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!