By Peggy Pico
From the deep end of the Covid-19 pandemic to the spotlight on healthcare inequities emerged an unexpected boon in San Diego State University’s School of Public Health master’s degree program (MPH).
Despite the pandemic’s uncertainty in early 2020, the number of graduate applicants spiked by 23% compared to pre-pandemic levels, said Eyal Oren, interim director of the School Public Health (SPH). Then in 2021, the MPH program saw another 30% rise in applicants, for an estimated total increase of 53% over the previous two years.
“There was an incredible interest from the students,” Oren said in a recent article for Fortune Magazine.
According to the Nation’s Health, a publication of the American Public Health Association, the massive uptick in applicants to collegiate public health programs in the U.S. remains up to 40% higher than before the pandemic.
The real-life experiences of living through a global health crisis and its magnification of social, racial, and health disparities fueled national conversations about the critical role of public health in advancing health equity – and plenty of college students noticed.
“Young people deeply care about these issues and public health is an avenue to combat inequality,” Laura Magaña, president and CEO of the Association of Schools and Programs, told The Nation’s Health.
A master’s degree in public health offers a broad range of career opportunities that directly influence the health and wellbeing of people and their communities, with specialties in research, education, policy-making, fieldwork, and beyond.
“There’s more recognition about what public health professionals can do,” Oren said in the article. “It’s a broad field –There’s a lot of space for a lot of different people.”
SDSU’s School of Public Health offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including a preventive medicine residency. The school ranked No.19 in this year’s Best Graduate School in U.S. News & World Report.