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 admitted to the JD/MPH Law and Public Health Program enroll in the School of Law (LAW) for first three years of study but take two School of Public Health (SPH) courses in both the second and third years of law school for credit toward both the JD and MPH degrees. (The law school accepts up to 12 LAW credits for SPH courses.  LAW and SPH calculate course credits differently because they are subject to different accreditation rules. Please check with the LAW Registrar’s Office to determine how many LAW credits apply to an SPH course.)

The JD degree is awarded following the completion of three years of study. The last semester of study is in residence at SPH, which gives advanced-standing (transfer) credit for four public health-related courses taken at the School of Law (up to 16 SPH credits), in addition to the SPH courses taken while in residence at the law school. Students may choose to complete the MPH full-time in one semester or part time in two or more semesters.

For the MPH degree, the School of Public Health (SPH) requires 48 SPH credit hours consisting of:

  • 6 SPH core courses
    • The core courses include biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health law, health policy and management, and social and behavioral science.
  • 16 credits of concentration courses at SPH
    • Students must complete a minimum of 16 credits in an MPH concentration. Although most students concentrate in Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights, a concentration may be in any department.
  • the MPH culminating experience within the students’ chosen concentration
  • the MPH Practicum
    • Certain health-related LAW externships can satisfy the MPH practicum
    • Information on Practicum requirements for JD/MPH students, is available from the Practicum Office
  • a minimum of 32 credits from elective courses numbered SPH 700 and above
    • JD/MPH students can transfer a maximum of 16 credits of LAW courses for credit toward the SPH elective requirement. Transfer courses are chosen from a list of approved LAW courses relevant to public health, available from Professor Mariner.

Information regarding core courses, concentration courses, the culminating experience, the practicum and how to calculate course credits can be found in the Concentrator Guides.


Separate application and admission to the School of Law (LAW) and the School of Public Health (SPH) is required for enrollment in the dual degree program. Applicants may apply simultaneously to the two Schools, or, alternatively, students enrolled in LAW may apply during their first year of law study for admission to the MPH degree program.

SPH Application

Applications require the submission of GRE scores, official transcripts of prior education, three recommendations, and a personal statement. Students applying simultaneously, or already admitted, to the School of Law (LAW) may submit their LSAT scores instead of GRE Scores and the recommendations submitted to LAW, plus one new recommendation. Applications to the SPH must be submitted online to the centralized Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). For more information, consult the SPH Admissions website.

Once admitted, students should contact the JD/MPH Program Director to plan their course of studies.

For further information regarding admission to the School of Public Health contact:
Anne Thorsen, Admissions Coordinator
Phone: 617-638-5001


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.


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
Phone: 617-638-4626

Anne Thorsen
Admissions Coordinator
Boston University School of Public Health
715 Albany Street, Talbot Building, Room 202C
Boston, MA 02118
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