Practicum & Career Opportunities

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View this past event where the Practicum Coordinator, Keisha Chandler, reveals the hands-on practicum experience and capstone course.


Welcome to the Master of Public Health Online program’s Practicum and Career Opportunities Webinar, presented by the Keck School of Medicine of USC. I am Kijuana Lloyd and I’ll be your host today. 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. Feel free to enter your questions as you think of them and 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 will be covering. First, we will hear from Dr. Shubha Kumar, the Director of the USC MPH Online program. Next, we will hear from Rose Park, the Practicum Coordinator, who will take us through the Practicum overview as well as career opportunities after completion. Lastly, I will speak to the admissions requirements and next steps on how to contact an enrollment advisor to being your application. We will end the presentation with a Q&A session. Now, let’s get started.

Hello, Dr. Kumar. Thank you for joining us today.

Thank you, Kijuana, thank you for the introduction. As Kijuana mentioned, I’m Dr. Kumar, I’m the Director of the MPH online program as well as an assistant professor in the department. I’m happy to have you all on today and look forward to introducing you to our program.

The University of Southern California was established in 1880. We’re located in Los Angeles, and we’re one of the world’s leading private research universities. We have 17 graduate and professional schools, over 340 masters, certificate, doctoral and professional degree programs. And just to give you a sense of numbers, in 2009 and ’10, USC had 17,000 undergrads and 18,000 graduate and professional students. We also have more international students than any other US university.

The MPH online program is housed within the Keck School of Medicine. The Keck School was established in 1885. We’re actually the oldest medical school in Southern California. Located on USC’s health sciences campus, which is just east of downtown L.A., the Keck School is home to the Keck Medical Center of USC, which is a state of the art academic medical center comprised of the Keck Hospital as well as the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The two world class USC owned hospitals are staffed by more than 500 physicians who are faculty at our school. We are also partnered with the nearby Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

In addition, Keck is home to several research institutes such as the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the [inaudible 00:03:26] Neurogenetic Institute, the Eli and Edith Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, as well as the Institute for Global Health. With that said, you have multiple opportunities to connect with some of the best faculty and researchers we have to offer.

I’d now like to turn it over to Rose Park.

Thanks, Dr. Kumar. Hi, everyone. My name is Rose. Thanks for joining us today. Today I’m just gonna give you an in-depth overview of the practicum and what it is. The next slide actually goes over what the MPH Culminating Experience is. Within the online MPH program, there are three courses that make up the Culminating Experience and the practicum is just one of the three components. You’ll see there on the slide that it’s composed of PM 564, which is Public Health Leadership and Management. That course, it’s an introduction to business and management concepts, tools, and practices all in the context of public health. The second course is PM 595, the Capstone in Public Health. And that course is designed to challenge you to reflect and integrate all the things that you’ve learned in your coursework, and you can actually pull it together based on what you do for your practicum. And you put together a paper or some type of deliverable or last project. That’s kind of your final project for the program. And the third and final component of the Culminating Experience is PM 596 which is the Practicum in Public Health. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.

The next slide goes over what is the practicum. Could I get the next slide please? Thank you. The next slide asks the question, “What is Practicum?” So Practicum is the practical application of the coursework that you’ve experienced in the program and it’s applied in a real-world setting. It’s a structured, goal-oriented, competency-driven supervised field training experience. And when I say competency-driven, competencies are basically skills and skill sets that we hope that you will acquire and learn and that you can actually put into practice through your practicum experience. As students you would work with an approved agency or organization in public health, and you would complete 300 hours.

The next slide will go over some practicum sites where our students have worked in the past. We have over 225 affiliated practicum sites. Those are both local sites at places such as county public health departments, community-based organizations, hospitals, and clinics. We have national sites as well including National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, as well as the Center for Disease Control. Also starting in 2008 we’ve had several international sites, and some of those include the World Health Organization, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard about, as well as we have colleagues in Panama that we’ve worked closely with since 2009 and we send students there every summer. So those are just an idea of the general practicum sites that we offer. And later I’ll talk about how to develop new sites if you want to approach an organization that’s not listed in the 225 affiliated sites. That’s definitely a possibility as well. So you’re not restricted with just the ones that we already have agreements with.

Next we’ll go over the practicum approval process. You’ll see two different columns on the slide there, one is a list of forms that you as the student will provide, and the second column lists forms that the potential practicum site would provide. Now, if it’s a new agency or organization that’s not listed on the list of affiliated sites then you would have to submit those agency application and affiliation agreements. Otherwise you’d just be responsible for the forms that are listed under what the students are required to submit.

I wanna go over a little bit about what the process is actually like. We don’t place students into a practicum. As the student, you know what your interests are in public health and you know your goals and your career goals and vision for yourself. I work with you to try and find a practicum site that will help maximize your skill sets and your abilities and hopefully to create a more marketable resume and skill sets for you so that when you graduate from our program you can enter the public health workforce. The first thing you would complete as a student is the student interest form. Once you’ve actually completed all your classes you would complete the student interest form and submit that. And that’ll give me a good idea of what your interests are and what exactly you wanna do given your specific MPH track that you’ve chosen.

With that, once you submit that you would start researching sites and organizations that are in line with your interests and you’d let me know how that search is going, any obstacles that you’re facing, and we can tackle those together. And once you actually find a site and find someone to work with within that agency or organization, you would submit the practicum approval form. That form will tell me which competencies you’re able to address in your track, what you plan on accomplishing during your 300 hours at that agency. And when you submit that, the director and I will actually look at that and grant your approval to go ahead and move forward with doing your practicum there. Once approval is granted, you would submit the third bullet point there which is the student legal form with a copy of your health insurance card.

Once we have that you’re set to start your hours. And at that point, you would begin [inaudible 00:09:26] 300 hours and just start working, start getting your feet wet at the organization and start developing your scope of work. The last bullet point that you’ll see there is a waiver of hours. There’s a waiver application if you have had three consecutive years of full-time work experience in public health when you were not a student, you may qualify for a waiver of half of the hours. So instead of 300 hours you would complete only 150. Once you become eligible to begin your practicum, if you think you’re eligible for the waiver please let me know and we’ll send you the paperwork and you can submit that application for review.

The next slide will go over competencies. You’ve heard me say that a few times in this conversation and I wanna just elaborate on that because it’s really important. We are an accredited program by the Council on Education for Public Health, and all accredited MPH programs across the nation are required to be competency-driven. Now, like I said before, competencies are basically just skills, and all the courses that you take in our program, including the practicum, are competency-driven. So all the classes, everything, are founded upon specific public health competencies. Now, for your practicum, you’ll have to address at least two general public health competencies and two track-specific competencies. The list is quite exhaustive for all the various tracks that our online program represents, but I just listed an example of one of each. So the first is General Public Health Competency Number one, which is identify and prioritize the key dimensions of a public health problem by critically assessing public health literature, both quantitative and qualitative sources. The second is Bio Epi Competency Number Four, describe and discuss the important risk factors for major chronic and infections diseases. Health Promotion and Education Competency Number Four, prepare clear and concise health education materials tailored appropriately to diverse audience segments. And lastly, the Global Health Competency Number Eight is promote the mutual benefits of improving the health status and wellbeing of other countries.

Now, these are all different things that you could potentially address in your practicum. For example, if you were a Health Education and Promotion student and you choose competency number four as it’s listed, you would most likely create some type of brochure or pamphlet perhaps, working with your agency or organization and coming up with maybe even a curriculum on health education based on a public health issue that the agency is focusing on. Okay, so those are all just examples of that.

The next slide will go into detail about the practicum requirements. So in addition to the forms which is kind of all summarized by that first bullet point, in addition to that you’ll submit a time card, and this is all done electronically. You will set up a practicum portfolio. And within that portfolio you will upload three journals, one for every 100 hours that you work at your agency; a scope of work, and your scope should have at least three goals and two objectives per goal; also a self-evaluation, where you complete three to four pages double spaced writing about your thoughts on how it went, what was your experience like, what did you learn; and lastly a deliverable or a sample work. So like I mentioned before, if you’re a Health Education and Promotion student and you create a pamphlet or a brochure, that would be uploaded as your sample work. And lastly, a supervisor evaluation is required by whoever is at the agency serving as your mentor or supervisor.

I wanna give you a few samples of what students have done in the past. I didn’t mention this earlier but I came out of the program about 10 years ago so I have personal experience with our curriculum and with the practicum experience, so if you have any questions about that you can always let me know or write it in the text box and I’m more than happy to answer that at the end of this webinar. But let’s go into some of the samples. The first is Proyecto Hombre from the University of Miguel Hernandez in Spain. So we had a few students who went to Spain to work directly with Proyecto Hombre, and they are actually a direct rehabilitation center, they work directly within the community there, directly with community members and those that have struggled with drug abuse. And so they actually went into that organization, they conducted a needs assessment, and based on that needs assessment they came up with a brochure and developed a brochure that would be relevant for their target population.

The second is Zynx Health here in L.A. Zynx Health is an evidence-based research company and they work with pharmaceutical companies during their clinical trials investigations. And they also provide hospitals and clinics with specific software that can be implemented within the computer system that will help physicians as they interact with their patients on a daily basis. The student that worked there was a Bio Epi student. She conducted a literature review and also did extensive data analysis.

The third was done at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland. This was actually my project 10 years ago. I created a patient navigator handbook. And at that time I worked with the Center to reduce cancer health disparities at NCI. And they were coming up with a project where they partnered a newly-diagnosed cancer patient with a “patient navigator,” and this person would actually work with that cancer patient on organizing their whole health system. They would help them organize rides and daycare if they had kids, and help the patient list all their medication and when to take them because it was just really complicated. And that person’s just their advocate and someone they can walk through this entire experience with. So I created a handbook that would help the patient and the navigator go through the entire process. The last sample is with Para Los Ninos, here in Los Angeles. We had a student work with their director on creating a health education curriculum. And the student also evaluated their Senderos Program.

So those are just a couple of examples of what our students have done in the past. And I kind of wanna transition from that into more of a career mode and topic of discussion just because I get a lot of questions about how often do our practicum students find jobs at the site where they complete their practicum. And it’s not as common as you may want it to be or we may want it to be, but it’s definitely something that does happen. I think the practicum is a great way to build your resume and it’s a great marketing tool to find full-time employment upon graduation. So we have had students that actually stay at their practicum site. And some of our sites have actually created positions for our students because they were just an incredible asset to them.

The next slide will go over some public health career specializations. Some of those include program or project management, biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Sciences, Health Education, Health Communication, Occupational Safety, Health Services Administration, and International Public Health. So our students have worked in a variety of areas. To give you a more detailed-

-since I’ve worked in a variety of areas. To give you a more detailed information on where exactly they do, the next slide will give you a pie chart of the post-graduate status of our alumni from 1998 until 2011. 64% of our students, upon graduation, do find full time employment, so that’s a really great number there. We have some that actually go into medical school, 11%. We have some that actually go into another professional program, like dentistry or pharmacy, but 7% go into those professional programs. Then we have some that go into other masters or doctoral programs. And then we have some that are not employed, and they’re actually actively looking for employment. So you can see the different proportions there on that pie chart.

So lastly I wanted to actually give you some titles of career positions, positions that our students have actually received and are currently working in. So you’ll see the list there. We have an analyst that works as the Pasadena Public Health Department, we have a health equity regional director, working at the American Heart Association, she just graduated last year. We have several coordinators at the Patient Education Resource Center at the VA here in LA. We have a research associate working at the children’s hospital in Los Angeles. We have various health educators and research associates at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena. We have a clinical quality analyst at Ultimate Health Services, and we also have a student who graduated back in ’09 who is still a consultant for WHO in Japan, in Kobe, Japan.

So I hope that gives you a little bit of an idea of what practicum is, you know, how do you get started, what’s required, and where are our students now upon graduating, where are they working. I hope that’s been somewhat informative, and … For you all. Next I’m gonna introduce [Kiana 00:19:00], she’s gonna talk to you a little bit about the admissions requirements. So Kiana, if you wanna go ahead and take the next slide that’d be great.

Hi, thank you, Rose. I’ve worked in education for a little over four years. I’m currently an enrollment advisor for the master of public health online program, and would like to take you through the admissions requirements.

To be considered for admissions into the program, you do need to have a bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution. You need a GPA of 3.0 or better. You need your transcripts from each institution attended sent into the university, and then a GRE score of 153 on the verbal reasoning segment, and 144 on the quantitative reasoning segment. A minimum [G Math 00:19:50] score of 600, or a minimum MCAT score of 28 may be substituted. You need three letters of recommendation. If you’ve graduated within the last 5 years, you will need at least one academic letter of recommendation, in addition to at least one professional letter of recommendation. You’ll need to complete a personal statement, which is about two to three pages, a brief personal statement that will describe your reason for pursuing the master of public health online degree. How this degree will enhance or transition your career, and what you hope to contribute to the field. Lastly, you’ll need your professional resume, or curriculum vitae, and for our international students additional materials may also be required.

As an enrollment advisor, we act as your personal advocates to the program. We are here to guide you through the admissions and enrollment process. So give your enrollment advisor a call to further discuss the program, as well as your career goals.

Now, it’s time for the question and answer session. Along with Dr. Kumar and Rose, I’ve invited Travis, and enrollment advisor, to join us. So please take some time now, if you haven’t already, and type your questions into the Q and A box in the lower right hand corner of your screen, and hit send.

Our first question is “At what point during the two year program is the practicum completed, and is it an ongoing project throughout the program?” I’d like to actually direct that question to Rose.

Sure. Yeah, you know, you would be eligible to begin your practicum once you’ve done all of your core classes, so the general core classes. So 501, 508, 510, 512, 529. Usually that falls in the semester before you graduate and actually take the capstone and practicum course. You can start at least one semester before you begin, or you register for your practicum course. Does that make sense? It varies for each admissions group, since the structure of the courses is such, but as long as you’ve completed your core classes, you should be able to begin. I’ll take it on a case by case basis, but based on when the student has actually started the program, but that’s the general rule of thumb that we follow.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is “What is considered relevant work experience? Is it only health related, or is management considered as well?” I’ll actually send that back to you, Rose.

Yeah, you know, I think management is definitely a plus, so I think that I would definitely consider that relevant experience. Depending on who you work with at the particular practicum site or agency, management skills will most likely be necessary, so I think if you have that skill set, but you’re lacking direct experience within public health, that that’s … That won’t hurt you from getting experience, I think that, you know, part of the practicum is to gain experience in public health, and if you don’t have that, this is the perfect time to try and gain some of that experience. If you have other skill sets in management, or budgeting, or you know, leadership, I think those are all wonderful qualities to bring into your practicum experience.

Okay. Next question is “Is the capstone a presentation of everything we’ve learned so far?” Rose?

In a sense, yeah. In a sense it is. It’s basically, you know a lot of students may ask oh, is there a thesis, or is there some type of, you know, big paper. That’s what the capstone’s all about. It can be a paper, it can be a policy brief, it could be, you know, it can be a research paper that you’re writing, it could be, you know, a long paper on what did you do in your practicum and what are your future visions and recommendations for what you did there. So yes, it’s definitely the culminating experience, kind of comes to a head at the capstone class.

Okay. So our next questions is “The on campus MPH program has a public health healthcare policy track. Does the online MPH program work closely with the instructors within the on campus public health policy track?” I’d like to direct that to Dr. Kumar.

Yes, we do work closely with those instructors. In fact, [Michael Cousineau 00:24:36] teaches the first health policy class you take in the program, which is one of the foundational courses. The health policy track will likely be offered in the online program beginning spring of 2015.

Okay, thank you. The next question, “Can the practicum be a paid position?”

Absolutely. Absolutely, and good for you if you can find one that’s paid.

Okay. “Can the practicum hours be broken down into two semesters instead of one?”

I’m sorry?

Can the practicum hours be broken down into two semesters instead of one semester?

Yeah, so like I mentioned before, the practicum can … You can start your practicum as soon as you’re done with the core classes. The general core classes, right, so 501, 508, 510, 512, 529. So if that’s … Once you’re done with those classes, you could potentially start your practicum hours, and start accruing hours from that point forward until you register for the practicum course. Now I wanted to also add …

In terms of the last question, so if you want a paid position for your practicum …

Right, so we were saying that if you wanted a paid position for your practicum, you can actually do your practicum at your place of employment. So for those of you who are working full time in a public health field, or in a public health position, we can go ahead and accommodate you and have you work at your work site, however we’d probably want you to do something a little bit different than your normal day-to-day activities, maybe a separate project. I can talk to each student about what exactly you’re doing, and how we can create something that’s more specific to competencies, and to the fulfillment of the requirements for the practicum.

Okay, so this question is actually directed to Rose. “If I complete my practicum abroad, how is this paid for? Is it through financial aid, or is it out of my own pocket?”

Yep, it would be … Well, if you want to get more financial aid, then it’ll be out of your pocket in the future, but you can … Yeah, most of our students that go abroad, they do pay for it themselves, whether it’s through a loan, or some other type of financial aid. If you’re talking about a scholarship, or some type of free aid, we don’t at this time offer any scholarships to our students who are going abroad. At this point, it is fully paid out of pocket.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is “How many hours do you actually spend per day on your practicum to get 100 hours?”

Well, the requirement’s actually 300 hours, at the very least. If you do qualify for the waiver, and you do get that approved, it would be 150. So we’re talking no less than 150 hours. It just really depends on your work load, on the number of classes you’re taking in that semester, with work, and if you’re doing your practicum at a different agency outside of your work, you’ll have to work with that agency and see how much work they have for you. Some of our students work 10 hours a week, others that don’t have a full time job, and are taking two classes, they may work 20 hours or more. So it really just depends on each student.

Okay, thank you so much. I’d like to direct this next question to Dr. Kumar. “Upon selecting a track within the program, is there an opportunity to switch tracks?”

Yes, there is. You can switch your track any time you want, technically. Ideally, you switch … You can come into the program thinking you want to do a certain track. Once you take your core courses and feel like you might want to do another track, it’s best to switch at that point, before you actually start taking your track courses, so you don’t lose time. If you start a track, and then realize you’re not interested in it, or you want to switch, you can always do that as well, you’ll just lose some time in terms of your course offerings.

Okay, thank you Dr. Kumar. Our next question is “What is the deadline to apply to the biostats track, and are there additional requirements?” I’ll direct that question to Travis, the admissions advisor.

Our published deadline on our website says June first is when your application would need to be started, and your application would need to be complete with your admissions advisor by no later than August ninth.

Thank you, Travis. Our next question is “What percentage of students are working full time, and do the majority express difficulty in keeping up with the courses?” I’d like to direct that to Dr. Kumar.

I’m sorry, Kiana, can you repeat the question?

The question is “What percentage of students are working full time, and do the majority express difficulty in keeping up with the coursework?”

Pretty much 95% of our students are working full time. For the students who do express difficulty, they are allowed to enroll in the program on a part time basis. Part time means one course per semester. A full time load is two courses per semester. In terms of the average work load, you can expect to spend about 15 hours per week on any course. The range is usually between 12 to 20. That should give you a sense of what you think you can handle, and how many courses.

Thank you, Dr. Kumar. Our next question is “Can you provide more examples of the community based organizations you have affiliations with, Ms. Rose?”

Sure. I mean, we work with non-profit organizations, Susan G. Komen, LA Diaper Drive, there’s a lot of … We work with Age Project LA, California Family Health Council. It really just depends on the students’ interests, and again, I would encourage everyone to look beyond the 225 practicum sites that we have, and if there’s someone actually locally, or an organization locally to where the student is located, we’re more than happy to expand on the practicum sites and add more to our list.

I’ll just add to that, and generally speaking … Clinics, hospitals, county health departments, government agencies, NGOs, all of those are fair game, and we have students in any of those agencies.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is “Are classes scheduled at a certain time? For example, are they required to attend to a discussion or some other type of distance learning communication at a set time, or is it structured by doing course work as you find time?” I’d like to direct that to Dr. Kumar.

So most of our course work is asynchronous, meaning you do it on your own time. However, we do have live sessions in many of our courses, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Sometimes they’re once a week, once every two weeks, once every three weeks, depending on the course. Students are encourage to attend those. Usually we hold them on an evening time during a weekday, let’s say every Tuesday from five to six, or six to seven. Something like that, to accommodate folks who are working, as well as our students on the east coast. You’re highly encourage to attend, and all of that material can be covered in projects and exams, but we do understand that students aren’t always available, given work and family commitments, and so we record all of those live sessions and post the recordings in the course space for students to access them if they were not able to attend.

Thank you. Our next question is “Can your 300 practicum hours be done as 150 hour projects at two different sites?” [crosstalk 00:33:07]

No, no. They’re not split. So your 300 hours, or your 150 hours, whichever you qualify for, need to be at the same place. The reason being is, the whole idea behind practicum is so that you can gain in experience, skill sets, and really expand on the areas that you really want to grow. And, it’s also a great way to expand your networking abilities, and to make contacts within the field of public health. We think if you only have 150 hours here, or 100 hour here, and another 100 hours there, you don’t really get a great chance to build rapport, and to build a great relationship with your supervisor. It’s really best to take advantage of the fact that the 300 hours are all within one agency.

Okay. Our next question is “What are the differences between the online and on campus pro-

The differences between the online and on campus programs, if Dr. Kumar could answer that for us?

Sure. Well, both programs have used the same faculty to design the courses. It’s the same amount of units required. We offer three tracks online in the program versus the on campus program offers a few additional tracks. Obviously, the online program is 100% online. You take all of your courses online. You do not need to come to campus.

For the on campus program, 100% of your courses are on campus. Cost is the same, faculty’s the same, curriculum is relatively the same, with the exception of additional offerings on campus that you do not get online, but the three most popular tracks are the ones we are offering online currently.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, can the work done in your practicum also be designed to be the foundation for future and expanded work after the practicum is completed?

Sure, absolutely. If you want to continue working with your organization or agency beyond your practicum hours, I would encourage that. If your family and work commitments will allow you to have that time, and that’s something that the student wants to do, or it develops into a position, it’s great to position yourself in such a way where you are such an asset to that company or organization where they want to keep you, absolutely, that’s not a problem.

Okay, thank you. The next question is, can the program be completed on a part-time basis? Is it possible to take a term off if necessary? This student is also applying to medical school, Dr. Kumar?

Yes, it is possible to complete the program part-time, however it’ll take significantly longer. The program is designed to be completed in two years if students are enrolled full-time, consecutively, for six semesters. If needed, however, students are allowed to be part-time, taking one class a semester and they are allowed to take a leave of absence for a semester if they need.

Okay, thank you. This next question is also directed to you, Dr. Kumar. I’ve read that you can complete your MPH during the MD program you offer, do you know of any benefits for enrolling in just the MPH program, then MD, versus the MD, MPH?

Just to clarify, the MD/MPH option of the dual degree is only available to on campus students. However, if you happen to be an MD student at a university and taking our MPH online program at the same time, there is no reason that you couldn’t technically do it, but I imagine your workload will be very, very difficult, because it’s a two year degree, so if you’re trying to do it concurrently, it will pose some challenges on a practical level, so I’d encourage you to think about doing one, and then the other.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, what is the cost of the program? I’ll direct that to Travis.

The cost of the program is $1,536 per credit hour, and this is a 47 total credit hour program.

Okay, our next question is, upon graduation –

I’m sorry, I’m gonna stop you. It’s about $70,000, big picture, for two years.

Okay, thank you. Next question is, upon graduation, does your degree state “online”? I can direct that to Travis as well.

No, the degree is from USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

Okay. Our next question is, what percentage of students actually obtain employment through their practicum work? I can direct that to Rose.

I don’t have the specific numbers behind that. I can say that, based on the pie chart that I shared in the presentation, 55% of our students do find full-time employment upon graduation. Now, how many of those actually stayed within their practicum site, I’ don’t know the exact number. It has been done, and it’s continuing to be a semesterly occurrence, so it’s not impossible, it’s very much a reality that you can, in fact, stay at your practicum site and become fully employed there upon graduation.

Okay, and this question is also directed to you, Rose. What percentage of students actually gain access to their preferred sight for their practicum work?

I would say 95% or higher. I haven’t come across a lot of issues as far as helping students find the site that they want to get into and then having any barriers to actually getting in. I think it’s really a fine dance in trying to find a site, but that also that offers a position that has an opportunity for one of our students, but if there’s work, most agencies are more than happy to have our students, so it’s just a matter of finding the right fit, and that’s usually not a problem.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, what is weighted higher: GPA, work experience, or an overall picture? I’ll direct that to Dr. Kumar.

The overall picture is very important. We do have minimum requirements for our GPA being a 3.0 from your undergraduate degree, but we do look at the overall picture, including your GPA, your GRE scores, your work experience, your personal statement, your letters of recommendation. The entire application is reviewed in totality.

Okay, Thank you Dr. Kumar. Our next question is, do you need to take the GRE to apply to USC’s MPH program? I can direct that to Travis.

Yes, the GRE is one of our requirements for the application process. A score of 153 on the verbal reasoning segment, and a 144 on the quantitative reasoning segment are of interest.

Okay, thank you, and are there any GRE waiver opportunities available. I can direct that to Dr. Kumar.

We do grant waivers on a case by case basis. Usually what’s required in order to obtain a waiver is an advanced degree, an MD and a masters of some sort and a high enough GPA in that category or a substitute examination such as an MCAT or a GMAT, as long as you meet the minimum score criteria in that area, but they have to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Okay. Our next question is, is it possible to specialize in more than one track for the program? I can direct that to Dr. Kumar.

It is possible. It just means you take extra classes, but there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, with the online program are there means of connecting with students of the program? For instance, if I’m taking the online program, and I reside in San Francisco, does the program provide a list of other students in the area with whom I can study with?

So, in the course space, when you log in to your courses, it’s all housed electronically, and so you’ll be conducting many group projects with your other classmates, all the discussion boards are open to all the students in your course, so you will, by default be interacting with your classmates very, very frequently, and it does list where the classmates live and things like that so you can connect with them in person should you like, but you’ll always be expected to be connecting with them virtually or through their phones to complete many of your assignments.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, are the classes in the MPH online program taught by the same faculty as the classes on campus, or are the online classes prerecorded sessions that we can view online? I can direct that to Dr. Kumar, as well.

The course are designed by the same faculty who teach on campus, and often are taught by the same faculty. The second part of that question, is there prerecorded information, yes, most of the lecture material is prerecorded by the same faculty, but there are live sessions that the students are encouraged to attend during that time.

Thank you, Dr. Kumar. Our next question is, if you have an affiliation with an organization professionally already, can they also be utilized for your practicum location? I can direct that to Ms. Rose.

Sure, like I said before, if there’s any practicum sites that are not included in the listed 225, we’re more than happy to add them to that list, it’s just a matter of a having someone at that site completing an agency application and affiliation agreement. So if they’re willing to sign off on those forms, they can get added to our list.

I’ll add to that. The practicum, as Rose already mentioned, cannot be your usual duties at work, so even if you’re completing it at your place of work, it has to be a whole different assignment or project that don’t fall in line with your usual duties.

Thank you. Our next is, would volunteering for the Peace Corps complete the practicum requirements? I can direct that to Ms. Rose.

That’s a tricky one. I’m gonna say we’ll have to look at that on a case by case basis, just because it might be hard to have someone at that level sign off on an affiliation agreement. I’m not really sure. We’ve never had anyone ask that question before, but you know, I’m just gonna kind of say, I would imagine that if there’s someone there that works for the Peace Corps that’s willing to sign off on your hours and to complete a supervisor evaluation for you, it could be possible, but it all depends on whether their legal department would be willing to sign off on our affiliation agreement.

We may have to make some modifications to an agreement like that, just because it’s a government entity, and it could get a little hairy when it comes to legal matters, but I’m open to going down that road. I’ll just leave it at that.

Okay, thank you Rose. I actually have a question just to clarify something. A student asked about the MD/MPH dual degree program and the question that he meant, are there any particular benefits if he enrolled in the MPH program and then progressed to the MD program upon graduation versus going straight into the MD/MPH program and how is the program different in each option. I can direct that to Dr. Kumar.

Well, generally speaking, if you have an MPH before going into medical school, it will broaden your education and your scope. It might also make you a more attractive candidate for medical school. We often see that happening, but it’ll definitely provide you a level of education added before you enter. I hope that answered the question.

If I can add to that, too. I think if you have an MPH, but you haven’t actually practiced it, or you haven’t used it, and you’re directly going into med school without actually having a practical application beyond the 300 hours of a practicum, I’m not really sure what a medical admissions committee will think of that. I think if you’re thinking about getting an MPH and then practicing and using it for awhile, getting some experience in the field, and then going into med school, I think your application would be much more competitive than if you were just get an MPH and then the next semester going directly into med school. That’s just been my experience with the students who have attempted to do something like that.

Okay, thank you. Our next question is, once the application is completed, how long does it take to find out whether or not there is an offer or acceptance? Dr. Kumar?

Typically, you can expect to hear back, once the application file is completed, within two to four weeks.

Okay, thank you. Next question is, is there a formal graduation for online MPH students? Dr. Kumar?

Yes, there is. A graduation ceremony is held every year, once a year, so our online students are welcome to participate in the ceremony here at USC on campus at that time.

Okay, thank you Dr. Kumar. Our next question is, how often does the program start date come along, and is it a rolling admissions process? I can direct that to Travis.

Yes, we have three start dates a year for the MPH online program, and we do work on a rolling admissions basis.

Okay, thank you Travis. Our next question is, do you offer financial aid? Dr. Kumar?

Yes, the university does offer financial aid and you would need to connect with the financial aid office to process your forms. We are also trying to make a few, limited number of scholarships available, beginning this Fall. There will be a separate application for that as well.

And do you have any information on the requirements for the scholarship, Dr. Kumar?

It’s a merit-based scholarship, so students would have to complete the application form, which will ask them questions about their GPA, their professional interests, public health experience, as well as an essay challenge, and all applications will be reviewed in late August.

Thank you, Dr. Kumar, and I’d like to take our last question. What is the acceptance rate to this program? Dr. Kumar?

I’ll go ahead and answer that question, yeah. There is no particular acceptance rate that we can off you, it’s just if students are qualified, and they submit their application, the admissions committee go ahead and takes a review and we’ll let you know.

Thank you, Dr. Kumar. I’d like to thank Dr. Kumar, Rose, and Travis for taking time out to be here today. This does conclude today’s webinar. Remember, if you have any questions, or think it’s time to reply, please contact your enrollment advisor. Their contact information is on your screen now. The will also have a PDF and a recording of this event, and we’ll be able to send them to you within the next week. So, thank you again for joining us today, and have a wonderful day!