College Advice Blog

Mar 28, 2013

Benefits of Dual Grad Degrees in the Health Profession

Interdisciplinary degrees like the Master of Public Health (MPH) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) are well suited for dual degree pairings. Students in dual degree programs that include an MPH or MPP are able to expand the focus of their primary degree while gaining public health or public policy knowledge and skills. Some professionals with advanced degrees such as an Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Juris Doctorate (JD) return to school to earn an MPH or MPP. While not earned simultaneously, this type of dual degree can provide the same advantages of increased knowledge and skills in the public service area.

The most common dual degrees in the health field are the MPH/JD, MPH/MSW (Master of Social Work), MD/MPH and MPP/JD. There are many personal, professional and financial benefits associated with these dual degrees. Graduates can establish a career in either field or follow a specialized career path that combines both disciplines. For professionals who are passionate about a particular issue related to public health or public policy, holding a technical degree in law, medicine or social work can provide the means for getting things done. Enrolling in two graduate programs also provides increased opportunities for networking.

Students in dual degree programs that include an MPH can personalize their education with different areas of concentration. Typical concentration areas include epidemiology, biostatistics, health services management, global health and nutrition. Some programs also offer a generalist track that allows JD or MD students to integrate public health with their studies in law or medicine. Many MPH programs that are associated with schools of medicine allow students to work with faculty from a variety of medical specialties and to complete clinical health experiences.

Here’s a bit more information about specific dual degree programs:


Combining a Juris Doctor with a Master of Public Health degree allows students to focus on the intersections of law, policy and science. Law students in dual MPH/JD program can enrich their law school experience with graduate courses in health economics, heath management and policy, environmental health, global health and research methodologies. Following graduation, they are qualified to play important roles as legal consultants for health care organizations or public health agencies. Students who complete MPH and JD degrees are also prepared to step into leadership positions in the public and private health care sectors.


Dual Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work programs qualify graduates to provide social services that are related to health. Career opportunities can be found in local and state health departments, hospitals and managed care organizations, federal health agencies and nonprofit health care organizations. MPH/MSW graduates may provide clinical social services or serve as program planners, administrators or consultants.


Medical students who are interested in the increasingly important field of public health can prepare to make important contributions with dual Master of Public Health and Doctor of Medicine degrees. Physicians who are interested in rehabilitative and preventative health care, and who want to improve the health of populations will benefit from the perspective provide by an MPH degree. Career options include public health organizations at the community, state, national and international levels.


Law students who are interested in the public policy aspects of public health will find that a dual Master of Public Policy degree provides the skills needed to address public policies related to complex health issues. Lawyers who have earned a dual MPP degree are qualified to participate in policy development by advocating for particular positions, drafting legislation and challenging existing laws through litigation. Students in MPP/JD programs develop diverse skill sets that are required to shape national health policy.
About the Author

Sarah Fudin is the community manager for the George Washington University’s innovative online MPH degree program which allows prospective students to earn an online Masters in Public Health. Sarah enjoys working with GW as a way to positively effect change and become a life long learner.


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