Please help! GW vs UNC online vs UMD online

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Based on my pros/cons, which program do you think is my best option?

  • GW

    Votes: 5 100.0%
  • UNC

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Maryland

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

rap15

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Hello all - I am looking for any and all advice about how I should go about choosing where to get my MPH!

A bit of background:
  • I decided to only apply to programs that were local (I live/work near DC) and would let me keep working at my full time job
  • I work in healthcare consulting, primarily on projects about Medicare and Veteran/military health. I do not see myself staying in consulting long-term, or at least not consulting for Medicare (may look into consulting firms that have contracts in other areas of HHS).
  • I would prefer to work at a federal agency, state health department, or non-profit in the future
  • I’m really interested in women’s health policy, contraceptive access, reproductive rights, Medicaid, etc.


George Washington University - Maternal and Child Health (could potentially change to health policy but take MCH classes as electives)
  • General:
    • In-person program; classes are late afternoon/evening so would not affect work
    • Would graduate by May 2023 (goal)
  • Pros:
    • Classes sound SO cool. I got excited just looking through the list!
    • In-person program enables me to actually meet other students, professors, etc.
    • Highly ranked program with great DC connections
    • Got a tiny bit of merit aid (still waiting on need-based aid…)
  • Cons:
    • Very expensive. Even with my full time job/salary, I’d likely still need to take out loans. If I calculated everything correctly, I think I’ll add on about $30k in debt after the program is done (I have about $17k in student loans from undergrad right now).
    • Choosing GW would tie me to living in DC until May 2023, and I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do. For the other programs, I could “take school with me” wherever I move.


University of North Carolina, online MPH - Health Policy
  • General:
    • Same courses that the in-person health policy students take
    • Would be able to graduate by either December 2022 or May 2023.
  • Pros:
    • UNC is very highly ranked and the name carries a lot of respect. The final degree would not say anything about it being an online program.
    • Designed for working professionals. Classes only meet for about an hour each week - live video chats with no more than 15 students in the class. The rest of course work is done on your own time.
    • If I move, school can move with me
  • Cons:
    • Very expensive and they offer absolutely no aid. Similar to GW, I’d probably leave with $30k in debt.
    • Unclear what the electives are but it’s unlikely that any focus on women’s/maternal health policy. I suppose I can choose projects that focus on that but would prefer classes dedicated to the subject.


University of Maryland, online MPH - Behavioral and Community Health
  • General:
    • UMD also has an online MPH in Public Health Policy and Practice but that curriculum had no room for electives, which I think are important. Therefore, I applied to the BCH program instead.
    • I do not know as much about their online program. I know it’s the same courses, but not sure what platform they use and what time the classes start (although I know they are late afternoon/evening)
    • Would be able to graduate by either December 2022 or May 2023.
  • Pros:
    • Cheapest program BY FAR. I could probably graduate without taking on any additional debt.
    • May be able to take a women’s health class (not sure of electives yet). Definitely will be able to learn about it, given how important women’s health is in the world of community health
    • If I move, school could move with me
  • Cons:
    • UMD is ranked in the 30s and their name does not carry as much respect as GW or UNC.
    • Might be able to take some policy elective classes, but the program is not policy-focused

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CarissasWeird

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Why are you going to grad school? That is, are you going only for classes and the diploma, or do you also value the connections? If you need connections (which most people going to grad school likely do) I'd highly recommend going to an in-person program. While expensive, I think GWU isn't prohibitively so, debt-wise, and the rule of thumb is to be making more than your debt with your first year salary out of grad school. Given that you have consulting experience, I think you can easily break 50K of debt.
 

rap15

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@CarissasWeird thank you for the reply! I was thinking last night about how much I will value those connections that I can probably only get from an in-person program. While I'm not looking for a new job now, I might feel differently in the midst of or at the end of my program, and having connections with professors, alumni, etc. will be useful.

I've wanted my MPH for years for a few reasons - to have the degree/letters after my name, yes, but also because I love learning about public health and want to shift to a more public health-y career (consulting is very business related, and I would like to break out from that).

I like my job now, so I don't see myself having any worries about being unemployed post-graduation... I guess my biggest concern is if I'll regret taking on that extra debt when I could have gone to Maryland and graduated debt-free.
 

CarissasWeird

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@CarissasWeird thank you for the reply! I was thinking last night about how much I will value those connections that I can probably only get from an in-person program. While I'm not looking for a new job now, I might feel differently in the midst of or at the end of my program, and having connections with professors, alumni, etc. will be useful.

I've wanted my MPH for years for a few reasons - to have the degree/letters after my name, yes, but also because I love learning about public health and want to shift to a more public health-y career (consulting is very business related, and I would like to break out from that).

I like my job now, so I don't see myself having any worries about being unemployed post-graduation... I guess my biggest concern is if I'll regret taking on that extra debt when I could have gone to Maryland and graduated debt-free.

I'd consider reaching out to all three schools and asking to be put in contact with some former students, especially for the online programs, to see if students were satisfied. Debt sucks, but school is also a good investment a lot of the time!
 
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