The 'Fauci effect' is driving up applications for public health graduate programs

Anthony Fauci.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Public health schools saw a 23 percent year-over-year jump in applications for graduate programs in the fall of 2020, and they're reporting an even bigger increase in the spring application cycle, Stat News reports, citing the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

It appears to be partly the result of the so-called "Fauci effect," said the association's CEO Laura Magaña, referring to the United States' top infectious disease expert, who has become a national presence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus crisis "has really thrust public health into the spotlight like we've never seen before," Darleen Peterson, the associate dean for academic affairs at Claremont Graduate University's School of Community and Global Health, which Stat notes saw a 66 percent increase in applications from March 2020 to March 2021, said.

Programs are reporting even more significant jumps among Black and Latino candidates, likely because of the disparate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color, Stat reports. Brown University, for example, said applications for its MPH program rose 116 percent from this point last year, with an 187 percent increase among Black candidates and a 137 percent increase among Latino candidates.

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It's probably too early to tell for sure, but it appears the public health students should also benefit from an increase in employment opportunities in their field. A study published last month found that the number of open jobs in the field increased in the first eight months of the pandemic, buoyed, perhaps, by completely new positions, such as health and safety consultants for television and movie productions. Read more at Stat News.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.