Graduate Admissions FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About the Admissions Process
When does the M.P.H. program admit students and what is the deadline for applications?
The School of Community Health M.P.H. program only admits students for the fall quarter. This means that we have only one admissions cycle and all materials must be submitted to SOPHAS by February 1. There is an early decision deadline of December 1st for students wishing to get early results.
What are the requirements to be admitted to the M.P.H. program?
We look at a number of factors. You need to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 grade point average. You must also have completed an undergraduate introductory level statistics course by September 15th of the year you are admitted. We also weigh a number of other factors including GRE scores, community health education related experience, letters of reference, breadth of academic training, and potential contribution to the field of community health.
What if I took the GREs in the past, do I have to take them again?
We accept GRE scores that are up to five years old. After that, applicants need to take the test again.
Is there anyway I can get in without taking the GREs?
We accept any student's application with a master's degree or higher from an accredited U.S. university without taking the GREs. Other degrees will need to be recognized by the Office of Admissions before we will consider waiving the GRE requirement.
Are there required scores on the GRE?
GRE scores are one of several factors weighed in the admission process. The OMPH Program requires a minimum score of 1,000, split between 500 on the verbal section and 500 on the quantitative section. As of August 2011 there is now a new scoring system in place with a maximum of 180 per section. According to the new system, we are looking for 153 on the verbal section and 144 on the quantitative section. A score of 4.5 on the Analytical writing section is also highly recommended.
- What is the required English Language Proficiency for international students?
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS TOEFL IELTS PTE-Academic Paper-based Computer-based 550* 213* 6.5* overall;
minimum 6.5* on reading & writing
What is the required personal statement?
We ask each applicant to provide a personal statement of 500-1000 words describing their interest in community health and the kinds of contributions they would like to make to the field. This is very important because it is an opportunity for the applicant to let the admissions committee know about his or her professional and academic goals. In addition, it allows us to determine if those goals are a good fit with our program.
What happens if I have a low GPA?
The School of Community Health requires a cumulative GPA of 3.00. Students with a GPA above 2.75 (required for admission to the University) but below 3.00 may still be considered, provided all other conditions have been met.
Can I take classes prior to being admitted to the program?
We allow students to take a total of twelve credits of electives prior to being admitted. These units may not be from any of the five OMPH core courses or PHE 511 Foundations of Public Health.
When will I hear if I was accepted into the program?
We try our best to notify all applicants by early April.
Is it possible to start the M.P.H. program in the winter or spring quarters?
No. Students are admitted to begin the program in the fall quarter only.
What should I say in my personal statement?
The personal statement is your opportunity to convey to the admissions committee why you want to pursue an M.P.H. degree. This is a very important part of your admissions application and is read closely by the committee members. There is no required format but you must limit your essay to between 500-1000 words. It is useful for you to reflect on your goals, personal values, and larger vision in developing your statement. We are interested in what contribution you want to make to community health and why you think you will be successful.
Who should write my letters of recommendation and is there a standard form?
There is no standard form that is used for letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are very important and the people you ask to provide letters should be carefully selected. These people should know you well and be able to speak to your potential to succeed in graduate school and, ultimately, contribute to the field of community health. The letters should come from people who have had the opportunity to closely observe you and be able to assess your abilities in a classroom setting or a health education work environment. Submissions are made via SOPHAS, and submissions are normally electronic.
How are admissions decisions made?
The M.P.H. admissions committee is made up of at least two faculty members and the school director. Other faculty who serve as specialty area heads also participate. Each application is reviewed by at least two faculty members with a third review often done as well. The admissions committee, after considering all applications, recommends applicants for admission to the PSU Graduate Division. It is the Graduate Division that makes the final offer of acceptance to the applicant.
What entrance exams are required?
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required as part of the application for admission to the School of Community Health M.P.H. program. The test should be taken early enough to allow the results to reach the School of Community Health by January; this usually requires tests to be taken during October or November at the latest. It is the applicant's responsibility to register for the exam and make sure the scores are provided to the department. Portland State University Testing Services has addition test information at (503) 725-4428 or http://www.GRE.org. The OMPH SOPHAS institution code is 1045.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) can be considered in lieu of GRE scores. For information concerning SOPHAS and the GRE, please refer to this page: SOPHAS GRE
Can I defer my admission?
Admission can be deferred for one year. Your request to defer must be made in writing to the director of the School of Community Health. You must also complete a Graduate Application Update form and submit it to Elizabeth Bull, Portland State University, School of Community Health, PO Box 751, Portland OR 97207. You can download the form from the PSU Web site.
Are there any graduate or undergraduate courses that may help my application process?
The only required undergraduate course is statistics. However, it may be beneficial if you have taken courses in the social science field. If you are looking for some courses to take, you should consider something from sociology, political science, urban studies, anthropology, social psychology, and related fields.
- What do you want included in my personal resume?
We are interested in learning about your recent work experience (past 5-7 years) and how it relates to the program and your goals.
- If I am an OMPH student in a different track, can I transfer to the PSU Health Promotion track?
Yes, current OMPH students may apply to transfer to the PSU health promotion track. Students are allowed to use the same transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL scores and letters of recommendation from their original OMPH application, but are required to revise their personal statement to include a description of why they are interested in the Health Promotion track.
A transfer is not guaranteed. All students wishing to transfer must adhere to the same application deadlines and review process as other Health Promotion applicants. If you are interested in applying to transfer, please speak with the PSU Health Promotion track coordinator or School of Community Health director before proceeding with the application to transfer process.
What is the internship?
Students must complete an internship. The internship is a placement in a setting that helps the student achieve his or her educational and professional goals. Examples of internships include the Oregon Health Division, the Northwest Health Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and various local community agencies.
If I am visiting the campus is it ok for me to sit in on a class to see what it's like?
Yes, you are welcome to sit in on a specific class but you must get the permission from the instructor first. You should check the Web site for brief bios of the faculty and the courses they teach. Please contact the instructor via email to schedule a class visit.
I know the M.P.H. program at PSU is part of the OMPH which includes Oregon Health & Science University. Can I take classes at this universities?
Yes, you may take classes at OHSU. The credits will appear on your PSU transcript.
How long does it take to complete the program?
It is necessary to complete at least 59 credits, and full-time students usually complete their degree over a two-year or six-quarter period. Part-time students take longer to complete the degree.
When are most of the classes offered?
We offer courses throughout the day, but primarily in the late-afternoon and evening. Many of our core M.P.H. courses are offered in time slots beginning at 4 or 6:40 p.m. We do not offer classes online at this time.
What kind of financial aid is available?
Students should check with the university Office of Financial Aid for a complete listing of available sources and grant and loan requirements (http://www.pdx.edu/finaid). Below is a partial list of scholarship opportunities available to M.P.H. students. Financial aid is available primarily for full-time graduate students, although some loans and grants are open to part-time students. This aid is of three general types:
Graduate assistantships available through the College of Urban and Public Affairs and School of Community Health,
Loans and work study available through the University's Office of Financial Aid, and
Awards, grants, and scholarships available through PSU.
Graduate assistant (GA) positions provide teaching or research services working with faculty. Levels of appointment are between .15 and .49 FTE, granted for either a one-term, nine-month, or 12-month basis. The typical full-time assistantship is .15 FTE, which is equivalent to 7 hours or .30 FTE, which is equal to 15 hours per week. These positions provide services such as teaching lab sections of courses, facilitating discussion sessions, grading papers, providing research assistance, etc. In all cases, the assistantship is regarded as a contribution to the graduate student's learning experience.
Students interested in applying for graduate assistantships must have regular admission status and maintain good standing in the graduate program. GA positions also require that students be registered for and satisfactorily complete a minimum of nine graduate credits each term with the exception of summer term.
Graduate assistants usually receive tuition remission and a small monthly stipend. Check with faculty in the School of Community Health or Rod Johnson in the Dean's Office of the College of Urban and Public Affairs on the seventh floor of the Urban Center.
Financial Assistance Available Through the University: Loans and Work Study
Graduate students may receive consideration for financial assistance through the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work Study, and Federal Direct Stafford Loan programs. The Office of Financial Aid is located in Neuberger Hall, Room 174, (503) 725-3461, or http://www.pdx.edu/finaid.
Federal Perkins Loans
This federally funded loan program is available to graduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. This is a long-term, low-interest-rate loan for which repayment commences nine months after the student is no longer enrolled on at least a part-time basis.
Graduate students are eligible for Federal Work Study funds. Federal Work Study is a need-based program in which the federal government pays from 70-90 percent of student wages and the institution or agency pays the remainder. This program assists students who demonstrate a need for part-time employment to pursue a college education. Sources of work include metropolitan nonprofit agencies and/or campus employment. For other student employment opportunities contact the Student Employment Office at (503) 725-4958, University Services Building, Room 402F.
Federal Direct Stafford Loans
These loans are available to PSU graduate students through the cooperation of the University and the U.S. Department of Education. Both interest-subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available. Repayment begins six months after the student drops below half-time status, or leaves the University. The federal government pays interest on the subsidized loans while the student is in school. Unsubsidized loan eligibility is based on the difference between the student's cost of attendance and the financial aid awarded. Repayment begins while the student is still enrolled. The federal government does not make interest payments. Annual loan maximums for graduate students receiving either subsidized or unsubsidized Perkins loans are $10,000.
Awards Available Through the University
Portland State also offers an array of graduate-level scholarships, with awards and funding amounts that vary from year to year. For more information on current scholarships, please visit the Web site for the Office of Graduate Studies, or stop by their office in Room 600 of the Unitus Building, which is located at SW 4th and Lincoln.
How about graduate research assistantships?
Faculty often hire students to work on research projects or help with teaching courses. Graduate research assistantships are sometimes available and include paid tuition and a stipend. You need to find faculty or research associates who are working on projects to which you can contribute your skills. You can check their bio information on the Web site. Contact the faculty and see if they are looking for help.
Why does the M.P.H. program require students to take a statistics course before they enter the program?
All students are required to have successfully completed at least one undergraduate statistics course to be admitted to the program. Students without such a course can still be accepted but must provide proof that they are registered for such a course upon applying to the program, and must finish the course by September 15th of the year they are admitted. Once here students are required to take courses that assume some basic knowledge of statistics and this is why we have this as a prerequisite for starting the program.
What is an area of emphasis?
Each student who enters the program must specify an area of interest and select courses in consultation with their advisor. Examples of suggested areas of interest include: advocacy and social change, aging, physical activity and risk reduction, integrative health, environment and health, and health and social inequality. Students are required to complete 18 credits of their chosen area, of which 9 must have a PHE prefix.
Can I switch my area of emphasis after I have been admitted?
Yes, students can change their area of emphasis but they must do so with the approval of their academic adviser.
How much will it cost?
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education determines the tuition and fee rates each year. For the most current listing students should consult the PSU Schedule of Classes or the Web site: http://www.pdx.edu/registration/tuition-and-fees.
Is the School of Community Health M.P.H. program accredited?
Yes, it is accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health (http://www.ceph.org).
Do I need to own a computer?
A personal computer is recommended but not required for the M.P.H. program. All applicants must be computer literate and have a working e-mail address. Computer labs are available in the College of Urban and Public Affairs and at the Portland State University Library for student use. After admission students can request an e-mail account from the Office of Information Technology.
How long do I have to complete the M.P.H. degree?
A student is entitled to take up to seven years to complete the degree.
What is the policy for minimum enrollment?
The College of Urban and Public Affairs requires that students be continuously enrolled for at least three credits per quarter until the completion of their degree unless they are on an approved leave of absence.
What is the difference between full- and part-time status?
Full-time students are enrolled in a minimum of nine credit hours of classes each term for three terms per year. Part-time students take up to eight credit hours each term. Both full- and part-time students may be enrolled in the M.P.H. program.
- What can I do with and MPH? Public Health is a wonderful and extremely broad field. There are job opportunities for people with Health Promotion backgrounds as advocates, researchers, community organizers, program planners/evaluators, health educators, and policy professionals-just to name a few options. We recommend that sudents take a look at job listings for the Oregon Public Health Division, as well as county and local health departments, to see the wide array of currently available positions. We also recommend students search The American Journal of Public Health and The Nation's Health, both published monthly, for national employment listings. There are also a wealth of community organizations dedicated to addressing public health issues, please be certain to look at those working in the arenas that interest you most. Finally, you may wish to search www.publichealthjobs.net, as well as our own Oregon MPH website (Opportunities link), for currently available position descriptions.