Law and Public Health (JD/MPH)

The 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 that can be completed in 7 semesters. The JD/MPH dual degree program provides highly motivated students the skills and knowledge to succeed in the dynamic field of health law and policy, where the Affordable Care Act is increasing demand for attorneys with specialized 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.

Boston University’s outstanding faculty and research resources – including the country’s largest concentration of health law faculty and courses – provide a rigorous, integrated curriculum in law and public health.

Key Facts

  • Number of credits: 48 credits (32 credits in SPH courses, plus 16 transfer credits from LAW courses)
  • Program length: Minimum of 7 semesters (3.5 years) depending on full or part-time status and nature of SPH Practicum
  • Full-time or part-time: JD must be completed on a full-time basis, MPH coursework can be completed on a part-time basis

Learning Goals

  • identifying causes of health and illness in various populations
  • recognizing the effects of environmental, occupational, psychological and social factors in illness and well-being
  • interpreting and applying scientific and statistical information and the results of research investigations
  • identifying, analyzing and evaluating whether and how different laws can effectively address specific health problems
  • designing more effective and efficient methods for planning and delivering health care services.

Program Requirements

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.

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 the 6 MPH core courses including biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health law, health policy and management, and social and behavioral science.
  • Successfully completing a minimum of 16 credits of concentration courses in the selected MPH concentration at the School of Public Health
  • Completing an MPH practicum (Students may satisfy this requirement by registering for an MPH Practicum or by completing Law JD 924 Legal Externship, with prior approval of the program directors at both Schools)
  • Completing the concentration’s culminating experience

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 must make satisfactory academic progress in all semesters, as described in the SPH Grading Policy.

LAW Credits

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. A list of LAW courses can be found on the bulletin.

Admission

Students must apply and be accepted to both the School of Law and the School of Public Health. Applicants may apply simultaneously to the two Schools, or, alternatively, students enrolled in LAW may apply during their first two years at BU School of Law for admission to the MPH and enrollment in the dual degree program.

Please review the application process for the School of Public Health and the School of Law for more information.

For further information regarding admission to the School of Public Health contact:
Anne Thorsen, Admissions Coordinator
Phone: 617-638-5001
Email: thorsena@bu.edu

Tuition

While students are attending both the School of Law (LAW) and the School of Public Health (SPH), they pay tuition to the school of residence.

The MPH program may be expedited if SPH courses are taken during the summer session. 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.

The Health Law and Bioethics Fellowship offers the opportunity for advanced training and research in health law and bioethics under the supervision of department faculty.The Fellowships pays for one to two semesters of tuition for a student matriculated in the MPH degree program at BUSPHFor JD/MPH dual degree students, the fellowship usually begins upon completion of the JD program. Applications for the academic year beginning in September are due by February 1 of the same calendar year.

Health Law and Bioethics Fellowship application information available here.

Careers

Graduates of the JD/MPH dual degree program work at federal agencies (e.g., FDA, OIG, HHS); federal and state legislators’ offices; state departments of health, mental health, insurance, and environmental protection; and in private law firms and organizations in health care delivery, insurance, biotechnology, human rights, and advocacy. JD/MPH dual degree candidates have access to career advice through Career Services at BUSPH to help identify, interview for, and secure positions as they move forward along their career path.

Contact Information

Wendy Mariner
Professor; JD/MPH Dual Degree Program Director
Boston University School of Public Health
Department of Health Law, Bioethics, & Human Rights
715 Albany Street, TW3
Boston, MA 02118
Email: wmariner@bu.edu
Phone: 617-638-4626

Anne Thorsen
Admissions Coordinator
Boston University School of Public Health
715 Albany Street, Talbot Building, Room 202C
Boston, MA 02118
Email: thorsena@bu.edu
Phone: 617-638-5001

For more information on the JD program, students should contact:
Boston University School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-353-3100
Email: bulawadm@bu.edu