To MSPH or NOT?

By: Subha Shanmugavel, 1st year HPM

Hello! Since you are reading this blog, you probably have a good idea of what discipline and program you plan on entering right? 

Alas, the hard decisions do not end there…have you considered your department’s MSPH program

EPI, GLEPI, HPM, BIOS, and EH all offer MSPH programs geared for future researchers. Armed with rigorous analytical training, Emory’s MSPH cohorts have gone on to prestigious PhD programs or working full time at major research institutions.  As a current MSPH student, though it is a demanding curriculum having a small, supportive cohort and an amazing faculty to reach out to is everything to my experience at Rollins!
 
I chose to purse an MSPH because I really wanted to strengthen my research analytical skills within the social sciences and public health after leaving the pharmaceutical world. There are so many unanswered questions in healthcare, so I was really excited about joining this program in hopes to answer some of them myself. 
One of the main differences between the MSPH and MPH curriculum is being required to write and defend a health services research thesis. The biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is nailing down a thesis topic.  My peers have been a great resource since we constantly exchange information on topics that we are interested in and even bounce around ideas on how to approach our analysis. In fact, many of our classes are discussion based to share our ideas and current progress with our peers while being formally critiqued by a professor. The HPM program even offers a course where students can troubleshoot data analysis problems with the department’s own biostatistician. The curriculum overall is very much collaborative at heart and mimics the real world research arena.
 Think you want to switch? Talk to your department’s director of the MSPH program to learn more about the admissions process and the departments specific curriculum. 
I applied rather late, so it doesn’t hurt to try even if you feel that the deadline has long past. Also I would recommend talking to some of the professors in your department and see if you would be interested in any of their research topics.  While you don’t need to have a topic beforehand, it is important to feel like you can connect with your professors. You want to be comfortable forming a relationship and working with them throughout your 2 years at Rollins. From helping you choose your topic to serving on your thesis committee, the faculty really run the show in the MSPH program…so ask questions. Lots and lots of questions! I’m a bit shy so this is a bit difficult for me but it’s so important. It’s how you find the right people to help you work on a thesis that you will be passionate about. 
 
Feel free to reach out to some current MSPH students on their experiences. Yes, they will tell you about the amount of legwork needed for getting data and feedback on your chosen topic, but they will also tell you about all of the perks of the program too! For anyone who craves the details and independence of research this the program for you!  Other than a few mandatory classes the flexible curriculum allows you to mold your class schedule to fit your your interests. And of course there is plenty of time to learn topics of interest until your your heart’s content J
Don’t feel ready to take the plunge?
As you may have heard, almost every course at Rollins is open to all students…this includes some MSPH specific classes. All it takes is a quick conversation with the professor and MPH student can join MSPH classes, even a required MSPH SAS programming class!
 
At the end of all of this I hope I have succeeded in sharing my passion for research and luring you into a MSPH program. If not, all the programs at Rollins are awesome and you can not go wrong! Though I hope to see you all on campus in the Fall, choose the program that will give you the best opportunity to explore your passions just like have done here at Emory. Whether it be Rollins or not… if you do that you can’t make a bad decision.
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