Information on Epidemiology Programs

<p>I'll be taking the GRE next month, and I'm trying to pick out four schools to send my scores to and start looking in to. Right now, my list is:</p>

<li>UC San Francisco</li>
<li>UC Berkeley</li>
<li>My undergrad school, which I've already gotten plenty of info about [UArizona]</li>

<p>I'm just curious if people can tell me a little about graduate school at any of these places, whether you've gone there or know anything about their epidemiology programs. </p>

<p>A little info about me, if it helps: like I mentioned, I think I want to go into epidemiology. My dream right now would be to study HIV/AIDS and possibly work for the CDC in the future. I'm a biology major with a theatre arts minor, and my GPA is around 3.7. All of my practice GRE tests [using PowerPrep from ETS] are generally around 1500-1530, so I have high hopes for that score. I have two years of lab experience in a psychology lab and pharmacology lab through an internship funded by the National Institutes of Health. [I'll have 5 years of lab experience when I graduate.] I love smaller labs that aren't structured too much in terms of time, but I don't have enough experience in a larger, structured lab to say that I hate them.
I'd like to enter a PhD program, and I prefer living on the west coast. That's why my schools are pretty concentrated in terms of location.
I am a sophomore right now, but our internship suggests taking the GRE since we attended a pretty good workshop about it. Therefore, I'm sure lots of the above information will change by the time I get to applying for grad school, but I'm curious about some of these programs for now.</p>

<p>It's unlikely that you'll stumble across an epi student in one of those programs on CC just by chance; also, I dislike when undergrads say "tell me a little bit about the program" because it's such a vague statement. What the hell does it mean? What do you want to know? Do you want to know about funding, do you want to know if your social life is going to die, do you want to know what the classes are like, or the research, or the professors, or the people, or the city? Or the university, or the department, or the program itself? Housing? Food? I mean, there is so much that goes into being a doctoral program, it's like "tell me a little about biology."</p>

<p>I'm not directing this only at you, but all the undergrads out there, because I get this question from undergrads emailing me all the time (about my program, and about my fellowship - "can you tell me a little about how you got the fellowship?" "can you offer some advice?" ABOUT WHAT?) and I'm like, what am I supposed to say to that? Make your questions more specific.</p>

<p>I don't necessarily agree with the advice about taking the GRE as a sophomore. It's probably better to wait at least until the second half of your junior year. But, if you are already scoring that high on PowerPrep (it's a good estimate) you might as well, I suppose.</p>

<p>If you are really serious about doctoral study, you don't pick PhD programs by location. You select them by who is doing research in your field and who you think would be a good fit with; and you stack your chances by applying to many schools at which you are a good fit. I mean, it's one thing to say that you want to stay in or close to an urban area, or you don't like the cold, or whatever - but realizing that you may have to compromise your likes a little bit in order to go to the best program for you. But to limit yourself just to the West Coast, you are really limiting yourself in terms of finding the best researchers who can help you get to your goal. For example, if you want to work at the CDC on HIV/AIDS research, it is an absolute no-brainer to apply to Emory. They have the Center for AIDS Research; their school of public health is in the top 10; and half their adjunct faculty are researchers at the CDC and a lot of their full-time faculty do collaborations there. The networking will be phenomenal. Also, Columbia has a lot of epidemiologists who do HIV/AIDS research, although you have to get an MS there first before moving onto the PhD.</p>

<p>You said that you want to enter a PhD program. It looks as if Stanford only has an MS program. They also don't seem to have a particular strength in HIV/AIDS. I'm in public health (not epi, a different field, but I do HIV/AIDS research) and I flipped through the faculty list because I didn't even know Stanford HAD an epidemiology department. I only saw one professor who does HIV or AIDS research. Berkeley is better; they have a strong school of public health, and more people there do AIDS and HIV research. I know UCSF has people doing that too.</p>

<p>Agree with above post. D is entering an MPH program in September. When deciding where to apply, she did a lot of research on various schools, looking for ones that had strong programs/research in her area of interest -- childhood obesity. Also, she looked at where grads were getting jobs. Although she attended undergrad in NC, she decided she wanted to come back to the northeast. So, for example, she didn't apply to UNC Chapel Hill, even though their program is excellent. </p>

<p>Also, I would have posted this exact statement if juillet hadn't beat me to it:

For example, if you want to work at the CDC on HIV/AIDS research, it is an absolute no-brainer to apply to Emory.


<p>Depending on what type of work you want to do, you may have better luck with microbiology departments. </p>

<p>While much of the above post is correct eg. pick based on the faculty you want to work with, I don't think that this is absolute criteria for a good graduate school career. You don't really specialize until postdoc so while it certainly would be valuable to network and make connections with people in the field, be prepared for much of this to lose value as you move to the next stage of your career. </p>

<p>Also, the best lab for research on a particular topic may not be the best lab for you- how productive would you be if you got stuck on a lousy project (and great labs do have these beasts around, just ask yourself which project was kicked around between six different people for the last decade). I also wouldn't ignore the role that personal happiness plays in a graduate career and if you can't be happy in a city far from friends and family, or in a climate where you can't pursue your favorite hobby, or stuck in a perpetual long distance relationship, then maybe you won't be as motivated and successful as you otherwise would.</p>

<p>If you prefer living on the west coast, you can forget about working for CDC (which is in Atlanta). Instead of med school programs, I'd recommend you start with Public health schools. For example, the Bloomberg school at Hopkins has an extremely strong epi program.</p>