Doctor of Medicine/Master of Public Health (MD/MPH)
This program combines medical and public health education in preparation for a career of caring for the health of individuals and their communities.
The MD/MPH Dual Degree Program at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health is designed for students who envision a medical career that incorporates public health and medicine. For a discussion of the pros and cons of MD/MPH programs in general and the timing of public health coursework, see the MD/MPH Guide at AMSA (American Medical Student Association).
The MD/MPH program prepares physicians for academic careers or for practice in today’s health care environment. This flexible program combines traditional MD preparation with a broad-based training that is skills-specific and provides students with a strong, integrated, problem-based foundation in the values, history, methods, and functions of public health, as well as a demonstrated competency in their chosen areas of specialization. Possible areas of special focus are: biostatistics, community health sciences, environmental health, epidemiology, global health, and health law & policy. In addition, students are encouraged to pursue programs of study and practice placements that allow the exploration of the multifaceted relationships between medicine and population-focused public health disciplines.
Coursework in the dual degree program is generally completed over a period of five years.
To earn both degrees, students must complete the required classroom and clinical coursework for the MD and the required 40 credit hours of coursework and other requirements for the MPH. Students can apply to the MPH program as soon as their first semester of medical school.
MPH coursework for the MD/MPH program is generally completed between the third and fourth year of medical school. However, students can begin the MPH core coursework during their first semester of enrollment. If a student has been accepted to BUSM, he or she may appeal to the Associate Dean for Admissions at BUSM for delayed matriculation. Also, if a student admitted into the MPH program at BUSPH is accepted into BUSM before completing MPH requirements, he or she may be transferred into the MD/MPH dual degree program.
In addition, credits in core courses and certificate courses taken at BUSPH prior to entry into BUSM can be applied to the MPH component of the MD/MPH program. All MPH coursework must be completed at BUSPH.
The MPH is a 48-credit degree. MD/MPH students must complete a minimum of 40 credits in residence at SPH and 8 credits are completed at MED. All courses counted to the MPH portion of the MD/MPH must be numbered SPH XX 700 and above. No courses taken outside of the School of Public Health will count toward the MPH, including courses taken at other Boston University schools and colleges.
For MD/MPH students, the 48 credits for the MPH are fulfilled as follows:
1) MD/MPH students earn 8 credits toward the MPH for completing BUSM-designated courses required for their MD. The cost for these 8 credits is covered by medical school tuition; there is no additional cost. The BUSM-designated courses are:
- MS 126 Human Behavior in Medicine
- MS 129 Essentials of Public Health
- MS 130 Medical Genetics
- MS 131 Medical Immunology
- MS 220–MS 226 Disease and Therapy
- MS 313 Pediatrics Clerkship
- MS 314 Psychiatry Clerkship
- MS 315 Family Medicine Clerkship
2) The remaining credits for the MPH are as follows:
A) Approximately 16 credits for Core Courses as follows:
- SPH PH 717 Quantitative Methods in Public Health (4 cr)
- SPH PH 718 Leadership and Management in Public Health (4 cr)
- SPH PH 719 Health Systems, Law, and Policy (4 cr)
- SPH PH 720 Individual, Community, and Population Health (4 cr)
B) 28 credits of Certificate & Elective Coursework
Students select and complete one functional area certificate as their interdisciplinary, professional skills base (16 credits) and have the option to take a context certificate (focused on key populations or areas of interest in public health, 12 credits) or elective courses to fulfill the minimum 24 credits of SPH coursework beyond the core courses. A maximum of 4 credits may be shared between a functional and a context certificate.
The MPH functional certificates are:
- Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation
- Design and Conduct of Public Health Research
- Environmental Hazard Assessment
- Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Health Communications and Promotion
- Healthcare Management (CAHME)—26 credits
- Health Policy and Law
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Program Management
The MPH context certificates (12 credits) are:
- Chronic and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Global Health
- Infectious Disease
- Maternal and Child Health
- Mental Health and Substance Use
- Social Justice, Human Rights, and Health Equity
- Sex, Sexuality, and Gender
Students must earn at least a grade of Pass in all medical school courses and must maintain at least a grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) in courses at BUSPH.
Professional Development and Practical Experience
Practice-based education is what sets the BU MPH apart. The SPH community believes that real-world, practical application is the best way to train future public health professionals, prepare students for thriving careers, and help them solve the most pressing and complex public health problems.
Faculty throughout the school teach project-based learning courses, where students serve as consultants to public health agencies in Boston and around the globe to conduct needs assessments, implementation and evaluation plans, health communication strategies, and much more. Outside of the classroom, students engage in service-based learning activities, volunteer opportunities, student organizations, and attend professional association meetings and conferences.
There are three professional development and practical experiences that students will complete during the MPH:
- PH 976 Practicum (240 hours, 0 cr)
- PH 746 Career PREP (0 cr)
- PH 985 Required Integrated Learning Experience (0 cr)
Because hands-on field experience is critical to success in students’ public health careers, the BU MPH includes an enhanced practicum to ensure that they gain and apply their public health skill set through extensive fieldwork. Whether students are new to a particular field or seasoned professionals, the practicum will allow them to directly apply their skill-based education by working at a local, national, or international field site with a public health-related organization. BU students complete practicum projects at over 300 sites annually, where they make real contributions toward improving population health while gaining valuable experience and building their professional networks.
All MPH students will complete a minimum of 240 hours (approximately 6 weeks) in a public health organization. Students are encouraged to explore and learn something new in their practicum, and can complete their practicum at one of the many public health organizations in Boston or any location around the globe. Students have flexibility and options to complete this requirement, and can tailor their practicum experience to meet specific needs and goals.
The focus is flexible. Students are encouraged to discuss possible practicum projects with the MD/MPH program director, who must approve the proposed practicum and will serve as the academic supervisor. Regardless of which option is chosen, MD/MPH students must fulfill all practicum requirements, including:
- Registration for the practicum with the BUSPH Registrar before the beginning of the semester in which the practicum will be undertaken (PH 976 is a 0-credit practicum course for which MD/MPH students must register)
- Submission of a Learning Contract
- Completion of Midpoint Review with agency supervisor; and
- Presentation of a Poster Project and participation in the BUSPH departmental integration seminar
MD/MPH students will need to use a portion of their fourth-year medical school elective to complete the 240-hour practicum requirement. This elective should be planned well in advance, and the month-long elective should be devoted entirely to a public health-related project that has been approved by the MD/MPH program director, Dr. Donald Thea.
2. Career PREP
Our students’ public health careers are important to us.
The Career Development Program, a hallmark of the BU MPH, positions students with the techniques and professional confidence to effectively market themselves during the job search process and throughout their public health career. The program is taught by experienced career services professionals and will help students build their public health network of employers, alumni, and experts from the field.
Using career assessment tools as a foundation, sessions cover topics such as interviewing strategies, networking, and marketing and positioning yourself in the job market. The Career Development Program is delivered in a cohort model to enhance the learning experience and help students build connections across the SPH community. Through the Career Development Program, students will be able to:
- Navigate the public health job market and hiring processes
- Market themselves based on employer needs
- Leverage LinkedIn for their job search and professional social media etiquette
- Understand the value of networking and specific networking procedures
- Utilize different interview types and how to effectively position yourself
- Engage in the negotiation process and techniques for employer conversations
3. BU MPH Integrative Learning Experience
The BU MPH Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) affords students the opportunity to synthesize foundational and certificate competencies. Students will integrate and apply the knowledge and skills obtained throughout the degree program.
ILEs will be tied to the student’s required functional certificate and will incorporate skills and content from their context certificate as appropriate. Students will only complete one ILE, regardless of the number of certificates they pursue. Students working to complete two functional certificates will meet with their faculty advisors and Career Services staff to determine which ILE option is best for their career interests.
The ILE is a required, 0-credit component of the MPH. It is student-initiated and faculty guided. Students will register for the ILE in their last semester.
Opting Out of the MPH
A student may resign from the MD/MPH dual degree program by submitting a letter to the director of the MD/MPH program, the BUSM Registrar, and the BUSPH Registrar. This will not affect the MD.
Because MD/MPH students generally complete 32 credits of BUSPH coursework between the third and fourth year of medical school, there is typically not much time for overseas travel. However, there may be opportunities for short (2-to-4-week) overseas projects, particularly between the first and second year of medical school or as electives in the last two years. These opportunities are not a routine part of the MD/MPH.
All dual degree students must meet with the MD/MPH advisor in the School of Public Health (Dr. Donald Thea) and their medical school advisor at the beginning of their program to develop a plan of study.
The cost for the MPH reflects the cost of the additional coursework at BUSPH. The traditional MPH is a 48-credit degree program. BUSM students enrolled in the MD/MPH dual degree program receive 16 credits for overlapping coursework completed for the MD as described above.
For more information on options for financing, students are advised to meet with personnel of the Medical Center’s Student Financial Management office.
Eligibility & Application
All medical students accepted to BUSM are eligible to apply to the MD/MPH dual degree program. Students interested in the MD/MPH program must apply first to BUSM. Checking off the box for interest in the MD/MPH program on the AMCAS application alerts the Admissions Office at BUSM that the student is interested in the dual degree program. It does not obligate the student to apply, and it has no impact on the likelihood of acceptance into BUSM.
Once accepted to BUSM, students who decide to apply to the MD/MPH program should submit an application directly to the MD/MPH program director before February 15 of the third year of medical school. Students are encouraged to discuss the program with the director and apply as early as possible upon matriculation to BUSM, however. There are no acceptance quotas for the combined program. Note that if a student enrolls in the program and changes his or her mind, that student may opt out without penalty.
This program is only open to students accepted to BUSM. An important aspect of the dual degree program is the integration of the two programs. If a student is enrolled at another medical school or has already graduated with an MD from another school, he or she must apply to BUSPH for the traditional 48-credit MPH program without any of the tuition reductions available to dual MD/MPH students.
Students can submit applications to each program simultaneously or students who have enrolled in BUSM can submit applicants anytime until the end of their third year of medical school. Each school has separate requirements which can be found on both the School of Public Health’s website and the Medical School’s website.
Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Donald Thea with questions or to discuss the dual degree program.
Application Fee & Tuition Deposit
Current BUSM students must pay the application fee for the MPH portion of the application through SOPHAS; however, accepted students will not need to pay a tuition deposit. Students who apply to the program simultaneously must also pay necessary application fees.