elsewhere during the day (such as at a research institution), and took classes at night. I think that's the minority, though, and most schools of public health typically have daytime as opposed to evening classes.

Something else to consider - if you can find relevant work with your bachelors degree (such as at a hospital as a research assistant, etc.), some employers will also pay (usually via reimbursement) towards relevant coursework (here, you're graduate degree). I can't speak for everyone, but I want to say that those levels of reimbursement are lower than working for the university, itself, but that's highly dependent on the employer & any benefits they may offer.

Best of luck!