The Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP)

Columbia University, College of Physician and Surgeons
New York, NY.
Type Post-baccalaureate Program, Academic Enrichment, Health Disparities, Rural Health


The Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) is designed for undergraduate students to increase interest in and knowledge of public health and biomedical science careers. SPHSP is a partnership of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Mailman School of Public Health. Together they represent the broad spectrum of public health practice. SPHSP grant funding was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Minority Health, and Health Equity (OMHHE).

The program is designed for undergraduates going into their junior or senior year and recent baccalaureate degree students who are undecided about their career goals. This is a rigorous program which includes Public Health course work at Columbia University; hands-on field experience and immersion in a diverse, economically disadvantaged urban environment; seminars and lectures with public health leaders; and mentoring by faculty members, ensuring students' exposure to the breadth and importance of public health as a career option.


Orientation: There will be two weeks of orientation, the first week will take place at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta, GA. The second week will be at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. During orientation, scholars will be introduced to their mentors, their field placement sites and the field of public health.

GRE Preparation Course: Students will participate in a GRE Preparation course provided by Kaplan Test Prep. Those who have already taken the exam or are preparing for another exam are not required to participate.

Field Experience/Mentoring: Scholars will be paired with health professional mentors of various health disciplines in a public health setting. Students will work under the guidance and supervision of their mentors, 3 days a week for eight weeks, gaining direct exposure to the practice of public health.

Academic Enrichment: Scholars will attend 3 lecture based courses one day a week for eight weeks. The courses are:

  • Introduction to Public Health
  • Introduction to Epidemiology 
  • Health Disparities & Cultural Competence

?The courses will be facilitated by Columbia University Medical Center faculty from all four health science schools. Scholars will work in small groups with their Teaching Assistants to discuss practical application of class work. Students will work on current health problem or issues using “real” case studies.

Field Trips: Scholars will have the opportunity to go on supervised field trips once a week to various communities throughout the New York City metropolitan area to observe public health interventions and programs in operation. Past field trips have included:

  • Irving Institute for Clinical & Translational Research, New York, NY
  • Sustainable South Bronx, Bronx, NY
  • Boriken Health Center, New York, NY
  • CityWide Harm Reduction, Bronx, NY
  • Via Verde, Bronx, NY 
  • Poospatuck Reservation, Mastic, NY
  • Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY
  • Third Root Community Health Center, Brooklyn, NY

Stipend: A stipend will be provided to all program participants.

Travel: Each scholar will be provided with round trip travel.

Housing: Housing will be provided to all students on the Columbia University Morningside Campus.

Final Project: Each scholar will produce a final paper and deliver a final presentation to CUMC staff, faculty, and invited guests.






  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Students who will have completed at least two years of college at an accredited institution by the beginning of the program: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Recent college graduates (after April 2013) who have not been accepted into a graduate program
  • Students with an Associate degree must provide proof of acceptance into a four-year institution
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7
  • African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, people with disabilities, economically-disadvantaged and LGBTQ individuals are encouraged to apply.

More Information

Office of Diversity, Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP), 630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
Phone: (212) 305-4157