MD/MPH Concurrent Degree Program
The MD/MPH is a concurrent program of the University of Washington School of Medicine and the School of Public Health, which offers the MD/MPH option through the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, the Department of Epidemiology, the Department of Global Health, and the Department of Health Services. The MD/MPH is primarily designed to serve two groups of students:
- Medical students with clearly identified career goals in the area of public health, i.e., students who have an interest in medical care for populations as well as medical care for the individual patient, and students who have an analytical interest in medical care for populations as well as the health of individuals.
- Medical students with career goals mainly in clinical medicine who have a desire to gain additional skills in health care delivery management, such as planning, administration, and evaluation or in quantitative skills, such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and research methodology.
Taken individually, the MD degree usually takes four years to complete, and the MPH at the University of Washington usually takes two years. By combining the MD and MPH into a concurrent degree, the degrees can typically be completed in five years. Most of the required MPH coursework is taken between the second and third year of medical studies. Completing the remaining MPH requirements during open summers and selecting approved elective courses assures earning sufficient credits for both degrees.
Michelle Fleming (SOM)
Kitty Andert (HSERV)
Rory Murphy (EOHS)
Kate O'Brien (EPI)
Jennifer Tee (GH)
Students will typically apply for admission to an MPH program during the first year of their medical studies. They must be in good academic standing, and will need the approval of Thomas Norris, MD, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the SOM.
The concurrent MD/MPH is offered by four departments in the School of Public Health:
- Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (EOHS)
- Epidemiology (EPI)
- Global Health (GH)
- Health Services (HSERV)
Application materials for the MD/MPH program should be submitted to the departments by December 1 (regardless of any other departmental MPH deadlines). Although applicants may apply to two departments, we recommend that they choose the one that most closely aligns with their dominant training interests.
Portions of the AMCAS application can be submitted in place of items required by the MPH Programs. These can include university transcripts, letters of recommendation, and MCAT scores. Composite MCAT scores must be at least 30; if below 30, taking the general GRE test will be recommended. A new goal statement, updated cv, and at least one new letter of recommendation are required. Interviews with program faculty are encouraged.
The first two years consist largely of required medical school courses. The third year is typically devoted to required public health courses.
- SOM curriculum information
- MPH requirements for MD/MPH in Health Services
- MPH requirements for MD/MPH in Epidemiology
- MD/MPH in Health Services Sample Schedule
- Elective Courses
A broad selection of courses can be matched to individual training interests to satisfy the requirements for MPH electives. Students meet with their MD/MPH program advisor for help in selecting relevant elective courses.
- Should I consider an MPH Degree?
The MPH is a key professional degree for physicians who want to influence public policy or work in positions that deal with the health of populations. An MPH is required for many positions in public health and in occupational, aerospace and environmental health.
Much of what you learn in medical school deals with treating disease and is useful only as a background to improving health. Most of the improvements in life expectancy are due to multi-disciplinary preventive interventions, not medical approaches. Many physicians take the MPH degree to develop expertise in research methods, including in epidemiology and biostatistics. They often pursue careers that combine medical practice and research in public health or medicine.
- When should I do an MPH?
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking the MPH degree at different points in your career. The MD/MPH concurrent degree approach at UW allows students to complete the coursework for both degrees over a single intensive five-year period since some medical school courses can be applied toward the MPH when done concurrently. If the MPH is done separately, medical school courses typically cannot be applied toward MPH coursework, and completing both degrees would take six years.
The potential disadvantages of pursuing the MD/MPH concurrently are several. The UW requires a fifth year of tuition, for which there generally is no tuition assistance. Also, without extensive "real world" experience, you may have difficulty understanding and integrating many of the topics covered in the MPH. The MPH portion of your studies may be rusty by the time you might use them in your post-residency job, while they would be fresher if the MPH was pursued post-residency. A more current MPH may give you a competitive advantage when pursuing interesting and interdiciplinary jobs. There are also several post-residency fellowships that fund physicians to pursue the MPH degree, and it is sometimes possible to pursue it concurrently with a residency. Finally, the MD/MPH concurrent degree at the University of Washington can be arduous, requiring long-sustained commitment on the part of the student.
- What are some good resources for learning more about public health?
The Future of the Public's Health in the 21st Century
We recommend that everyone read the executive summary, and then other sections as needed.
Courses and Exercises at the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice
on-line modules that would be useful for medical students
State Health Department Websites from the CDC
What Is Public Health?
a good general introduction to public health