betshsu

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I'm looking for advice beyond the standard US News and World Report rankings regarding MPH schools. Here is the debate:

Hopkins
UNC (epidemiology)
Berkeley (interdisplinary)
Harvard

I've been officially accepted to Hopkins and UNC, unofficially to Berkeley, and have yet to hear from Harvard.

Here is quick summary my situtation: I need to be finished my MPH by June 2006 (extending into the summer of 2006 is doable, but not an ideal option). I am interested in how biotechnology can be used for the improvement of healthcare in under-served communities and developing countries (background is in biomedical engineering).

Curious if anyone has any strong feelings about the above schools. I definitely need a school with a strong biostatistics/epidemiology program (will probably continue in a research-oriented career--but I don't necessarily want to concentrate in epi), but I am also interested in international health, etc. I was told that Hopkins probably has the best reputation internationally, Harvard is strong in domestic policy (and would be the place to go if I wanted a government job), UNC is good overall but doesn't really have a strong international reputation, and Berkeley would probably be second on my list for international health.

Thanks for any thoughts.
 

atsai3

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betshsu said:
Here is quick summary my situtation: I need to be finished my MPH by June 2006 (extending into the summer of 2006 is doable, but not an ideal option). I am interested in how biotechnology can be used for the improvement of healthcare in under-served communities and developing countries (background is in biomedical engineering).

Curious if anyone has any strong feelings about the above schools. I definitely need a school with a strong biostatistics/epidemiology program (will probably continue in a research-oriented career--but I don't necessarily want to concentrate in epi), but I am also interested in international health, etc. I was told that Hopkins probably has the best reputation internationally, Harvard is strong in domestic policy (and would be the place to go if I wanted a government job), UNC is good overall but doesn't really have a strong international reputation, and Berkeley would probably be second on my list for international health...
If you are going for the MPH/MS/MSPH as a terminal degree (i.e., don't plan on advancing to a PhD/DrPH/DSc), then picking Hopkins or Harvard as the program with the shiny brand name would be a good way to go. They will be the most easily recognized if you plan on working abroad. It's not a bad idea for physicians who want to "do international health" to go the Harvard 9-month or Hopkins 12-month program, even if they end up not learning much, because -- much like business school -- they pick up connections and a brand name.

I don't know about UNC's international reputation, but its reputation in the U.S. is outstanding. In terms of health services research and epidemiology, many faculty (I'm only speaking from my experience, probably with a sample size less than 20) would rate its trainees as better prepared than Harvard and Hopkins grads. At the AcademyHealth Annual Meetings, UNC students are all over the place.

If you're going to apply to work for a U.S.-based organization that does international work, my guess is that UNC's lack of "global recognition" won't hamper you too much in terms of finding a job.

I don't know much about Berkeley's program.

-AT.
 
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betshsu

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Interesting that some think that UNC grads are better prepared than Harvard or Hopkins. I don't doubt UNC's reputation at all. The biggest drawback to the UNC program is that it is a two year program that I will have to complete in 12 months because of time constraints (an outside fellowship is paying for my degree). The MPH is most definitely a terminal degree for me; I've already got my PhD. You really think that people don't learn much in the Hopkins program? I have heard that Harvard would be the place to go to "meet important people." Hmmm, more to ponder...
 

atsai3

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betshsu said:
Interesting that some think that UNC grads are better prepared than Harvard or Hopkins. I don't doubt UNC's reputation at all. The biggest drawback to the UNC program is that it is a two year program that I will have to complete in 12 months because of time constraints (an outside fellowship is paying for my degree). The MPH is most definitely a terminal degree for me; I've already got my PhD. You really think that people don't learn much in the Hopkins program? I have heard that Harvard would be the place to go to "meet important people." Hmmm, more to ponder...
Oh, I didn't know you already had a Ph.D. Is it in a technical background? In that case I would suggest going with Harvard or Hopkins.

In general, I would question how much epidemiology/biostatistics/public health one could learn in 9 or 12 months. If it were your first degree, say, you would have time to take: intro epi I/II, intro biostats I/II, and that leaves room for 4 more classes (assuming the standard 4/semester) and the capstone project. Not enough time to make it to the more advanced methodology classes, and definitely not enough time to complete a research-oriented capstone of note (or a genuine community-based health related capstone, for that matter).

That would be my opinion. Lots of varying opinions out there on this issue, and as with everything else you read on this board, take everything with a grain of salt.

I know you just told me that you've already applied for this cycle and that a fellowship is paying for your education, but there are other programs to consider for a similarly styled education. For example, MPA at Harvard's Kennedy School, MPP at Princeton/Woodrow Wilson School, MALD at Tufts/Fletcher School. The focus is a bit different (although not really, since these programs are all flexible enough that you can just pick coursework to reflect your own unique focus), but the concept is the same -- spend a year taking classes with interesting people from different backgrounds and different countries, learn a little bit about public health and public policy (and, depending, maybe learn a little something about research), and have fun...
 
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betshsu

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Yup, my PhD is in biomedical engineering, so I guess that counts as a technical field :).

9-12 months is a really short time. The one advantage I see of Hopkins over Harvard is that the Hopkins program is 11 months, and broken down into summer term plus 4 terms during the school year (true quarter system), which translates into a lot more classes (well, I guess this is an advantage... I vastly prefer the quarter system as well, though I guess it was really the trimester system when I did since summer counted as a quarter). I just don't want to be blinded by the name and miss the advantages of other programs that might not have the rep of Hopkins or Harvard but have a lot more substance.

The other programs you talk about sound interesting... but I'm committed to doing my MPH in the 2005-2006 year, and it has to be an MPH because of this fellowship (at an accredited school). Thanks for the input!