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Yale vs Columbia vs Emory (Epi global health)

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lepursuit

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Hello,

I was accepted into the following programs and am trying to decide which one is best for me:

Yale - MPH Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Global Health concentration
Columbia - MPH Epidemiology, Global Health concentration
Emory - MPH Epidemiology, Global Health concentration (currently under review for switching into their global epidemiology program)

I plan to pursue a career dealing with international sustainable development and the control and prevention of infectious diseases. My research interests are mainly in rural community healthcare infrastructure development, international emerging infectious diseases, and safe drinking water (household or community systems). I intend to get a PhD in public health (haven't narrowed down the exact field yet) and work in international projects either in academia or professional route (CDC, UN, WHO, well-funded NGOs etc.)

All three programs and curriculum are great. I haven't received financial aid info yet. Here's my pros and cons so far:

Yale:
pros - prestigious reputation, highly selective, small class size, intimate student-faculty relationships, tailored MPH program with infectious diseases focus, great faculty, great connections (NYPHD, unsure which ones specifically but international), very welcoming to students, great reputation for their PhD programs, Ivy League
cons - small school within medical school, small faculty size compared to other schools so the reach in research interests is limited, faculty research interests did not directly match mine (from what I've read on the website), I've heard the Global Health program is relatively new and small, low ranking in US News, seems to be more academic than practical approach in terms of research, expensive

Columbia:
pros - prestigious reputation, big city location which I like, lots of things to explore in the city, great faculty, great connections (Earth Institute, WHO, CDC(?), and international organizations), high ranking, faculty research interests match mine (somewhat limited though), well established international presence (from what I hear), good PhD programs, Ivy League
cons - large class sizes, I got the impression that professors are hard to access which may impede my ability to build relationships with them, seems to be more academic than practical approach in terms of research, haven't been as welcoming to admitted students compared to the other two schools, expensive (and city is expensive)

Emory:
pros - good reputation in public health epidemiology field, great faculty (many are retired CDC leaders), medium/large class sizes, very welcoming to admitted students, high ranking, great connections (CDC, Carter Center, CARE, Center for Global Safe Water), lower program cost and housing cost, faculty research interests match mine, well established global health program, seems to have a practical approach in research
cons - location is not ideal, not much to do in that area, not very well known outside of public health (which may come into play if I get a PhD here and collaborate with people who aren't in public health), CDC positions are more available for work study students but not so much for non-funded students, PhD program doesn't have as good of a reputation as Yale or Columbia

All three programs teach proficiency in SAS and have a good public health foundation. They all offer summer practicum placement per your interests and offer some funding to selected students. All three have esteemed faculty, research facilities, alumni network and connections (from what I see).

This list is mainly from looking through their website and talking with people, so please let me know if I am wrong on any of my impressions! Any input or advice would be most helpful in my decision. Thanks and I look forward to the comments!
 
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milosavljevic

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Emory:
pros - good reputation in public health epidemiology field, great faculty (many are retired CDC leaders), medium/large class sizes, very welcoming to admitted students, high ranking, great connections (CDC, Carter Center, CARE, Center for Global Safe Water), lower program cost and housing cost, faculty research interests match mine, well established global health program, seems to have a practical approach in research
cons - location is not ideal, not much to do in that area, not very well known outside of public health (which may come into play if I get a PhD here and collaborate with people who aren't in public health), CDC positions are more available for work study students but not so much for non-funded students, PhD program doesn't have as good of a reputation as Yale or Columbia

Emory is one of my top choices, and I was just wondering where you found information about it not being well known outside of public health. I am from CA, and I hope to eventually move back to CA after my MPH. If I end up deciding on Emory, the thought of trying to get a job if not many people in CA know what Emory is all about (let alone where it is located) is slightly unnerving to me. How much of a factor do you think this subject should play into one's decision about the school?
 

lepursuit

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Emory is one of my top choices, and I was just wondering where you found information about it not being well known outside of public health. I am from CA, and I hope to eventually move back to CA after my MPH. If I end up deciding on Emory, the thought of trying to get a job if not many people in CA know what Emory is all about (let alone where it is located) is slightly unnerving to me. How much of a factor do you think this subject should play into one's decision about the school?

Hi milosavljevic, sorry if I misled you! Emory is a very well known and excellent school of public health. They are very well known in the field of public health. I work in the state health department and collaborate with CDC and Emory is a well recognized school. I don't think this would play a factor if you plan to work mainly within the public health sector. In fact, the public health workers all recognize Emory as an excellent public health school and many Emory alumni have gotten jobs at the state.

I had made the comment in regards to a potential career that might involve me interacting with people who aren't in the public health field (and also international folks). In that case, Emory generally doesn't ring a bell as quickly as Yale and Columbia (in the general sense). Since I plan to work at a doctorate level in international work that might involve me working in a interdisciplinary team, I'm guessing the name Emory would not be as highly respected compared to Yale and Columbia.
 

emilymr

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I'm in the same boat! (minus Yale, and I was accepted to Global Epi at Emory).

I spoke to a few students at both Emory and Columbia, and the impression that I've gotten is that Emory is a lot more 'nurturing', i.e. the professors are more open to taking students for research, and earlier on. With the Global Program at Columbia, we would have to do 44 credits in 3 semesters, doing the practicum abroad with a 1-credit computer course. (Let me know and I can post a longer summary of the emails from the students at each school)

I've heard that Atlanta is actually a pretty cool city - I guess Decatur (close to Emory) has a lot of great restaurants, etc. It's pretty transient, so a lot of the people you meet aren't actually from Georgia and don't plan on living there permanently. Also, my friend said that the public transportation system is shady, so you really need to rely on a car, which you would have to factor into your living expenses.

For me, I'm leaning towards Columbia for more personal reasons - I was a Peace Corps Volunteer up until a few months ago, so being close to home (New Jersey) is a big plus. Besides, after living alone in a village for two years I might not need the friendlier environment of Emory... maybe? However, I'm still waiting on financial aid (any idea when that comes out?) to make my decision.

Thanks for starting this thread!
 

mphmd

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Yes - this a great thread :)

Which is a better MPH program - Columbia for Sociomedical Sciences or Emory for Behavioral Science/Health Education?

I'm graduating with a BA in psychology in May, and I plan to go to med school after my MPH.

Columbia gave me a merit scholarship for $10K each year but money isn't an issue. I'm leaning towards Emory right now because of CDC opportunities and better weather/location... but Columbia definitely has the Ivy advantage.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!
 

lepursuit

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I'm in the same boat! (minus Yale, and I was accepted to Global Epi at Emory).

I spoke to a few students at both Emory and Columbia, and the impression that I've gotten is that Emory is a lot more 'nurturing', i.e. the professors are more open to taking students for research, and earlier on. With the Global Program at Columbia, we would have to do 44 credits in 3 semesters, doing the practicum abroad with a 1-credit computer course. (Let me know and I can post a longer summary of the emails from the students at each school)

Yes, I'm interested in hearing more about the differences in credits. I looked over the curriculum and they seemed the same but I didn't do a very detailed look into credits per semester or things like that. Could you post it up or email (or pm) me?

I've heard similar comments about how Emory is more 'nurturing' to its students. I definitely get this sense from the admitted students resources. A comment someone made in response was that Columbia is situated in new york, so the 'new york way' of doing things is more of the go-getter type of attitude where those who persist aggressively get more opportunities. This somewhat appeals to me since I would like to 'harden' my spirit and be more upfront/aggressive. When I spoke with Columbia, they mentioned that they have large class sizes (for intro and general methods courses) and TAs are very helpful in teaching students. Anyone know if it's the same thing in Emory?

The family factors comes in for me too since I have family in New York that would be nice to be close to. I'm also from the city originally so it would be nice to get to know my hometown more since I moved away when I was a child.

I called emory (or columbia..?) and asked about financial aid and they said I should be expecting something soon. They suggested that I can email the financial aid office if I wanted to know sooner. I figured I'll wait another week and then contact them if I really feel the need to.

Still pretty torn between these three great schools..

Anyone know if you can do a master's thesis that's unrelated to specific faculty research? I've heard that it's possible but more difficult to find individual funding via grants. In particular, I notice that many of Yale and Columbia's research interests seem molecular based epi research which doesn't really appeal to me.

You mentioned that Emory takes students into research studies sooner. Does that imply that Columbia doesn't? I've read a comment elsewhere that Yale professors generally take students after the first year. Can anyone speak to this? I would really like to start doing research for a professor by my first year (and I have a lot of work experience).
 
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lepursuit

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Also, I've heard that Yale's program is small so the professors are very open and catering to students. They've also been very helpful to admitted students which shows they focus on individuals.

Yale's reputation is well known, it seems, even in public health (probably because of their school of medicine) when I mentioned to some of the public health medical officers I work with. They haven't heard of the school of public health but have heard of Yale. Can anyone comment on how much this 'name brand' effect can impact career prospects or PhD candidacy in the future?
 

AmbiCious

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Also, I've heard that Yale's program is small so the professors are very open and catering to students. They've also been very helpful to admitted students which shows they focus on individuals.

Yale's reputation is well known, it seems, even in public health (probably because of their school of medicine) when I mentioned to some of the public health medical officers I work with. They haven't heard of the school of public health but have heard of Yale. Can anyone comment on how much this 'name brand' effect can impact career prospects or PhD candidacy in the future?

I had kind of the same dilemma. For me it was Yale vs Emory vs JHopkins vs Columbia. Emory was the first to be eliminated. Even though I found it to be a great school with a great program, I was also worried that it would not be known internationally. And since I am not a US citizen I have to take those things into consideration and make sure my school is known all over the world lol.
Columbia seems to now be at the bottom of my list. Because I found the program HPM program to lack flexibility. For the management track you can only take 3 credits for electives and for the global health track you can take up to 6 credits for electives. Plus, I found mix reviews regarding students' satisfaction.
Jhopkins came back on top after a careful look at the curriculum. The 1 year MPH program seems to be really flexible as far as the course choices and concentrations. There are some core requirements but even those are interesting. I was worried about people knowing about Jhopkins outside of US. And also I was not sure if 1 year would be enough to make connections with faculty in case I want to do a PhD there afterward.
As for Yale it has been on the top of my list since the beginning. I got accepted into the SBS program. I am worried that the SBS concentration will only allow me to work in NGOs or do research. I want my MPH degree to give me options. But everyone knows Yale and I just cannot get over the name.
 

JMM051

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I was trying to not comment because frankly, lepersuit, you have your mind made up more than you realize. That said, when comparing Yale/Columbia/Emory, it's not like you're comparing two amazing ivy's to Lil' Johnny's Community College of Public Health. I don't mean this in a harsh way but just because you or your social network have never heard of Emory doesn't mean it's not widely known as a top school or highly regarded. Their undergrad, medical, business, and law schools are usually top 25. Emory is big in PH, both domestically and abroad.

As for "brand" when applying to PhD programs, there is not going to be a significant difference that would cause an admin to say "well X is amazing and has the best fit but they went to X so we won't take them." I am in the process of selecting PhD programs currently and speaking with people there there def. is a "top layer" of PH schools and all of the schools you mentioned are within that layer. Not being in that layer, however, is not going to preclude you from getting into a top PhD program if you are a stellar candidate.

As for your comment of the "attitude where those who persist aggressively get more opportunities." That is going to be everywhere you go (school and in life). Yes, professors tend to be nurturing at Emory but not in the way where you are getting handed research projects. Some of the best projects and global practicum experiences had to be found by meeting with professors, getting your foot in the door, etc.

Most students I know at Emory (that wanted to do research) had a position within the first few weeks of work.
As for, "Anyone know if you can do a master's thesis that's unrelated to specific faculty research? I've heard that it's possible but more difficult to find individual funding via grants."
Why would you want to go to a school for it's name when no one is doing research in your field, especially when you have options of places that do? It seems like a lot of money to spend for an education you may not really like.

On a related notes (to answer your questions), the intro gh and epi classes are also large with active TA's. Atlanta actually has A LOT to do. In addition to midtown there are neighborhoods that have their own individual identities with tons to do. If you have any other questions feel free to PM me.
 

emilymr

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The Columbia student (Epi with Global Track) said:

The faculty here are very diverse. Many professors (too many) don't have the time for students, and are often impossible to contact. However, there are many who are so incredibly helpful and friendly that they make your time here very worth while. The vast majority of them will be duel-appointed between here and P&S (the medical school); after all, public health and medicine are very intimate fields. Many professors are also appointed at SIPA - the school of international and public affairs - or another Columbia school.

Well, every student has to do a practicum/internship to graduate. You will be required to do your internship abroad for 6 months; everyone else will do 6-8 weeks in the summer, probably in the US. Most students have a part-time job, and many manage to work full-time (although if you are in the global track, that is almost impossible. We had one girl do it, and she was going nuts. She no longer works full time).

Yeah. When you are abroad, you pay for 1 credit hour which basically keeps you registered as a full-time student so that you are eligible for both financial aid and insurance. You also have an online tutorial during that time, and the credit DOES count towards the total 45 for graduation, so it isn't really wasting money.

In global/epi, you will most likely 'front load' your coursework, which makes the first year very, very busy (and consequently, only really time for a part-time job), because in order to finish the degree in 3 semesters (assuming you want to finish in 2 years), you need to complete the other 44 credits during 1 fall semester, 2 spring semester, and 1 summer class (Epi III).

The Emory students (both Global Epi) said:

1. Faculty are very available and I can say that all students who want to work with a faculty member have a position doing research during their first semester. These are usually paid through a "practical experience" award hourly. I remember when I was applying and asking these same questions to other schools and some schools really discouraged students from working with faculty until maybe their second year -- that is totally not the case here. One of the real benefits of working with faculty right away is experience, but also great opportunities can just fall in your lap. Related to your third question, I will be going to Rwanda paid for by a faculty member to look at HIV in men who have sex with men. This experience just randomly popped up in the last couple weeks and I jumped at it.

2. Almost all students work part time for public health related work. This would be up to you but mostly is either with a faculty member or at the CDC or with some other NGO like Care or American cancer society.

3. The opportunities for doing practicum work abroad are amazing. My experience is limited to Emory but basically if you want to go abroad to do work over the summer you will be able to. You will have the choice of many many opportunities on diverse topics in almost any place in the world. Also, one cool thing about Emory is that nearly every student can get ~$1,000 - 1500 to fund their summer experience abroad. So, even if you don't have a set project to work with, you could even make your own project and get funding to do it.

For example, I will be going to Haiti over the summer with an interdisciplinary team of 4 people and with funding through Emory of $12k to look at community-based mental health in Haiti. This will be for around 8 weeks and then for the last 6 weeks of the summer I will be going to Rwanda to work with the faculty member I do research with. These experiences and my summer are by no means an exception -- nearly all of our friends are going to amazing places with interesting research to do (Thailand, Bolivia, Mexico, Kenya, Ethiopia (Danika)...etc.etc.)

Atlanta is a great city with a lot of culture and it is beautiful (and already becoming warm). There are often festivals, concerts, and fun outdoorsy things to share in the diversity of people here.

Living costs are cheap! I pay $425 for a wonderful place (which will be much different in NY). Also, I believe Emory's tuition is lower than Columbia's, correct?

The school of public health here JUST opened up a brand new building that more than doubled the space so we now have two huge beautiful remodeled buildings with computers and a lot of socializing areas and such which are a great plus. The Rollins community is really just a great place! Faculty and students are not competitive -- they are out to help each other and to be collaborative.

and...

Faculty are incredibly available. They have an open door policy, and encourage you to set up meetings with them to discuss research, or for general mentorship. I've been blown away with how faculty have advocated for me from day 1. Truly incredible. Another thing, Jena (who would be your ADAP), is fantastic. I think it's really important that your academic advisor is someone who is not a slave to bureaucracy, but makes the system work for you. Jena is a huge asset, and will provide invaluable guidance and support for you while navigating your MPH experience.

Brad covered #2 and 3 it really well, and so I'll just concur that Emory's MPH is all about gaining practical work and field experience as an integral part of your degree. I'm currently receiving "Practical Experience" funding (like work study) from Rollins for my position as a research assistant with the Maternal and Newborn Health in Ethiopia Partnership (MaNHEP), a Gates-funded project housed jointly between Emory's Schools of Public Health and Nursing. We're working with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health to strengthen the capacity of frontline health worker teams, and to demonstrate how a community-oriented model can be taken to scale in their national Health Extension Worker Programme.

I also visited Columbia's school, and would encourage you to visit as many places as possible-- I know this really helped me make my decision. I'd definitely recommend the Visit Emory event in March; it covers a lot of information, and gives you the invaluable opportunity of meeting with faculty and students. I think it's important that where you go to school is someplace you can envision yourself living and thriving. The Upper West Side is a very different environment than Atlanta, and the two campuses definitely have very different feels.

I've really been enjoying exploring Atlanta-- there are a ton of neat enclaves, and a lot going on. Through Emory alone this year, I've got to hear the Dalai Lama speak and attend a film series curated by Salman Rushdie.Yet, since it's the south, things are still laid back and friendly. Also, Atlanta has one of the nation's largest refugee populations, as well as a growing Latino immigrant population, and incredibly acute race-based health disparities. Global health is in our backyard, and there is no shortage of student and faculty-led opportunities to get involved. On this note, Emory has done a good job maintaining relationships with the underprivileged communities it works with. I definitely saw this as an issue at other schools, which have often exacerbated relations through invasive or exploitative research which doesn't partner with the community in meaningful or empowering ways. While this tension will always exist to a degree, I think Emory has really done well in this area.
 

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I was worried about people knowing about Jhopkins outside of US.

REALLY? Take a look at their alums -- hundreds of medical officers from foreign countries. Hopkins Hospital is a magnet for internationals who need specialized medical care. The name is well known outside the US.
 
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lepursuit

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Does anyone know how flexible the curriculum is at these three schools?

I've heard that the epi program at emory is not very flexible. But I'm not sure if this applies to the global epi program.

I have heard that Yale is pretty flexible since you can take classes at other schools (ie: Law, Medicine). But it's hard to tell...
 

lepursuit

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Also, emory university has a religious affiliation with united methodist church but they generally seem to be very secular in their practices. Can anyone comment on this?

I didn't see any religious affiliations with yale or columbia.
 

Big Dog

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...but like Emory, are no longer managed by their forefathers.

btw: Emory has a large Hillel (Jewish) undergrad student population, so any Methodists might even be outnumbered. :laugh:
 

Cesc

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That's great information! Thanks for sharing, Emilymar!
 

jaya88

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Lepursuit,
I work internationally on multidisciplanary teams for an NGO and in my experience, Emory is extremely well known. When I told people I applied to Yale most of the public health people (US and abroad) were like, Yale? They have a MPH program? That isn't a slight on Yale as I have narrowed down my choices to Yale and Tulane, but just some info from the field. If I were to have done this more strategically, I would have applied to Emory.
Jaya
 

mphbound503

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Lepursuit,
I work internationally on multidisciplanary teams for an NGO and in my experience, Emory is extremely well known. When I told people I applied to Yale most of the public health people (US and abroad) were like, Yale? They have a MPH program? That isn't a slight on Yale as I have narrowed down my choices to Yale and Tulane, but just some info from the field. If I were to have done this more strategically, I would have applied to Emory.
Jaya

Jaya, it may not be too late to apply to Emory! I'm not sure which program you would be interested in, but I just applied a couple weeks ago and was accepted into their BSHE program (waitlisted for my number 1 choice- Global Health). I know it is even later now, but it still might be possible (SOPHAS mailed my app on Mar 2, it was received by GH on Mar 10. GH waitlisted me on Mar 16. And BSHE sent my acceptance today!) It was super quick/easy to apply with SOPHAS since all I had to do was edit my essay and pay another 40 bucks. Just a thought...
 

bj81

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Emily, thank you for the great information. At present, I'm contemplating between Emory for HPM and Yale for Advanced Professional MPH. I'm looking for that which has more practical experience and your post really helps. Thanks!
 

bj81

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Jaya 88,
Considering you are thinking about Yale, are you attending their Open House on 25th? If so, please do post any vital info that was shared. Have been accpeted into their Advanced Professional MPH in Global Health. How about you?
 

jaya88

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Hi,
Unfortunately, I cannot attend the Yale open house, but I visited earlier in the year and everyone was delightful. They are easily the nicest, most friendly and most helpful school I have interacted with which makes my decision a hard one. Part of me says, go to Yale because it is Yale, but I need to program to fit my needs and I am not sure that it does. However, I am curious to hear about the open house. Check out the Yale 2013 thread. I'm sure people will post back.
Jaya
 

bj81

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Thanks Jaya.. Will check that thread! Same here, feel like it's Yale, but Emory seems to be a step ahead with more practical experience... Thanks anyway!
 

kindle

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Hi guys,

Great thread! I am trying to decide between Epi at Columbia and Global Health at Emory(MPH) for fall 2012. I am from India and want to work this side eventually but getting some international experience would be good for me I think. I love the course at Emory and its global focus and the fact that I am interested in infectious disease and CDC is right there is a plus. I wanted to know what the work opportunities while studying are like for international students and if professors are open to taking students on for research in first year( I have a masters in microbiology and would love to stay connected with lab work as well)...

thinking about Columbia more seriously as I have family in NY and they live close to the Uni so living expenses are taken care of... and money is tight right now. the new curriculum this year is not very pro work- study, do you think that is good or bad? besides that how relevant is the EPI MPH program for people who want to work abroad and is it flexible enough to incorporate courses from GH track that could help me get the bigger picture.

From what I see on the website columbia has some great connections with international organisations that I would love to work for... I din see a long list on Emorys website, but that might just be a matter of presenting information... I would really appreciate any comments/ suggestions / clarifications for my confusion... I don't have a back ground in health and neither do a lot of people i know but I am very excited about studying public health and want to make the right choice!
 
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