Medicine & Public Health (MD/MPH)
The MD/MPH dual degree program at BU’s School of Medicine and School of Public Health is designed for students who envision a medical career that incorporates public health and medicine. The MD/MPH program prepares physicians for academic careers or for practice in today’s health care environment. Interested students are encouraged to contact the program director with questions or to discuss the program.
Students are encouraged to pursue programs of study and practice placements that allow for the exploration of the multifaceted relationships between medicine and population-focused public health disciplines.
Upon completion of the MPH degree requirements, graduates are able to:
Evidence-Based Approaches to Public Health
- Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice.
- Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
- Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy, or practice.
Public Health & Healthcare Systems
- Compare the organization, structure, and function of healthcare, public health, and regulatory systems across national and international settings.
- Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels.
Planning & Management to Promote Health
- Assess population needs, assets, and capacities that affect communities’ health.
- Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs.
- Design a population-based policy, program, project, or intervention.
- Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management.
- Select methods to evaluate public health programs.
Policy in Public Health
- Discuss multiple dimensions of the policymaking process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
- Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes.
- Advocate for political, social, or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations.
- Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity.
- Apply principles of leadership, governance, and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration, and guiding decisionmaking.
- Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges.
- Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors.
- Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.
- Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content.
- Perform effectively on interprofessional teams.
- Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue.
The MD and MPH are simultaneous degrees and are awarded together. Students in the MD/MPH program cannot graduate with the MD and then finish the MPH post-MD graduation.
Coursework in the dual degree program is generally completed over a period of five years. MPH coursework for the MD/MPH program is generally completed between the third and fourth year of medical school.
Students must earn at least a grade of Pass in all medical school courses and must maintain satisfactory academic progress at SPH according to the SPH Grading Policy.
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 BUSM. 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.
MPH Degree Requirements
Foundations of Public Health
Effective public health requires expertise from many disciplines, and students need to have a broad foundation of knowledge across these diverse disciplines in order to collaborate effectively with other health professionals.
SPH PH 700 Foundations of Public Health (0 credits) is an online course designed to provide students with foundational knowledge in the profession and science of public health and factors related to public health. PH 700 meets the foundational knowledge criteria (as outlined by CEPH) for all SPH students.
SPH Core Courses
- 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)
MPH 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
- Environmental Health
- Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Health Communications and Promotion
- Healthcare Management (CAHME)—28 credits
- Health Policy and Law
- Global Health Program Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation
- Program Management
Context Certificates—12 credits
- Chronic and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Global Health
- Infectious Disease
- Maternal and Child Health
- Mental Health and Substance Use
- Human Rights and Social Justice
- Sex, Sexuality, and Gender
- Pharmaceutical Development, Delivery, and Access
Students follow the SPH Grading Policy for their MPH courses.
Professional Development and Practical Experience
- PH 746 Career PREP (0 cr)
- PH 976 Practicum (240 hours, 0 cr)
- PH 985 Required Integrated Learning Experience (0 cr)
All MPH candidates must complete an approved practicum by registering for an MPH practicum course and completing all MPH practicum requirements. MD/MPH students may also fulfill the requirement by undertaking a suitable project during a one-month elective rotation during their fourth year of medical school. 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.
MD/MPH students earn 8 credits toward the MPH by completing courses required for their MD from the following list.
- 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
Withdrawing from the MPH
A student may withdraw 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 in and of itself.
Because MD/MPH students generally complete 40 credits of SPH 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.
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 to BUSM first. Selecting 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.
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. Medical students interested in applying to the MD/MPH program should contact the MD/MPH program director.