Frequently Asked Questions about IPHG
Q: I come from a non-science background. What classes could I take to prepare myself better for one of the IPHG programs?
A: Not all of our students come from a scientific background. However, it is helpful for students to have taken foundation courses in human genetics and/or genomics. New IPHG students who do not have a fundamental knowledge of human genetics and genomics are frequently required to complete the equivalent of GENOME 371 either before entering the program or during their first year of study in the MPH program. Courses in basic biology, basic statistics and biochemistry will also be helpful.
Q. What is Genetic Epidemiology?
A. Genetic epidemiology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on training in epidemiology, genetics, and biostatistics. This unique field examines how genes and environmental factors interact to influence health and disease in human populations.
Q: What is the typical profile for somebody admitted into the PHG program?
A: There is no typical profile. Student backgrounds have ranged from law to molecular biology and from biology teaching to social anthropology.
Decisions regarding acceptance to the PHG program are made by a faculty committee. The committee makes its decisions based on a variety of factors. These include:
- Grades, coursework and GRE scores
- Work and/or volunteer experience relevant to public health genetics
- Motivation and interest in public health genetics, based on the personal statement and letters of recommendation.
All of these factor into an assessment of a prospective student's likelihood of success in this rigorous, multidisciplinary program and in a public health genetics career. In addition, competition varies from year to year and acceptance rates are dependent on the pool of applicants.
Q: What is an acceptable GRE score for somebody to be admitted into the PHG program?
A: There are no specific cut-off thresholds for GRE scores, but it is helpful to have GRE scores towards the higher end of the range. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, there are multiple inputs that help decide admission into the program. However, there are graduate school summary statistics available to give a general idea of the range of scores in the applicant pool.
Q: Do I need to also take a GRE subject or writing assessment test?
A: No. Only the general GRE (Verbal/Quantitative/Analytical writing) is required when applying to our MPH program.
Q: Do I need an advanced degree to apply to this program?
A: No. Our program's minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in any relevant field.
Q: Do I qualify for financial aid?
A: You may. Financial aid issues are detailed at: Paying for Graduate School
Q: Are there any tips to help find funding?
A: Yes you can try the following approaches:
Start your funding search and application process now for later. Many applications are due September-December for funding in the next academic year.
Look outside UW. The GFIS funding databases link to other institutions, which host excellent search databases where you can specify your discipline or type of funding needed.
Sign up for Pivot (formerly Community of Science) to get funding alerts on your pre-specified search criteria.
- Subscribe to the GFIS blog for the latest funding news.
- Sign up for a consultation meeting with a funding specialist by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: How many applicants are admitted into the program, and how many applications do you receive?
A: Because we are a relatively small program, the numbers vary greatly from year to year. However, last year we received approximately 50 completed applications. The committee offered admission to almost half of the applicants. The committee makes its decisions based on each applicant's qualifications and not on a specific number of spaces available for new students.
Q: I am interested in genetic epidemiology. Would it be better for me to apply for the MPH in Public Health Genetics or for the MS in Genetic Epidemiology?
A: The MPH requires courses in other disciplines of public health as well as a practicum experience. Genetic epidemiology is one of several core components of the MPH in Public Health Genetics. The MS in Genetic Epidemiology is a more focused degree typically designed for researchers. It will allow you to cover genetic epidemiology in greater depth than the MPH, while the MPH will allow you to cover more breadth and include more coursework on ethical, legal, and social issues. Both the MPH and MSGE degrees can serve as a stepping stone toward a Ph.D.
Q: Are there any joint degrees offered (MPH/MBA, MPH/JD, MPH/MPA)?
A: There is now a formal joint MPH/JD program available. Look for more information on our joint degree offerings that can be pursued on an informal, concurrent basis. Up to twelve credit hours can be shared between concurrent masters degrees.
Q: What are some refresher/prep courses that I could take if my science/math background is out-of-date?
A: Any course in basic biology and/or genetics will be beneficial. Organic chemistry or biochemistry courses are helpful, but not necessary. Other useful courses would be introductions to epidemiology and biostatistics.
Q. What other skills/courses might help with coursework at graduate school?
A. Good writing skills will come in handy while you are in graduate school. You can use a number of online resources or books to strengthen your writing. UW also offers courses to help scientific writing. HCDE 509 Writing the Scientific Article is a 3 credit class offered each spring (Examination of principles and practice of writing research manuscripts, articles, abstracts, and oral presentations. Detailed examination of scientific publication process includes issues of style, organization, and ethics. Students draft, critique, and revise their own manuscripts and learn to review the manuscripts of others).
Q: What kinds of employment opportunities are there for PHG graduates?
A: In general, our graduates pursue careers in public health agencies, state departments, non-profit agencies, and at colleges and universities. We have graduates who have continued on to law school, to medical school, to genetic counseling programs, and who have been admitted to our PhD program. Several of our graduates have accepted fellowships through federally funded agencies. Others have continued doing research here at the University of Washington and at other universities.
Q: What kinds of research do faculty members in PHG conduct?
A: Our faculty range in their fields of research. PHG research is conducted in (but not limited to) genetic epidemiology, pharmacology, environmental health, medical genetics, pathobiology, nutrition, social anthropology, health economics, law, bioethics and genomics. A list of our faculty may be found on our Faculty Profiles page.
Q: Can I apply to more than one Public Health Genetics program?
A: Yes. Please submit a separate UW online application for each program for which you wish to be considered (MPH, MSGE, and/or Ph.D.) and send us a separate Statement of Purpose for each. It is expected that the career goals for each of these programs will be different. For example, one goal of an MPH applicant may be to apply to the Ph.D. upon graduation. You only need to send one set of transcripts, one set of recommendation letters, and CV. Note that, although not required, students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program usually already have a Master's degree in a related field.
Q: Do you accept applications through SOPHAS?
Q: Who can I contact for more questions?
A: You can send an email to email@example.com. You can also request an in-person appointment with a student services staff person.
Additionally, University of Washington's Graduate School has compiled a set of FAQ's that are applicable for all graduate coursework in the school.The FAQ's may be a useful document for applicants to review.