Prospective Students

FAQ for Prospective Students

1. How can I decide which degree program in the School of Public Health to apply to?

The best start to gather information is to visit the websites listed on the School of Public Health home page ( under Areas of Study/Divisions. Read about all the School of Public Health programs and degrees offered, curriculum, faculty research interests and decide which is the best fit with your academic and career goals. Attending one of the School of Public Health’s three pre-application advising sessions or our all-day SPH conference in the Fall is also very helpful. Not only you can have your questions about admissions process, financial aid or the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology (IDV) program answered, you will also have a chance to interact with IDV Division Faculty. If you apply to the IDV program, please state clearly in your “Statement of Purpose” your reasons for applying to our program, your academic preparation, relevant public health experience and career goals.

2. I am interested in epidemiology of infectious diseases. Should I apply to the Infectious Diseases or the Epidemiology/Biostatistics Program?

There is considerable overlap in the two programs and, using the time for electives, you can essentially fulfill the course requirements for both programs while enrolled in one. If you are more interested in the in-depth study of the biology of infectious agents, it may be better to apply to the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology (IDV) program. The IDV program provides a solid fundation for people who are interested in the study of infectious diseases epidemiology as well as the laboratory based study of infectious diseases.

However, if you are interested in analytical study design issues, disease surveillance, and biostatistics, you can apply to the Epidemiology/Biostatistics program. Students can still take the epidemiology/biostatistics courses while staying in the IDV program. The important thing to do is to identify faculty advisors early in both IDV and Epidemiology programs to guide you through the courses and help you with ideas for your MPH paper and possible field studies. You can list two areas of concentrations you want to apply in order of preference in your SOPHAS application. But your statement of purpose should be tailored to your first choice of area of concentration.

3. What are the course requirements for admission to the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology MPH Program?

The MPH is a professional degree administered by the School of Public Health. There are no absolute prerequisites required for MPH admission, although to be competitive for consideration Baccalaureate degree holders should have :
• satisfactory record of scholarship (minimum GPA of 3.0)
• evidence of significant intellectual potential (GRE scores),
• demonstrated competence in English

Mathematics (college algebra, calculus), some Physics, Chemistry (1 year general and organic), and Biology (1 year general) are normally required as undergraduate preparation for all candidates. Some upper division biology, microbiology courses are recommended. Final selection for admission will depend upon the faculty’s ranking of all applicants on the basis of academic record, intellectual potential, preparation, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, research interests, and overall promise and fitting into what the program offers, as well as availability of admission slots in the program. The MPH in Infectious Diseases is a professional degree administered by the School of Public Health. Each year the Division accepts 17-20 students from 60-75 applicants. No interviews are required for the MPH admission.

4. I have many years of work experience; will it be advantageous for admission?

Work experience is not required for admission, but relevant work experience related to Infectious Diseases e.g. laboratory or surveillance work would be considered a plus.

5. What is your minimuim GRE score requirement?

We do not have a minimum GRE score as we review applications holistically; however, competitive applicants tend to score in the 50th percentile and above.

6. What are the funding resources for MPH students?

Please visit Grad Division web site: and the School of Public Health website:

7. What are the funding resources for PhD students?

The Division offers funding to admitted doctoral students for the first one to two years of study dependent on the student’s circumstances and the availability of funding. Non-residents are expected to become California residents and establish California residency after the first year. See specific funding sources listed in this website.

8. Is a thesis required for MPH students?

No, the MPH program requires no research project and thesis so it isn't necessary to find a professor to sponsor a research project. The awarding of the MPH degree is based on successful completion of required course work and a comprehensive exam, comprising of a comprehensive paper and an oral examination.

9. If I contact a member of the IDV faculty and he/she is interested in having me admitted to the program, does this mean that I will be accepted?

No. All our admissions are made by the consensus of the entire Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology faculty. Individual professors cannot unilaterally decide to admit a student. The faculty will conduct a complete review of completed applications, including your transcripts, GRE and TOEFL scores (if applicable), letters of recommendation, work experience, statement of purpose and career goals to determine admissibility of each applicant. Promising PhD applicants will be invited to attend campus interviews. No interviews are required for MPH applicants.

10. Can I be working on the MPH and the PhD at the same time?

No. The MPH and PhD degrees have to be completed sequentially not concurrently. MPH students can apply for admission to the PhD program after and completing the MPH but they will have to compete with that year’s applicant pool. Although MPH applicants may have a slight advantage since the ID faculty has already known them and that transition and fitting in the program will not be an issue.

11. Can I complete the MPH degree in 1 year?

No. The MPH Infectious Diseases is a two year program which provides a basic course of study in public health microbiology and infectious diseases. Students are required to complete the Breadth Courses, the Public Health Practice, the courses requirements in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, electives both within the School of Public Health and in other schools and departments on the Berkeley campus, and to pass the comprehensive examination.

12. . Can I complete the PhD degree in less than 5 years?

The average time to complete the PhD program in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology is 5 years. Rarely, we have had students who completed the PhD program in 4 years.

"The MPH infectious diseases program has directed me towards a career in public health under the guidance of its excellent, approachable faculty
and challenging coursework."

- Linda Lee, MPH student