Physician Assistant (PA) and Master of Public Health (MPH) dual degree programs are fairly common and are designed to equip students with clinical and public health training. These programs typically take 36 to 39 months to complete and include plenty of hands-on experience through laboratory coursework, research opportunities and practicum experiences. Learn more about these degree programs and common requirements.
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Information for PA/MPH Dual Degree Programs
Many PA/MPH dual degree programs offer additional specialization tracks, such as social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, global environmental health and health policy. Some courses may vary based on these tracks, but below we discuss some of the common courses found in both the PA and MPH portions of a dual degree program.
As part of the PA curriculum, students take one or more courses in human anatomy that involve dissection of cadavers. Students typically attend lectures and then work in teams during laboratory sessions to study various body regions. Some of these courses may also incorporate computer-based learning with self-assessments and imaging techniques.
The PA curriculum also requires multiple courses in clinical medicine that explore human disease. Students study all aspects of the pathophysiology of diseases across the lifespan. Students also discuss the diagnosis and management of these diseases, including possible prevention methods.
Also part of the PA curriculum are courses in pharmacology that discuss principles of pharmacology and drug disposition. These courses may explore drugs and their effects on various body systems, including their uses and toxicity. Students may examine specific therapeutic agents, such as chemotherapy, non-prescription drugs and sedatives.
Most MPH programs require students to take a course about the applications of biostatistics in public health. Students learn how to interpret statistical data, determine which statistical methods to use in various situations and how to present statistical data. These courses may cover such topics as regression models, hypothesis testing, descriptive statistics and sample sizes.
The MPH curriculum also usually includes a foundational course in epidemiology, where students explore the main concepts and research methods in the field. These courses typically have students examine case studies and review current literature in the field. Course topics may include the history of epidemiology, study design, standardization of disease rates, bias and disease screening.
Common Entrance Requirements
Like most dual degree programs, PA/MPH dual degree programs usually require students to apply to the PA and the MPH programs individually and be accepted into each one. Schools that do use one application process for both programs typically do not allow students to switch their application to just the PA or just the MPH program at a later date, and it is common for applicants to have to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Students also usually need to have prior coursework in subjects like anatomy and physiology, statistics, chemistry and psychology, and some programs require a set amount of direct patient care experience hours. Most of these dual degree programs require applicants to submit their official transcripts, GRE scores and letters of recommendation with their application and then go through an interview process.
PA and MPH dual degree programs prepare students for the clinical and research sides of public health in about 3 to 3.5 years. Students receive hands-on training and may be able to further specialize their degree to match their personal interests.