Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
I perform occasional domestic and global intervention research on physicians' and medical students' health practices and their effects on patients, on climate change, THC policy in Canada and the US, the built environment and health, and other topics of interest where I can make a particular difference [more on that here: https://ubcmj.med.ubc.ca/becoming-a-health-advocate-an-interview-with-erica-frank/ ].
My primary research is on NextGenU.org, essentially the world's first free university (NextGenU.org is for credit, for free, unlike any other organization). Starting with a focus in the health sciences, NextGenU.org's accredited courses are being used in 191 (of 193) UN Member States/Countries, and we have just launched our ultimate outcome: U.S. accreditation for the first globally free degree, a Master's in Public Health [more about that MPH here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J9eS-jX32sINrqcFmtrG3gC86RtuSSyH/view?usp=sharing ]
Courses available for trainees and for research span from college-level pre-health sciences and community health worker trainings, through public health graduate training, and a MedSchoolInABox (codeveloped with Stanford, U of Toronto, and U Central Florida) that includes Graduate Medical Education. This educational system is not a set of Massive Open Online Courses -- courses are competency-based, and include online knowledge transfer, a web-based global peer community of practice, skills-based mentorships, and a free certificate. NextGenU.org's accredited partners, North American universities that are outstanding in each particular course topic, give learners credit for this training (or institutions can adopt them and use them with their students), all for the first time ever cost-free, and also advertisement-free, barrier-free, and carbon-free.
Founded/invented by me in 2001 (predating MOOCs by 7 years), we globally launched our first full course in March 2012, with a dozen free, tested, and accredited health sciences courses currently offered at NextGenU.org. We will enroll our first residents (in Texas) in July 2020; we are developing these Preventive Medicine residencies with the American College of Preventive Medicine, CDC, European Lifestyle Medicine Organization, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard, Stanford Medicine, WHO, and others to create the first globally-available Graduate Medical Education.
We have tested and published on this free model in North American medical, public health, and undergraduate students, and in community health workers and primary care physicians in Kenya and in India, demonstrating as much knowledge gain and greater student satisfaction than with traditional courses, and the creation of a global community of practice. You can see those publications here: https://nextgenu.org/static/publications.html
And finally, NextGenU.org has a sustainable business model. While we don't have $ currently designated for graduate students or postdocs, we have a $20 million endowment (from the Annenberg Physician Training Program) that covers many core expenses, and receive additional grants and contracts to create, test, and disseminate trainings from governments (e.g., $1.4 million from Grand Challenges Canada, US CDC), quasi-governmental organizations (e.g., NATO Science for Peace, WHO), universities, foundations, professional societies, and individuals.
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.