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Public health is one of the most diverse fields in healthcare practice, and the public health industry is expanding and changing at a rapid rate. 1 To break into this competitive field, strong qualifications, such as a Master of Public Health (MPH) , are essential, and a winning public health personal statement is a critical component of a successful MPH application. However, writing a personal statement for public health graduate school is substantially different from crafting one as a recent graduate or first-time job-seeker.

This post explains the importance of the MPH personal statement, and highlights four elements to consider when crafting a strong, engaging, effective statement as part of your application.


In public health professions more than in most careers, who you are matters. Because public health focuses on the human side of sickness and well-being, public health professionals interact continuously with individuals, communities, policy makers and educators. 2 Your personality is an important factor in determining the professional you will become. Admissions committees, therefore, need to understand you as a person in order to appreciate you as a candidate.

Among your application documents, your personal statement most effectively reveals who you are to an admissions committee. It demonstrates your passion and suitability for the program you are applying to and establishes you as more than the sum of your skills and qualifications.


A list of who you are, what you do, and where you see your career going will give the admissions committee a good sense of your suitability for the program to which you are applying. However, if you really want to engage your readers, show them rather than telling them. Human beings are narratively wired; we learn, remember and relate to material better when it is delivered in the form of a story. 3 A strong personal statement will be made even stronger if it is structured around a particular narrative.

To incorporate storytelling effectively in your personal statement, think about your strengths as an individual and the episodes in your life that have demonstrated and developed them. Emphasize the strengths that best align with public health professions: interpersonal and communication skills, an analytical and problem-solving mindset, a strong sense of social justice , and cultural competency are all good choices. 4 Tell the story of your life and career with your chosen strengths in mind. Show how each new experience has helped you progress toward being the ideal public health candidate.


The story you tell must illustrate more than just your relevant skills and experiences; it should highlight your passion for and commitment to public health. Admissions-committee members know that the field of public health is demanding, 5 and a good MPH candidate is one who has the drive and dedication to face its many challenges. In your personal statement narrative, explain why public health matters to you.

Public health is a universal concern , and the work of public health professionals touches many aspects of our everyday lives. As you decide on the experiences you’ll include, consider how they demonstrate your personal connection to the public health profession. How have public health leaders inspired you? Where have public health issues affected your life? How have your achievements contributed to improving public health? Where do you hope to see further improvement, and why? By linking the answers to questions such as these with personal narrative, you will demonstrate your passion for the field.


Competition for admission to graduate school is always fierce, and this is especially true when it comes to MPH programs. 6 To craft an effective personal statement, therefore, you must show that you are the perfect candidate for the specific school and program to which you’re applying.

Provide details on how your goals, experiences and passions align with the specific MPH program to which you are applying. You may want to comment on the research opportunities embedded within the program, for example, or the research specializations of key faculty members . Show how the unique details of the program align with your unique characteristics as a candidate.

By including specific references to the MPH program, you show that you’ve done your research and invested your time and energy in choosing a program carefully. Your demonstrated desire to be a part of the unique community and culture of your chosen program will make you a significantly more attractive candidate.


Finally, it is essential that you pay close attention to the grammar, expression and tone of your personal statement. As it is in many careers, writing is a crucial component of effective public health professionalism. 7 A successful public health practitioner must speak and write effectively. Producing a well-crafted, accurate, clear, engaging personal statement will demonstrate your competency in this area.

As you compose your personal statement, strive for a tone that is professional and formal. It will help balance the intimacy of the narrative style discussed above, resulting in a personal statement that feels both human and competent.

Check your work carefully for any errors in formatting, grammar or vocabulary, and make sure that you’re using technical terminology appropriately; mistakes in these areas suggest a lack of care and attention to detail that will reflect negatively on you. Ask someone whose writing skills you trust to proofread your personal statement. Even proficient writers can become blind to their own typos, and someone else’s knowledgeable perspective is always helpful, even if only to confirm the strength of your work.


An MPH is the first step on the path to success in a dynamic, fulfilling career. With your Kent State online Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management , Social and Behavioral Sciences or Epidemiology , or your Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology , you can make a difference in a field with wide-ranging impact.

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Why a Personal Statement is Important

Personal statements are used as part of the application process for many Ph.D. programs, medical schools, fellowship programs, and even, in some cases, jobs.  Personal statements help assess an individual’s commitment to their chosen area of study or work. In addition to strong writing skills, the admissions committee is also looking for something standardized tests and GPAs cannot quantify — your personal story or sense of purpose as it relates to the program or position you are seeking.  While the importance of the statement in terms of the overall application varies from place to place, it is a key factor in the decision-making process.

Consider two goals when writing your essay: persuading the admissions or hiring committee to admit/hire you and demonstrating that you are far more than a GPA or test score. You are an authentic person who would be an asset to the school or to the organization.

The Three-Step Process to Writing a Personal Statement:

1. brainstorming.

In this step you engage in self-reflection, research and the development of ideas for your personal statement.  Allow yourself time to perform this step, and consider the following questions:

  • What events, personal experiences, or difficult situations shaped my character?
  • What experiences were most influential in choosing my career path?
  • What skills, knowledge, and experiences distinguish me from other candidates?
  • What do I find meaningful or purposeful? What is my passion?
  • What are my goals or hopes for my future career?

2. Selecting Your Statement Topic

As you begin Step Two, ask yourself:  “What impression do I hope to create through my statement?” Select a topic that will allow you to synthesize the information from Step One into a well-written document, giving a positive and memorable impression.  Consider some of the following tips as you make your selection:

  • Avoid using gimmicks, but select a topic that grabs the reader’s attention in the first paragraph
  • Provide vivid supporting experiences to your topic
  • Avoid repeating information that can be found elsewhere in your application (such as GPA)
  • Seek feedback from your professors, advisors, and career counselor(s) about the topic

3. Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement

As you write your statement, keep in mind that your goal is to convince admissions or the hiring committee that you are the candidate they want.

  • Start by creating an outline and journaling your first draft of your statement
  • Be yourself – your readers want to learn about who you are as a person
  • Use imagery and clear, vivid prose – describe your life experiences using graphic images
  • Determine if there is a theme to your statement – a common thread.
  • Don’t summarize in your introduction
  • Create curiosity or intrigue in the reader’s mind by raising questions. If there is a theme to your statement, introduce your theme at the beginning.
  • Relate all paragraphs in the body of essay to the introduction; or to your theme
  • Make smooth transitions  to preserve the flow of your essay
  • Link your conclusion to you introduction; focus on your career goals – where do you see yourself in 5/10 years? How will this position help you get there?
  • Discuss the broader implications of your discussion.
  • Redefine a term previously used in the body of your essay, end with a famous quote that is relevant to your argument.
  • Take a break  from a draft of your statement – then come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes
  • Ask someone else to read a draft of your statement and request feedback.  In addition to reading for content and flow, others may spot grammatical errors or typos that you overlooked.

Additional Resources:

  • Sample Personal Statement  (PDF)
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How to Write a Great Personal Statement for the Global MPH

May 15, 2019

personal statement for graduate school public health

Imperial College London’s School of Public Health is renowned for conducting world-class research on today’s most pressing public health issues. No matter how compelling your research findings are, it is essential to communicate them clearly in order to promote positive change.

The same principle applies to your personal statement for the Global Master of Public Health (MPH) program . This personal statement is a chance to make the case that you belong at Imperial. Making that case clearly and effectively can be as important as your academic and professional qualifications.

Many students get anxious about this portion of the application, or worry that their writing skills aren’t up to the task. Our advice? Don’t panic!

You don’t have to be an outstanding writer to craft a great personal statement. Your task is to provide Imperial’s reviewers with the information they’re looking for in 1500 words or less. Let’s break the key points down into three specific areas: your past, present, and future.

1. Past: your background in public health

Start by introducing yourself. You’ve already provided a CV with your application, so this is an opportunity to put your experience in context. Tell us how and why you became interested in public health, the skills you’ve developed, and what you’re most proud of in your studies and career. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!  

Key points:

  • Previous academic and professional experience
  • Relevant exposures to public health related work and research
  • Areas of interest in healthcare and why they interest you

Examples from the MPH Class of 2018-19:

“Throughout my years at University and recent postgraduate studies, I have worked in a pharmacy as a pharmacy/ dispensing assistant, in both community and hospital settings with the latter being involved with cancer clinical trials. These roles have greatly advanced my knowledge of patient care, different treatment options and health awareness strategies within the NHS and local CCGs.”

“I worked on a retrospective study to examine the trends and outcomes of aortic valve replacements performed on veterans from 2005 to 2015. Prior coursework in statistics equipped me to interpret data analyses. I co-authored two abstracts. I often considered how researchers contribute towards reducing health inequities in specific populations.”

2. Present: why you are applying to the Imperial College MPH

After you’ve introduced yourself, explain your motivation for your application. What is driving you to take your career in public health to the next level, and why is the Imperial Online MPH right for you? Make a compelling case why you are applying to this program, specifically, and why now is the right time.

  • Your motivation for your professional and/or research career in public health
  • Why you are applying for the Online MPH program, specifically

Examples from MPH Class of 2018-19:

“My healthcare background has given me the drive to move my career from disease treatment to increasing awareness of disease prevention. With an increasing life expectancy and an uncertain national healthcare budget, prevention of poor health from preventable diseases has never been more imperative.”

“I am particularly interested in studying at Imperial College London due to its Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit, as the research areas of the unit match my own areas of interest for future research which include big healthcare data, healthcare access and health policy; within these areas I have an interest in mental health, cancer and primary and secondary care.”

3. Future: goals for your research at Imperial and your career beyond graduation

Finally, show that you have a specific vision for your time at Imperial and your post-MPH career. Include a short proposal (150 words or less) for a research project that you would be interested in carrying out as part of your dissertation over approximately a three month period. This gives the team more of an idea of your research interests and motivation to undertake the online Global MPH program. If you are accepted, you will not be required to carry out the proposal from your application. If you’d like to pursue the proposal from your application as part of your research portfolio, you can.

Key Points:

  • Your future career goals
  • Your proposed research area

“I believe the course will be able to provide an opportunity to obtain a more in-depth knowledge within these areas, but also developing a strong theoretical understanding of health policy, epidemiology and research methods, which I will give me the underpinning knowledge to undertake a PhD in Public health evaluation and policy in the future.”

“I aim to perform research to evaluate and improve the effectiveness and accessibility of health services for chronic conditions in low-income communities.”


One last piece of advice: write an honest statement that gets across your true character and motivations, rather than writing something you think the panel will want to hear. Imperial’s goal in requesting these personal statements is to get to know prospective applicants on a personal level. Focus on providing a clear account of who you are, why you’re applying, and what you plan to do during and after the program.

The Global MPH offers the opportunity to get a world-class graduate degree in public health from one of the top 10 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2019). The program is affordable, flexible, and 100% online. As such, it attracts a diverse, highly-qualified group of students from across the globe. With a great personal statement, you can significantly increase your chances of joining the next cohort!  

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Writing the Personal Statement

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories: 

The general, comprehensive personal statement:  This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 

  • The response to very specific questions: Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions. 

What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story? 

What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants? 

When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained? 

How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field? 

If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth? 

What are your career goals? 

Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)? 

Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life? 

What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics? 

What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess? 

Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants? 

What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you? 

If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar. 

Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked. 

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.
  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of a specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.
  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.
  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you'll have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgement.
  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).
  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.
  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills are command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.
  • A medical school applicant who writes that they are good at science and want to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

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Step by step process of how to start the process of writing a personal statement for Public Health Graduate School, by Wing Yu Tang

Personal statements can be very tricky for a variety of reasons, both in terms of content and style. A common issue that I’ve seen among students is that many are so overwhelmed by the whole process that they do not know where to begin. Below are some of my suggestions to jump start ideas, and perhaps help tailor your thinking to the program you are applying for: 1) For those of you who are early in your timeline in applying, a great idea is to use a blog to keep track of the experiences and ideas during the course of your studies, work, research, or volunteer activities. This doesn’t have to be anything formal; rather, it helps in both documenting your ideas and allow you to write under minimal pressure. As the stress of applying only builds with closing deadlines, you don’t want lose valuable time trying to remember and articulate under stress. Another very important thing to keep in mind is that the blog does not have to tailor to a certain graduate program--it is perfectly find to explore and discover new and different fields. Writing just adds another dimension, another mirror if you will, that you can then reflect to see the type of career you want. Graduate programs are looking for candidates that have taken a careful and deep looks into their past--and using that to branch out to a career that both matches the student and their program. 2) Once you have determined a specialization (Biology, Chemistry, Public Health, etc.) then it would be a good idea to look into the specifics of these graduate schools, and the concentrations in which they provide. Public Health, for example, has five major areas of concentration: Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Services Administration, Behavioral Sciences/Health Education, and Environmental Health Sciences. Each accredited school has to offer these ranges of concentrations, though some schools specialize in certain aspects of these core (i.e. Yale has a chronic disease epidemiology program that is unique to its school of public health). Look at many programs to get to know the general academic requirements, but also pay close attention to experience. Columbia, for example, requires entering students to Population and Family Health to have at least 2 years of full time experience. It would be extreme negligence on the applicants part to bypass this strict criteria. As you browse through the schools, make sure to take note of programs that you see are suited to your interest. For example, I was very interested in cancer and cardio epidemiology research, both which were heavily founded by the professors affiliated with Yale’s School of Public Health. Hence, research and knowing your vocabulary among these concentrations is important as well. 3) Don’t rule out personal experiences! Many people might believe that their personal experiences should not be considered, but I believe that adding it in healthy amounts can set you apart. Since diversity is a major key, especially if you are applying to a program like global health, being from a certain area automatically sets you apart from the pool. For me, my families had to deal with many healthcare related issues, and I utilized my take from a patient’s perspective in my essay.  Of course, do not overdo this. The last thing you want to do is to come off arrogant, or, even worse, unappreciative. This component should enhance whatever you already have. 4) So what should the personal statement include? How formal should it be? What types of formats are acceptable, if any? A personal statement should be about you. I’ve seen too many students try to tailor or even “fudge” their writing in ways to fit what they think the readers (admissions committee) want to hear. When the piece starts becoming more about them rather than yourself, the piece loses its meaning and its ability to communicate effectively. I will elaborate more on this in a later entry, but this is important to keep in mind that your audience will know if you are only writing to please them. That being said, your personal statement should be written extremely well. You should definitely have multiple editors, and, if possible, some professors, or professionals, from the field in which you are applying into. Take advantage of both the Writing Place and Writing Program, both of which provide excellent services and/or technical advice on your pieces. Students, if you are comfortable enough, would be another resource, though more for fluidity and content check only.

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How to Write a Personal Statement for Public Health

Last Updated: February 24, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Daniel Santos . Daniel Santos is a College Admissions & Career Coach and Prepory's co-founder and CEO. Prepory is a leading college admissions consulting firm that has guided over 9,000 students from 35 countries through the US college admissions process. Prepory is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling and a trusted admissions counseling partner to several competitive high schools across Florida. Prior to founding Prepory, Daniel worked at various leading law firms and the United States House of Representatives. Daniel has been featured as a college admissions and career coaching expert across several major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE, and The Harvard Crimson. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 86,046 times.

Graduate programs in public health require a personal statement as part of the application process to gauge whether a student is a fit for the program. This statement, also referred to as a statement of purpose, outlines a person's academic achievements, professional background and personal characteristics. Particularly in highly competitive programs, the personal statement is weighed carefully in admissions decisions. The following are important considerations for writing a personal statement for public health.

Step 1 Read the personal statement guidelines provided by the public health program.

  • Pay attention to the required word count, character limits and line spacing instructions. Some public health programs sort through large numbers of applications. Make a good first impression by complying with the length and formatting requirements.

Step 2 Write the personal statement in essay format.

Expert Q&A

  • Provide original content. Many universities issue warnings against hiring a writing service to create a personal statement because they want to hear your thoughts and voice in the letter. Write the entire letter yourself and ask someone with solid language skills to provide feedback on content, grammar and tone. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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Personal Statement and Writing Sample

Personal statement.

In your statement of purpose, please discuss the following in one to two single-spaced pages:

  • Your professional, academic, and community experiences
  • The area of research you wish to potentially pursue as a student in the program, the name of at least one member of the PHS PhD Program Faculty or Participating Faculty who shares this research interest, A brief statement regarding your proposed research area interests with the research of the identified faculty member(s),
  • Your specific interest in UNC Charlotte’s program
  • Your career and personal goals including how the program aligns with your career plans
  • How you plan to actively participate in UNC Charlotte’s mission to advance health equity and well-being in an urbanizing world

Writing Sample

In addition to the statement of purpose, a writing sample is required for all applications to the PhD program. The writing sample should

  • Demonstrate aptitude for scholarly writing, e.g., a literature review, a report of a needs assessment or evaluation project, a master’s thesis, or a published original research article on a public health topic where the applicant is the sole or first author.
  • Demonstrate conceptual and analytic skills
  • Use appropriate and consistent citation and reference formatting
  • Applicants without existing examples of academic or scholarly writing should develop a 10-20 page paper on a public health topic of interest that demonstrates conceptual skills and writing ability, use appropriate and consistent citation and reference formatting


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Gre prep online guides and tips, 3 successful graduate school personal statement examples.

personal statement for graduate school public health

Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.

Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program.  You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.

A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.

While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.

Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.

However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.

When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.

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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?

A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:

A Clear Narrative

Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).

You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.

Specific Examples

A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.

Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.

A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.

Strong Writing

Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.

Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.

Appropriate Boundaries

While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.

You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.

Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.


Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.

Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1

PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies

For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.

Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:

  • An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
  • A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
  • Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.

Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.


Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition

This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.

Here’s what works well in this statement:

  • The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
  • The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
  • The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.

This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important.  However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:

  • I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
  • I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.


Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health

This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:

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  • This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
  • This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
  • In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.


Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive

Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.

Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.

This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.

It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.

Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.

Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.

If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.

Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.

In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.

Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.

In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.

Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.

This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.

Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.

This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.

I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.

The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.

This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.


Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online

So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.

Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.

Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School

This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.

The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.

Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements

These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.

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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).

University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples

These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.

Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10

This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1

Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled

It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.


Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)

We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:

  • A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
  • Specific examples to support that narrative.
  • Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
  • Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
  • Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.

Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.

Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.

What’s Next?

Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.

Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples  and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .

If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .

Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.

See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .

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personal statement for graduate school public health

Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

personal statement for graduate school public health

personal statement for graduate school public health

Information Request Form

personal statement for graduate school public health

As a part of the SOPHAS application, all applicants will submit the following materials when applying to Rollins. The GRE is not required for admission to most of our academic programs and will not be considered as part of the application for admission. The department of Biostatistics offers a GRE optional policy. Students applying to BIOS can submit a GRE score for consideration. The GRE score must be submitted at the same time as the application for admission. Check here for additional department-specific requirements.

  • Transcripts
  • Two Evaluations
  • Statement & Experience
  • Test Scores

You should have official transcripts sent directly to SOPHAS from all of the post-secondary institutions you've attended (regardless of how much time you were enrolled there). SOPHAS will only accept transcripts sent directly from the schools. Please do not mail them yourself!

Official transcripts should include a signature from the dean, registrar, or appropriate authority and/or the university seal and be sent snail mail in a sealed envelope. Faxed or emailed transcripts will not be accepted.

International Transcripts

If you are requesting transcripts from colleges outside of the United States, be sure you complete your application through SOPHAS and request your transcript well in advance of the application deadline. We recommend requesting your transcript at least a month in advance.

We suggest doing your SOPHAS application first, so you will already have your 11-digit SOPHAS ID when ordering your evaluation through the World Education Services (WES).

Order your evaluation with this form.

International transcripts, (including French Canadian transcripts) , must be submitted to WES, which evaluates your academic record, before sending everything forward to SOPHAS. When completing your WES profile, make sure to select the WES international credential package, which includes a course-by-course evaluation. While French Canadian transcripts have to be submitted through WES, English Canadian transcripts can be sent directly to SOPHAS from your post-secondary institution.

If you're still enrolled in a post-secondary program outside of the U.S. at the time of the WES evaluation, you will need to submit a final WES evaluation after you have graduated (proving you earned your degree). This info applies to anyone who has obtained a degree outside of the U.S. So, if you live in the United States now, but received your academic training outside of the country, you will need to adhere to all requirements outlined for international students.

All applicants to Rollins must have (at a minimum) the equivalent of a U.S. four-year bachelor's degree.

Note: The WES requirement does not apply to U.S. students who have enrolled in study-abroad programs. International students, may get more application details here !

  • an undergraduate/graduate advisor
  • faculty in your major field of study
  • a recent employer

Your evaluators will submit your evaluation electronically through SOPHAS. Make sure you're telling your references that you will be listing them on your application. Using the contact info you provide, SOPHAS will then email your references to obtain their recommendations.

Note that while SOPHAS requires at least three evaluations, once two have been received, SOPHAS will automatically submit your application to Rollins for review (if your application and all other admission materials have been completed and verified). Your third evaluation will be forwarded to Rollins upon receipt.

Statement of Purpose and Objectives

The personal statement is intended to give you the opportunity to submit a tailored narrative describing who you are and your academic/professional goals. Write your personal statement focused towards your first-choice degree program. Your personal statement should achieve the following:

  • 1,500 Words or less (you may use the space allotted on the SOPHAS application)
  • Summarize relevant experience
  • Explain what you hope to achieve with your public health degree
  • Explain the reason why you would like to attend Rollins School of Public Health

If you are not selected into your first-choice degree program, you may be asked to submit another statement to the second (or third) choice department if the content of the program differs significantly from your first choice. If an additional essay is requested, please email the Rollins School of Public Health Office of Admissions directly and indicate which department the new statement should be sent. Please include your name and Emory ID on the additional essay. 

Your Experience - Research/ Work/ Volunteer

We want to know where you're coming from and what you've done so far in the field of public health.

SOPHAS has a section that lets you fill in details about work, research, honors, awards, and volunteer experience relevant to public health. Use this opportunity to tell us about your achievements. You can put those valuable paid and unpaid internship experiences in here too. We want to hear all about you!

Every school you apply to will be able to see this info.

Other relevant information

In 600 words or less, applicants can use this section of the SOPHAS application to highlight any additional information or relevant skills not expressed elsewhere on the application which may be useful in the evaluation process.

The GRE is not required for admission to most of our academic programs and will not be considered as part of the application for admission. The department of Biostatistics offers a GRE optional policy. Students applying to BIOS can submit a GRE score for consideration. The GRE score must be submitted at the same time as the application for admission.

International applicants are also required to submit TOEFL scores. You can find out about the TOEFL requirement by visiting our International Applicants page.

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Sample Statement of Purpose in Public Health (MPH)

personal statement for graduate school public health

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In statement of purpose.

The following statement of purpose is written by an applicant who got accepted to several top master’s programs in public health. Variations of this SOP got accepted at Rutgers, and Chicago. Read it to understand what a top SOP in MPH should look like.

Example Statement of Purpose in Public Health (MPH)

I have been intrigued by cultural/ethnic, gender, racial, religious, sexual, and socioeconomic groups since I started high school. As my interest in learning about disability and diversity further developed, this prompted me to pursue an undergrad program in Anthropology at Brown. However, once I started this program, I realized that I also wanted to learn practical skills to be able to work with these diverse groups of people beyond just understanding them. Therefore, I started a Certificate and Diploma in Integrative Humanistic Counseling at the University of Georgia while doing my undergrad.

During my coursework and training at the University of Georgia, I have been fortunate to have been tutored, supervised, and mentored by esteemed public health practitioners like Professor Brandee M. Appling and Ginny Jones Boss. My experience of being taught by these individuals has shown me the sophistication, a deeper self-awareness, commitment to ethics, and a firm grounding in empirically based techniques inculcated by public health programs. This has inspired me to pursue a similar program to develop my skillsets and broaden my vision.

My objective is to pursue a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Population Mental Health. I am particularly interested in working with LGBT issues, gender-based violence, and survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). I have worked with disadvantaged populations such as transgender individuals, CSA survivors, and sex workers since my undergrad degree. I was a part of a participant-observation group with transgender individuals for a university project and since then have been associated with ‘The Blue Bird Project,’ which is working towards sensitization towards transgender individuals and creating a gender-inclusive society. During my undergrad, I also completed a year-long project with adult survivors of CSA. In addition, I recently delivered a workshop on raising awareness about this topic at the Academy of Letters.

This program will allow me to learn the best ethical practices used in professional work and espoused by the American Counseling Association (ACA). All MPH programs in mental health cover essential topics in Social and Behavioral Health, Adult Psychopathology, and LGBTQ Health, besides courses in therapeutic techniques and developmental theory. A unique aspect of my intended program is the opportunity to be part of practicum classes. In these, one’s assessment and evaluation skills are supervised and mentored by distinguished public health practitioners who expose one’s blind spots and test and develop the trainee’s analysis skills. Being exposed to this rich and broad curriculum will further build my critical skillset, like my tutors and mentors at Brown and the University of Georgia.

My domestic academic and professional exposure has prepared me adequately to work well with my clients; however, I aspire to learn from the best scholars and experienced health specialists on specialized topics such as working with the transgender population, victims of human trafficking sold into prostitution, victims of child sexual abuse and domestic violence, and prison populations. While I completed my projects during undergrad, I felt restricted by social and cultural constraints, sometimes even by my instructors. Learning through the classroom and my first-hand exposure to topics of my interest in America will further encourage me to return to my home country and have the skillset and the confidence to work better with these populations. I am fascinated by the group work my U.S.- qualified supervisors do in my home country. Some run groups for trauma survivors; others run groups for gay men, yet others work with prisoners. I hope to be able to learn these advanced group skills and work similarly. In addition, I am interested in running support groups for the populations I’ve mentioned.

MPH programs in the U.S. give students a comprehensive understanding of how public health professionals can play a crucial role in reducing the impact of emotional distress, mental illness, substance abuse, alcohol use, and suicide on society. They significantly sensitized toward the emotional development of individuals adversely affected by systematic social factors related to class, gender, race, age, disability, and sexuality. I hope that my training in the U.S. reinforces my skills which will help me better take up a role as a public health practitioner, therapist, and supervisor, as well as an advocate for causes that are very close to my heart. I provide individual therapy to clients whose issues of terrorism, domestic violence, sexuality, addictions, CSA, and other mental health problems have been impacted. I also serve as an observer/facilitator for one of the certificate classes, which is geared towards my independently tutoring a class of trainee therapists in the future.

This concentration will provide me with a foundational knowledge of psychopathology and equip me with the skills to understand current treatments, interventions, practices, and policies to improve global mental health and promote health equity. In addition, it will improve my grasp of group work, enabling me to conduct more advanced group processes. Finally, I will be able to learn the best practices of working with causes of empowerment, healing, and connection in populations mentioned above without the fear of judgment or hurting cultural sensibilities.

I also want to understand further the values of tolerance, multiculturalism, and individualism. My expectation from my degree is to help me realize my potential so that I can more effectively help my society realize theirs. I want to learn from and assimilate the experiences and views of the best minds in the world and share my own varied experiences from my own culture and work with them. I’m thrilled and looking forward to learning from highly distinguished professors who have worked to improve the human condition in their respective areas of interest. The research work, awards, publications, and experience of the professors shall all inspire me to stretch myself to be like them.

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Sample Statement of Purpose for Masters in Public Policy (MPP) India is a place of immense challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, limited state capacity in a country with a burgeoning population results in unmet needs for basic amenities such as healthcare,...

Sample Statement of Purpose for Banking and Finance

Sample Statement of Purpose in Finance The Fall of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and Credit Suisse has again raised the debate about the role of central bankers, deposit insurers, and regulators in modern-day banking. World has been through similar or worse...

Sample Statement of Purpose for Cyber Security

Sample Statement of Purpose for Cyber Security I am applying to pursue a master's degree in Cybersecurity with a special focus on Software Security and Data Privacy. My ultimate goal is to improve the cybersecurity posture of the US by collaborating with key...

Sample SOP for Business Analytics

The following SOP was written by an applicant who was admitted to top MSBA (Masters of Science in Business Analytics) programs in the US. Variations of this essay got accepted at Duke, UT Austin, and UCLA. This statement of purpose is intended to provide an example...

Sample Stanford Computer Science Statement of Purpose

The following statement of purpose is written by an applicant who got accepted to Stanford's doctoral programs in computer science. Stanford's CS program requires a 2-page statement of purpose that covers the following points: Should be concise, focused, and well...

Sample Harvard MPH Statement of Purpose

The following statement of purpose is written by an applicant who got accepted to Harvard's master’s programs in public health. Harvard's MPH program requires a 600-word statement of purpose that covers the following points: Academic and/or professional preparation...

Sample Statement of Purpose for Nursing

The following statement of purpose was written by an applicant who was admitted to top MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) programs in the US. The applicant aspires to specilize in the field of nursing informatics. Variations of this SOP got accepted at Johns Hopkins...

Sample Statement of Purpose Cancer Research (Ph.D.)

The following statement of purpose is written by an applicant who got accepted to top Ph.D. programs in cancer research/cancer biology. Variations of this SOP got accepted at JHU. Read this essay to get inspiration and understand what a top Ph.D. SOP should look like....

Sample Study/Research Objectives for Fulbright Scholarship

With an admissions rate of less than 20%, even applicants with the most outstanding profiles and GRE test scores get rejected from the Fulbright program. What sets successful Fulbright applicants stand out are their unique experiences, achievements and their ability...


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Postgraduate public health personal statement example 2.

At an early age, I realised that I had more questions than answers about life and living things. A growing interest in understanding the origin, growth, structure, and function of living creatures led me to major in biology with no certain career plan in mind.

Immediately after completing the Lebanese Red Cross first aid training session in 2007, I became part of Jounieh's volunteer Red Cross Emergency Medical Services. My being on duty more than seventy-two hours each month has been extremely enriching yet challenging, for the center is the second busiest in Lebanon.

As my team and I had to deal with over three-hundred emergency calls per month, I learned to cultivate time management skills especially that time was no longer abundant. Nonetheless, our activities were not only restricted to rescue missions; rather, they encompassed conducting first-aid posts and educational conferences to raise awareness about basic emergency procedures and healthy practices.

While transporting patients in the ambulance, I came to understand that their bad condition is the result of their rudimentary understanding of basic health care and restricted access to the best medical facilities in the Middle East.

Until very recently, I still had no career objective in mind. However, after attending the meeting held by the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB, I recognized that I could combine my broad academic background in biology and the skills I gained from my practical experience as a first aid volunteer to engage in a vocation as a public health practitioner.

I want to pursue the Master of Public Health Program with a concentration in Health Behavior and Education in order to research and implement intervention policies aimed at providing the population with direct access to health care services. Also, I inspire to infuse health care concepts in young men and women by integrating health awareness in educational programs and conducting campaigns that would elevate a sense of responsibility for a better well-being.

Furthermore, as a current volunteer at the Lebanese Red Cross, I am looking forward to gaining more responsibilities that would enable me to improve the efficiency of services that the Red Cross provides. I believe that my studies in public health at AUB will enlighten my perception of current health issues and more, provide me with the skills necessary to avert preventable health concerns.

I am more than sure that the friendly and supportive atmosphere at the AUB School of Public Health, a school long renown for its commitment to excellence in all that it does, will enable me to exhaust and develop my capacities to the full, thus allowing me to become a successful well-rounded person, able of playing an active role in my community.

Indeed, the MPH program will be demanding, but I am willing to give it my very best, for I have the solid dedication, maturity, and desire to become a public health practitioner.

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This personal statement was written by amsan for application in 2009.

amsan's Comments

I am publishing this personal statement to provide help and some inspiration to all who are in the process of writing a personal statement. It is indeed one hell of a job and I hope this could make it easier. And please, be creative, don't plagiarize.

This personal statement is unrated

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Thank you for sharing your personal statement and your story for all to see! I truly appreciate it. I am currently navigating through the graduate process and could use all the help I can get

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Writing the Personal Statement for Health Professions Applications

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The personal statement gives you the opportunity to present a compelling snapshot of who you are and perhaps why you want to be a doctor. Use your personal statement to say what others can’t. The personal statement can be a tricky genre to master. On the one hand, you want to give the admissions committee a sense of your personality and who you are. On the other hand, you must sound focused and professional, which sounds like it might impede your ability to capture your personality.

But this does not have to be the case. What you need to do is figure out how to say what drives you to want to become a healthcare professional in as specific a way as possible. The more specific you can be, the more the admissions committee will feel as if they have a sense of who you are.

You don’t need gimmicks, jokes, artificial drama, or hyperbole to express who you are or why you would make a good medical student or doctor. All you need are carefully selected details that you can craft into a unique and compelling story that conveys a sense of purpose and motivation.

What Makes a Good Personal Statement?

  • There is no exact template for an effective personal statement. Often, however, strong personal statements combine a concise description of a personal experience with reflection on how this experience either led the writer to pursue medicine or indicates the writer’s character or commitment.
  • Good personal statements often have a strong sense of narrative. This does not mean that they read like short stories, though they can relate a few scenes or anecdotes from your life. They have a strong sense of narrative, rather, in how they convey the writer’s sense of dedication to medicine. Strong personal statements often give readers an idea of how applicants see their experiences as leading to the decision to pursue medicine.

How to Get Started

The personal statement is an exercise in self-reflection. Questions to consider:

  • Who are you?  I am driven to… I have learned to… I believe…
  • What are your most passionate interests or concerns?  What problem(s) most occupy your thinking and your efforts?
  • How did you develop those interests?  (Not just the story, but what drives you.)
  • What errors or regrets have taught you something important about yourself?
  • When does time disappear for you?  What does this tell you about your passions, your values?
  • What ideas, books, courses, events have had a profound impact on you?  How so?
  • To what extent do your current commitments reflect your most strongly held values?
  • When have you changed?  Consider yourself before and after; what does this change mean?
  • How do your interests and who you are relate to your goals in medical school and as a doctor?

Start a “shoebox”; a place to keep random notes for your personal statement; be ready to write at any time. Review these items occasionally; let them tell you more about what you want your personal statement to say. Start writing drafts, experiments; you will know when a paragraph begins to gel.

A Suggested Writing Process

Everyone writes differently, so these are potential strategies rather than rules.

  • Make a list of some of your most defining experiences – extracurricular activities, specific classes, volunteer work, research, hobbies, etc. Try not to include overly personal experiences (breakups, trouble with parents, illnesses in the family, and so on). It’s difficult to write about such things without being sentimental or cliché. You want experiences in which you did something and had to make a choice.
  • From this list, try to select an experience that particularly demonstrates your intellectual curiosity, your dedication to service, your composure under pressure, your leadership ability, or any other personal trait that you think is particularly relevant to your case that you would make a good doctor or medical student.
  • Start writing a draft based on this experience. You want to be specific, but don’t get bogged down with an abundance of anecdotes or minutiae. Try to use your draft to craft a succinct story that demonstrates your character and your motivations.
  • Set the draft aside for some time (a number of days or weeks), and then revisit it with fresh eyes. Be as honest with yourself as you can be: What works in this draft? What doesn’t work? What sounds cliché or unspecific? Would a reader who doesn’t know me at all get a sense of my personal character and dedication?
  • Revise, revise, revise: tighten the structure, add new things to make your point clearer, take away sentences or sections that now seem unnecessary, use the active voice as much as possible, and anything else that needs to be done. If what you have just doesn’t seem to be coming together, do not be afraid to start over.
  • Solicit feedback from a couple of trusted readers and revise again based on the suggestions that you find most useful. Don’t solicit feedback from too many people though – too many responses can be overwhelming.
  • Edit your work for grammatical mistakes, typos, clumsy repetitions, and so on. Make your prose impeccable before you submit your statement. Asking help from other readers can be especially helpful with editing, as sometimes it gets difficult to read your work with fresh eyes.

Things to Do

  • Use the experience that you describe to tell a story of personal progress, particularly progress towards your commitment to medicine.
  • Write with active verbs as much as possible.
  • Strive for concision.
  • Sound humble but also confident.

Things Not to Do – Common Pitfalls

  • Don’t talk in hyperbolic terms about how passionate you are. Everyone applying to medical school can say they are passionate. Instead, show your readers something you have done that indicates your passion.
  • Don’t adopt an overly confessional or sentimental tone. You need to sound professional.
  • Don’t treat the personal statement like a piece of creative writing.
  • Don’t put your resume in narrative form.
  • Don’t use jargon, abbreviations, slang, etc.
  • Don’t use too many qualifiers: very, quite, rather, really, interesting…
  • Don’t write in overly flowery language that you would normally never use.
  • Don’t include famous quotations. If you must quote, use something that shows significant knowledge.
  • Don’t write about yourself in an overly glorifying or overly self-effacing manner.

What to Remember

  • They are read by non-specialists, so write for an intelligent non-medical audience.
  • Actions sometimes speaks louder than words so give examples of experiences rather than describing them.
  • All information must be accurate – don’t pad, but don’t be falsely modest either.
  • The personal statement, in part, serves as a test of your communication skills.  How well you write it is as important as the content.

Writing Resources

  • AAMC: 7 Tips for Writing your AMCAS Personal Statement
  • Graduate Admission Essays: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why , Donald Asher, Ten Speed Press
  • On Writing Well , William Zinsser
  • Elements of Style , Strunk and White, Macmillan
  • Article :  2 Med School Essays that Admissions Officers Loved
  • Guidance for Writing Personal Statements, Work & Activities Section, Secondary Applications

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personal statement for graduate school public health

Personal statement of purpose - MSc Public Health

  • Sample personal statement

personal statement for graduate school public health

07 July, 2022

Personal statement of purpose - msc public health share.

  • 12 May, 2013

I am keen to undertake the MSc Public Health course at Birmingham City University (BCU) to fill in my academic gap in knowledge and skills in the contemporary trending functional areas of Health. My Pharmacology & Therapeutics background has given me the drive to move my career to increasing awareness of disease prevention.

My previous study of BS in Pharmacology & Therapeutics at Delta State University, NigeriaIprovided me with comprehensive knowledge in core Health functions while covering other related functions that Public Health organizations possibly have. During BS in Pharmacology & Therapeutics studies over the last four years, the excellent course structure coupled with high academic standards further stimulated my interest in the field of Health. After graduating I chose to work for Temitayo Clinic & Mat. Home, Lagos to learn about Medical performance and develop professionalism. That was a great experience for me. One of the most valuable things I learned from my BS and work experience is a structured way of thinking that has enabled me to have greater clarity of the things I need to accomplish and respective priorities both in my academic and professional life. Following lead from my attainments, the study of this MSc Public Health degree will help me develop great interpersonal skills, be a quick problem solver and overall a health professional.

At BCU, this MSc Public Health programme is taught by professionals and entrepreneurs. This program is made up of courses for health, designed to provide the knowledge and practical skills necessary for a successful career. This course is designed to help students understand how health regulation operates in a global public health. In this class,I will have the chance to be introduced to the principal perspectives on several of the key issues and topics in Public Health Foundations, Public Health: From Health Protection to Community Development, Global Public Health: A Social Context Approach, Epidemiology and Evaluation, Leadership and Project Management for Health and Healthcare, Research Methods of Enquiry and Dissertation. Those are to help me understand different components of the career of public health.

Successful completion of this MSc Public Health degree would enhance my career prospects, enabling me to progress on to senior roles at either operational, policy or commissioning level in a wide range of areas. In addition, Public health research and practice is at the heart of tackling many of the world’s current threats to health including the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The study will provide me the opportunity to develop the skills and understanding needed to become a leader and agent for change in Public Health. From the study, I will be able to advance my public health knowledge, skills and approach to teamwork, multi-agency collaboration and community partnerships throughout the modules on this course and critically evaluate strategies to improve public health outcomes. These skills are increasingly relevant for the public health workforce and while in profession I will be able to use these in a variety of settings including multilateral and international NGOs, local health authorities, National Public Health authorities, the voluntary or the private sector.

During my studies in the UK, there will be an opportunity for me to develop the critical thinking skills, creativity and confidence that employers look for. The advantages of doing my degree from the UK will obviously boost my employability. UK qualifications are worldwide recognized. Choosing to study overseas at a UK university has many financial, cultural and social advantages as well. A shorter and a more intensive course structure means I will be able to fast-track my career. The UK welcomes over 400,000 international higher education students each year. Sitting at the top of the world rankings, UK universities have a reputation for developing the skills that employers are looking for. UK universities have an impressive international reputation and rank among the best in the world four of the global top ten is in the UK! Research carried out by UK universities also impacts our lives every day, and is internationally renowned for its excellence. By studying here, I will be immersing myself in centuries of high quality academia.

Birmingham City University is one of the UK’s leading universities. With around 24,000 students from 80 countries, Birmingham City University is a large and diverse place to study. BCU puts students at the heart of everything they do, giving them the best opportunities for future success. The University has an enviable reputation for providing quality, student-focused education in a professional and friendly environment. Over 97 % of their students are employed or in further study within six months of graduating. (Destination of Leavers from HE survey 2016/17). The University is the 87th in the Times University Guide 2019 and 97th in the Guardian University Guide 2019. This course has been developed in alignment with the Public Health Knowledge and Skills Framework (PHKSF, 2016) and the UK National Occupational Standards for Public Health. At BCU, I will have the opportunity to present my work at the University Faculty conference and at other relevant conferences. The university hosted a series of events to rewrite the world-renowned Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (World Health Organisation) as the UK Charter and gained international reputation in the area of health. With hospital ward, biomedical laboratories, simulation mannequins, skills practice and clinical enhancement facility, visual case creator resources alongside one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries, Mary Seacole Library, BCU is my first choice for this course in the UK.

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5 MPA Personal Statement Tips for Driven Applicants

5 MPA Personal Statement Tips for Driven Applicants-image

Most graduate degree programs require applicants to submit a statement of purpose, sometimes called a personal statement, along with their other application materials. The statement of purpose is your opportunity to tell your story, describe your motivations, and explain why you would be a good candidate for the program. 

But as a future Master of Public Administration (MPA) student, you must tailor your statement of purpose to your long term career goals specifically in the field of public affairs and public administration. Here are five tips to doing exactly that. 

Make yourself a competitive leader in public affairs; learn more about Cornell’s dedication to career management and professional development within the MPA program.

MPA Personal Statement Tips

When it comes to graduate school admission, the personal statement represents your chance to truly shine.  In addition to providing a tremendous opportunity to convey the quality of your writing to admissions committees, the personal statement allows you to highlight your purpose for pursuing graduate studies."   Thomas O’Toole Executive Director of Public Affairs Programming at the Cornell Brooks School

From specific motivations for applying to exploring your goals in public affairs, here are a few tips to submitting a fantastic statement of purpose . 

1. Be specific about why you're applying to the MPA program

Why is this the right time for graduate study for you .

You have many graduate programs to choose from — and there are myriad MPA programs to choose from across the country as well. For this reason, It is important to detail specifically why you are applying to the MPA program of your choosing: what aspects of the program are you drawn to? Why do you think you are a good fit for this MPA program in particular?

Be specific and really dive into your personal reasons for wanting to join the MPA program you are passionate about and be sure to include details regarding what you will contribute to the community at large

2. Make it personal to your unique experiences

Knowledge, skills, and abilities you will bring to enrich our community (why are you the right person).

What are your personal motivations for obtaining an MPA? What personal experience have inspired you to pursue a mission-driven, impactful career in public affairs ? These are incredibly important questions to answer within your personal statement as they provide context for what is going to drive you throughout your time in the program and beyond.

Detail the kinds of challenges or problems you have encountered during your lived experience and connect those to your dedication to impact societal, systemic change.

3. Describe your long term career goals related to public affairs.

How can the brooks mpa uniquely address your academic and professional interests (why is this the right place).

Within the field of public affairs and public administration, there are nearly countless diverse and dynamic career opportunities. Whether you want to work in environmental , economic , infrastructure , or social policy , there is a public service career for you . 

Take some time to evaluate your long term career goals and describe the specific role or industry in which you want to transform peoples’ lives for good.

Ready for more?   Interested in learning more about public service careers and where our MPA graduates are working today? Download our Career Report.

4. Include relevant professional experiences that will augment your time in the MPA program.

You will want to highlight your professional accomplishments within your statement of purpose. Be sure to include examples of volunteer work, positions of responsibility, and any other life experiences that have contributed to your interest in public affairs.

In doing so, you will exemplify your dedication to professional development , show your commitment to lifelong learning, and demonstrate how you are well prepared to continue gaining the skills needed to lead in the field.

5. Proofread

You are strongly encouraged to proofread carefully before submitting your personal statement. There are no additional writing samples within the application–this is the best way to show what you are capable of. 

Because public affairs is a writing intensive field, writing quality matters. So this should tell you something about the weight we place on these essays in our overall evaluation.”

Proofread your personal statement multiple times to be sure everything is correct before sending it our way.

6. Be proud; be confident; be passionate.

The field of public affairs and public administration is one of the most transformative fields in existence today. 

Our industry is a deeply ‘human’ field, and the more your passion and motivation come through in your writing, the more success you will have in the application process.” 

Armed with an MPA, you will enter the field with the marketable skills needed to make a difference, and for that reason, you should be excited, proud, and confident in your decision to apply to the MPA program of your choice.

Here’s How to Apply to Cornell’s MPA Program

At the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, we make applying to the MPA program as easy and as accessible as possible. Here are the six steps you need to take to apply.

  • Complete Cornell’s Online Graduate School Application . For questions pertaining to any technical issues or errors, contact the Graduate School office at 607-255-4884.
  • Submit unofficial copies of your college and university transcripts. Do not send official transcripts to the MPA Program. Before matriculating, all admitted students will be required to submit an official transcript to the Graduate School. Review submission parameters on the Graduate School’s website .
  • Submit your résumé and three letters of recommendation (academic and/or professional are acceptable).
  • Applicants for whom English is a second language will need to meet minimum scores on either the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Required minimum scores on the TOEFL exam are: writing 20, listening 15, reading 20, speaking 22. Our field requirements for the IELTS exam are an overall score of at least 7.0.
  • Submit both a Statement of Purpose and an Essay. ( See this page for more information .)
  • You will be sent email instructions to participate in an online interview to complete your application.

Check out our recorded webinar about applying to the MPA program!

Jumpstart Your Public Service Career at the Cornell Brooks School MPA Program

You have the valuable opportunity to obtain a Master of Public Administration degree that will prepare you to launch your career in public service. 

Are you ready to take the plunge?

Take the first step in your next career venture by requesting information or starting your online application today. You can also visit our Webinar Library or Resource Library for additional webinar recordings and downloadable guides.

An Educational Guide for Future Leaders in Public Affairs   Download our resource, An Educational Guide for Future Leaders in Public Affairs, to learn more about the value of getting an MPA.

Is Working for a Nonprofit Worth It? (Hint: It is with an MPA Degree)

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The admission essay ("the statement of objectives") is a vital piece of information. It provides the Admissions Committee with information not available elsewhere in the application. Here are three critical questions that the written statement answers:

1. is this candidate capable of effective written communication; 2. does the candidate convey a sense of thoughtfulness and maturity about the chosen area of study; and 3. what is the applicant's anticipated career plan? This third piece of information is, in most cases, the most important for two reasons.

  • First, it allows the Committee to determine whether a good fit exists between what the applicant plans to do, and what the department is capable of providing.
  • Second, it indicates to the Committee that the applicant has the necessary intellectual and personal maturity to pursue graduate study.

1. Read the instructions for the written statement carefully and follow them.

Do not exceed the 2-page limit: do not shrink the font size to fit the 2-page limit. Eleven or twelve point font and two pages is sufficient for meeting the requirements of the essay.

2. Specify the degree program and track of research interest from the offerings of the department.

We offer the PhD doctoral degree, the MHS and ScM masters’ degrees, certificates and non-degree post-doctoral fellowship training. Please select from the following Research Tracks: Epidemiology of Aging, Cancer Epidemiology, Cardiovascular and Clinical Epidemiology, Clinical Trials and Evidence Synthesis, Environmental Epidemiology, General Epidemiology and Methods, Genetic Epidemiology, and Infectious Disease Epidemiology. The Certificates in Clinical Trials, Healthcare Epidemiology, Pharmacoepidemiology, and Epidemiology for Public Health Professionals are also accepting applications.

3. Avoid extraneous personal or biographical information that does not inform the committee about future career plans.

A high percentage of applicants begin their essay with a personal anecdote about a personal health event, a trip abroad, or an account of illness in the family. While this does allow the committee some idea of the applicant's motivation, it should not be the whole essay. Please keep the anecdote to 1/3 or less of the full essay. One paragraph is usually sufficient to communicate one's motivation.

4. Emphasize what you will do, not what you have done.

Most of the relevant information about what an applicant has accomplished is easily and rapidly accessible to the committee through a review of the CV and other application materials. Many applicants use 90% of the space in the statement to restate and embellish those items. Additionally, in the final paragraph, most applicants will give passing attention to the main objective of the statement (to articulate a clear and concise plan for progressing toward a career in a given field). As a general guideline, more than half of the essay should be spent explaining what the applicant intends to do during and after graduate study.

5. Provide evidence that you as an applicant are well matched to the interests of the department.

Some applicants engage in “name dropping” subsequent to a review of catalogues and web sites. However, faculty members do change schools or areas of research. A well-written statement explains how particular faculty, research programs, or course work is particularly well-suited to meeting the training objectives of the applicant. Additionally, if the only faculty member doing the research discussed leaves the program, the Department cannot in good conscience grant admission to the program.

6. Be as concrete and specific as possible about your interests and proposed course of study.

An applicant's failure to articulate a clear and detailed training plan leaves the Committee with the impression that the applicant has not thought through the nature and meaning of graduate training, and may not be ready for admission. These are the questions to address: (in Epidemiology for instance) How will the applicant help rid the world of disease? To what end will skills and knowledge be directed? What specific aspect of a broad domain of work holds the applicant’s interest? And finally, the statement of objectives is not a binding document. Students, once they matriculate, often shift and refine their focus of study. No one is obligated to remain faithful to the plan they articulate. However, the statement of objectives is designed to provide the department a strong understanding of the applicant's motivation and commitment to the field and a clear indication of the applicant's writing ability.

Admissions Deadlines: Doctoral (PhD): December 1 Masters (MHS & ScM): January 15 Certificates: September 1 Non-degree post-doctoral fellowship: minimum of 90 days prior to the start of training

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Are you passionate about helping others? Pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree can help you become a leader in this dynamic field and address your community’s top health issues.

But what is an MPH, and how can it prepare you for a career in public health?

An MPH degree is one of the most comprehensive courses of study for anyone who wants to play an active role in improving communities’ well-being. It touches on several public health trends, including globalization, climate change, and mental health to ensure you’re well-equipped to address these challenges head-on.

If you’re interested in learning more about this educational path, here’s an overview of what an MPH is and the benefits you can expect from earning this advanced degree.

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What is an MPH?

A Master of Public Health degree helps you identify societal health risks and manage them using public health skills like data analysis, research, and advocacy. MPH degree programs also teach you how to develop strategies that promote healthy behavior, improve access to healthcare services, and reduce the spread of disease.

“When you get a master of public health degree, you're going to get the foundations of every area of public health,” says Dr. Frazier Beatty, director of the Online Master of Public Health program at Regis College. “You're going to get the foundations in epidemiology, biostatistics, social behavior, health education, environmental health, and research.”

Earning an MPH is a great opportunity to specialize in topics that interest you the most. For example, a prospective epidemiologist can learn about how to study, track, and analyze disease patterns, while a public health advocate’s education can focus on communication skills and public health policy.

Many public health professionals start with a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field, but the interdisciplinary nature of the industry allows career changers to make a difference with a master’s level education.

So if your goal is to pursue leadership positions or transition from another field, it’s crucial to earn an advanced degree to expand your public health skill set. In fact, according to our analysis of job posting data, 58 percent of public health graduates in 2022 had at least a master’s degree.

Educational Breakdown of Public Health Professional in Massachusetts

MPH vs. MSPH vs. MHA

Depending on your goals, it’s important to know what type of master’s-level education will be the most beneficial for your career.

To help you choose which educational path is right for you, here’s an overview of your options:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH) : A more “practitioner-focused” degree that provides a comprehensive foundation in public health through practical application in epidemiology, health policy and management, and environmental health.
  • Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) : An advanced degree for professionals with a scientific background who want to deepen their expertise in biostatistics and epidemiology to prepare for research-oriented roles.
  • The Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) : A professional graduate degree that prepares students for leadership and strategic planning roles in healthcare settings, focusing on healthcare management, policy, and economics.

The right degree program should directly align with your career aspirations in public health.

As Beatty explains, the MSPH is “more focused on the science of public health instead of the practice of it. The master of science person may be working in a research lab for a university hospital or a university that does public health research.”

The MHA is best for professionals who want to become leaders in hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities.

An MPH is a popular choice among aspiring health advocates who want to actively address public health issues. Due to its versatility, even those who specialize in health administration can become leaders in public health facilities.

In addition, COVID-19 has contributed to a greater awareness of and desire for these programs. This is reflected in our analysis of academic program data showing a 43 percent growth in MPH programs since 2022.

Master's in Public Health programs have grown by 43% from 2018 to 2022

Whether you're drawn to hands-on public health practices, research, or healthcare administration, understanding these options can guide you toward a fulfilling career that matches your goals and contributes significantly to global health and wellness.

Three Things to Consider When Choosing an MPH Degree

Any accredited MPH degree program can give you a comprehensive foundation in public health principles, but your overall student experience will differ across schools. As you compare options, here are three things to look for in a reputable MPH program.

Program Format

MPH programs are available in various formats to accommodate diverse student needs.

Traditional graduate programs involve on-campus attendance and offer the benefits of in-person lectures, one-on-one peer interaction, and synchronous learning. Yet, traditional programs are typically the least flexible in terms of class schedules, making them best suited for learners who can commit to full-time attendance.

Hybrid and fully online MPH programs provide the most flexibility, allowing students to complete asynchronous or synchronous coursework remotely. Online programs are ideal for working professionals, parents or caregivers with familial obligations, and other learners who are unable to attend classes in person.

Whether virtual or in-person, part-time MPH programs are a convenient option for those who need to learn or pay for their education at a slower pace. Completing fewer credits per semester enables students to balance academic pursuits with other responsibilities and extend their duration of study as needed.

Private vs. Public

Another thing to consider is whether you prefer to attend a public or private institution. Private institutions often stand out for their smaller class sizes and distinguished faculty, offering a more personalized and engaging learning experience. While they may come with higher tuition costs, almost 83 percent of MPH programs are offered at private colleges according to our analysis of academic program data.

Majority of Public Health Programs Are Offered At Private Institutions

In contrast, public institutions are often more affordable. However, private colleges excel in delivering a high-quality curriculum, expert faculty, and unique resources, making them an appealing choice for those seeking a comprehensive and immersive educational experience in public health.

Curriculum is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a program.

“In a master of public health program, students will learn the core principles of public health and how public health works in society,” Beatty says.

In a well-structured program, students can expect to learn more about the top issues affecting populations today, such as the opioid crisis, environmental pollution, and the rise in obesity.

The foundational courses for a master's in public health program include:

  • Biostatistics : The use of statistical methods to interpret biological and health-related data and make informed public health decisions.
  • Epidemiology : The study of health issues and disease transmission in different populations based on the analysis of trends and risk factors, such as environmental conditions and social determinants of health.
  • Environmental health : The study of environmental conditions, such as air, food, soil, and water quality, and their impact on community wellbeing.
  • Health policy : The evaluation and planning of policies and programs designed to improve healthcare outcomes, access, and education within populations.
  • Health administration : Efficient management of healthcare organizations or systems, ensuring effective healthcare delivery, staff coordination, resource allocation, and financial planning.
  • Social and behavioral health : The study of how social, cultural, economic, and behavioral factors influence health outcomes and disparities, with the goal of developing successful interventions.

An MPH curriculum often incorporates hands-on experiences such as internships, fieldwork, and research projects to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world public health challenges. Many programs also provide opportunities to specialize in more advanced knowledge and skills.

Benefits of an MPH Degree

Getting clarity on your professional goals is crucial before you make a financial or time commitment to a challenging graduate degree program. Ask yourself: Why is a master's degree in public health worth it?

Here are some of the potential benefits of pursuing this specialized public health education.

Career Opportunities

Public health has no shortage of career opportunities, and incoming professionals are creating more crossover disciplines. According to our analysis of job postings data the average growth of public health occupations has been 20 percent.

Average Growth of Public Health Occupations in the U.S.

“I don't know if there's a typical pathway,” Beatty notes. “Some students want to do research or work in the community. Some people want to do data analysis or specifically work with women and children. A couple of students want to be veterinarians. I think it depends on the student, but it's so many areas.”

Public health is an expansive field, with new career paths continually emerging as technology evolves. However, if you’re ready to enter the field as soon as possible, here are some of the top public health careers you can obtain with an MPH:

  • Epidemiologist : Investigates patterns and causes of diseases to reduce the risk of negative health outcomes affecting communities.
  • Biostatistician : Applies statistical principles and methodologies that can help in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data.
  • Public health researcher : Conducts studies to better understand health and diseases in populations.
  • Public health program manager : Oversees the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health-related programs and initiatives.

Within each of these fields, public health professionals can work in niche areas based on their interests.

For example, researchers might focus on women’s, children’s, or mental health. Epidemiologists may specialize in veterinary diseases, pharmaceuticals, or genetics. Program managers and educators support every subdiscipline, facilitating the spread of information between researchers, health providers, policymakers, and the public.

Skills Development

If you’re currently in public health or interested in starting a career, an MPH can accelerate skill development. Thriving in public health roles depends on the consolidation of diverse knowledge from multiple disciplines. Gaining well-rounded professional experience from one position to another takes time. MPH programs are designed to introduce learners to the complex topics and questions they can expect on the job, giving them the proficiency and confidence to take on higher roles.

A high-quality MPH program can help you develop skills such as:

  • Data analysis : Analytics involves the ability to collect, organize, and evaluate health-related data to draw actionable conclusions. This includes knowledge of statistical models, data visualization, and software applications used in decision-making processes.
  • Systems thinking : Systems thinking is a holistic method of examining the interconnected relationships, factors, and feedback loops involved in health outcomes. These skills involve identifying and addressing the root causes of health challenges in order to promote sustainable solutions.
  • Risk analysis : Risk analysis is the ability to identify potential health threats and vulnerabilities among populations and estimate the likelihood and impact of adverse events. Risk analysts come up with strategies to mitigate threats such as infectious diseases, environmental exposures, and harmful pharmaceuticals.
  • Biostatistics : Biostatistics is the use of statistical strategies to create health studies, assess findings, and apply the results to health disparities facing populations. Biostaticians also track and measure the effectiveness of interventions.

Community Impact

Public health professionals make significant contributions across numerous health disciplines, which offers an enriching opportunity to make a real impact in the community.

“I think the benefits are really incredible for a person who has a humanitarian spirit,” Beatty says. “And public health education allows you to tap into so many different areas of service. You can get into just about anything you want to that deals with people or animals.”

An MPH equips professionals with a versatile skill set and in-depth understanding of public health practices that enable them to advance or transition into adjacent fields. By applying skills in research, data analysis, epidemiology, program development, and policy advocacy, professionals in the field can come up with innovative ways to make an impact in the community.

Take the Next Step in Your Public Health Career

If you’re passionate about earning a master’s degree in public health, the next step is to compare individual programs to see how each institution can support your career growth. Choose an accredited program with an in-depth curriculum, experienced faculty, and a successful track record of educating qualified professionals.

Regis College’s Master of Public Health degree offers a multifaceted approach to public health education. Coursework combines real-world case studies with expert instruction from faculty who have contributed to health innovation in their respective disciplines. Students gain the core knowledge and critical thinking abilities to address complex health issues, collaborate on solutions, and apply their insights to emerging challenges.

To learn more about the program, contact an admissions counselor to find out how an education at Regis can serve your professional goals.

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May 15, 2024

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Public Health graduates celebrate 2024 commencement

2024 marked the 79th commencement ceremony for the School of Public Health

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Dean Michael C. Lu and Commencement Speaker Gerald Chan with Oski.

Dean Michael C. Lu and Commencement Speaker Gerald Chan with Cal mascot Oski the Bear at the 2024 reception for new graduates.

UC Berkeley School of Public Health celebrated the class of 2024—the 79th class in its illustrious history—at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on May 13, 2024.

This year, 605 students—38 doctoral students, 345 masters students, and 222 undergrads—received diplomas. This remarkable group of public health changemakers graduated after a year that was marked by protests but also by personal triumph and growth. The undergraduate students graduated from high school in 2020, when the country was in the throes of the initial COVID-19 lockdown. Most of them were unable to celebrate their secondary school commencements, so the day was extra special for them and their loved ones.

The theme of community came up repeatedly during the ceremony. Undergraduate orator Raksha Rajeshmohan spoke of how concern, kindness, and love were at the center of her public health experience. “We look out for each other, even when we are on opposite sides of the globe. Amidst all the chaos that is Berkeley, we were given a safe space to grow within this department,” she said.

Dean Michael C. Lu echoed Rajeshmohan’s sentiment in his commencement remarks.

“We are your community—a community of public health  innovators, changemakers, and arc-benders, fighting the good fight every day to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward health equity and social justice,” Lu told the graduating class. “And wherever you go, I hope you’ll find a community like this one. People who will cheer you on just like we always will,  and people who believe that you can and will change the world just like we always do.”

Another tightly held value at the school is that of embracing our power to make change. Indeed, commencement speaker and scientist, biotech company founder, and venture capitalist Gerald Chan, SM, MS, ScD, urged the students to embrace innovation.

“Innovation is a mindset, it is a mental habit, it is an intolerance for poor outcomes, it is an eye to see deficiencies as a prelude to something better, it is taking risk to challenge the status quo, it is thinking the unthinkable to create alternatives,” Chan said from the stage of the Greek. “ In each of our own ways, we can be a change agent that makes things better for our fellow man, for our institutions, and for our communities.” ( Read Chan’s full keynote here .)

Graduate orator Dr Sai Ramya Maddali had a philosophical perspective on the intertwining of compassion and public health.

She called on the graduates to invest in their compassion, courage, and empathy. “Because that is what our world needs. That is what our field needs. COVID-19 was and is a public health issue. The fentanyl crisis is a public health issue. Mass incarceration is a public health issue. Racism is a public health issue. War is a public health issue. Genocide is a public health issue,” she told the graduates. “We can only address them when we bring our whole selves, with our knowledge, courage, and grief. So Berkeley friends, give your soul space to feel and take it all in. And let’s move our field forward with radical compassion and courage.”

“Your generation must set the world on a different path,” Dean Lu called upon the graduates. “Leaving behind, in the words of Ms. [Arundhati] Roy, ‘the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies… Ready to imagine another world, and ready to fight for it.’”

Each year, one faculty member, one alum, and two students receive awards from the UC Berkeley Public Health community for their achievements. This year, Dr. Sandra McCoy received the Zak Sabry Mentorship Award; Terry Bayer, JD, MPH ’75, received the Alum of the Year Award; Joel Rubio, MPH ’24, received the Henrik Blum Award for Distinguished Social Action; and Abraham Soto, MPH ’24, received the Sheldon Margen Award, given to a graduating student who best exemplifies a voracious curiosity and ability to draw upon multiple disciplines to address the health problems of society’s most vulnerable.

Congratulations to our 2024 graduating class. Be the change you want to see in the world and Go Bears!

People of BPH found in this article include:

  • Michael Lu Dean, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
  • Sandra McCoy Professor in Residence, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

More in category “School News”:

From foster care to public health changemakers, forced into covid-era isolation, university medal finalists embraced resilience, compassion, berkeley public health alum puts new moms’ healthcare first, dr. richard scheffler elected lifetime fellow of aaas.

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Commitment to healthy people and communities unites 2024 graduates.

personal statement for graduate school public health

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health class of 2024 spans numerous fields but its members share a commitment to empathy and compassion, coupled with a dedication to providing remarkable care and performing innovative research. Through the myriad careers ahead of them, these Badgers will maintain commitment to a vision of healthy people and healthy communities.

The school’s health professions programs — Doctor of Medicine , Doctor of Physical Therapy , Master of Genetic Counselor Studies , Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Public Health — held graduate recognition ceremonies from Thursday, May 9 through Saturday, May 11, as did many basic sciences graduate degree programs affiliated with the school.

Celebrations continued into Friday evening at the UW–Madison commencement ceremony for doctoral, master of fine arts and health professions graduates. Basic sciences master’s degrees were conferred during the Saturday commencement ceremony at Camp Randall stadium.

MD Graduate Recognition Ceremony: reflections on hard-earned lessons

Azure skies reflected by a shimmering Lake Mendota greeted MD graduates at the Memorial Union at UW–Madison. The class of 2024 began their studies at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that shaped the start of their medical education. In his remarks to graduates, Dean Robert N. Golden, MD, highlighted their unprecedented experience and how it shaped their learning.

“You are a very special class,” Golden said. “Most of you started your training here during the very dark, early days of the COVID pandemic. You have emerged from that fiery crucible with strong mettle, and hopefully with several lessons learned beyond what is taught in the classroom or through our formal curriculum.”

“COVID taught all of us about the need to continue to integrate medicine and public health. COVID also demonstrated the wisdom of societal investments in research, which made it possible for us to very quickly develop safe and effective vaccines and treatments. Beyond COVID, we see this every day in other vitally important areas, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and autoimmune disorders.”

Golden described how pandemic insights directly translate to other contemporary health issues, such as the importance of communication and the impact of health disparities in underserved communities. These lessons continue to inform emerging issues, such as use of artificial intelligence in medicine, health impacts of climate change, and the emergence of new pathogens.

“Can the medical community lead the way in creating widespread recognition that access to good health and health care is a fundamental human right rather than a commodity?” he asked. “Now, the answers to these enormous important questions and challenges are in your hands.”

Student-selected faculty speaker Maxfield Flynn, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine heavily involved in medical education and mentorship. Flynn described how teaching medical students has challenged him to improve himself, his medical knowledge, and his approach to teaching and mentoring.

“You’ve asked me provocative questions and sometimes proposed no-win impossible scenarios,” Flynn said. “You’ve made me re-evaluate my thoughts about social justice, stigma in medicine, different learning abilities, and our ways of teaching. You challenge me to try new things and think new thoughts. It is frustrating and difficult and inspiring all at the same time. Thank you.”

Flynn shared three tenets he has learned through teaching — the value of humility, curiosity and kindness — and reflected on each.

“Our training as physicians is very long, and during that duration of time, it is inevitable that we all will go through trials and difficulties,” he said. “And yet through some of the hardest times, I have seen you offer comfort and support to each other. I’ve seen you express incredible kindness and empathy to our patients. And I love to be around it and to be a part of your learning because you remind me of what it takes to be a great physician.”

The event’s student speaker was Joshua Martens, who was chosen by his peers. Martens, who is a native of the Milwaukee suburb Franklin, Wisconsin, earned his undergraduate degree at UW–Madison majoring in neurobiology and kinesiology.

During medical school, Martens was selected for induction into national medical honorary society Alpha Omega Alpha, performed research in interventional and diagnostic radiology, and served as a peer leader and mentor to undergraduates interested in pursuing medicine.

“All of us started our journey to becoming physicians long before we ever arrived at the school,” Martens said. “Some of us dreamed of becoming doctors since we were kids, others discovered our calling on campus, volunteering in clinics, or while working in other professions. Nonetheless, our graduation today represents the culmination of years of tireless work and great sacrifices of time, energy and opportunity. Moreover, we stand on the shoulders of many family members, friends and mentors who sacrificed so much to allow us to succeed.”

Joshua Martens

Martens told the story of his great-grandfather, who came to the United States from Mexico to work difficult jobs in California, dreaming of opportunities for himself and his future family. In search of a better future, he moved to Illinois to work for a railroad company, where he climbed the ranks to become a leader at work and in his local community. It was there his great-grandfather met his great-grandmother, who had experienced her own hardships. Martens encouraged his peers to look to their ancestors for inspiration.

“There are many who persevered through hardship most of their lives, with only the ability to dream of the promise of our futures,” he said. “I know many of us along our medical journey have been told, whether by ourselves or others, ‘you will never make it,’ ‘the odds are against you,’ ‘consider a different path.’ There have been countless reasons to quit, yet we all stand here today, soon to be doctors, writing another chapter in our genealogical book of resilience and hard work.”

Cathryn Phouybanhdyt

Among the other 172 graduating medical students in the class was Noah Trapp. After attending high school and college in Kansas, Trapp chose to work as a science teacher and eighth-grade baseball coach in the Mississippi Delta, one of the most under-resourced areas in the United States. There he witnessed the inequities his students faced in the classroom, and their struggles as they faced some of the worst health outcomes in the country.

During medical school Trapp participated in the global health program and conducted research to evaluate neurological outcomes in children with perinatal brain injury. He also founded a student interest group in neurology and volunteered with the MEDiC Free Clinics , while in his personal life he and his wife welcomed two children.

Trapp will pursue a residency in pediatric neurology at Mayo Clinic. He said this unique specialty will allow him to continue focusing on children, a passion that was sparked by teaching.

“I will have the opportunity to work with children and help study pediatric brains for the rest of my life, which I’m very excited about,” he said. “I love working with kids and I missed that about my work in the classroom, especially with children with special needs. Now I will get to work with them in the hospital and help them through some of the biggest challenges in their lives… I will always be a teacher at heart, and I can still be a doctor.”

Read more about Noah Trapp

The importance of representation in health care

Amanda DeVoss and Addie Agboola

Aderoju (Addie) Agboola’s journey to becoming a physician assistant began when an assigned reading on Black maternal mortality stopped her in her tracks. She had also struggled to find a health care provider that looked like her — so she decided to become one.

She said she chose to pursue a physician assistant degree because of its versatility and alignment with her interests, from primary care and addiction medicine to neonatal care. She is one of 56 Physician Assistant graduates in the class of 2024.

“Most importantly, when patients who look like me walk into the room, they know that there are things they won’t have to explain because I will understand,” she said. “I chose UW because it was clear to me while filling out the application that they cared about your ‘why.’ One of the most meaningful experiences from my time at [the school] was actually in the classroom. I know how cliche this will sound but my class is excellent in every single way. I have grown more than I have ever expected, I have made friendships that I will hold on to.”

Agboola plans to work at a federally qualified health center to start a career in primary care. She said her goal is to be the type of provider that all patients trust, honoring the individuality that exists for all patients.

“I want to be all the things I looked desperately for in my providers,” Agboola said. “I want to cultivate a space for patients to feel like they matter, to feel that their choices are respected regardless of if they align with mine.”

Read more about Addie Agboola

‘Healing through movement’: a passion for physical therapy

Sue Wenker and Muzzy Chaudhry

Muzammil (Muzzy) Chaudhry is one of 38 Doctor of Physical Therapy program graduates who will join the health care workforce. Chaudhry was inspired to join the profession because of his passion for empowering patients to heal themselves through movement and reconnect with activities that bring them joy.

Originally from Chicago, Chaudhry earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies at UW–Madison, which provided a strong foundation for building deep relationships with patients and cultivating empathy. He said it also gave him a sense of the incredible support systems at the university, adding that the physical therapy program has introduced him to wonderful faculty and peers and cultivated an amazing learning experience.

“I am passionate about orthopedics and applying psychosocial strategies to health care to optimize patient outcomes,” Chaudhry said. “I chose physical therapy because of our ability to build strong patient connections. The program allows for a variety of extracurricular activities, maintains an amazing core faculty and has small class sizes. All of this makes every student feel valued and allows us to explore different aspects of the profession.”

One of his most meaningful experiences was creating a course called Cultural Humility for Health Equity, which he then offered to all UW School of Medicine and Public Health students. After graduation, Chaudhry is joining Mayo Clinic for an orthopedic residency.

“My dream is to split my time between being an orthopedic clinician and teaching both orthopedics and empathy coursework at a university,” he said. “I am excited to further expand my knowledge of orthopedic conditions and assist in teaching at their DPT program.”

Read more about Muzzy Chaudhry

Class of 2024 by the numbers

  • Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) : 13
  • Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM) : 28
  • Medical Scientist Training Program/MD-PhD (MSTP) : 8
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT): 38
  • Master of Genetic Counselor Studies (MGCS): 8
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS): 56
  • Master of Public Health (MPH): 59
  • Master of Science in Biotechnology: 26
  • Basic sciences graduate students: students completed studies in the school’s 14 graduate programs and 4 affiliated graduate programs

MD graduate photos by Todd Brown and Hallie Funk, SMPH Media Solutions


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    The writing sample should. Demonstrate aptitude for scholarly writing, e.g., a literature review, a report of a needs assessment or evaluation project, a master's thesis, or a published original research article on a public health topic where the applicant is the sole or first author. Demonstrate conceptual and analytic skills.

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    Example Statement of Purpose in Public Health (MPH) I have been intrigued by cultural/ethnic, gender, racial, religious, sexual, and socioeconomic groups since I started high school. As my interest in learning about disability and diversity further developed, this prompted me to pursue an undergrad program in Anthropology at Brown.

  18. Postgraduate Public Health Personal Statement Example 2

    Postgraduate Public Health Personal Statement Example 2. At an early age, I realised that I had more questions than answers about life and living things. A growing interest in understanding the origin, growth, structure, and function of living creatures led me to major in biology with no certain career plan in mind.

  19. Writing the Personal Statement for Health Professions Applications

    The personal statement gives you the opportunity to present a compelling snapshot of who you are and perhaps why you want to be a doctor. Use your personal statement to say what others can't. The personal statement can be a tricky genre to master. On the one hand, you want to give the admissions committee a sense of your personality and who ...

  20. Public Health Postgraduate Personal Statement

    Office Hours: 9am - 6pm, Monday to Friday UK Address Personal Statement Service. The Old Dairy 12 Stephen Road Headington, Oxford, OX3 9AY United Kingdom. VAT Number 425 5446 95. 24/7 0800 334 5952 London 020 364 076 91 [email protected]

  21. Sample personal statement for MSc Public Health

    Those are to help me understand different components of the career of public health. Successful completion of this MSc Public Health degree would enhance my career prospects, enabling me to progress on to senior roles at either operational, policy or commissioning level in a wide range of areas. In addition, Public health research and practice ...

  22. 5 MPA Personal Statement Tips for Driven Applicants

    At the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, we make applying to the MPA program as easy and as accessible as possible. Here are the six steps you need to take to apply. Complete Cornell's Online Graduate School Application. For questions pertaining to any technical issues or errors, contact the Graduate School office at 607-255-4884.

  23. Guidelines for Writing Statement of Objectives

    Second, it indicates to the Committee that the applicant has the necessary intellectual and personal maturity to pursue graduate study. 1. Read the instructions for the written statement carefully and follow them. Do not exceed the 2-page limit: do not shrink the font size to fit the 2-page limit. Eleven or twelve point font and two pages is ...

  24. What Is a Master's in Public Health?

    Public health researcher: Conducts studies to better understand health and diseases in populations. Public health program manager: Oversees the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health-related programs and initiatives. Within each of these fields, public health professionals can work in niche areas based on their interests.

  25. Public Health graduates celebrate 2024 commencement

    UC Berkeley School of Public Health celebrated the class of 2024—the 80th class in its illustrious history—at UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre on May 13, 2024. This year, 605 students—38 doctoral students, 346 masters students, and 222 undergrads— received diplomas.

  26. Commitment to healthy people and communities unites 2024 graduates

    The school's health professions programs — Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Genetic Counselor Studies, Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Public Health — held graduate recognition ceremonies from Thursday, May 9 through Saturday, May 11, as did many basic sciences graduate degree programs affiliated with the school.