Fall Application Deadlines
All students - January 15
We are often asked by those considering the DrPH program for informal advice on how well they “fit” the profile of a successful DrPH student. While we are unable to assess an individual’s prospect for admission without reviewing a complete application, we can offer the following advice on the academic, professional and personal backgrounds we believe would be a strong fit for the program.
Applicant Biographical Requirements
Earning the DrPH degree is a challenging process which extends over several years. It is designed for students who are dedicated to being public health leaders, who have a vision for what is possible, and who can clearly dedicate the necessary time to the learning process. Application to the program is highly competitive with upwards of 120 applications for approximately 15 slots each year. Please consider the questions below when deciding if this is the right program for you. If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, please strongly consider applying. We offer this advice in the interest of fully disclosing expectations and to encourage frank self-assessment and reflection as an essential early step in your leadership development.
- Do you have a master’s degree in public health or a related discipline from an accredited university?
- If your master’s is not in public health are you willing to take up to five remedial public health core courses (15 credit hours) before beginning core DrPH coursework?
- Does your graduate academic record clearly show a high level of academic ability demonstrated though high a grade point average in challenging courses, including courses in research methods, analysis, and science?
- Do you have at least three years’ experience in middle management or above in a public health related field?
- Does your professional career clearly demonstrate leadership aptitude or leadership experience related to public health?
- Are your future career interests strongly in the practice of public health?
- As a DrPH student, are you prepared to complete 2 courses (6-8 credit hours) per term (Fall and Spring Semester) and attend an in-person, annual summer session for each year you are in the DrPH Program?
- Can you obtain sufficient release time from your job and other responsibilities to participate fully as a DrPH student for several years?
- Can you make financial arrangements that will allow you to cover tuition, travel, computer and other costs that may in total exceed $50,000 to obtain the DrPH degree?
- Do you have strong verbal and writing skills?
- Can you articulate a clear vision of why you want to pursue the DrPH degree, beyond motivation for professional, career, or personal development?
- Can you demonstrate a history of discipline in time management, priority stetting, and personal mastery?
- Do you have regular access to a relatively new personal computer and a hi-speed internet connection?
- Complete the UIC supplemental application and supplemental fee: UIC requires a brief supplemental application and non-refundable supplemental application fee ($70 for Domestic and International applicants).
- Complete the SOPHAS application and fee. The documents in steps 3 – 5 will all be uploaded via SOPHAS.
- Personal Statement, uploaded via SOPHAS. It is generally recommended to keep the statement to 500-800 words and to focus on your interests/experiences in public health and the program you are applying to specifically, your goals with the degree, and why you would be successful in the program. For students applying to research focused programs, the personal statement should also address potential research interests.
- Resume or CV, uploaded via SOPHAS
- Three letters of recommendation, uploaded via SOPHAS
- Domestic Applicants must submit transcripts issued from the University for all undergraduate and post-baccalaureate work directly to SOPHAS. Domestic students who have completed course work at foreign institutions should follow the instructions provided below for international applicants for submitting those academic credentials.
- All international transcripts must be uploaded directly into the UIC system after completing the Supplemental Application. Students uploading international transcripts must also pay a UIC International Credential Evaluation Fee. Domestic students submitting international coursework from study abroad do not pay the evaluation fee. Students admitted to the UIC School of Public Health will need to provide sealed official transcripts to the UIC Office of Admissions prior to their second term at the university. International applicants may submit a course by course WES evaluation directly to SOPHAS, but it is not required.
Common Questions about the Application Process
About admissions requirements
To qualify for the DrPH program, students must hold a master’s degree from an accredited school of public health or a master’s degree in a related field. They must also have three or more years of full-time, paid, professional experience in public health in a leadership position (or in mid to senior level management positions that demonstrate evidence of leadership potential).
About aptitude tests
The GRE is not required. Applicants who have taken the GRE or other aptitude test within the past five years may elect to submit their scores. This may be especially helpful for applicants whose academic records do not reflect their current academic potential and accomplishments.
About the personal statement
Applicants should make a clear and compelling but succinct case as to their motivations for pursuing the DrPH degree and their readiness to begin and complete the program. Points covered should include reasons for applying, how the DrPH degree would be used, how it fits in the trajectory of professional and leadership development, along with life adjustments and financial preparations the applicant will make to successfully complete the program.
About management experience
As a leadership development program, mid or senior level management experience is an important criterion for admission. Students meeting the minimum leadership exposure may be required to take up to five hours of practicum to gain a foothold at the leadership level. Applicants should ensure that their resume and personal statement document their management experience.
About the evaluation process
Applications are evaluated systematically by members of the DrPH Oversight Committee, a cross-disciplinary group of faculty members from the UIC School of Public Health. Five broad criteria are applied in the application review process:
- Management experience of increasing responsibility, which demonstrates leadership or the strong potential for leadership in public health practice.
- A broad understanding of public health gained through acquiring the MPH degree (or equivalent) and exposure to public health practice and issues through continuing education, professional experience or volunteer work.
- Ability to successfully perform academic work at a doctoral level, as indicated by a graduate academic record of high grades and challenging courses (e.g. analysis and methods courses), along with GRE or equivalent test scores for applicants who are returning to school after a long hiatus, or whose prior academic records do not accurately reflect their current abilities.
- Communication and writing skills, as demonstrated by a clear, focused and well-organized personal statement, along with TOEFL scores for applicants whose first language is not English.
- Motivation to complete the program in a timely manner and continue on to professional work as a public health leader, as demonstrated by an academic and personal development history showing commitment to public health, persistence and initiative. Personal statement and letters of recommendation are most important here.
The application has five elements: resume/vita, academic transcript, personal statement, letters of recommendation and test scores (optional). While each element is not of equal relevance for each criterion, all elements are important, and the elements of a strong application mutually reinforce each other. Students are urged to critically apply the criteria prior to submitting an application.
We recognize that not all applicants will be able to meet the criteria to the same degree. So, individual professional development and career trajectory are taken into account.
Applicants are reviewed on both an absolute and relative basis. While all criteria must be met at a minimum level, each applicant is also evaluated relative to others who have applied that year. Thus, it is possible that an applicant will meet minimum standards but will not be admitted, due to a comparatively low ranking. It is also possible that an applicant rejected one year will be accepted in a later year on the basis of an improved application or higher relative standing.