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Frequently Asked Questions


ADMISSIONS

Should I apply to a specific MPH concentration, or choose the MPH generalist option?

Applicants who know that their dominant interests are in one of the three concentrations should select it when applying. This better ensures that their application will be reviewed by faculty with similar interests.

The generalist option is for applicants whose focus is not in one of the 3 formal concentrations. It is an excellent choice for students who want to individualize a course of study by choosing from the wide selection of courses offered by the Department of Health Services and the School of Public Health.

Applicants who select the generalist option may still choose to pursue a concentration once admitted to the Department, and applicants who've chosen a concentration may transfer to another or become generalists if their interests change.

Can I apply through SOPHAS?

No. The School of Public Health at the University of Washington is currently not participating in the SOPHAS common application service.

Do I need to submit official transcripts?

The online application asks for uploaded unofficial transcripts. One transcript sent directly from your degree-granting school to Graduate Admissions will be required if you're offered admission and accept the offer.

Do you accept transfer credits?

The programs may accept a limited number of transfer credits that have not been applied to a previous graduate degree. It is also possible to waive out of certain courses, or to replace them with advanced courses, because of previous experience. This cannot be guaranteed beforehand, and arrangements are coordinated once the student is enrolled in the program.

What is the process for applying for a concurrent degree (e.g., MD/MPH)?

Applicants interested in MPH Concurrent Degree Programs should in most cases apply first to the other program. If accepted, students should work with that program to determine the appropriate time to subsequently apply to the MPH program.

ADMISSIONS TIMELINE

When is the application deadline?

Applications are due January 1. See Admissions Process for additional information.

What happens if I miss the application deadline?

In fairness to all applicants, and to ensure a smooth admissions process, we need to receive applications by the due-date (January 1). However, we understand that applicants occasionally experience technical difficulties or situations beyond their control. If you experience difficulties in submitting your application by the deadline, please do NOT contact Graduate Admissions; please send a note about your situation to hservmph@uw.edu, and we will work with you to help resolve the situation.

When are students notified of acceptance or denial?

Most applicants will learn about their status via email no later than mid-March.

What is the deadline and process for submitting GRE scores?

We must receive GRE scores (the general test) no later than January 15.

You may submit your application at any time up until the January 1 deadline. GRE scores are submitted to the University of Washington, code 4854, where they are matched with your electronic application. Applications that go to review without GRE scores will be considered less competitive.

The MPH and MS programs will accept "old" GRE scores if they are still available from the Educational Testing Service. If your GRE scores will expire soon, your best strategy if you do not wish to retake the test is to ask ETS to submit your scores to the University of Washington. These stay in the UW system for at least a full year to be matched to a future application.

The GRE is not required for those who have earned a doctoral degree in the United States from an accredited institution of higher learning. Foreign-educated physicians and dentists who are employed as physicians and dentists in the United States also do not normally need to submit GRE scores.

Can I defer my acceptance to next year?

Our programs do not defer enrollment, except for applicants admitted to a concurrent program who begin that program in their first year. Other applicants must reapply, but the process is simplified because only a few application items need renewal (a revised statement of purpose, current CV, and one new letter of recommendation). Admission is not guaranteed, but most applicants who've received an offer are competitive again in the following year.

WAITLIST

I received an email stating that I have been wait-listed. When will I learn if I will be offered admission to the program?

If spaces open up for students from the wait-list, applicants will be notified one by one, not all at once. All applicants will receive a final decision prior to April 15.

I have received offers from other programs, and they have given me an earlier deadline to accept or decline their offers - I cannot wait until April 15 to learn my status.

We will attempt to let you know your admission status as soon as possible, but please keep us posted if you have not heard from us in a timely fashion and need a faster response, and we can attempt to expedite the process.

Why was my application wait-listed?

Enrollment restrictions limit our ability to accept all qualified applicants. However, your application was favorably reviewed, and we would like to offer you admission to the program, if space permits.

Is there a ranking system for those on the waitlist?

Yes, wait-lists are constructed separately for each concentration, and applicants are ranked within the concentration to which they applied. If spaces open up for students from the wait-list, offers are made in order, starting with the highest ranked candidate. If you do not know your rank on the wait-list, please contact the Program Coordinator (hservphd@uw.edu).

What percentage of wait list applicants eventually get offered admission?

This varies from cycle to cycle. Your chance of receiving an offer of admission depends in part upon your rank in the wait-list.

Can I do anything to strengthen my application (e.g. submit additional materials) and increase my chances of gaining admission?

No, it is not possible to influence your position on the wait-list. We ask that you please refrain from sending additional materials, as the Admissions Committee meets only once and will not have an occasion to review additional materials. If you are ultimately denied admission to the program and have additional questions about how to strengthen your application to re-apply the following year, please contact the Program Coordinator (hservphd@uw.edu).

ELIGIBILITY

What are the admission criteria?  (GRE score minimums, GPA?)

Successful applications to the MPH and MS Programs usually meet the following criteria:
  • Show a good match between the training goals of applicants and the program to which they are applying, demonstrating that they have reviewed the literature and have (when possible) contacted one of more of our faculty to discuss their applications.
  • Demonstrate a progression between past and present training and/or experience and attainment of the MPH or MS. Goal statements should clearly address how an MPH or MS degree will advance applicants' professional goals.
  • Are submitted, (with some exceptions), after applicants have at least two or three years of public health-related work experience. Public health internships and similar work at the undergraduate level also count as relevant experience.
  • Are supported by good recommendation letters, transcripts, and GRE scores. The minimum grade point average which is acceptable to the Graduate School is 3.0, a "B" average. The program will consider applicants with an average which is somewhat lower than this, but the applicant should have other exceptional qualifications, such as strong GRE scores, to be competitive.
The MPH and MS programs do not have specific expectations about GRE scores, but successful applicants usually achieve at least 50% in each of the categories. Scores significantly below this threshold will usually make an applicant uncompetitive unless strong grades in relevant undergraduate courses counterbalance the low score(s) and indicate ability to do quantitative work and to write well.

Because biostatistics and epidemiology are core courses for the MPH and the MS, the faculty want students to perform well in quantitative work. A review course in algebra or statistics may be desirable for applicants who need to bolster or refresh their skills in this area.

Most applicants to the MS should have an advanced degree, such as an MD or PhD, or they might intend to pursue a doctoral degree in Health Services or a related field in the future. Competitive MPH applicants may have other exceptional qualifications, but MS applicants who are not already post-docs should have GRE scores and grades that are exceptionally strong. Prior experience in health-related research is also usually necessary to be competitive for the MS Program.

Can international students apply to this program?

We welcome applications from international applicants. Because we do not have standard forms of financial assistance, international students should be prepared to cover their educational costs. International students are eligible for research assistant (RA) and some teaching assistant (TA) positions on campus, but securing these cannot be anticipated or guaranteed. Because our MPH and MS Programs focus mainly on population health and healthcare in the United States, many international applicants should consider other MPH Programs within our School, such as the one in Epidemiology or in Global Health.

The UW Graduate School offers an extensive list of FAQ's for international students.

Financial aid information for international students can be found via this link.

Does the MPH program require post-baccalaureate work experience before applying?

Applicants are not required to have post-baccalaureate work experience, and some are admitted each year who have just finished an undergraduate degree, typically in public health or a related field that has given them internships and other experiences that have informed their decision to apply to the MPH or MS programs. However, additional experience does strengthen an application, and it can also enhance students' experiences in the programs. Most accepted applicants have at least 2 or 3 years of relevant work and volunteer experience, and their average age at entry is about 27.

Can I take courses as a GNM (or non-matriculated) student?

It may be possible to take certain courses as a non-matriculated student. Read the information on GNM/NM registration and contact the MPH Program Coordinator at hservmph@uw.edu to discuss your options.

PROGRAM INFORMATION

How many students are admitted each year to the MPH and MS programs?

Up to 40 new students are admitted, with the majority admitted to the MPH program.

Can I complete the program part-time?

The MPH and MS programs are intended to be completed in 2 years. It is sometimes possible to extend this period, due to unforeseeable circumstances, but applicants who need more flexible study should consider the Executive MPH Program.

How does the MS curriculum differ from the MPH?

The Master of Science in Health Services is pursued by some of our more research-oriented students. It also offers an optional clinical pathway available to students in certain fellowship programs.

MS students are in the same courses as MPH students and are mentored by many of the same faculty. However, the MS does not require the public health practicum, and has fewer public health course requirements. These differences leave more time to pursue advanced research courses.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

What are the costs of tuition and other expenses?

See Financial Information

How can I finance my education?

Most students finance their studies with a combination of student loans and work opportunities on campus. Some students find research assistant (RA) positions, generally after the first two quarters of study. A few teaching assistant (TA) positions for a single quarter are also available. Other sources of funding include a few mainly merit-based awards for advanced students, and some awards associated with particular areas of study such as maternal and child health or tobacco studies.

How do I learn of funding opportunities?

Each enrolled student becomes a member of an e-mail distribution list, to which a broadly-based assortment of opportunities are posted, both on campus and at off-site locations where some of our faculty work, such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Applicants who are offered admission are also welcome to contact faculty with whom they might like to work to learn of upcoming openings they may have.

How do I apply for financial aid?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by the University of Washington in making its financial aid awards to students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Most typically, our graduate students qualify for educational loans or for work-study. A few academically outstanding and financially needy under-represented students may also qualify for other forms of aid, for which the FAFSA is required, such as partial tuition waivers. For priority consideration, applicants should submit the FAFSA before February 28.

Applicants can complete the FAFSA electronically.

The MPH and MS programs do not have a separate financial aid application. If you have additional questions about financial aid, please refer to this page, and contact them directly if your questions are not answered.

VISITING

How can I schedule a visit to the University?

We would be delighted to have you visit. Although we don't offer tours specific to Health Services, the University of Washington offers tours of the campus at large. If interested, please visit this link to view the options.

We encourage visitors to schedule appointments with faculty directly. One way you may determine faculty who share your research or practice interests is by viewing the faculty bios on the web. Another way you may determine this is by reviewing our concentrations. Applicants who encounter problems may write to hservmph@uw.edu for assistance.

Accepted MPH and MS applicants are annually invited to a prospective student days event, which typically occurs in March or early April.

The Department of Health Services is in the H-wing of the Magnuson Health Sciences Building. Please visit this link for a building map, directions to the nearest parking lot, and directions to the Department. Note that faculty who have off-site offices may wish to meet there and should be able to provide directions.

Can I sit in on a class during my visit?

The protocol for sitting in on courses is to email the instructor beforehand to ask for permission. Most faculty welcome prospective students in the classroom, but they want to anticipate the visits.

Courses schedules can be found at this link.