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One of the most common questions from prospective students is “What makes a competitive application?” While the standard response is a strong academic history, solid GRE scores, letters of recommendation and a well-written personal statement always remains true, I wanted to provide a bit more insight into how you can be a strong, competitive applicant.

Degree and Program Fit
Before thinking about the components of the application, think about your research interests and the impact you want to make in the field of public health. Then look at the program to which you are thinking of applying to at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Do your interests and the degree program match?  If the answer is yes, then you can start crafting your application to show how your interests align with the program. If the answer is no or not quite, then the best strategy is to take a step back and look at the other departments/programs within the Bloomberg School. Research and interests at the Bloomberg School can be very interdepartmental, so making sure you’re applying to the right program based on your goals and interests is very important to becoming a competitive applicant. Never hesitate to contact Admissions Services or department and program coordinators to help you figure out your degree program fit.

Prerequisite Program Requirements
While many of our degree programs don’t have special requirements prior to applying or starting a program, some do. For example, the MPH, DrPH and most MAS degrees require previous working experience. The MPH, the MAS in Spatial Analysis for Public Health and the MSPH/RD in International Health require certain coursework. Look closely at the program’s website to make sure you meet any prerequisites.

Standardized Test Scores
When reviewing applications, JHSPH completes a holistic review. This means that test scores alone will not prevent an applicant from being admitted. However, as a component of the application, it is important to take time to study for the appropriate test (see the Standardized Test Score Chart to ensure you take the appropriate exam).

Admissions Services does not provide average test scores due to the wide variety of statistics from department, program, degree track and admissions cycle. Be sure to check the program and/or department website for any information on average test scores.

Personal Statement
Most of our application review committees do not interview applicants, especially for masters’ programs. Therefore, it is important to use the personal statement to share with the review committee your interests and goals in public health and why you are interested in the program. Remember, the committee also sees your transcript and CV/resume. You don’t need to repeat that information. Focus on what motivates you to work in the field of public health and the impact you want to make in public health. Doctoral applicants should indicate their interest in a current research project happening in the department or working with a professor. However, this is not required for masters’ applicants so don’t name drop or imply different interests simply to sound better.

A final note on the personal statement. Long is not necessarily better. Some of the best personal statements are concise while providing insight to the applicant as a person. Be sure to follow any specific instructions on length given by a program or department.

If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us or call at 410-955-3543. Best wishes on your application!

Reminder to all 2017 applicants, take your standardized test early! It can take three to four weeks for test scores to arrive, even if you send them the day that you take the test.

Also keep in mind that the GRE is most universally accepted, but some programs allow other types of test scores. For that reason, don’t forget to check our Standardized Test Score Chart to see if your program will accept or require another type of test.

And remember, use the GRE code 3738 when sending your test scores to SOPHAS so that the Bloomberg School of Public Health will see your scores!

In the last few weeks a lot of students have been contacting the Admissions Office to inform us that they have previously applied and are now applying for another degree or are reapplying for admission and that they would like to use some of the same supporting documents. As long as y our first application was within the last two years we still have the supporting documents from your first application. Once you apply for a second time, we match the applications and pull the transcripts and test scores. There is no need to request this to be done as this is part of us processing your application.

Please note, however, that standardized test scores such as the GRE expire five years after the test date and English Language Proficiency exams must be retaken after two years.

Letters of recommendation are handled differently. Whether you are reapplying for admission or applying for an additional degree, your situation has changed since you last applied. Therefore we highly encourage students to acquire new letters of recommendation. It is required to obtain at least one new letter of recommendation.

answer sheetAs a follow-up to last week’s post on standardized test scores, we’d like to address another common question:

What is the average test score submitted by your applicants?

Admissions doesn’t have that figure.  Nor do we have a minimum score requirement. Let me explain why.

Test scores and other admissions statistics vary greatly by department, program, degree track and even admissions cycle.  With ten departments and nine degrees – all with widely varying numbers of applicants and available spots – it’s extremely difficult to provide a Schoolwide average.  Even if we performed arithmetic gymnastics to provide such a number, it may not accurately represent a competitive score for your specific program of interest.

The academic departments and Schoolwide MPH program have their own admissions review committees who consider (statement of purpose, resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc.) during their review. They will be looking for candidates with strong quantitative abilities and a focused goal in public health.

For the best idea of what makes a competitive application to your particular program, we encourage you to contact that program directly. Email us for help locating an appropriate contact.

Best wishes to you and your application!

standardized testWe’ve addressed this topic before, but since it happens to be our most popular post, it’s worth repeating.

All our degree programs require the submission of a standardized test score as part of the application process.

The GRE general test is the most universally accepted, but some of our degree programs will accept scores of other tests.  For example, our Master of Health Administration (MHA) program will accept either GRE or GMAT scores.  Our Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) through the Department of International Health will accept either GRE or MCAT scores. Other programs may accept only the GRE.

It’s very important that you know your program and its .

There is one very specific exception to this rule. Our Master of Public Health (MPH) program – and only our Master of Public Health program – will review applications without standardized test scores for those applicants with a graduate degree beyond the baccalaureate.

HOWEVER, these applicants put themselves at a significant disadvantage if their admission materials don’t clearly demonstrate significant quantitative and analytical skills. This is particularly true for applicants with medical degrees earned outside of the U.S. Additionally, applicants who request to have their materials reviewed without standardized test scores will likely not be awarded a scholarship.

Questions?  Review our FAQ or email us at!