Dual JD/Master of Public Health (MPH)
Boston University offers highly motivated students a unique opportunity to combine professional training in law and public health through this dual degree program offered by the School of Law (LAW) and the School of Public Health (SPH). Successful candidates receive both the Juris Doctor (JD) and a Master of Public Health (MPH).
The dual degree program can be completed in seven semesters, rather than the minimum four-and-a-half years required to obtain each degree independently because some courses can be credited toward both degrees.
Graduates of the JD/MPH program enter careers in federal and state government agencies and legislative offices, private law practices, universities, hospitals, insurers, biotechnology companies, and nonprofit organizations.
Students are free to begin their studies at either school. However, most begin law school studies first, and then take courses at SPH during their second and third years of law school. After graduating with the JD degree, they complete their MPH studies at SPH. The advantage of beginning with studies at the School of Law is that it does not interrupt students’ coursework in public health courses. Also, law school accreditation requirements do not allow the law school to accept for law credit any coursework that students do before entering law school, so students cannot apply to the law degree any SPH coursework completed before law school.
The first year of study at the School of Law consists of a prescribed law curriculum that does not permit elective courses. Students in the JD/MPH dual degree program may not earn the MPH until they complete the JD. They may earn the JD before they complete the MPH.
Master of Public Health
To earn the MPH, students must complete 48 credit of coursework. At least 32 of the 48 credits must be School of Public Health courses numbered SPH XX 700 and above. The 32 credits are apportioned to the following requirements:
- Successfully completing six MPH core courses, a minimum of 16 credits of concentration courses in the selected MPH concentration at the School of Public Health
- Completing an MPH practicum and MPH culminating experience
The SPH core courses are:
- Environmental Health
- Health Policy and Management
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights: Either (1) SPH LW 751 OR (2) LAW JD 867 and SPH LW 750
JD/MPH students must declare a Master of Public Health concentration and meet the requirements of that concentration, including the culminating experience:
- Environmental Health
- Health Policy & Management
- Social & Behavioral Sciences
- Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights
- International Health
- Maternal & Child Health
Subject to the approval of the dual degree Program Director at SPH, law students can transfer up to 16 credits of LAW courses to public health for credit toward the SPH elective requirement.
Below is a list of LAW courses and seminars that have qualified for SPH elective credit. Note that this list changes each year to reflect new course offerings, and not all courses and seminars are offered each year:
- JD 784 Legislation Clinic/Health & Environmental, subject to prior approval of health-related topic
- JD 795 Globalization & Health
- JD 796 Global Climate Change
- JD 801 Administrative Law
- JD 802 Food and Drug Law
- JD 833 Environmental Law: Basic
- JD 844 Nonprofit Organizations
- JD 867 Health Law
- JD 910 Medical Research and the Law
- JD 924 Legal Externship/Legal Ethics, subject to prior approval of health-related topic
- JD 933 Biotechnology Law and Ethics
- JD 954 Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights (taught as LW 840 at SPH)
- JD 962 Forensic Mental Health Issues
- JD 975 War on Drugs
- JD 977 Health Care Reform and the Constitution
- JD 992 Health Insurance, Managed Care, and the Law
- JD 998 Health Care Transactions
For the MPH, students also must complete a practicum, with or without course credit. Students may satisfy this requirement by taking Law JD 924 Legal Externship/Legal Ethics IF the coursework is related to public health and it is approved, in advance, by the School of Law and the School of Public Health. Students may also find a practicum outside the Schools, in consultation with the SPH Practicum Office, and register for an SPH practicum course—numerous options are available and should be discussed with the SPH Faculty Advisor and SPH Practice office.
To receive the MPH, students must have a cumulative grade point average in courses taken at the School of Public Health of B (3.0), and a grade of B- (2.70) or better in each of the core courses taken at SPH.
General Program Information
Sample JD/MPH Course of Study
- Year 1: First-year LAW program
- Year 2: Each semester, three or more LAW courses; one SPH course*; SPH practicum requirement (can be taken any time throughout the program)
- Year 3: Each semester, three or more LAW courses; one SPH course*
- JD awarded
- Year 4: Fall semester: Four SPH courses
- MPH awarded
*After the first year of law school, students ordinarily may apply toward the JD up to 3 LAW credits per semester of SPH courses.
In some semesters students need to take two SPH courses if they wish to finish in seven semesters. Students might be able to apply to the law degree only one SPH course in a semester, depending on how many other SPH credits the student has already applied to the law degree.
Students apply separately to the School of Law and the School of Public Health. For School of Law application procedures, please consult the School of Law website.
Students ordinarily apply to the School of Public Health before or during their first year of law school to begin the MPH program in their second year of law school. Students can apply to SPH in their second or third year of law school, but would need additional time to complete the MPH.
Applications to the School of Public Health must be submitted online to the centralized Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). For more information, consult the SPH Admissions website.
Students applying simultaneously, or already admitted, to the School of Law may submit LSAT instead of GRE scores and the recommendations submitted to the School of Law, plus one new recommendation.
SPH applications must include:
- LSAT score
- Three letters of recommendation. SPH prefers that students submit new recommendations; however, applicants may submit copies of their three law school recommendations (and one new recommendation) if there is documentation that the recommenders gave permission for the recommendations to be used for the SPH application. In any case, at least one of the recommendations must speak specifically to the applicant’s potential in the field of public health.
- Official transcripts
- Statement of purpose and objectives
Application Deadline for SPH
For September admission: February 1 (notification by April 15)
While students are attending both the School of Law and the School of Public Health, they pay only one tuition to the school of residence. If students exceed 18 credits of LAW and SPH work in a given semester, they will be charged additional tuition.
The MPH program may be expedited if SPH courses are taken during the summer session. School of Law tuition does not cover summer coursework, as LAW does not have summer courses; thus, students taking summer SPH courses during law school must pay additional tuition for those courses. Note that the law school does not accept credit toward the law degree for summer SPH work.