Frequently Asked Questions

Center of Excellence - Graduate Program answers

What is a Center of Excellence in MCH Education, Science, and Practice?

A Center of Excellence in MCH Education, Science, and Practice is a Federally funded Center of Excellence Training Grant that aims to improve the health of women, infants, children, youth, and their families through workforce development. In administration with accredited schools of public health, these programs support masters and doctoral levels of education, as well as continuing education for public health and clinical professionals. The goal of these programs is to prepare students for careers in maternal and child public health practice, research, planning, policy development, and advocacy. There is an emphasis on leadership training, applied research, and technical assistance to communities, states, and regions. 

Centers of Excellence in MCH Education, Science, and Practice are funded through the Health Resources & Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and is housed in the Division of MCH Workforce Development

What is the focus of UC Berkeley’s Center of Excellence in MCAH?

The UCB Center of Excellence in MCAH (CoE in MCAH), housed in the School of Public Health, has been providing graduate-level training and continuing education in maternal, child, and adolescent health research and practice since 1953. As one of the longest-awarded Centers of Excellence in MCH, UC Berkeley’s mission is to develop a generation of leaders equipped to solve health challenges facing women, children, adolescents, and families of the 21st century.

The CoE in MCAH aims to:

  • To provide the best education possible to develop graduates who are prepared to lead Title V and other MCAH organizations and promote and protect the health status of diverse MCAH populations.

  • To prepare public health and health care professionals to be leaders in the field of MCAH with a culturally competent, multidisciplinary, community-oriented, ethical, and cost-effective vision of maternal, child, and adolescent health, with the skills that can help solve the health challenges of the 21st century.

  • To work closely with Title V and other MCAH programs at the state, local, national, and global levels to mobilize large-scale, synergistic efforts to reduce and eliminate health disparities and barriers to health that affect MCAH populations

What are opportunities for continuing education at the Center of Excellence in MCAH?

The UCB Center of Excellence in MCAH hosts a variety of events and opportunities for MCAH professionals to continue to develop their knowledge and skills in MCAH topics and research areas. These opportunities include research symposiums, interdisciplinary colloquia with other MCHB leadership training programs, and events for MCAH professionals on topics of interest. 

In particular, our CoE has developed a free, open-access, and self-directed online training module series available to the MCAH workforce. This training series, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Life Course Perspective, Practice, and Leadership, offers a 5-part module series on the life course perspective and leadership. This resource includes video interviews with national experts, recommended readings, case studies of organizations in practice, and an opportunity to reflect on the information presented.

What is the role of the CoE in MCAH’s advisory board?

The Center of Excellence maintains an Advisory Board of leading MCAH professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. The advisory board has representatives from Title V and MCH organizations such as CYSHCN, state and local MCH Directors, and other HRSA MCH-funded projects, alumni, and community representatives. The board’s role is to provide guidance, input, and partnership with the CoE in MCAH on emerging MCAH issues, workforce development needs, and opportunities for trainees.

What types of technical assistance and/or consulting does the CoE in MCAH provide to organizations?

The MCAH faculty provide technical assistance and consultation to State and local Title V agencies and community-based organizations in MCAH, as well as national and international MCAH programs. This can take the form of assisting in conducting research, publishing and disseminating research findings, and providing guidance for program implementation. Contact us at for inquiries.

LEAP - Undergraduate Program answers

What is LEAP?

Formally known as the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership Education and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways (LEAP) Training Program, LEAP is federally funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), one of six Bureaus within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The purpose of the LEAP Program is to promote the development of a diverse and representative public health and healthcare workforce by recruiting undergraduate students from underserved or underrepresented backgrounds into MCH public health and MCH-related health professions in order to improve levels of representation, reduce health disparities, and increase access to health care for vulnerable and underserved MCH populations, including those from racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds.

What is the focus of the MCAH LEAP Training Program at UC Berkeley?

The MCAH LEAP Training Program at UC Berkeley is designed to prepare diverse future leaders who are family-centered, culturally responsive, and successful in navigating interprofessional systems of care in the service of MCAH populations to reduce health inequities. The program seeks to provide support for undergraduate students who identify with underrepresented groups, including but not limited to first-generation college students, formerly incarcerated, experiencing houselessness/unstable housing, and/or racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the field.

How can undergraduate students get involved with LEAP?

Undergraduate students from all disciplines and levels may sign up for our LEAP Student Affiliate listserv, where we share MCAH events and training opportunities. Undergraduate students may also enroll in our MCAH Core Course for undergraduate students: PBHLTH 196 - “Introduction to Maternal, Child and Adolescent Heatlth” offered every Spring semester.

I’m not a public health major. Can I still apply to the Advanced LEAP Scholar curriculum?

Junior/transfer students applying to the Public Health major during the Fall application cycle (December deadline) are eligible and encouraged to apply as Advanced LEAP Scholars. Acceptance as an Advanced LEAP Scholar is conditional upon acceptance to the Public Health major. The LEAP program team will work with scholars and provide support with the Public Health major application process.

Students who are not intending to major in public health are not eligible to join as an Advanced LEAP Scholar at this time.

When do Advanced LEAP Scholar applications open?

Applications open every fall semester. Students sign up during their junior year and commit to the program requirements until graduation. For example, students accepted in the Fall 2023 cycle commit to the Advanced LEAP Scholar curriculum until graduation in May 2025. 

What is the Advanced LEAP Scholars training curriculum?

This training curriculum is open to undergraduate students majoring in Public Health in their final two years of study. 

Advanced LEAP Scholars participate in a two-year MCAH curriculum within the public health major and will enroll in MCAH coursework, complete a summer internship, and research fellowship. Scholars will receive support from LEAP, advanced leadership training, guidance on the graduate school application process, and will be paired with a master’s level student and MCAH faculty member for close mentorship throughout their two years.

This opportunity is meant for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to gain hands-on experience in MCAH research and service.

How can I connect with a current Advanced LEAP Scholar?

To connect with a current Advanced LEAP Scholar, please check out our LEAP Advising Calendar and meet with a LEAP Peer Ambassador. LEAP Peer Ambassadors connect with students who are interested in MCAH, share experiences about student life and community environment, and provide mentoring with academic planning and creating a balanced workload.

MCAH MPH answers

What is the difference between the 4+1, 11-month, and two-year MCAH programs?

The 4+1 MPH is designed for students who are current UC Berkeley Public Health undergraduate majors or alumni who graduated in 2017 or later. The 4+1 MPH is an accelerated, full-time course of study that starts in the Spring semester and culminates with the completion of a practicum the summer after. The program requires the completion of 42 units of coursework, a capstone research project, and a summer practicum.

The 11-month MPH is designed for public health professionals who already hold an advanced degree or are current medical students. The one-year MPH is an intensive, full-time course of study running from July to May. The program requires completion of 42 units of coursework and a capstone research project.

The two-year MPH is designed for students with a Bachelor’s degree and is a full-time course of study, requiring a minimum of 48 units over four academic semesters, completion of a capstone research project, and a summer practicum.

I am interested in quantitative and qualitative research. Can I gain both skills in the program?

The MCAH program is a quantitative, research-based program. The required coursework and capstone project of the MCAH program are designed to ensure our students gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to comprehensively understand and conduct epidemiologic research. 

Students may choose to take electives in qualitative methods and/or select a summer internship that focuses on qualitative research.

How is leadership development emphasized in the academic program?

The MCAH Program promotes leadership by providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and analyze current issues in the field. Some examples of leadership activities students engage in include leadership retreats, enrolling in an MCAH Leadership Seminar, and completing a 400-hour summer practicum experience. Students often also attend and present at professional conferences and meetings while in the program. These activities and opportunities focus on personal leadership development, cultural competence, ethics, teamwork, and the ability to make difficult decisions. The students are able to apply the skills and theories learned in the real-world MCAH setting both in their practice-based classes and during their summer practicum experience.

What is the required capstone project?

As part of the requirement for the MPH, each MCAH student must complete a quantitative capstone research project. This project consists of a written and an oral component and is considered to be the comprehensive examination for MCAH students. Students are enrolled in seminars designed to support students in the capstone process.

What is expected for the summer practicum?

Students in the MCAH program strengthen their leadership and practice knowledge and skills by completing a 400-hour practicum. Typically, these placements are a 10-week, full-time work experience during the summer after the first year of the program. The summer practicum experience is required for all 4+1, two-year, and concurrent degree program students. 

More information on the internship requirement can be found on the Berkeley Public Health website

What are the CORE MCH Leadership Competencies?

The leaders of MCH are individuals who understand and support the MCH mission, values, and goals with strong purpose and moral commitment. MCH leaders have acquired MCH-specific knowledge of MCH populations and their needs. The CORE MCH Leadership Competencies are organized in the framework of self, others, and the wider community.

When are applications due?

Specific application deadlines can change from year to year. Please check the BPH website for the most up-to-date information about application deadlines.

What aspects of the application are weighed more heavily than others?

We review applications holistically, taking all aspects of a prospective student’s application into consideration when making decisions about offering admissions. Overall, we are looking for prospective students who demonstrate great potential for leadership,have a keen interest in research—including quantitative data collection and analysis–and who are passionate about MCAH issues. 

Due to the quantitative nature of our program, we do look at a number of factors related to an applicant’s interest in and ability to succeed in our research-focused program. This may include, but is not limited to—an applicant’s GPA; transcripts indicating coursework in statistics or math; GRE scores; statement of purpose; and research experience. We also look for statements indicating the prospective student’s topic areas of interest related to MCAH. For example, information indicating how this program will help the individual achieve their short- and long-term career goals, what area of MCAH the individual hopes to research while in the program, and why the program is a good fit for them.

How much MCAH experience is recommended before applying to the program? What type of work and/or volunteer experience is preferred?

We look for students who have at least one year of experience following the completion of their bachelor’s degree for the two-year MPH. Applicants for the 11-month MPH must have a graduate-level degree (e.g., MSW, MD) or currently be enrolled in medical school. Applicants for the 4+1 MPH must be current UC Berkeley undergraduate students in the Public Health major or alumni who graduated with a bachelor’s in Public Health in 2017 or later. 

We hope to see experience related to research and/or MCAH issues. For example:

  • Experience working on a research team, being an undergraduate research assistant, conducting needs assessments, designing evaluations, etc.

  • Experience working with a reproductive health center, youth advocacy, teen pregnancy, MCAH policy work, MCAH advocacy, etc.

Individuals with paid and/or voluntary experience in MCAH at the local, state or federal level, and those who are dedicated to the concerns and needs of diverse and underrepresented communities are desired applicants.

How can I connect with a current student or alumni to talk about the program?

To connect with a current student, please email our Prospective Student Ambassadors at

To connect with an alumni, please email

How soon after I submit my application can I expect to hear an official response?

The admissions committee will review applications between December and January. Decisions are generally made between February and March, and official decision communications are shared by the Graduate Division. For the 4+1, however, the admissions committee will review applications in December and decisions will be released by the Graduate Division before mid-January.

How many applications do you receive per year?

On average, we receive 65 applications for the two-year MPH Program and 14 applications for the 11-month MPH Program. Since this is our inaugural cohort of 4+1 MPH students, we do not have an estimate for the average number of applications yet.

How many applicants are offered admission per year?

On average, we offer admissions to 21 applicants for the two-year MPH program (32% of the applicant pool) and nine applicants for the 11-month MPH program (64% of the applicant pool). We accepted 4 students into our inaugural cohort for the 4+1 MPH program.

What are the average GRE scores of accepted applicants in your program?

The average entering student has a quantitative score at or above the 56th percentile, a verbal score at or above the 74th percentile, and an analytic score at or above the 80th percentile. The GRE is optional and not required for the current admission cycle.

What scholarships, fellowships, or financial aid are available?

Each academic year, a limited number of merit and need-based fellowships and scholarships are awarded to students by Berkeley’s Graduate Division and the School of Public Health. For more information on specific fellows & scholarships, please see the BPH webpage. For information on timelines, please see the Deadlines & Timeline information. Graduate students may apply for need-based loans and work-study through the Financial Aid Office. The programs are based on demonstrated financial need and require a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more details and additional information, please visit the BPH website

Does the MCAH program offer any funding for admitted students?

The MCAH program can provide some financial support to admitted and enrolled students in a variety of ways. Almost all funding provided is through our Center of Excellence in MCAH, which is a funded training center through HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau

  • All MCAH students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for funding support from the Center of Excellence, and efforts are made to support all students in need for at least one semester during their time in the program.

  • Admitted students who would like to participate in Spring Visit Day but need financial assistance to attend can contact the Assistant Director ( to see if funding is available for travel support.

  • The program also provides some financial support for summer internships for students in the 2-year program. Students are asked to submit an application if they request financial support for a summer placement.

  • The program has also supported students through Graduate Student Instructors (GSI) and Graduate Student Researchers (GSR) positions. The availability of these positions is not guaranteed each semester.

  • Lastly, our affiliated MCAH research centers often have GSI or GSR positions that students enrolled in the MCAH program may be eligible to receive.Link to content (Ctrl+K)

I am an international student. Does my degree qualify me to apply?

Information on the eligibility requirements for international students can be found on the BPH and Graduate Division web pages. Specific questions should be directed to admission coordinators in their offices.

I have been offered admission. How can I arrange to visit the campus and Berkeley in order to make a decision?

The School typically hosts a Spring Visit Day in mid-March for those candidates who have been offered admission, which is a great opportunity to visit campus. 

Prospective and admitted students can also email the MCAH Program Manager ( to arrange a separate campus visit.

If offered admission, can I defer and begin a year later?

If an applicant was offered admissions without an exceptional approval, then they can defer admissions for one year. Applicants who need an exceptional approval for the department to offer admissions—for example, applications with a GPA lower than a 3.0—are not able to defer their admissions offer.

If I am not admitted this cycle, can I apply again next year?

If an applicant is not admitted, they are able to apply again in future years. Please note that the applicant will have to submit all their materials again.