March 31, 2023

What is a Juris Doctor and Master of Public Health (JD/MPH) Dual Degree?

The Juris Doctor and Master of Public Health (JD/MPH) Law and Public Health dual degree program is an accelerated course of study leading to the award of both the JD and MPH degrees. By combining the programs, students are able to develop a special expertise in public health related legal issues. The program can be completed in as little as seven semesters and students are able to earn both degrees within four years rather than the standard five years when the degrees are pursued independently. The JD/MPH dual degree program provides those students that are highly motivated to gain the skills and knowledge for success in the dynamic field of health law and policy.

Why Pursue a Dual Degree?

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there is an increased demand for attorneys with specialized public health and medical expertise. Just as law is central to protecting public health, knowledge of public health disciplines is essential to today’s health law practice. Protecting and enhancing the health of populations, as well as individuals, demands multidisciplinary training to identify and resolve complex problems of major social and economic importance. The MPH degree program gives students a comprehensive, systematic understanding of the complex and overlapping fields of health care and public health. Students graduate with the ability to read and synthesize relevant literature, navigate complex systems, and identify how law should apply in practice.

What Are Some Educational Competencies I Might Expect From These Programs?

Some of knowledge and skills that students gain from the dual degree program are:

  • Specialized ability to solve public health problems using legal tools
  • Concrete understanding of how policies in public health are expressed in laws and regulations
  • Properly analyze the legal environment to write and affect public health programs and activities in compliance with their legal requirements
  • Skills to advocate for sound public health policy
  • The ability to comprehend the legal aspects of proposals for health care and social welfare reform

What Am I Equipped to Do With a JD/MPH Dual Degree?

Graduates of the dual-degree program will be properly equipped to work either as a public health professional having a deep understanding of both legal and policy issues or as a lawyer who specializes in healthcare issues and who may practice law in the public health field. A graduate might work for a government or nongovernment organization developing policy and/or drafting legislation and regulations for food fortification, population planning and control, improving the status of women, protecting the human rights of refugees, or other similar domestic or global public health matters. Other future areas of careers for JD/MPH graduates is working as a lawyer who specializes in protecting the rights of disabled individuals, as a general counsel in a public or private hospital, as a lawyer or legal adviser for a state or federal public health agency, or in a similar capacity. The JD/MPH program prepares students to advise and advocate for public health departments, organizations, private non-government organizations, individuals, and communities.