Applying to graduate programs

Written by Colette Cambey, BA graduate of Vassar College and participant in the 2019 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track

In a Summer Research Program seminar, we learned from Drs. Angela Hobson, PhD, MPH and Gregory Polites, MD about the process of applying to MD, MPH, and PhD programs. Dr. Hobson focused primarily on the MPH program and the different degrees available via the Brown School at Washington University, as well as providing us with a background about public health. Dr. Polites focused on the general application process for medical school, detailing the importance of extracurricular activities, the personal statement, letters of recommendation, applying in a timely fashion, and the interview.

The highlights of Dr. Hobson’s presentation included emphasizing the importance of health equity, transdisciplinary work, and the supportive learning community that can be found in the Brown school. She also stressed the importance of understanding the specializations/focus of each MPH program uniquely and how to use that information to drive where you seek admission. Dr. Polites stressed the value of passion in the work you present to an admissions committee, the lack of a “golden ticket” applicant, and the importance of going through the application process in a timely fashion. He ended his talk with the following pieces of advice: “go to the best school that you can get into where you can be happy” and “be good at what you do where you are.”

I found this seminar useful and relevant. I also thought it was quite helpful to learn directly from the professionals that read applications about some of the pitfalls that other students make when applying to advanced degree programs. As I am interested in applying to a dual MD, MPH program, I felt this seminar was very applicable to me and I appreciated its inclusion in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public and Global Health Track.