Selecting the right Master of Public Health program is a big step for any undergraduate student. It can be especially challenging for the type of student that has interests in multiple fields and has trouble choosing just one. But making this big decision doesn’t have to be one that pigeonholes you to one discipline alone. If you’re the type of student that’s ambitious, with a wide variety of interests, wants a striking resume and a couple more acronyms at the end of your last name, then you’re about to be let in on one of academia’s best kept secrets: Combination MPH programs.
Completing a dual masters program not only amplifies the skills and education of the student, it helps bring out a competitive edge in today’s market.
A combined or dual MPH program is similar to being a double-major as an undergraduate student. The student pursues two separate degrees while fulfilling both degree requirements simultaneously. Completing a dual masters program not only amplifies the skills and education of the student, it helps bring out a competitive edge in today’s market. A candidate with a combined graduate program on their resume will stand out among other job applicants or doctoral hopefuls.
So what exactly can you study with the Master of Public Health degree? I’ve covered some of the most common combinations below. For a more complete listing of dual-degrees available, check out the PublicHealth.org degree finder and filter for dual-degree options.
Program: This dual program combines the Master of Public Health and Master of Business Administration program.
Ideal Student: Students with an interest in health administration and leadership. The MBA curriculum complements the MPH degree by providing a foundation for business-oriented students to learn principles of accounting, finance, economics, marketing, and management. This degree is ideal of the student interested in entering health management, health entrepreneurship, or the private sector.
Job Opportunities: Hospital Administration, Health IT Specialist, Healthcare Consulting, Biotechnology/Biomedical Management, Pharmaceutical Marketing, Managed Care Administration, and even positions in International or Global Health. The MPH/MBA graduate is highly sought after by employers; UC Berkeley found that over 90% of their graduates landed a job within two months of completing the program.
Program: This combination program includes the Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work degree.
Ideal Student: A student interested in both the promotion and protection of family-centered health and welfare. Public health and social work are similar in that they focus on prevention and intervention principles in the community. This student is interested in applying their knowledge to practice, advocacy, strategic planning, and administration.
Job Opportunities: Program coordinators and administrators in disciplines of
gerontology, maternal and child health, mental health, and managed care. MPH/MSW graduates are ideal for positions in local and state health or social service departments.
Program: The Master of Public Health and Master of Public Administration program or
The Master of Public Health and Master of Public Affairs program
Ideal Student: Strong interest community planning, health economics, public policy analysis and administration. This program is perfect for the student interested in public governance as it relates to the health of the community. This program is ideal for someone seeking a leadership position in the rich field of health.
Job Opportunities: Administrative positions in local, state, and federal government agencies, hospital administration, health insurance, and consulting.
A little more research on dual programs led to the finding that some universities offer even more unique combination MPH programs. For example, the University of Arkansas for Medical Science offers a Master in Applied Communication Studies/Master in Public Health combined degree. The MACS/MPH requires courses in health communication, conflict analysis and intervention and organizational communication training. The program is perfect for students interested in learning and applying principles of organizational, interpersonal and crisis communications in public health settings.
For those interested in religion, spirituality and public health, Yale University has a Master of Divinity/Master of Public Health program tailored to these two fields. The MDIV/MPH program ensures a strong theological background for future public health professionals. Yale also provides a unique program that blends forestry and environmental studies and the MPH program. A student can select to pursue the MPH degree in combination with the Master of Forestry (MF), Master of Forest Science (MFS), Master of Environmental Management (MEM), or the Master of Environmental Science (MESc).
The MPH degree has also been popular in complementing medical degrees like the Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Public Health (MSN/MPH) program or the MD/MPH program. Even those considering a law degree have the option of attending a JD/MPH program.
Bottom line, joint MPH programs allow motivated students to take their diverse academic interests and remain competitive in the job market. Many of the dual programs can be completed in the same time as the traditional graduate degree. Had I done my homework as an undergraduate, I’d probably have applied to a few MPH combination programs myself. Now, I find myself completing two graduate degrees the hard way. Taking two separate programs simultaneously means I take out double the loans, am often scrambling for time, and must operate on both quarter and semester terms. That’s not to say I regret my decision. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. Both programs are incredibly fulfilling to me. I do, however, encourage every potential candidate to thoroughly seek out all their options when it comes to graduate school. You might be surprised at what you find.
Read more about my thoughts, experiences, and journey through the MPH program each week.