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What is an MD-MPH?

November 3rd, 2012  |  Published in Applying to Medical School

Under a microscope by Sebastian Kaulitzki










Many medical schools offer combined degree programs, one of which is the MD-MPH program, in which you can earn your Doctorate of Medicine and Master’s in Public Health in a time frame that is usually about five years. You can also consider pursuing your MPH before or after attending medical school. Furthermore, you do not need to want or be a physician in order to achieve an MPH! An MPH is a great option for someone interested in health and making an impact on their community but who does not have a strong interest in practicing clinical medicine.

These are the sorts of courses that usually comprise MPH programs:

  • biostatistics
  • health care administration
  • public policy
  • epidemiology
  • environmental health
  • data analytics
  • social and behavioral sciences
  • ethics
  • health care disparities

Furthermore, you can choose a concentration to study. These can include:

  • biostatistics/quantiative methods
  • epidemiology
  • health care management
  • global health
  • health care disparities
  • law and public health
  • occupational/environmental health
  • clinical effectiveness
  • maternal and child health
  • public health and nutrition

Every MPH program has different offerings so different schools may appeal to you.  Here is a list of schools in the US, Canada, Mexico, and France that offer accredited MPH programs. However, these are just stand-alone MPH programs, which can offer greater flexibility in the concentrations that you may choose for your MPH as well as flexibility as to when you can complete your MPH, taking more or less time as desired. Additionally, the medical school you attend or desire to attend may not offer an MPH program, or not offer an MPH program in your wanted concentration. But, never fear! Many medical schools allow their students to take a year off of medical school to pursue things such as an MPH. Even if your school does not, there is no reason that you cannot earn an MPH many years into your career, many physicians do. In fact, earning an MPH later in your career may give you a better idea of what concentration best fits your career goals and needs.  Here is a list of medical schools which offer accredited combined MD-MPH programs. Definitely check this out if you are considering attending medical school and think an MPH is interesting. You need to know the requirements to enroll in these institutions before you begin to apply!

What can you do with an MD-MPH? Depending on your concentration/expertise…

  • Work for the Center for Disease Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. (Imagine the type of people you would need if Contagion came to life.)
  • Work in the private sector assessing occupational health hazards and how to eliminate or reduce them
  • Go abroad and determine ways to improve that community’s health
  • Cause change in the way our government approaches healthcare
  • Become a champion for clinical efficiency in your practice, physician group, or hospital
  • and much, more!

Essentially with an MD-MPH, your career can be what you want it to be. You can only practice clinical medicine, you can divide your time between clinical medicine and health policy or research or administrative work, etc. An MD-MPH  can be an excellent option but it isn’t for everyone! An extra degree costs money and time. If you aren’t sure if an MD-MPH is right for you, wait until after you complete your MD. You will see where your career is taking you and will find the inspiration to earn your MPH when the time comes.

Note: This post was inspired by the wonderful conversation I had one year ago with Josh Herigon who has a tumblr-style blog at : and is available on twitter, too!

Do you have your MD-MPH or are you interested in or working towards an MD-MPH? Let me know in the comments below!

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