Frequently Asked Questions

After I have finished my MPH practicum, what next?

Students who are interested in building on the practicum are encouraged to complete an MPH Project. You are also encouraged to utilize your practica to prepare a poster for inclusion in the SPHHS Research Day, which takes place each March.

Can I do the MPH practicum at my current job?

If you can do a practicum only in your regular place of employment, the assignment must extend beyond your regular work duties and allow application of knowledge and skills acquired through the MPH course of study.

Can I transfer course credits from another university?

You may transfer up to 6 credits from another institution. This includes courses taken as a “non-degree” student.

Can I visit the program? How do I arrange that?

Yes. If you are ever in the area, please do contact us and we would be happy to arrange for you to meet with faculty and students and to attend classes. We also have an annual Open House to which you are welcome and invited to attend. Contact Diane Wolf at for more information on upcoming Open House dates.

Do I need to take the GREs? What are acceptable scores for admission? What if I do not score well on the GREs?

Yes. Applicants must have taken the GREs within the past 5 years. We generally like to see scores in the top 50% percentile; however, the GRE score by itself is not sufficient to gain admission to the program or to deny entry.

Does the program offer financial aid?

There are two basic forms of financial aid: Aid provided by the university and aid provided by the School. Applicants should apply for financial aid from the university directly. The University offers a limited number of scholarships, job opportunities (such as a Resident Advisor) that include tuition credit, and federal loans. The School of Public Health & Health Sciences and the EHS program have no control or influence over these financial aid programs. The International Programs Office offers a number of International student tuition credit awards to international graduate students. New students must be nominated by their academic department. Graduate students can also apply to their academic departments for teaching or research assistantships which, if awarded, carry a stipend and tuition credit.

The primary form of financial assistance offered by the EHS program comes in the form of employment as Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. Generally, students are awarded a stipend and tuition credit, in addition to health and childcare benefits.

How am I graded on the MPH practicum?

The practicum is graded on a pass/fail basis. In order to pass the practicum, your practicum file must contain all the items listed in Steps 1-13.

How do I get an application?

To apply to the M.S. or M.P.H. program please visit the SOPHAS website.

To apply to our Ph.D. program please visit the Graduate School Admissions website.

How will I know whether or not I have been accepted?

Admission decisions are forwarded to the Graduate School, and the Graduate School will send letters to applicants by mail confirming the decision. This process will be completed as quickly as possible.

Is it possible to take classes as a “non-degree” student?

Prior to one’s formal application and admission into a graduate degree program, the University of Massachusetts Amherst allows interested individuals to take up to 6 credits (typically, 2 classes) as a “non-degree” student. All that one needs to do is to pay for the classes, without submitting a formal application for admission.

Is it possible to take courses online?

You may take up to 6 credits (usually 2 courses) online in the UMass Amherst MPH online degree program and apply them towards your degree program here. Please be aware that you must pay a separate fee for taking courses online.

Is the MPH practicum paid?

Agencies and organizations may provide paid or unpaid practica opportunities. There is no guarantee of financial support for you during your practicum. However, the School will assist you in finding paid placements whenever possible.

What are the admission requirements?

We require that all applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and that foreign applicants take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). In addition, the admission decision is based on the applicant's grades in undergraduate and graduate courses, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. Successful applicants' test scores and Grade Point Average (GPA) generally exceed:


Verbal50th percentile
Quantitative50th percentile
Analytical50th percentile





Applicants should have completed undergraduate coursework in basic biology and chemistry.

What are the deadlines for applying?

Applications to the M.P.H. and M.S. programs of the Environmental Health Sciences Division must be received by:

  • Fall: February 1
  • Spring: October 1 - Spring admission to EHS degree programs are considered on a case-by-case basis
  • Summer: There is no summer term

The Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. program currently considers for admission qualified candidates only after they have found a department faculty member willing to mentor them on a funded research project. For further information, contact Dr. Richard Peltier by phone at (413) 545-1317 or by email at

What do I need to apply to the program?

The application has 5 basic components: (1) your undergraduate GPA, (2) your GRE scores, (3) your work experience (or resume), (4) letters of reference, and (5) your personal statement. All 5 elements are carefully considered to get a better understanding of the applicant. The admissions committee pays particular attention to the personal statements.

What is a suggested timeline for the MPH practicum?

The Practicum process usually starts in the Fall of your first year.

What is the difference between the M.P.H. and M.S. degree programs?

The M.P.H. degree is sometimes called a "professional" or "terminal" degree, which means that students are expected to terminate their education and work in their professions for the rest of their careers. In contrast, the M.S. degree is designed for students who are interested in pursuing their doctorate. The M.S. degree is research-oriented, whereas the M.P.H. degree is oriented toward practitioners. M.S. students are required to do additional coursework in research methods and biostatistics and they must complete a Master’s thesis that involves conducting original research. The M.S. degree program is highly recommended for students who think that they will pursue their doctorate, as completing a thesis provides invaluable experience in preparing for one's doctoral dissertation.

It is important to note that having an M.P.H. degree does not preclude one from applying for doctoral level studies, should you change your mind at some later point in your life. The M.S. degree provides certain advantages in applying to Ph.D. programs, but it is quite common for applicants with an M.P.H. degree to be accepted into doctoral programs.

If you have any further questions, please contact Dr. Richard Peltier at, or by phone at (413) 545-1317.

What should go into one’s personal statement in the application?

The Admissions Committee is looking for two key points: First, the candidate has a clear understanding of the field, based on experience and personal and professional interests; and second, the candidate demonstrates clear knowledge about how the degree will advance their career goals and provide them with the skills, knowledge and qualifications they need to gain entry to the work they most want to do.

Where do people go to work after completing your program?

Graduates work in a variety of settings, including state and local health departments, hospitals and community health centers, private non-profit agencies that deliver public health services, HMOs, educational institutions, private business in environmental health consulting, and international health settings.

The largest employer of public health graduates across the country is typically state and local health departments. In Massachusetts, however, due to our unique historical circumstances, public health services are largely delivered through a privatized “purchase-of-services” system, where contracts for implementing programs are put out to bid in a competitive application process. In this system, most public health services are delivered by private non-profit agencies, and hence, in Massachusetts, most of our graduates find jobs working at these types of agencies.

Whom do I contact for additional admission information?

To reach the faculty member in charge of admissions and/or to arrange a time to come in and speak to the faculty and visit the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, please contact Dr. Laura Vandenberg at or call her at 413-577-7405.