Academic Programs

Public Health

J.D./M.P.H. in Law and Public Health

Boston University offers highly-motivated students a unique opportunity to obtain both a JD degree and a Master's of Public Health (MPH) degree. The dual-degree program can be completed in seven semesters, rather than the minimum four and one-half years required to obtain each degree independently, because some courses can be credited toward both degrees.
The Law School and the School of Public Health provide an exceptionally strong program in health-law courses. Graduates of the program enter careers in federal and state government agencies and legislative offices, private law practices, universities, hospitals, insurers, biotechnology companies, and non-profit organizations.

. Public health education focuses on:

  • developing and disseminating information on health and illness in various populations
  • recognizing the importance of psychological and social factors in illness and well-being
  • controlling and improving the physical environments in which people live and work
  • interpreting and implementing the results of research investigations and other scientific and statistical information
  • understanding and influencing governmental health policy and regulation
  • designing more effective and efficient methods for planning and delivering health care services.

Program Requirements

For the M.P.H. degree, the School of Public Health (SPH) requires 48 SPH credit hours consisting of six SPH core courses, 16 credits of concentration courses at the BU School of Public Health, the MPH culminating experience, the MPH practicum, and a minimum of 32 credits from courses numbered SPH 700 and above. JD/MPH students may count 16 credits of School of Law courses that are relevant to public health and are approved by the JD/MPH Program Director at the School of Public Health. Students may not enroll in courses at other BU schools and colleges, nor may they cross register for Boston Consortium courses.

Students may also apply to the JD degree a maximum of 12 credits of course work taken at SPH.
NOTE: Due to ABA accreditation requirements, the number of credits for an SPH course that may be applied to the J.D. degree may vary from what the School of Public Health grants for that course. Please check with the Law Registrar's Office to determine how many LAW credits apply to an SPH course.

MPH Core Courses:

  1. Biostatistics
  2. Environmental Health
  3. Epidemiology
  4. Health Policy and Management
  5. Community Health Sciences
  6. Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights: Either (1) Public Health Law (SPH course) OR (2) Health Law (LAW course worth 4 SPH credits)) plus Legal Strategies to Reduce Health Risks (SPH course).

    Students also must complete a minimum of 16 credits in an MPH concentration. Although most students concentrate in Health Law, Bioethics or Human Rights, a concentration may be in any of the above core departments or International Health. Each concentration requires a sulminating experience, such as presentation of a paper, project or e-portfolio, which varies by department.

Law students can transfer a maximum of 16 credits of LAW courses for credit toward teh SPH elective requirement. Transfer courses are chosen from a list of approved LAW courses relevant to public health. The list of approved courses is available from Dean Marx (law school) and from Professior Mariner (SPH).

SPH Practicum Requirement:

For the M.P.H. degree, students must complete a Practicum. Students might be able to satisfy this by taking Law J.D. 924 Legal Externship/Legal Ethics IF the course work is related to public health and if it is approved, in advance, both by the Law School and the School of Public Health. Students may also find a practicum outside the schools, in consultation with the SPH Practicum Office.

For further program information, contact Professor Wendy Mariner, Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights TW3, Boston University School of Public Health, 617/638-4626.


Admissions Requirements

Students must apply separately to, and be accepted by, both the School of Law and the School of Public Health (SPH) . Ordinarily, students apply to the School of Public Health before or during their first year of law school. Students can apply to SPH to begin the M.P.H. in January of their second year; however, they would be behind by one SPH course and would lose some of the time savings.

For SPH application procedures and deadlines, click here.

For School of Public Health admissions information, please contact Anne Thorsen,
Admissions Coordinator, Boston University School of Public Health, 617/638-5001. For M.P.H. program information, please contact Professor Wendy Mariner, Boston University School of Public Health, 617/638-4626.