PhD in Epidemiology - How Important is your MPH Institution?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Full Member
7+ Year Member
Oct 29, 2015
Reaction score
Hello all,

I was accepted into JHSPH, Emory, Columbia, BU, and CUNY, all in MPH programs concentrating in Epidemiology. I love the field and I'm 80% sure I'd like to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology someday. I am wondering how important is the rank/name brand of the institution you received your MPH in, in order to get into a well-ranked, fully-funded PhD program?

I ask this because I am leaning towards getting my MPH at CUNY (which is not a well-known public health school), as to save costs. Would this hurt my chances of eventually getting into PhD? What if I am able to do Epidemiology research on the side, and show sincere interest in the field?

Please let me know your thoughts. I would love to go to Johns Hopkins or Emory and gain a world-class education, but the price tag of $60,000 coupled with the additional minimal income once I am getting my PhD is deterring me from going to a highly-ranked school.


Members don't see this ad.


Life Afficianado
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2009
Reaction score
I can't say definitely one way or another, but here's my experience:

Going to a bigger school gives you the opportunity to work with (I'm assuming) more areas of research as the bigger schools tend to have more faculty and more research going on (compared to a CUNY where I assume many professors have primary appointments as teaching faculty). This will allow you to explore more avenues of what type of research you'd like to do. If you already have picked out someone you want to work with at CUNY, this may not matter.

My adviser during my PhD told me during admissions that if two candidates are similar and their interviews were almost the same, they'll give the nod to the person that went to the better program. But in the end, the better candidates will be gaining admission, regardless of previous institution.

I often believe that people that go to elite institutions aren't necessary setting you up for life, but rather that ambitious people tend to chose the elite institutions in higher numbers.

Something that may change your perspective: many people may get their MPH from the same institution as their PhD. If you want to go to JHU or Emory for your PhD, going to their MPH certainly would be a big help in admissions to their own programs. I know many people in this boat. MPH and PhD from the same place. You know the methods, you know the professors, and you can make a very positive impression on them.