New Public Health program sees zero enrollment


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The College of Public Health opened up its undergraduate to graduate degree program to students for the first time this spring semester.

So far, no students are officially enrolled.

“We are yet to have a student in it,” Mary Aquilino, an associate dean for the master of public health and undergraduate programs.

The college’s accelerated master of public health and master of science programs require students to complete 80 semester hours of coursework, including a three-credit Fundamentals of Public Health class, and attain 3.25 or 3.5 minimum grade-point averages, depending on their preferred program.

Interested students would have to take the GRE in the early fall of their junior year, then apply to the program by Feb. 1.

“They have to know pretty early on in their academic careers,” said Lexie Just, assistant director of the master of public health program.

If admitted, students would finish their undergraduate degrees and begin graduate coursework during their senior years.

This way, students could receive a graduate degree in five years as opposed to the typical six.

“I think some advantages in three plus two are that it shortens time to a degree and saves students time and money,” Aquilino said.

Just attributed the lack of enrolled students to the College of Public Health focusing its recruitment efforts on freshmen and sophomores rather than juniors, who have enough credits to apply.

“Next fall, I expect there to be some applicants,” she said. “We don’t expect large numbers. It’s about increasing options for students who want to come to [the UI] … It’s not for everybody, but it’s great for those who qualify.”

Currently, only undergraduates from approved majors including psychology, biology, statistics, and select engineering programs may apply.

“We’re learning that is very limited,” Just said.

The college is trying to open up more majors for program eligibility. They are waiting on approval from the Graduate College.

One recruitment effort, Just said, was the Fundamentals of Public Health course, which falls under the social-sciences general-education requirement.

“It’s a great way to expose students to public health as undergraduates,” Just said.

UI sophomore David Gjersvik said his adviser suggested that he take the class, which helped him determine his career path.

“After taking the class, I thought, ‘Yeah, this is definitely what I want to do,’ ” Gjersvik said.

Until he can enroll in the undergrad to grad program, Gjersvik said, he’s focused on wrapping up his psychology major requirement.

“It’s a lot of planning,” he said. “I had to be thinking about five years in the future.”

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