What are the requirements for admission to the IMSD Program? 

IMSD applicants must be:

  • Enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) for full-time study in any of the public health doctoral programs of the Mailman School of Public Health (i.e., DrPH or PhD programs in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health Sciences, or Sociomedical Sciences);

  • Citizens or permanent residents of the United States, and

  • Committed to developing a research workforce that includes members of groups who are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

What criteria does the IMSD admissions committee use to evaluate applicants?

The committee considers each applicant’s:

  • Recommendation from the admitting department (new students) or academic advisor (continuing students)

  • Overall academic profile

  • Statement of interest

  • Intention to pursue a research career in the biomedical or behavioral sciences after completing the doctoral degree

  • Stated interest or prior experience in addressing the national need to develop a diverse research workforce that includes individuals who are currently underrepresented in the biomedical or behavioral sciences

  • Match between candidate’s research interests and those of the faculty members with whom she or he would like to work

  • Supporting material (including letters of reference) provided as part of the doctoral program admissions application (new students)

  • Progress in the doctoral program (continuing students)

How many students participate in the program?

The IMSD program provides funding for up to eight students in any given year. The program supports both new first-year students who are commencing their doctoral studies and continuing students at any stage of their doctoral program. In any given year, the number of new and continuing students supported by the IMSD program may vary.

When is the application deadline and when will I be notified of a decision?

IMSD has a rolling admissions policy and accepts applications through the end of May. As acceptance decisions are typically made between March and May, we encourage early applications.

I've been accepted. What is expected of me? 

  • Students are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress

  • Students are provided with the goals and objectives of the IMSD program, and they are expected to maintain progress towards achieving the goals and expectations of the program

  • IMSD students are expected to secure their research placement with a faculty mentor early in the Fall semester of each academic year. Students are responsible for setting up meetings/interviews with prospective faculty mentors, and for conducting research in her/his area of interest. The IMSD program will assist students in identifying appropriate faculty mentors. Students are expected to work 20 hours per week with their faculty mentors

  • For the duration of their participation in the IMSD program, each student must attend the biweekly seminar course. Attendance is mandatory

  • IMSD financially supports attendance at national and local scientific health conferences. Students are expected to attend at least one of these conferences per year

  • Students are expected to submit abstracts for presentation at scientific conferences

  • Students are expected to submit written work for publication in scientific journals

  • Students are encouraged to submit grant applications to support their dissertation research

  • To maximize the educational value of the research placement, students are expected to develop a dissertation project based on or related to the work conducted with their mentor

What is my time commitment to the program?

  • New (incoming) doctoral students are funded for a maximum of two years

  • Continuing/advanced doctoral students are funded for a maximum of one year (which may include a Summer term)

  • In all cases, continued funding is contingent on satisfactory progress in academic achievement and in meeting the goals, objectives, and expectations of the IMSD program

  • Students are expected to register for the one-credit IMSD biweekly seminar series, Seminar in Research and Professional Development (P8798), for the duration of their participation in the program

What portion of my expenses can I expect the IMSD program to cover?

  • IMSD provides tuition credits and provides up to approximately $1000 per student for travel to attend scientific conferences.

  • Students are also paid a monthly salary for the Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) position with their mentor.

  • The IMSD program also covers the costs of health and computer fees.

  • These expenses are covered for the entire period that students participate in the IMSD program.

How will I be paid?

A tuition credit will be applied to your tuition account at the start of each semester for which you are an IMSD student.
GRA checks are distributed twice per month. Students are encouraged to opt for direct deposit salary payments (applications are available in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences Business Office).

Is the GRA paycheck subject to taxes?

Yes. The Graduate Research Assistantship compensation is a salary, not a stipend.

Will being in the IMSD program mean that I am ineligible for financial aid or other funding? 

IMSD students can apply for other financial aid and assistance through the Mailman School of Public Health’s Financial Aid Office. However, IMSD students may not receive other funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other federal sources.

What are some of the topics covered in the IMSD seminars?

Topics covered in the IMSD seminars include:

  • Graduate school survival strategies

  • Improving scientific communication skills

  • Tips on successful grant writing

  • Workshops on academic and professional development

How do I select the right mentor if I do not know any of the faculty?

The IMSD faculty and staff are available to provide feedback and suggestions on the mentor selection and interviewing process. Students are provided with documents to assist them in selecting a mentor. Students are expected to contact faculty within their department to discuss research interests and the potential for a research placement.

What is the mentor selection process? 

Students are responsible for contacting, interviewing, and securing a research placement with the faculty mentor of her/his choosing by the beginning of the fall semester of each academic year. Faculty members in each of the participating departments are supportive of the IMSD program and will respond in a timely manner to IMSD student requests for interviews. An introductory email is the best way to initiate contact with a potential faculty mentor. The IMSD program provides students with a template for this introductory email.

Can I work with a mentor outside of my department?

Students are strongly encouraged to select mentors within their departments and disciplines, as they are knowledgeable about specific academic and other requirements and are best positioned to expose students to methods and advances in their field. In some rare instances, however, the educational needs of a particular student might be served best by working with a mentor outside of his or her department.

How is the mentor-student relationship facilitated? 

The faculty member and the student establish the frequency of meetings and project due dates. Students should meet with their mentors at least once per week. The IMSD program keeps mentors abreast of program requirements and goals, and invites them to attend various activities to facilitate further student-faculty interaction.

What kinds of projects have past students worked on?

Some examples of past IMSD research projects include studies of:

  • Arsenic poisoning from well water in Bangladesh

  • The health of older Latinos in the United States

  • Inflammatory markers in stroke risk and treatment

  • The role of pharmacies in providing needed services to injection drug users

  • Risk factors for HIV among men who have sex with men

Are IMSD students given any other support?

Office supplies and space needs are determined by the student’s mentor placement. In some cases, the IMSD program may be able to provide work space. Access to a computer, printer, and fax machine is available on request.

Still have more questions?

Contact the IMSD Program Director, Gina M. Wingood, and/or the Program Coordinator, Linnette Veloso.  

NOTE: The information and policies contained on this FAQ sheet may change without notice. Please consult the IMSD program for updated information.