Admissions Requirements and Application Process Webinar

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An overview of the admissions requirements and a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process. There will be an application checklist and list of resources provided to ensure all applicants will have the tools in place to successfully apply.

Presenter: Brian Lerash, Enrollment Advisor


  • Dr. Shubha Kumar, PhD, MPH Program Director, Master of Public Health Online Program
  • Phillip Solaria Enrollment Advisor Master of Public Health Online Program

Description: This event is a broad overview of the program, the online community and also covers admission requirements.


Welcome to the Master of Public Health Online Program, Admissions Requirements and Application Process Webinar, presented by the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

First, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us. Before we begin, I’d like to review what you can expect during the presentation. To cut down on background noise, we’ve muted your phone lines so you can hear us but we cannot hear you. If you have any questions, please type them into the Q&A box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen and hit send. So, be free to enter your questions as you think of them. We’ll answer as many as time allows at the end of the presentation. A PDF and a recording of today’s presentation will be available shortly after the event.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ll be covering. Brian Lerash, an enrollment advisor, will introduce us to the program, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the admissions requirements and the application process. Lastly, we will end the presentation with a Q&A session.

Thank you all for coming in and spending some of your time with us. I look forward to speaking to the unique features of our online Master of Public Health Program with you. We’ll be covering the following topics during our time together, pursuing a graduate degree, why a Master of Public Health with University of Southern California, what you can do with this designation, choosing the Keck School of Medicine. We will go over what makes the Keck School of Medicine important and a leader in research and education throughout the world, and finally, how to submit the strongest application and the steps involved in doing so.

The MPH Program at USC was established in 1998, while the online version has recently launched in 2013. The mission of the MPH Program at USC is to assist in creating healthy communities by preparing graduates to lead and collaborate with others in organized community efforts across a variety of settings, focusing on disease prevention and health promotion amongst diverse populations. The core curriculum consists of 47 units through our three specialized tracks. Among these are biostatistics and epidemiology, health education and promotion, as well as global health leadership. We will also be offering a practicum in the program.

The core courses are 20 units. The track you choose will consist of 20 units as well, and your practicum will consist of seven units. In total there are 47 units in the program. Classes in the core curriculum consist of the following: foundations in health education and promotion, health service delivery in the U.S., principles of biostatistics, principles of epidemiology, environmental and occupational health, an epidemiological approach, as well as our practicum.

In terms of track courses in the biostatistics, epidemiology track, you can expect to have classes such as the following: data analysis using the SAS software, infectious disease epidemiology, program evaluation and research, data analysis using the STATA software, as well as chronic disease epidemiology. Now, this track is perfect for folks that are public health professionals who wish to remain on the forefront of improving communication health. The field of biostatistics and epidemiology provide a variety of opportunities in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Health departments, government agencies, research, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as academic medical centers, insurance companies, and non-profits working to fight disease and promote health all need people with training in biostatistics and epidemiology.

In terms of the specialization in health education promotion, classes would fall along the following lines: program design and evaluation, intervention approaches for health promotion and disease prevention, organizing and mobilizing communities for global health, communications in public health, as well as program evaluation and research. Now, health educators today may do anything from working one-on-one with patients and their patients to help them understand the patient’s diagnosis and course of treatment, to developing a strategic campaign for smoking cessation in a local community, or even in a private business. A few of the titles health educators hold are health promotion specialists, health educator, public health educator, health coordinator, or corporate wellness trainer.

In terms of the global health track, courses might include the following: culture and health, an international perspective, introduction to global health, global health research design and evaluation, global health, law, and human rights, as well as program evaluation and research. Making positive change with universal impact is the ambition of today’s global health leaders. USC’s MPH Online Program helps qualify you to join the ranks of those making a difference for people around the world. Whether your area of interest is infectious or chronic diseases, mental illness, health consequences of trauma, violence, or displacement, maternal and child health, the establishment and implementation of effective and efficient health care infrastructure, or dozens of other areas of public health. The USC MPH Online Program prepares you with the skills and tools to lead the way in global health advancement.

Putting knowledge into practice is what drives public health. To prepare professionals for advanced careers, the MPH Online Program includes a practicum that combines a leadership seminar with field training. Our practicum consists of 300 hours of structured, supervised, professional experience and approved agency. Completion of hours can be done locally or globally. Students choose a public health setting in their desire field, such as a local health department, research center, or medical laboratory, and practice leveraging new knowledge for a guided hands-on experience. The practicum hours can begin after a student has completed their core requirements in the program.

Now, to give you a sense of our faculty, the folks that shaped and developed all of our curriculum, we have Dr. [Sammut 00:06:49], pictured on the left. He is a leading authority on the health effects of smoking and air pollution. He has worked actively to promote tobacco control worldwide and has addressed some of the most critical issues in environmental epidemiology, particularly in relation to air pollution. Now, he was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board. In the center, we have Dr. Quiceno.  He’s focused on health policy and health services and evaluation research. Access to care for low-income uninsured, governance and operation of safety net providers, including public hospitals, community based clinics and health centers, as well as health needs of vulnerable populations, including the homeless. Dr. Cruz, pictured on the far right, is a co-principal investigator of a state California funded program on material development in tobacco control. She has been involved in research projects in health communication, diversity, and in teaching administration for the academic programs at the Keck School of Medicine.

USC, as well as the MPH Program, are accredited regionally by the WASC. The MPH Program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. USC is, also, consistently ranked within the top 25 of the nation’s best national universities.

Now, a master’s in public health opens the door to many career opportunities. Some examples will include a health education specialist, a patient education coordinator, a grant writer, chief administrative officer of international affairs, program analysts, epidemiology analyst, researcher and data analyst. You could really end up working in a small community based agency, your state public health department, or the World’s Health Organization. It’s really up to you.

Now, I just wanted to spend a tiny bit of time speaking to the University of Southern California, as well as the Keck School of Medicine. USC was established in 1880. We are located in Los Angeles. We are one of the world’s leading private research universities. There are 17 graduate and professional schools. We boast over 340 master’s, certificate, doctor, and professional degree programs. USC has approximately 17,000 undergraduate students, as well as 18,000 graduate and professional students. We also have more international students than any other U.S. university. USC’s Keck School of Medicine was established in 1885. We are the older medical school in all of Southern California. We’re located on USC’s Health Science Campus just east of Downtown Los Angeles. The Keck School of Medicine is home to the Keck Medical Hospital, a state-of-the-art academic medical center compromised of the Keck Hospital of USC, formerly the USC University Hospital, and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. We have two world-class U.S.-owned hospitals and are staffed by more than 500 physicians who are faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine. USC is also partners with nearby Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Keck is also home to several research institutes, among these are the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Zilkha Neurogenic Institute, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, as well as the Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute and the Institute for Global Health.

Now, in order to be eligible to apply to our program, one must possess all of the following: a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, a GPA of a 3.0 or higher, transcripts from each institution attended, a minimum GRE score of 153 on verbal reasoning and 144 on the quantitative reasoning, three letters of recommendation, as well as a statement of purpose essay. The statement of purpose essay is a brief historical statement that will describe your reasons for pursuing the master of public health, how the degree will enhance or transition your career, and what you plan to contribute to the field. We will also require a professional resume. Additional materials may be required for international students. Please make sure to reach out to us concerning what specific materials were required for you before applying.

In terms of applying to the school, simply go to Once there, you click on our admissions tab. After this, click the admissions, graduate, apply to USC, select part one. This is USC’s online application system, and also create an account. Now, please make sure to write down your user name and password so that you can access the application at a later time if needed.

Once you see this page, simply click start application. On the biographical information page, please fill out all applicable information as it pertains to your biographical info. All questions followed by an asterisk are required to enter in. If you have a maiden name or have a change in your name, please make sure to fill in that information space asking for this. If you attended schools under a different name than you currently have, there is good chance your transcripts will be issued with that name. This will make it easier for us to locate your file once your transcripts have arrived.

On the contact information page, you will enter in all of your contact info as it pertains to your address. Again, if a question is followed by an asterisk, you are required to fill that in. P.O. boxes will not work. We do required a valid home address.

On the application information page, please notate the term you wish to apply for. Also, notate the college that you’re applying to. In this case, it will be the Keck School of Medicine. Notate the specific program you’re interested in. This will be the Master of Public Health Online. Next, you will select full-time. After this, we’ll ask if you have applied to USC before.

On the financial aid page, you’ll give us info as it pertains to whether you wish to utilize financial aid. 80% of our students do receive some form of financial aid, and our dedicated financial aid officers are happy to help you receive funding to pay for education. If you are electing to use financial aid, please fill out your FAFSA and contact our financial aid department at (213) 740-1111, option two. Now, please inform the financial aid officer that you’re going to be a student in the online Master of Public Health Program with the Keck School of Medicine. Please reiterate online to the department. Our students are considered special programs, so it is important to get you speaking with a person who is aware of the certain circumstances related to online students.

On the academic background page, please fill out all of the applicable info as it pertains to your undergrad and graduate GPAs. Also, include any honors, publications, or scholarships you have received. Please include academic probation info, as well as your high school and collegiate info. Please make sure that you are listing a complete and accurate academic history. Any gaps will slow down the process of the application and, thus, impede the admissions decision.

On the test information page, please include all information applicable to the GRE. If you have taken the GRE multiple times, please only include the best received score in each field category. If you have yet to sign up for the GRE, please see the link to schedule a test date and find the most convenient location and time in your area. Please make sure you have the correct school code. If you don’t send to the correct school, it slows down the admissions process. Our school code is 4852. If you have already taken the GRE and have not requested the scores be sent to USC, please make sure you do that as soon as possible.

On the employment information and resume page, please upload your resume, or if you wish to skip this step for now, list your two most recent employers, current or most recent first.

On the additional questions page, please share with us if you have a USC alum family member, if you are employed by USC, and/or how you heard about the program.

On the supporting documents page, you can upload your statement of purpose essay. If you would like, you could also upload your unofficial transcripts for review. Both of these steps can be skipped for now if you would like. We will need your official transcripts from all universities or colleges attended for a final review of your file, as well as your final statement of purpose essay.

On the recommendations page, we see the guidelines for letters of recommendation. For the MPH Program, we need a total of three. All three can be professional if you have been out of college for five years or more. If you have been in college in the past five years, we ask that at least one of your records be from an academic professor.

On the add a recommendation provider page, you’ll fill out all of the recommenders’ pertinent information. We will need you to provide the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, employer information, title of position, and the relationship to you. Once you have paid your application fee, these recommenders will receive an email with a link to fill out the letter on your behalf. They can also upload their letter once they have received this link.

On the check your application page, we will review if you have missed any part of the application that you’ve either forgotten or did not properly complete. Any section that shows red is incomplete and must be corrected before your application can be submitted.

To recap, our application checklist covers the following. Your online application, your uploaded professional resume, your uploaded statement of purpose draft, an application fee of $85. Once your file is ready for submission, we will ask that you have your statement of purpose final draft, your three letters of recommendation, all official transcripts from any schools ever attended, your schedule GRE test score or your submitted GRE scores, as well as your completed financial aid forms.

Now, please make sure all official transcripts from any colleges or universities you’ve attended are sent in attention to your MPH enrollment advisor, the USC Central Processing Center, 50 Northwest Point Boulevard, fifth floor, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, 60007. Transcripts sent to other USC addresses may cause significant delays in the application review process, so it is imperative that you send to this address.

Now, here are some very helpful links that you will likely use beyond this application link. We have the FAFSA link, the financial aid office and phone number, USC’s financial aid link, as well as our GRE link. Again, our school code for the GRE is 4852. Again, folks, I’d like to thank you very much for your time today, and I’d like to pass this back over to Rebecca.

Thanks, Brian. Now, it’s time for our Q&A session. I’ve invited Jasmine and Sylvia who are also enrollment advisors to join us in answering questions. Please take some time now, if you haven’t already, and type your questions into the Q&A box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen and hit send.

For our first question, will the STATA software be given to us, or will we have to purchase the license? Jasmine Clark, can you answer this?

Sure. With that software, it is something that the student will have to purchase. It would be the same as if you would purchase books for class as well, so that would be up to the student to purchase that software.

Thank you, Jasmine. Is there only one start date for the online program? Sylvia, could you answer this?

No, actually, we have three entry points each year. Currently we are looking at applications for 2014 summer’s term and fall. There’s still time to apply for both.

Thank you, Sylvia. Is the GRE required if I hold an MD degree? Sylvia, can you take this as well?

Well, GRE waivers typically are not granted in some circumstances where a applicant holds a MD or a master’s degree, then the request is put through the provost office, but GRE waivers are not guaranteed. So, please speak with your enrollment advisor to start the process.

Thank you. On average, how many applications do you receive each term, and what is the acceptance rate? Jasmine?

Yes. It really varies depending on the term as some are more popular than others, but the acceptance rate for the online program is around 70%.

Thank you. How does the final clinical community aspect work for the online applicants work? Is there a set list of businesses that have partnered with this program? Sylvia?

Actually, we have a very diverse student body all over the country and all over the world. You’ll start working with the practicum coordinator once your foundation courses are complete. So, while we do have some agencies that are approved in the LA area, again, the practicum coordinator can help you locate or work with an agency for approval locally.

Thank you. What is the tuition for the program? Jasmine?

Here at USC, the cost per credit hour is around $1536, and this is a 47 credit hour program.

Thank you. Do I need to take the GRE if I have 15 years of experience? Sylvia?

Back to that GRE waiver not typically being granted, but based on previous academic experience in addition to your work experience, please request that. Speak with your enrollment advisor to start the process to request it, but based on work experience, there is no guarantee.

What is considered full-time attendance? Jasmine?

Full-time with the online program is considered two classes. Majority of our students do enroll as full-time students. If you’re taking two classes, you’ll be deemed full-time.

Thank you. Can I take classes on campus and online? Jasmine?

We would prefer that you would choose one or the other. If you are interested in the online program, we would definitely prefer that you stick with the online format.

What if my GPA is less than 3.0? Sylvia?

I’m going to say, because we work with students who have such various backgrounds, academically and professionally, speak with your enrollment advisor about developing a strong application based on your strengths and experience before applying.

Great, thank you. Do online students typically take one or two courses at a time? Jasmine?

Well, like I said before, majority of our students do take two classes. At the same time, we do have a part-time option for some students to take one class, but again, majority of our students do go full-time taking two classes a semester.

What are the differences between the on-campus program and the online program? Sylvia?

Actually, the curriculum is the same online as it is on campus, so only the delivery’s different.

Are there requirements to be online at a certain time of day? Jasmine?

With our program being so flexible, we do not require that the student be online at any specific time throughout the day. The student will have full access to all course materials at all times, so you will not be required to be online at a certain time throughout the week.

Do I need work experience in public health to enter the program? Sylvia?

There is no specific work experience requirement due to our practicum component. Our goal is for all our students to leave work-ready. So, it can’t hurt, but it’s not required.

Is there career placement available, Sylvia?

We do have a Career Services Department with USC to assist you in the job hunt. Probably a good idea to get started prior to graduation so you’ll be able to reach out to them early.

Will my diploma say USC Online? Jasmine?

Your diploma will actually be the same diploma you would receive if you attended the campus program, so it will not say Online Master’s of Public Health. It will be the exact same diploma as our campus students receive.

Is financial aid available? Sylvia?

Financial aid [inaudible 00:25:41] is there for those who apply and qualify, whether you’re looking at traditional federal funding, military benefit, employer support, we have a Financial Aid Department here to assist you with the process, so yes.

Great. Can I take this program on campus? Jasmine?

There is a campus option for the Master’s of Public Health Program, so depending on which would fit best for you, either online or on campus, it’s your choice.

How long will the application process take? Sylvia?

Typically, two to four weeks to complete your entire application, unless you are an international applicant, in which case, sometimes there’s additional documents needed, but two to four weeks.

And along with that, how long does it take to get a decision?

Two to four weeks once your file is complete.

Are there pre-requisite courses for this program, Sylvia?

What is required is that you have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. There’s no set major that is required, again, because you’ll have a practicum in there to prepare you, so no.

Is there a graduation ceremony? Jasmine?

Well, all online graduates are invited to the ceremony held on campus. If you are interested in actually participating the ceremony, you can definitely do so.

How long … Sorry. How will I receive materials for the courses? Are textbooks online? Jasmine?

Well, it’s up to the student to purchase their textbook, as well as software required for the program. You will get your textbook list, and you will be able to purchase your books as necessary.

Thank you. Our last question of the day is, I haven’t been in school for over 10 years. Who should I use as references? Jasmine?

If you’ve been out of school for 10 years or more, you can definitely request professional letters. Just reach out to your employer, a manager, anyone of that level, and they can write a letter on your behalf.

Thank you. I’d like to thank Brian, Jasmine, and Sylvia for taking time out to be here today. This concludes today’s webinar. Remember, if you think it’s time to apply or have any questions, please contact your enrollment advisor. Their contact information is on your screen now. They will also have a PDF and a recording of this event and be able to send it to you within the next week. Thank you again and have a great day.