Frequently Asked Questions about the Master of Public Health Cooperative Degree Program

What is the new cooperative degree program?

Grinnell College and the University of Iowa have established an innovative cooperative degree program in public health leading to a B.A. from Grinnell and a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) from the University of Iowa (UI) College of Public Health in one additional year.  The cooperative degree program offers early admission to the College of Public Health for select Grinnell students to enter into the M.P.H. degree program prior to completing their undergraduate degree, saving time and money by earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years.

How does the program work?

Grinnell students may apply for the M.P.H. program by the spring of their third year at Grinnell.  Prior to admission, the program requires that students have taken a course, Fundamentals of Public Health, through the UI, typically online; have completed the GRE General Test; and have taken at least one Grinnell course in mathematics and one course in biology, chemistry, or physics. Students must have completed 80 semester hours and have a 3.25 G.P.A. when they apply for the program. Following admission to the cooperative degree program, students will complete three UI courses as part of their fourth year that will count toward completing both B.A. and M.P.H. degree requirements. At the time of entry into graduate standing, students must have a 3.0 G.P.A.

When does the new cooperative program begin?

The Master of Public Health Cooperative Program will begin admitting students in spring 2015.

How long does the program take?

The new program will allow Grinnell students to earn both a B.A. degree and a Master of Public Health degree in five years, rather than the customary six. Grinnell students in the cooperative degree program can move more quickly toward the master’s degree because some courses in the program satisfy requirements at both Grinnell and the University of Iowa. In addition, some of the graduate coursework can be done online, making it easier for Grinnell students to complete their coursework without commuting. The cooperative degree program allows graduates to enter the workforce earlier with a practical degree in the growing healthcare sector.

Is the program only for science majors?

No, any qualified Grinnell student may apply to the program, regardless of major. Students who enter the Master of Public Health Cooperative Program come from a wide range of undergraduate majors. Many students from diverse academic backgrounds are interested in the health professions yet are unaware of the field of public health. 

What can students do with a graduate degree in public health?

The M.P.H. degree program provides training in the core disciplines of public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, community and behavioral health, occupational and environmental health, and health policy.  Program graduates work in a variety of health-related sectors including governmental, non-governmental, and nonprofit organizations. They are epidemiologists, biostatisticians, policy makers, administrators, programs planners, evaluators, and environmental specialists, to name a few.

Why did Grinnell pursue the cooperative program in public health?

A liberal arts education is a good background for a career in public health. The program reflects Grinnell’s strong commitment to providing a broad liberal arts education that prepares students “for the honorable discharge of the duties of life” and the institution’s long-standing commitment to access and social justice. This cooperative program builds on the strengths of Grinnell’s national reputation in the liberal arts and the University of Iowa’s outstanding public health program.

What are the application requirements?

Grinnell students apply to the M.P.H. program by the second semester of the third undergraduate year.  The application requirements are:

  • Completion of 80 semester hours of undergraduate work toward a B.A. at Grinnell
  • At least a 3.25 G.P.A.
  • A letter of application including a statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores (if international)

The M.P.H. program admissions committee and Grinnell College will review applications. The M.P.H. program director will forward recommendations for admission to the UI Graduate College for final approval. Support will be given by each student’s academic adviser at Grinnell and the graduate adviser in the College of Public Health until the student has completed the requirements for the undergraduate degree. Students must have a G.P.A. of at least 3.0 at the time of transition to graduate-only status.

Grinnell College will accept twelve (12) semester hours of UI College of Public Health coursework to fulfill the requirements for the B.A. degree. Three (3) semester hours will be undergraduate credit earned before admission to the graduate college. Nine (9) semester hour credits will be earned in year four of the cooperative program and will be graduate courses. If a required M.P.H. course is taken before admission to the cooperative program, then that M.P.H. requirement may be waived and corresponding additional semester hour credits taken to bring the total number of credits on the M.P.H. plan of study to a minimum of 42 semester hours. All semester hour credits for the M.P.H. degree will be earned after the student is enrolled as a UI graduate student in the cooperative degree program (year 4) and will be graduate-level courses. 

How can Grinnell students fit this program into already full schedules?

Faculty and staff at Grinnell College and the UI College of Public Health will work together to ensure students are able to schedule web-based and on-campus courses in the appropriate semesters. Eighteen semester hours of the 21 required M.P.H. core course semester hours have web-based options, facilitating scheduling. The remaining three-semester-hour required core course is the M.P.H. Practicum Experience that can be completed at any site. We expect students will reside at Grinnell College for the first year of the cooperative degree program (year 4) and at the University of Iowa for the final year (year 5).

Since Grinnell has very few general education requirements, there is great flexibility in developing plans of study. An individualized and detailed plan of study will be prepared for each student upon admission to the program and will be configured to ensure that the B.A. degree will be completed two semesters after admission to the cooperative degree program, and that the M.P.H. will be completed by the spring or summer of year 5.

How are tuition and fees handled?

As with other off-campus study, students pay Grinnell tuition and receive financial aid while enrolled at Grinnell, and Grinnell pays the program expenses. Subsequent to graduating from Grinnell, student fees and aid will be administered by UI. 

  • During the first year of cooperative study or until completion of the undergraduate degree requirements, students will pay Grinnell College tuition, and Grinnell will reimburse the University of Iowa at the UI rate for all enrolled students. 
  • During the final year of study, Grinnell graduates will pay tuition directly to the University of Iowa. Grinnell will provide no financial aid during the final, post-Grinnell year.
  • Students may hold a graduate assistantship at the University of Iowa beginning with the second year of the cooperative program enrollment.

What is the expected enrollment in this new program?

In 2013–14, seven Grinnell students enrolled in the required Fundamentals of Public Health course at UI, which offers an overview of the field and profession of public health and counts as the first elective in the cooperative degree program. It is possible that current student enrollment may follow a similar pattern.

What is the expected outcome of this new program?

Grinnell students who complete all program requirements will earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from Grinnell and a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree from the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Is this the only public health program to which Grinnell students may apply?

The Master of Public Health Cooperative Degree Program is the only program that offers combined Grinnell and UI degrees. Grinnell students may apply to any public health graduate program for which they meet qualifications. Students should consult each program for application requirements. 

Where can I learn more about this program?

Details of the cooperative degree program and typical plan of study for the Grinnell B.A./UI College of Public Health M.P.H. degree can be found on the Grinnell Bachelor of Arts to UI MPH – Undergrad to Grad program site.


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