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Arnold School of Public Health


Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions from students applying to the Arnold School of Public Health. If you have any other questions that aren't answered here, please call the Arnold School of Public Health Office of Graduate Student Services at 803-777-5031 or contact them by email (sphstsrv@mailbox.sc.edu)

General Questions

How will I be notified of acceptance?

After a decision has been made about your application, you will receive an email from the Arnold School of Public Health department to which you applied. Official notice will come from the Director of Graduate Admissions at The University of South Carolina Graduate School.

  • If you are accepted, your graduate admission is valid for four successive academic terms (one year), beginning with the term you applied for unless a shorter period is specifically indicated in your official letter of acceptance. If you are unable to enroll for the term in which you were originally admitted, you will need to submit an Update Request Form to request a change in term.

  • If your initial application is declined, you may request reconsideration for admission to the same program or to a different program within one year of your original application date without resubmitting a new application. You will need to submit an Update Request Form. An updated resume and statement of intentions will also be required.

If I am accepted, how long will it take to complete my master's degree?

The number of hours for a master's degree varies from 36 hours to 69 hours, depending upon the degree/department you chose. On a full-time basis, the MPH, MSPH, and M.S. are typically completed in one-and-a-half to two years. Full- and part-time students are expected to complete all program requirements within six years.

What type of undergraduate degree do I need to apply to the Arnold School of Public Health?

Because public health is a broad multi-disciplinary field, applicants to the Arnold School come from a diverse range of undergraduate programs, which include the sciences, social sciences, business and clinical programs. Some programs have prerequisites; please check our Apply section for more details.

What about financial aid?

The University of South Carolina has a central financial aid office. In order to be considered for financial aid, applicants should file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form as early as possible, even before filing an application for admission. This form is available at any U.S. college or university. Applicants may also take advantage of the FAFSA Express program, which allows students to complete the form electronically through the U.S. Department of Education's web site. Visit the USC Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships for more information. 

Can I schedule an appointment to discuss admissions?

If you have any questions after reviewing the Arnold School of Public Health admissions information on our website, you may call the Office of Graduate Student Services at 803-777-5031, or the graduate director of the department in which you are interested, regarding the admissions procedures. Be sure to read the information carefully to see which program is best suited to your academic and professional background and which program meets your career goals.

How do I apply for an assistantship?

A limited number of Graduate Assistantships are available for full-time students. These assistantships provide a special tuition rate and a stipend in return for 10-20 hours of work per week under the direction of Arnold School of Public Health faculty. Currently, to qualify for an assistantship, a student must be fully admitted to a degree program, maintain a 3.0 average, and enroll in at least six credit hours.

Applicants should submit a completed Graduate Assistantship Application [pdf] to the Arnold School of Public Health Office of Graduate Student Services via email (sphstsrv@mailbox.sc.edu) or fax 803-777-3588.

In addition, the MySPH (My Source for Public Health) Opportunity Manager provides a centralized location for posting, searching and applying for graduate assistantships, practicum/residency opportunities, and internships. 

How many students are enrolled in the Arnold School of Public Health?

Over 700 graduate students are enrolled in the Arnold School and over 1,800 undergraduate students in the bachelor programs.

What is the average age of your students?

The average age of our students is 28. However, we have a mixture of students, ranging from those who just completed a bachelor's degree to older adults leaving the workforce (many part-time) to return to school. 

I only want to take one course. What do I have to do?

You must complete a "non-degree application" available from The Graduate School. With this non-degree application you may receive 12 hours of graduate enrollment eligibility. Only six hours of non-degree courses will be transferred to a degree program. Each time you use up those hours, you may reapply for 12 more hours by completing one of these applications. If no department objects, you may be given a fresh allotment of 12 hours. Please note that non-degree students are not guaranteed enrollment in any specific course and may have to ask special permission of the instructor or department for access to certain courses. Also note that if you later are accepted into a degree program, only six hours of coursework will transfer to that program of study.

 

Requirements

What are the requirements for applying to a graduate degree program at the Arnold School of Public Health? 

Minimum requirements to apply include:

  • A completed application (SOPHAS, CSDCAS, PTCAS, or the USC Graduate School)

  • A four year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent (for a doctoral degree, an earned master's degree is typically required)

  • Official transcripts from all schools or colleges previously attended

  • Grade point average of 3.00/4.00 or higher

  • Required test scores

  • Two to three letters of recommendation (depending on program)

  • Resume or CV

  • Statement of purpose and objectives describing applicant’s academic and research interest, relevant work experiences, academic/professional goals and objectives

  • For international applicants, a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Course Type 2 exam.  Non-US institution transcripts must be verified by World Education Services (WES) or equivalent evaluation service. 

For more detailed information by program, visit the Apply section.

Can I transfer any credits toward a master's degree? 

Requests to transfer credits are considered on an individual basis after students are admitted to the program. In order for transfer credits to be given, a course must be a graduate course from an accredited institution, not used for another degree, within six years of when degree was awarded, appropriate to the student's course of study at the Arnold School, and approved by the student's department, Dean's Office, and The Graduate School. 

What test scores do you accept, and can I waive test scores?  

The departmental admissions committees require evidence of academic strength in verbal and quantitative areas. We require the (GRE) Graduate Record Examination General Test; however, the (GMAT) Graduate Management Admissions Test is also accepted by the Department of Health Services Policy and Management. Applicants who apply for the General Master of Public Health program may also submit MCAT or PCAT scores in lieu of the GRE. Historically, these scores are not waived. Any request for a waiver must be submitted to the program graduate director and approved by the department and The Graduate School. A list of program contacts can be found in our Contact Us section. 

The Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior MPH Professional Online Program will allow applicants to request that significant prior professional experience be considered in lieu of the GRE. Such requests must be made in a document separate from the letter of intent, providing a detailed description of the relevant professional experience indicative of potential for success in the MPH program. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

I took the GRE a long time ago (8 years, 10 years, etc.). Do I have to retake this exam?

The Graduate School and Centralized Application Services (SOPHAS, CSDCAS, PTCAS) require an official copy of your GRE score from the Educational Testing Services (ETS). ETS does not keep scores that are five years old or older. If you cannot obtain an official copy of your test score, then you may have to retake the GRE. Waivers or the submission of unofficial scores are considered on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the program graduate director and The Graduate School.

What is the GPA requirement for admitted students?

The applicant's strength in relevant coursework is evaluated along with other credentials. However, those offered admission to the Arnold School typically have academic records that are above 3.00/4.00 GPA. 

May I submit my career placement file letters of recommendation?

Career placement file letters of recommendation may be submitted for the Letters of Recommendation forms. However, it should be noted that our departmental admissions committees are most familiar with our Letters of Recommendation forms. 

For those applying via SOPHAS, please reference the letter of recommendation criteria on the SOPHAS website.

For those applying via CSDCAS, please reference the letter of recommendation criteria on the CSDCAS website. For those applying via PTCAS, please reference the letter of recommendation criteria on the PTCAS website.

How long is my application valid?

Your application is valid for one year from the term in which you are applying. 

 

Program Questions

Can I complete a master's degree in the evening?

We do not have an evening program, however, many classes are offered in the late afternoon and early evening.

Can I receive a master's degree through distance education? 

Currently several core courses are available via distance education. However, the only programs that are available completely via distance education are the following: Master of Communication Disorders (MCD) in the Communication Sciences and Disorders, MPH in Health Services Policy and Management, and MPH Professional Online Program in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior.

I am interested in international health. Do you have a program?

The Arnold School does not have a specific degree in international or global health; however, Communication Sciences and Disorders; Environmental Health Sciences; Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Exercise Science; Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior; and Health Services Policy and Management integrate global health into their departmental research. Visit our Global Health page for more information.

I am interested in nutrition. Do you have a degree in nutrition?

The Arnold School does not offer a degree in nutrition. However, the departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; and Exercise Science offer courses in nutrition.

Do you offer doctoral programs?

Yes, we have Doctor of Public Health programs (DrPH) in Biostatistics; and Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior. The Master of Public Health (MPH) or equivalent degree is a prerequisite for admission to the DrPH. We also offer the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Biostatistics; Epidemiology; Environmental Health Sciences; Exercise Science; Health Services Policy and Management; Health Promotion; Education; and Behavior and Communication Sciences and Disorders. The Department of Exercise Science also offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

 

 

International Students

Are the application deadline dates for international students different?

International applicants do not have a separate deadline date; however, early applications are encouraged. All application materials should be submitted by the deadline date.

I am a foreign medical doctor. What do I need to apply?

Foreign medical graduates are required to submit a complete application, including Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores. In addition, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score will be required for all students whose primary studies were not in English. International applicants will also need to have any transcript from a non-US institution verified and submitted to the The Graduate School or SOPHAS by World Education Services (WES).

I am an international student. What funding can I apply for?

International students, except those with Permanent Resident status, are not eligible for traineeship and government student loans and are advised to seek financial aid through their country of citizenship, private foundations, and international agencies. A limited number of assistantships are available in the departments but are awarded at the discretion of the department on a first come, first served basis.