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I'm currently deciding between doing an MPH in Biostatistics/Epidemiology at the University of Arizona vs. a MSPH at Johns Hopkins in the department of international health, with a concentration in global disease epidemiology and control (GDEC).

I'm well aware that JHU is pretty much the best there is, and that their network would be a huge asset. However, I would graduate with upwards of $40k in debt, whereas at UA, with in-state tuition I could graduate debt free.

I've also heard that graduates of biostatistics programs tend to do better in terms of salary than those of other public health fields, which makes me feel a little better about Arizona. The PH school is ranked #25, which I know is nothing close to #1, but it still isn't bad, right?

Is it worth it to take so much debt for a public health degree? I'm extremely concerned about this, since I know working in public health is not exactly the most lucrative field. I really want to be able to be debt free within 3 years or so of graduation.

Another concern I have is the international focus of JHU's program; while I would love to do work abroad, I would like to eventually be permanently based in the US because I'd like to raise a family here.

Does anyone have thoughts about whether this vast cost difference would be worth it, for access to JHU's network?
 

InquiringStudent

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I'm a little biased since I'm heading to JHU this fall but I think that JHU has a lot going for it in terms of alumni networking, resources, brand reputation, and career prospects. I don't think you'll hurt yourself going to either school but it really depends on what you're looking to get out of your education and what your long term goals are.

What are you more interested in? Out of those two programs which one interests you more? I don't mean look for which one gives the better salary, I mean which one do you see yourself going into as a career for the forseeable future? I also would strongly advise that you reach out to the programs and see if they can connect you with alumni that graduated. You might be able to get a better picture from speaking with individuals who have gone through the programs and their experiences and what sort of positions they currently hold.

I know for me I didn't pick JHU until I spent about a month really researching and asking all sorts of questions. I was speaking with the program director through email and a scheduled phone call about some of the questions I had as well as two alumni about where they were currently, how they got there, how helpful JHU had been in the process etc. I think if you do this, perhaps it'll help you figure out which of the two schools you really want to go to.

Also adressing the eventually being permanently based in the US, you won't have a problem with either school. JHU is well known internationally but is just as known here in the states, getting a job here won't be difficult.

I could be wrong but if you graduate from JHU and you make modest contributions to paying your 40k debt, I would think you could pay it off within 3-5 years. I could be wrong though, I haven't looked into MPH's as much since I'm going for an MHA. I know when it came to debt I was also worried. I was deciding between OSU and JHU. If I had gone to OSU it would be in-state tuition with a scholarship so I would essentially be graduating with less than 10-15k in debt compared to JHU which will be near 50k. The decision for me became a lot easier once I did my research and talked with the program director and individuals within the program or individuals who had graduated from there.

I'm not sure if this helped but I hope it did, if there is something else I can elaborate on or provide feedback on just let me know.

Congrats though on getting into both those schools :)
 

Oomph

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I'm currently deciding between doing an MPH in Biostatistics/Epidemiology at the University of Arizona vs. a MSPH at Johns Hopkins in the department of international health, with a concentration in global disease epidemiology and control (GDEC).

I'm well aware that JHU is pretty much the best there is, and that their network would be a huge asset. However, I would graduate with upwards of $40k in debt, whereas at UA, with in-state tuition I could graduate debt free.

I've also heard that graduates of biostatistics programs tend to do better in terms of salary than those of other public health fields, which makes me feel a little better about Arizona. The PH school is ranked #25, which I know is nothing close to #1, but it still isn't bad, right?

Is it worth it to take so much debt for a public health degree? I'm extremely concerned about this, since I know working in public health is not exactly the most lucrative field. I really want to be able to be debt free within 3 years or so of graduation.

Another concern I have is the international focus of JHU's program; while I would love to do work abroad, I would like to eventually be permanently based in the US because I'd like to raise a family here.

Does anyone have thoughts about whether this vast cost difference would be worth it, for access to JHU's network?

I went to UA for my MPH and have some thoughts on this. I graduated mostly debt free (I took a $4k loan to help w/ moving and initial expenses) from the program because I was able to get graduate assistantships the entire time, which covered tuition (still had to pay mandatory fees) and provided a small stipend. Tucson has a low cost of living (my partner and I rented a 2bdrm house for $750/mo) and you can live well on little. The UA biostatistics and epidemiology programs are solid foundations, but my impression was that there weren't as many advanced topics/seminars (it's a small college) as other universities could offer.

If your dream is global health, I'd hands down go to Hopkins--it's not even a comparison. Hopkins is a leader in global health and pull in more funding than any other university so you'll have more faculty doing global health there and more opportunities to do global health work. That said, there were several notable epi/bio professors at UA that do global health whom are great faculty to work with. I met a few Hopkins masters/MPH students while on a global health fellowship and I was very impressed by them (smart, hardworking, capable) and am sure you'll get a good education there too.

In terms of worth? I'm debt averse so I always tell people to avoid going into debt as much as possible. $40k isn't a whole lot of debt, but you'll feel the sting for a few years (but not forever), especially given the starting MPH salaries. My impression is that biostatisticians are always in demand and I know a lot of MPH biostats students who ended up with fairly decent jobs after the program and no debt--just get really good with a stats program (R/SAS/Stata) and develop an efficient workflow. Despite being a small COPH, I found the UA alumni network to be fairly good. I've been able to meet and get advice form alumni for various fellowships and post program jobs. Of course, JHU's alumni network is also very good. But sometimes it doesn't really matter--I've had a lot of success just cold calling people I've wanted to meet and most people in public health are good people who just want to help young up and comers.

Hope this helps.
 
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medception

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I am currently in the JHU MPH program, and I would have to disagree with the idea of going to JHU over UA, but not for the reason you might think - Biostatistics skills are in high demand in the public health world, not concentrations in global health, even at JHU. If you choose the JHU program, don't be surprised if your starting salary out of the program is <=60K (I don't care that they are a world leader - public health jobs do not pay that much to begin with, and without a defined set of skills it will be near impossible for you to negotiate).
 
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