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 M.P.H. Project. You are also encouraged to utilize your practica to prepare a poster for inclusion in the SPHHS Research Day, which takes place each spring.

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 M.P.H. 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 (see below).

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 & fee waivers, and federal loans. The School of Public Health & Health Sciences and the Health Policy and Management program have no control or influence over these financial aid programs.

The International Programs Office offers a number of International student Tuition Waiver 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 waiver of tuition and some fees.

The primary form of financial assistance offered by the Community Health Education program comes in the form of employment as Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. Generally, students are awarded a stipend and tuition and fee waivers, including out-of-state tuition, 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 the MPH Practicum Student Manual.

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 and apply them towards your degree program here. Please be aware that you must pay a separate fee for taking courses online.

Is my English good enough to be a Teaching Assistant?

All incoming international teaching assistants/associates and returning students who will be assuming TA responsibilities for the first time are required to demonstrate their oral English proficiency by passing a test of spoken English. A standardized test, SPEAK, which has been designed by the Educational Testing Service, is used for assessing and measuring the spoken English ability of International Teaching Assistants (ITAs). A score of 50 or above is required to pass the test. It is recommended that students who are not currently funded but who may be funded for a TA or TO position in the future, should also take the test.

The screening test of spoken English communication skills is typically given at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. A sample test is available at the time of sign up. The test will take approximately 1 hour. Please inform your Graduate Program Director if you are planning to take the test.

Small group English communication instruction classes are offered during fall, spring, and summer to ITAs/ITOs who do not achieve test criteria. Classes are also offered during spring and summer on a space available basis to RAs and international graduate students without funding.

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





There are no specific undergraduate courses required for admission.

What are the deadlines for applying?

Applications to the Health Policy and Management program must be received by:

  • Fall: February 1
  • Spring*: October 1

*Note: Spring admissions are considered on a case-by-case basis only.

What are the English proficiency requirements for the MPH practicum?

Practice experiences are arranged mutually by faculty and student, but depend entirely on the willingness of the public or private sector organization to accept the student. This acceptance requires a good working knowledge of the English language. Your ability to communicate in English must be very good, so that instructions and feedback by your supervisor are readily understood, and any problems quickly resolved. A good written command of English is also necessary. There are resources for International Students to improve their written and oral English at the University.

What do I need to apply to the program?

The application has 5 basic components: (1) your undergraduate and/or graduate 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. 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. David Buchanan by email at or by phone at (413) 545-1005, or contact our department administrative assistant, Ms. Gloria Seaman, by email at or by phone at (413) 545-4603.

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?

With a degree in Health Policy and Management, graduates generally find positions working for hospitals, HMOs, or in government positions developing different health policies on topical health issues. Typical employers are state and federal government, the military, public and private health organizations, and other human service institutions. Persons seeking careers in health administration specialize in health planning, organization, policy formulation and analysis, finance, economics or marketing in both the public and private sectors of health service delivery.

The largest employer of public health graduates across the country is probably 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?

For additional information regarding admissions to the Health Policy and Management program, contact Diane Wolf by email at or by phone at (413) 545-2861.