Sophas Personal Statement Prompt 1


The Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) simplifies the process of applying to schools and programs of public health. By using SOPHAS, you are able to complete one application via our online website and send one set of documents to our centralized service. SOPHAS will verify your coursework for accuracy, calculate your GPA, and send your application to as many SOPHAS participating programs as you wish to designate who utilize our service. For a list of participating schools and programs, please see the Participating Schools and Programs list.


The SOPHAS 2017-2018 application cycle opens on August 17, 2017 and closes on August 3, 2018.  Applicants may not create an account or submit documentation to SOPHAS prior to the opening date. It is your responsibility to ensure you are applying for the correct application cycle. If you are unsure, please contact the programs to which you are applying to confirm that you are filling out the correct application before creating a SOPHAS account. SOPHAS cannot provide refunds for your application or transfer payment and documents to a new application should you apply for the incorrect cycle.



Each SOPHAS program has different deadline requirements and prerequisites for entry. Please contact the schools to which you are applying to determine their entry requirements.

SOPHAS does not determine if an applicant is eligible to apply to any program. It is your responsibility to know the prerequisite requirements of the program(s) you are applying to and apply only to those programs with minimum requirements that you meet or exceed. Please note that SOPHAS will accept all application payments regardless if you meet program requirements or not. Refunds are not granted under any circumstance, including to applicants who did not meet a program’s minimum requirements to apply.


The following steps are highly recommended BEFORE applying:


To ensure that you receive email notifications from SOPHAS, you may need to designate us as a “Trusted Source” through your email provider. This is usually accomplished by adding our “From Addresses” to your address book, contact list, or Safe List.

List of E-Mail Addresses to “Safe-List”:
How To Safe-List E-Mail Addresses:

Click the following links to view instructions from the most common email providers on how to avoid having valid emails sent to your Junk or Spam folders:

For more information on how to white-list email addresses for providers not mentioned above, visit:


Below we have outlined a suggested timeline you should keep in mind when completing your application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible; this suggested timeline represents the latest we recommend completing each step. Please note processing times vary throughout the cycle and each SOPHAS programs’ deadline requirements differ, therefore this timeline may not apply to every applicant’s situation.


Q: How early should I start the application process?

A: Apply early! To ensure your application is mailed on time, all materials should arrive at SOPHAS to complete your application at least four weeks prior to your earliest deadline. Once your application is considered complete, it can take up to four weeks for it to be processed.

Q: What do I do if I have applied before?

A: If you had an active SOPHAS account in the 2015-2016 application cycle, please visit the Re-Applying to SOPHAS section of our instructions for details on how to proceed. If you did not have a 2015-2016 SOPHAS application and instead applied previously, you will need to create a new application, as information cannot be carried over from our 2.0 version of the application onto the 3.0 platform.

1. Read through SOPHAS’ Instructions and FAQ and the Admissions Code of Cooperation. You are responsible for understanding this information before you start your SOPHAS application, and will be asked to state you understand and agree to these policies prior to submitting your application.

2. Determine what types of references your SOPHAS programs require (ie. academic, employer, clinical, etc.) and contact your potential evaluators to ensure they are willing to complete a recommendation on your behalf.

3. Request official copies of transcripts to be sent to you to aid you in filling out the coursework portion of the SOPHAS application (these can not be the same ones later sent to SOPHAS).

4. Research your the deadline requirements for each SOPHAS program you are interested in applying to and note what is required for each deadline as this can greatly affect your timeline for submitting documents and completing your SOPHAS application.

5. Determine SOPHAS programs’ requirements regarding prerequisites, standardized tests scores, supplemental applications, foreign evaluations, etc. and ensure you meet their minimum requirements.

Prior to Start of the Application Cycle

Research public health schools and programs, prerequisite requirements, program information, and other requirements. Begin narrowing down and selecting programs to which you may be interested in applying. Focus on finishing outstanding courses or other prerequisite needs and begin reaching out to potential letter of recommendation references. Begin gathering your demographic and academic information, which will help speed up the process of completing your application.

At Least 3 Months Prior to Deadline

Begin the SOPHAS application; inform references of the process and ensure they have agreed to participate. Complete the Colleges Attended and Recommendations sections immediately so that recommendations  and transcripts can be received by SOPHAS.

At Least 8 Weeks Prior to Deadline

Request that official transcripts be sent to SOPHAS directly from your schools and confirm with your references that they have received the online reference request via e-mail. Request that additional copies of transcripts be sent to you directly so that you may begin entering your coursework into your SOPHAS application. Begin drafting your statement of purpose and objectives (personal statement) for each program to which you plan on applying.

At Least 4 Weeks Prior to Deadline

Monitor application for receipt of transcripts and letters of recommendation and follow up with SOPHAS on any missing items.

At Least 3 Weeks Prior to Deadline

Complete and submit your application. Make sure your official transcripts and letters of recommendation have posted to your application. Check your email and application status regularly and follow up on any incomplete or undelivered statuses until you receive the notification that your application is “Verified”

All recommendations are submitted to SOPHAS electronically. In this section, you must enter information for a minimum of THREE references, and you may now enter up to a maximum of FIVE references.  SOPHAS is not responsible for verifying an recommender’s identity. If a discrepancy is found, SOPHAS reserves the right to contact the applicant or recommender to investigate. SOPHAS reserves the right to share the discrepancy without comment to all SOPHAS programs.

REMEMBER: NO PAPER LETTERS OR FORMS SHOULD BE MAILED TO SOPHAS. References must be completed entirely online.

When you enter a reference, you are asked if you wish to “WAIVE” or “NOT TO WAVE” your right to view the reference. This waiver is not a creation of SOPHAS, but is part of U.S. Federal Law and must be filled out for any letter of reference, including those you may have obtained to attend your undergraduate institution.

Please review the information below before making your decision. Once a decision is made, it can NOT be changed.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor their application for recommendation receipt, even after you have submitted your application. SOPHAS will NOT notify applicants concerning missing references. Applicants must follow up with any references in a “New” or “In-Progress” status and ensure all reference materials are completed to avoid delays in processing their application. You may view the status of your references at any time in the status menu.

Q: What is the difference between a letter of evaluation, letter of reference, and a letter of recommendation?

A: Nothing. They are the same thing.

Q: How many recommendations must I enter?

A: SOPHAS requires three letters of reference to be listed on your application in order to submit to SOPHAS, however you may list up to five. These must then be completed through the SOPHAS reference website. PLEASE NOTE: SOPHAS will process and mail your application as long as two out of your three references are completed. Any additional references received by SOPHAS will be available to your schools immediately once they are completed.

Q: Can I submit more than five references?

A: NO. You may not submit more than five letters of references via SOPHAS.  SOPHAS can not accept any additional or substitute letters. However, you may want to contact the schools and programs to which you are applying in inquire as to whether they will accept an additional or substitute letter. If so, you would send this additional letter directly to them.

Q: Why can I only have five letters? Why are letters restricted to 5 MB in length?

A: Restrictions regarding the length and number of references have been determined by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). These restrictions reflect the schools and programs of public health’s desire to receive concise assessments and allow a certain degree of standardization in the amount of consideration given to each applicant’s reference material.

Q: Can I have different Letters of Reference sent to individual programs?

A: No. Each letter of reference is sent to all schools and programs that you applied to.

Q: Can I send letters of reference which are on file at Interfolio or a career center?

A: NO. All letters of reference must be completed via the SOPHAS reference website by the recommender themselves.

Q: Does SOPHAS accept committee letters?

A: If you wish to submit a committee letter to SOPHAS, it must be a single composite letter written by ONE individual (usually an advisor) who will also complete the ratings section. This single recommender must be listed on your application with the individual’s name. Do NOT label this letter as being from a group; i.e. “Thesis Committee.” The composite letter and ratings still must be submitted electronically through the SOPHAS Recommendation Portal, and must consist of ONE composite letter which fits within the  5MB upload limit. Do NOT upload a file containing multiple letters. Please note that a committee letter only counts as ONE letter of reference. SOPHAS applicants using a committee letter must still submit additional individual references, completed by recommenders who were not involved with the committee letter.

Q: What do I do if I want to change the person who is sending the reference or edit the information I entered?

A: Even after you submit your application, you may edit, delete, or replace references whose status is still listed as “new” or “incomplete.” Once a reference is “completed,” you may not make changes to that reference, regardless as to whether or not you’ve submitted your application.

Q: How do I know my reference received the e-mail request?

A: Reference e-mail notifications for electronic references are sent immediately once you save the reference’s information into the system. Please advise your references to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from “” subject heading “Recommendation Request Submitted” as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam.If your reference has not received their request within 24 hours, click the pencil icon to the right of the reference’s name on your SOPHAS application, and then click the “Resend This Evaluation Request” button at the bottom of the page.

Q: My reference can’t log into the Recommender Portal. What do I do?

A: If the reference continues to experience difficulty, they should contact SOPHAS customer service directly by phone or e-mail so that we may assist them.

Q: How do I change an recommender’s e-mail address?

A: To change the e-mail address of an recommenders, please log into your SOPHAS application and click the pencil icon to the right of the reference’s name on your SOPHAS application, and then edit the required information. Click the “Resend This Evaluation Request” button at the bottom of the page to resend the request to the correct address.

Q: How do I know if SOPHAS received my evaluations?

A: You can monitor the status of your reference at any time by returning to the “recommenders” section of the application. Each reference has a “STATUS” bar underneath. References which we have received will have a green “Status: Completed” flag and include A COMPLETE DATE. Since the references are completed electronically, these updates occur in real-time. Therefore, as soon as your reference clicks “submit” on the reference website, it also shows up on your application. If your reference does not have a complete date, then we have not received it.

Q: Can I e-submit my application before my references are received by SOPHAS?

A: Yes. Once you have successfully filled out your application, you can e-submit it to SOPHAS at any time. However, your application will not be processed until SOPHAS has received all of your official transcripts, at least two letters of recommendation and your payment.

Q: How can I view my letters of reference?

A: Even if you have not waived your right to view the reference, you still cannot access the reference via SOPHAS. If you have not waived the right to view your reference, this means that you may ask your reference for a copy of their recommendation, or, once you matriculate into a public health school or program, you may view the reference in their offices.

Q: Can SOPHAS forward my references to me, my recommenders, or schools or programs not affiliated with SOPHAS?

A: NO. As per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), SOPHAS may not release letters of reference to anyone other than your designated schools and programs, including other schools or programs or the applicant themselves.

1. On the “Recommendation’s” page, click the blue “Create Recommendation Request” button to add a reference.

2. Enter their full name and e-mail address into the system, and assign them a deadline by which you would like this reference completed. We encourage applicants to select a date which is at least four weeks in advance of your earliest deadline. You also must write them a personal message, which can be brief.

3. Select your waiver decision (please see more information on waivers below) and check the permissions release boxes.

4. ONCE YOU SAVE THEIR INFORMATION, AN E-MAIL IS IMMEDIATELY SENT TO THE REFERENCE at the e-mail address you provided. Please advise your references to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from “,” subject heading “Recommendation Request Submitted,” as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam. Confirm with your references that they have received the notification.

5. The e-mail provides the reference with a link to the Recommendation Portal where they can create an account and set up their own username and password. The reference will log into this site and see your name under the heading “Open Recommendations.” Your reference will click either “ACCEPT” or “DECLINE” to accept or decline your request. If they select decline, you will receive an email notification.

6. Once your reference has accepted your request, your name will become a clickable link. Upon clicking on your name, they will be asked to complete a ratings grid, and upload an open letter of reference in .PDF, .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX format. Please note the file size limit for letters is 5 MB.

7. Once they have completed their reference, they must click “SUBMIT RECOMMENDATION” to send it to SOPHAS. This action occurs immediately, and the reference will show up as “completed” on your application with a complete date. Your reference can also click “Preview Reccomendation” to create a .pdf copy which they can save for their records.

8. Monitor your reccomendations’ statuses in the Status Menu of your application. Follow up with any references which still read as “Requested” or “Accepted.”

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