EPID Admissions FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Admission to the MPH in Epidemiology Program:
What is Public Health?

Public Health is the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Check out this website to learn more and find out where you fit in Public Health here.

Where is the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Public Health located?

The School is located in downtown New Orleans on the campus of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

What Makes the LSU School of Public Health unique?

The LSU School of Public Health is the only accredited public school of public health in Louisiana, a unique, culturally rich, and diverse state. Distinguished for our excellent community-based research and service with a focus on eliminating health disparities, we offer outstanding opportunities to students for education, research, and community involvement. The School’s interdisciplinary activities are enhanced by being part of the Health Sciences Center.

What Master’s Degrees are offered in the Epidemiology Program?

We currently only offer the professional Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a concentration in Epidemiology.

Why Study Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is considered one of the foundational disciplines of public health. Our MPH in Epidemiology prepares students for careers in public health and related fields by providing the skills needed to conduct research into the causes, prevention, and control of human disease. The job outlook is excellent and more information can be found here.

Is the school accredited?

Yes, the LSU School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the nationally recognized accrediting body for both schools of public health and public health programs. CEPH assists schools and programs in evaluating the quality of their instructional, research, and service efforts, and grants accreditation to those schools and programs that meet its published criteria.

How large are the classes?

Core classes can have as many as 20 to 50 students while non-core classes may have as few as 5 or as many as 20 students.

What is the typical student timeline?

The MPH in Epidemiology requires 45 credit hours. For full-time students, they typically complete the MPH in two years. Most students take 12-15 credit hours of course work in each of their two fall and spring semesters and often complete the required Public Health Practice Experience (internship) during the summer between their first and second years.

Do you offer dual degrees?

Yes, we do. Currently, the program has a joint program with the School of Medicine leading to a MD/MPH within four years. More information can be found here.

Do you offer night or weekend classes?

We currently only offer in-person day-time courses.

Do you offer online classes?

We currently do not offer online courses.

Is it possible to enroll as a part-time student?

Yes, the MPH Program can be completed on a part-time basis, as long as all degree requirements are completed within six years of matriculation. The majority of students are on a full-time basis because the majority of core and elective courses required for the MPH degree are taught during the daytime hours.

How many credits do full-time and part-time students take?

Full-time graduate students take 9 or more credits per semester, but to complete the program in 2 years, students typically must take at least 12 credits each semester. Part-time graduate students typically take 3 to 6 credits per semester.

Is there a minimum GPA?

The Epidemiology Program strongly prefers an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

What if I don’t have the required 3.0 GPA?

We occasionally admit applicants who fall below a 3.0. Those applicants tend to have exceptional applications in other areas, e.g., strong GRE scores, relevant work experience, outstanding letters of recommendation, and a focused, well-written personal statement.

Is there a minimum score required for GRE?

We do not require an absolute minimum; however, most competitive applicants on average score at the 50th percentile on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the General GRE Test. The School’s GRE code is 1316.

Is the LSU School of Public Health MPH in Epidemiology considered STEM?

At the present time, the LSU School of Public Health MPH is not a designated STEM degree.

What is involved in an MPH Practice Experience and how do I find one?

The Practice Experience (internship) requires students to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in coursework to a project in a professional practice setting. Ideally, it meets both the learning objectives of the student and the needs of the site. More information can be found on the Practice Experience website located here.

How do I apply?

Complete details can be found on the School’s admissions and applying web page. LSU School of Public Health uses a centralized application service, called SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service). In order to apply, visit sophas.org to complete the application process. For a fee schedule and a list of SOPHAS frequently asked questions, please click here. Once your application is complete, SOPHAS will forward your file to us. You will be contacted upon receipt of your application.

What Is required for MPH in Epidemiology admission?
  • Online application through SOPHAS application system
  • Application fee
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (School Code: 1316)
  • 1-2 page single spaced personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
  • Resume or CV
  • International students must also submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • International applicants must submit transcript WES evaluations to SOPHAS
What are the additional requirements for international students?

International students are required to submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application. Additionally, all international transcripts must be evaluated and verified by World Education Services (www.wes.org) and an official WES ICAP evaluation must be sent to SOPHAS. Upon being admitted into a program, international students will also be required to provide additional documentation, such as a financial verification form and a visa information form. Students completing their undergraduate training at a US University or in an English language country can waive the TOEFL requirement.

What are the application deadlines?

Current application deadlines can be found on SOPHAS.

Do I have to begin study in the fall semester? What about the spring semester?

The Epidemiology Program does not offer Spring semester admissions. Students may elect to take a few of the non-epidemiology core courses the summer before their fall starting semester.

What should I cover in my Personal Statement? How long should it be?

The Statement is intended as an opportunity for applicants to provide a narrative of their education, experiences, explanation for unusual circumstances, and career objectives. While there is no specific length requirement for the Statement, applicants often submit 1-2 pages, single-spaced.

What specific courses are recommended for success in the core courses?

There is no required coursework that needs to be completed prior to applying for the MPH at the LSU School of Public Health. While undergraduate coursework in math and science may enhance your application to the Epidemiology program, it is not required for admission. Often applicants have an undergraduate background in math or the sciences, such as statistics or calculus, and biology or chemistry. Applicants who do not have this background are encouraged to take courses in preparation to starting the program.

Can I transfer any credits earned while enrolled in another program toward the MPH at LSU School of Public Health?

Yes, it is possible to transfer up to 9 semester graduate credit hours with a grade of B or better. Transfer hours must be approved by the academic advisor and program director, and cannot have counted for another degree. No credits are guaranteed to be transferred.

What type of research opportunities are available?

There are numerous research opportunities available for working with faculty on funded research projects as a student worker. Your faculty advisor can discuss options specific to your area(s) of interest. Also, the Student Government Association sponsors organizations like SOAR (Student Organization for the Advancement of Research) that links students with faculty and other ways students can get involved with research.

When does the Epidemiology program make acceptance decisions?

The program accepts and decides on applications on a rolling basis, so application files will usually be considered soon after they are received. The review process usually takes 3-8 weeks. We send admissions decisions via e-mail and mail.

How much does the MPH cost?

Per semester costs will vary depending on whether a student is in-state or out-of-state. Tuition is set by the LSU Health Sciences Center. For more information, please visit the tuition and financial aid section of our website.

What about Financial aid?

The Student Financial Aid Office administers grants, loans, scholarships, and part-time employment. Students interested in receiving financial aid should contact this Office well in advance of their expected enrollment. In order to be considered for financial aid, applicants should file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form as early as possible, even before filing an application for admission. This form and other information is available here.

Is there funding for MPH students?

We do not have formal funding mechanisms for MPH students. Occasionally faculty will have a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) position available on a research grant. Students are encouraged to seek funding from other sources. Also, there are limited competitive school of public health scholarships, information can be found on the School’s admissions website. Upon arrival to campus many students are able to secure graduate assistantships or student worker positions for up to 20 hours per week.

Can I schedule an appointment to discuss admissions?

If you have questions after reviewing our website, you may schedule an appointment by clicking here.

Do you offer events for prospective students?

Yes, School of Public Health hosts information sessions throughout the fall and early spring which provide a great opportunity to learn more about SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, meet current students, and talk to members of the faculty. To learn more, see the Prospective Students Events page.

What extracurricular activities does the SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH offer?

LSU Health Sciences Center School of Public Health has an active Student Government Association. The SGA sponsors a variety of student-focused activities throughout the year.

How is School of Public Health involved with the greater New Orleans community?

We partner and collaborate with local groups through the student practice experience program and through the investigations of our public health practitioners and researchers. We also have an office of community engagement that facilitates community focused events throughout the greater New Orleans region.

How is School of Public Health involved with the greater New Orleans community?

We partner and collaborate with local groups through the student practice experience program and through the investigations of our public health practitioners and researchers. We also have an office of community engagement that facilitates community focused events throughout the greater New Orleans region.

Frequently Asked Questions about Admission to the PhD in Epidemiology Program:
What is the typical student timeline?

For students with a prior Master’s degree in epidemiology, additional coursework is typically completed in one to two years. At the conclusion of coursework, students complete written and oral qualifying exams to advance to doctoral candidacy, at which point they launch their dissertation research. Completing dissertation research usually takes 2-3 years, depending on the student and the project. Students without a Master’s degree in Epidemiology will need to complete the prerequisite epidemiology course work.

Is it possible to enroll as a part-time student?

Yes, the PhD Program can be completed on a part-time basis, as long as all degree requirements are completed within eight years of matriculation. The majority of students enroll on a full-time basis because required core and elective courses are taught during the daytime hours.

Is a master’s degree required for the doctoral program?

Yes, a master’s degree is required. Those students with a masters’ degree in Epidemiology or a related public health discipline are encouraged to apply. However, those students without prerequisite courses in intermediate epidemiology and biostatistics will be required to fulfill those requirements in addition to the PhD requirement. Students without a master’s degree are encouraged to apply to the MPH program.

What Is required for the PhD in Epidemiology admission application?
  • Online application through SOPHAS application system
  • Application fee
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (School Code: 1316)
  • 2-3 page single spaced personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
  • Resume or CV
  • International students must also submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • International applicants must submit transcript WES evaluations to SOPHAS
What are the additional requirements for international students?

International students are required to submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application. Additionally, all international transcripts must be evaluated and verified by World Education Services (www.wes.org) and an official WES ICAP evaluation must be sent to SOPHAS. Upon being admitted into a program, international students will also be required to provide additional documentation, such as a financial verification form and a visa information form. Students completing their undergraduate or master’s degree training at a US university or in another country whose official language is English can waive the TOEFL requirement.

What are the application deadlines?

Current application deadlines can be found on SOPHAS.

Do I have to begin study in the fall semester? What about the spring semester?

Students in the Epidemiology PhD Program must start in the fall semester. The Epidemiology Program does not offer spring or summer semester admissions for the PhD.

What are the criteria for evaluating applications?
  • Academic background and potential for rigorous scientific work (based on undergraduate and master’s training, including institution, major fields, GPA, GRE test scores, and letters of recommendation from academic faculty)
  • Prior research experience (publications, involvement in research activities, letters of recommendation from researchers or public health professionals)
  • Clarity of scientific goals and thinking, based on the applicant’s essay
  • Commitment to pursuing a career within the field of epidemiology
  • Common interests with program faculty members. Because of the great importance of close faculty mentorship in a successful PhD training experience, we accept only students with interests that match strengths of LSU School of Public Health faculty. Sometimes even highly qualified students whose interests are not a good fit with current faculty may not be accepted into the program.
Can I transfer any credits earned while enrolled in another program toward the PhD at LSU School of Public Health?

Yes, it is possible to transfer up to 12 semester graduate credit hours. Any transfer credit must be graduate level, must have been taken at an accredited institution, and with a grade of B or better. Transfer hours must be approved by the academic advisor and program director and cannot have counted for other degree. No credits are guaranteed to be transferred.

What is the selection process?

Initial reviews of the applicant’s application packet by faculty members and potential mentors occur in early February. Highly competitive applicants are selected for either in person or online/telephone interviews with faculty. Applicants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the program during these interviews. The admissions committee then reviews applicant qualifications and available sources of funding support and faculty mentoring. The number of students admitted depends on how many can be supported from available funding and training resources. Most admissions decisions will be finalized by early March. In recent years, incoming classes have included three to four PhD students. When there are more competitive applicants than available slots for incoming students, a small number of applicants may be wait-listed with admissions decisions deferred until April or May.

What kind of student are you looking for?

The PhD program in Epidemiology is a 4-5 year course of study for individuals who wish to pursue independent research careers in epidemiology and who have completed training at the Master’s level in epidemiology, public health or related fields. We seek applicants who have a commitment to public health research and a passion to use rigorous scientific tools to improve health for all people. Our admissions process prioritizes candidates with a strong background and interest in pursuing research in the broad range of epidemiology and translational science including epidemiologic methods, molecular, social, and clinical epidemiology, and disease-specific training in cancer, infectious, psychiatric diseases, cardiovascular or stroke, musculoskeletal and other diseases. We also value evidence of a strong quantitative background, for example in statistics or computation, linked to a commitment to health research. Because of the importance of a close mentoring relationship between faculty advisors and PhD students, we particularly invite applications from candidates whose interest mesh closely with the areas of expertise of our faculty.

My background is different. Would I be competitive for admission?

We won’t know unless you apply! Public health research is challenging, and we need people with diverse perspectives and skill sets to most effectively address these challenges. What is important in the application process is that you articulate how your experiences have prepared you to excel in the training program and to emerge with the skills and insights to lead high impact projects. We will have information sessions for potential applicants in the fall, winter, and spring (refer to the School’s open house web page for specific dates). You are invited to join us with any specific questions.

How can I submit a competitive application?

When writing your application, emphasize both why you are prepared to excel in the program and why this program fits your goals. Choose recommenders who know you well academically and have the professional standing to write a compelling letter of support for you. If your GRE scores were disappointing, consider retaking the exam. Research experience is valued because it shows us that you can succeed in a research-intensive environment. Focus on articulating clear and compelling scientific goals in your essays. If there are specific weaknesses in your application, it is fine to provide an explanation you would like the review committee to consider (for example, if you were recovering from malaria when you took the GREs, you can mention that). Because of the flexible nature of the program, we expect that the students who will succeed here are highly independently motivated, and will arrive with fairly coherent research ideas. If you have already identified potential research mentors, please mention them in your application; it will be helpful to us to see why LSU School of Public Health could be a particularly strong training environment for you.

What are some examples of career outcomes for the Epidemiology PhD Program?

To date, our graduates have had excellent professional outcomes, including post-doctoral and research positions at LSUHSC, University of Virginia, Emory, EPA, and the NIEHS. Our graduates are prepared to seek research and leadership positions in the public/private sector in public health, epidemiologic research, and other related health industries.

When can I apply?

Online applications are available for Fall semester start dates via the SOPHAS online application system. The application deadlines are also provided on this website.

What percentage of applicants do you accept?

We select approximately 30% of applicants to interview and offer admission to about 10% of the total applicant pool. We anticipate the 2018 entering cohort to be 4-5 students.

Is an interview required?

Selected applicants will be asked to complete an interview. In-person, telephone, and Skype interviews are possible.

Can I defer my admission?

We do not defer admission. If you decide not to join our program after accepting our offer, you will have to reapply and pay the fee; we cannot guarantee admission on the next round.

Important Contacts:

Program Director: Edward Peters, DMD, ScD
Program Coordinator: Ariane Rung, MPH, PhD
Admissions Coordinator: Isha Matta, MPH