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School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

How Do I Apply?

The application deadline for students interested in enrolling in Fall 2023 is Jan. 15, 2023.

Public Health graduate training is designed to promote and protect health in the San Joaquín Valley and the world through research and action, including preparing the next generation of public health professionals and leaders. Public Health at UC Merced is a vibrant and collegial intellectual community, marked by outstanding scholarship and participation in interdisciplinary communities of inquiry.

We currently offer a Ph.D. degree program in Public Health. The doctoral program is full-time, in-person, and is designed to train students for research careers in both higher education and public and private agencies outside of academia. Faculty areas of research include environmental health, health disparities, epidemiology, health systems and services, nutrition, health communication, mental and behavioral health, tobacco control, Latino health, maternal/child health, and more. We welcome your interest in our program and encourage you to reach out as you explore your options for graduate education in public health!

Graduate advisors form a key part of a Ph.D. student’s education, training, and career development. To ensure that our program at UC Merced is a good match for your research interests, we recommend reviewing our faculty and their individual websites, particularly their research and teaching interests. We encourage all prospective Ph.D. students to reach out to existing faculty members to explore whether our program is a good fit for your interests and career goals. In your application materials, we also recommend that you mention specific faculty whose research or teaching interests align with your own.

We encourage prospective students to check out our amazing current students and their active research projects.

Resources for Prospective Students

We seek to recruit students who can demonstrate the following: Commitment to conducting research on a focused topic in public health, strong writing ability, interdisciplinary mindset, motivation to work independently, interest in pursuing a research career, and alignment with our faculty’s research areas. We welcome applications from students with a wide range of undergraduate degrees (not limited to those with a health focus). An MPH or equivalent Master’s degree is encouraged, but not required. While some prior experience with quantitative or statistical coursework is recommended, it is not required. We do require the GRE so that we have some sense of a student’s quantitative aptitude, as not all prospective students have taken statistics classes in their undergraduate careers. However, GRE scores are only one aspect of a student’s application, and other application components (e.g., the personal statements and recommendation letters) are weighted more heavily.

In their application statements, successful prospective students typically demonstrate their commitment to research by discussing their involvement in research activities during their undergraduate or post-college careers. In addition, outline your specific research interests, methods or approaches you seek to learn, and future career goals so that our Admissions Committee can assess potential fit between your interests and our program. We also recommend that you mention specific faculty whose research or teaching interests align with your own. To help with this process, we recommend reviewing our faculty and their individual websites.

We encourage all prospective Ph.D. students to reach out to existing faculty members to explore whether our program is a good fit for your interests and career goals. We do not formally interview applicants to our program, but conversations with individual faculty can be very useful for assessing whether our program is a good match for you. The types of questions you might be asked during these conversations include: Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D.? What kind of research are you interested in conducting? Do you have any background in statistical or qualitative research methods? What kind of career do you want to pursue after your Ph.D.? What aspects of doing research do you enjoy, and which seem intimidating? The types of questions you might wish to ask faculty include: What research projects are you currently working on? How many students do you currently have, and what are they working on? What is your mentoring approach, particularly around writing and publishing academic papers? What types of data and methods (quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods) do your students typically work with? What careers have your previous students pursued after graduating? What funding opportunities do you have for your students, including funding for summer research and travel to conferences?

Prospective students may also wish to check out the following external resources:

If you’d like to talk with current students, please reach out to the Graduate Chair, Sidra Goldman-Mellor, at sgoldman-mellor@ucmerced.edu to get connected.

Updated September 2022