Frequently Asked Questions


What is population health science? How is it different from public health? 

Population health science refers to the outcomes of health in a population. These outcomes are broadly defined as measurements of a population's dynamic state of physical, mental, and social well-being; a population can refer to patient populations, or it can be determined by other factors, such as age or geography.  Public health refers to the approaches that society, as a whole, takes to improving health. 

What makes the MS in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Duke different from other similar programs? 

We see three main differentiators between our program and others offering related degrees: 

We're transdisciplinary
Many aspects of people’s lives shape their health; our unique program integrates diverse expertise in everything from genetics to populations to expand understanding of health causes and outcomes, and equips students with a comprehensive skill set that empowers them to thrive wherever their career takes them.

We're hands-on
Our program offers students practical learning and training that goes well beyond a standard mentored experience; we engage in apprenticeships to make the transition to the professional world seamless. 

We're the best of two world-class institutions
DPHS is unique in that its degrees are housed within and granted by Duke's Graduate School, but it is also a department of the Duke School of Medicine. It is representative of the Graduate School's commitment to graduate programs defined by maximum personal attention, smaller classes, and flexible programs of study designed to meet students' needs. DPHS students also have access to the vast array of professional development and student resources the Graduate School offers. Additionally, as part of the Duke School of Medicine, we offer a robust network of connections to clinical faculty and partnerships, both with other renowned Duke institutions, such as the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Duke Cancer Institute, and the Duke Global Health Institute, as well as with outside organizations, such as the Durham VA Health Care System

How do I apply for the MS in Population Health Sciences? 

Applications for the MS in Population Health Sciences are submitted via the Duke Graduate School. Please review their website for application details. Please do not send any application materials to the department.

What are the application requirements?

Below is a list of documents and information the Duke Graduate School requires. 

Finalists for the MS program will also be asked to interview with faculty members and other top-level department staff via video teleconference. 

What are you looking for in an applicant?

The MS in Population Health Sciences is open to all individuals who demonstrate a passion for improving population health, an aptitude for learning high-level analytic research methods, and academic or professional achievements that show leadership skills, ethics, determination, resilience, and creativity. Examples of potential applicants include recent college graduates with social science or quantitative majors, those with public health degrees looking for a more specialized or analytical degree, established professionals in healthcare or government looking to incorporate advances in health services research into their skillsets, and clinicians looking to focus on policy-relevant research to improve health and healthcare. 

The Department of Population Health Sciences works where biology, human behavior, environments, society, data analysis, and healthcare intersect. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of our department means that a variety of different backgrounds are relevant to our research and education missions, and we look to select students via a comprehensive approach that takes both past accomplishments and future potential into account. We may look to see how a candidate who has strong quantitative strength can demonstrate their commitment to the interpretative, communicative, and collaborative aspects of population health science. Likewise, we may seek evidence of the capacity applicants without quantitative backgrounds have to learn quantitative concepts and skills. 

What if I have a passion for improving health, but don't have a background in statistics or math, or the other recommended preparations?

While prior education and other academic markers are important, above all, we are seeking well-rounded students who are passionate about using high-level research methods to discover opportunities to improve population health, and we welcome applicants of any age and background who possess this quality. We're interested in candidates who demonstrate professionalism, leadership skills, ethics, determination, resilience, and creativity, across all domains of life. Each applicant is considered on the merit of their entire application, and no single factor (e.g., GRE scores) will automatically eliminate a candidate from consideration.    

How long will it take to complete the Masters program?

The MS in PHS is a full-time, two-year degree program.

What kinds of jobs do you anticipate graduates will get? 

Please take a look at our Student Careers page for more information about jobs and career paths.

Is the degree offered online?

The DPHS Master's degree is currently only offered in person, on our physical campus, face-to-face (also known as a "brick-and-mortar" degree). 

Is work experience a requirement? 

While we anticipate a large number of our students will have work experience, it's not required for the degree. 

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