The MD/MPH dual degree program, combining the MD and the Master of Public Health programs, is specifically tailored to the needs of students enrolled in Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) and is available only to them. Thirty-nine points in public health coursework are required beyond the points needed for the MD degree, and tuition must be paid to the Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH) for at least 32 of these points, approximately equivalent to one full year (two semesters – Fall and Spring) of registration. Medical students may take courses in the School of Public Health under their medical school registration at no additional cost during the first three years at P&S, except for the public health integrated Core semester (which must be completed while registered at Mailman). Most students elect to undertake the public health program between the third and fourth year of medical school, completing both degrees in five years. It is difficult to complete the public health degree in its entirety during the four years of medical school.

Medical students from other universities may obtain the MPH degree from the Mailman School of Public Health through the Accelerated MPH one-year program. Students from other universities are required to complete this program and a minimum of 42 public health points in order to earn the MPH.

The admissions process, financial aid, and course registrations for each program are handled separately. It is not necessary, although preferred, to apply to both schools simultaneously because P&S students are permitted to take public health courses under their P&S enrollment through the Major Clinical Year. Beginning with the Class of 2013, students must apply to the Mailman School of Public Health no later than January 5 following the Major Clinical Year. For P&S students, it is extremely important to discuss their plans with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Mailman Office of Admissions, as well as the academic director of the relevant Mailman School of Public Health department.

All applicants will need to complete the common application for Schools of Public Health (SOPHAS). A SOPHAS application fee and a personal statement about the student’s public health goals are required in addition to three letters of recommendation, one of which must be from the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, as well as transcript and resume.

To graduate with both degrees, the registration requirements of the College of Physicians and Surgeons for the MD degree and of the Mailman School of Public Health for the MPH degree must be met. Students cannot be registered in P&S and MSPH during the same term. They can take MSPH courses under their P&S registration, keeping in mind they will be registered for a minimum of two semesters (one full academic year) and complete at least 32 points. A student in the dual program must:

  • Register as a medical student at P&S for four academic years of full-time work, paying full tuition and fees to P&S, and
  • Earn at least 35 academic points from the Mailman School of Public Health, and receive advanced standing of 10 points for relevant courses in the P&S curriculum, for a total of 45 points needed to earn the MPH degree. Of the 35 points earned in courses at the MSPH, payment of tuition made to MSPH must account for a minimum of 30 points over one academic year (Fall-Spring), while five points can be covered by tuition paid to P&S.

The student will meet the 45-point MPH requirement as follows:

  • Register as a matriculated student in the MSPH for a minimum of one academic year (Fall-Spring), paying the MSPH flat rate tuition. The student must register at the MSPH for the Fall term in the year of full-time enrollment, which must occur before the start of the fourth year of P&S. For the points to be credited to the Mailman School, the student must be an accepted Mailman School of Public Health student.
  • Cross register from P&S for any additional required points (for an overall minimum of 35 points) of public health courses. Tuition for these courses will be covered by tuition paid to P&S. This type of cross registration can take place during all Fall and Spring semesters except during the Major Clinical Year. Summer courses must be registered through the MSPH and must be paid for.
  • Choose from the medical school's required and elective curriculum courses which also meet the criteria of the MPH degree program, for up to an equivalent of 10 academic points, with tuition covered by the regular P&S tuition fee.

To summarize tuition requirements: The dual degree student, throughout the four years, will pay the usual full tuition and fees to P&S. In addition, the student will pay tuition to the School of Public Health for at least one academic year (two full-time semesters, Fall-Spring, completing at least 30 points). Students cannot be registered in two schools at Columbia University simultaneously.

Dual degree students, in consultation with their advisors, develop individually tailored programs that integrate the educational components of the MD and MPH curricula, involving shared and mutually accepted elective courses and time periods. These individual programs are arranged within the following curricular framework:

The MD curriculum at the College of Physicians and Surgeons is a full-time four-year program. Throughout the preclinical years, during non-scheduled hours and in the summer recess following the first year, medical students are permitted to take courses outside the medical curriculum. The final 14 months are primarily for electives, permitting the use of the resources of the entire University and its affiliated institutions for individually tailored programs in basic science, clinical, and interdisciplinary areas. A requirement of this elective year is that each student work five months or more in clinical electives.

The MPH curriculum at the Mailman School of Public Health is arranged by academic terms - three terms per calendar year. Required course credits are typically distributed as follows:

  1. 10 points shared with the medical curriculum
  2. 18-21 points of required public health core/shared curriculum courses
  3. 11-12 points of discipline specific or cross-disciplinary public health courses (requirements and electives vary by department and program)

1. Courses Shared with the Medical Curriculum:
The 10 points to be shared jointly by the two degree programs are arranged as follows:

  • Students will receive a total of 10 MSPH points for required P&S courses that cover areas such as primary care, the health care system, and parasitic diseases.
  • The dual degree student will choose a number of appropriate senior electives in the usual way from the P&S elective catalog, in consultation with P&S and Public Health advisors. Of the current final-year elective offerings, a significant number are clearly relevant to the objectives of the dual degree as indicated by the course description, the subject area, the teaching approach, and the professional orientation of the course faculty. The following examples are purely illustrative:
    • PB02P Global Health
    • PE02P Adolescent Medicine
    • EM60R Emergency Medicine
    • PS62R Psychiatry: Community Mental Health
    • OB01P Family Planning and Reproductive Health
    • SOO2P Research in Social & Ethical Aspects of Medicine
    • FM90P Family and Community Medicine Research
    • FM03P Primary Care: Indian Health Service
    • PE16P IGH: Community Health in the Dominican Republic
    • PE03P Male Adolescent/Young Adult Health
    • PE14P Pediatrics: Clinical Ethics
    • PE44H Pediatrics: Ethnic Community Practice
    • MD11P Women’s Health

Many of the other electives listed under "Ambulatory Care" are also appropriate. Points toward the MPH degree will be assigned by the School of Public Health to the pertinent electives chosen by the dual degree student. Point values will depend on course content, length, hours, nature of work, and academic rigor. It is important to note that points assigned for final-year electives are part of the 10 points shared with the medical curriculum and do not contribute to the 35 points of required and elective points that must be earned in the Mailman School of Public Health.

In some departments at the MSPH, these electives can serve as the basis for the student’s practicum.

2. Public Health Core/Shared Curriculum Courses:
Required MPH courses include the integrated Core semester, the Integration of Science and Practice course, and the Leadership and Innovation course.

3. Public Health Elective Courses and Concentration:
Each dual degree student, in consultation with his or her MSPH departmental advisor, selects an area of public health concentration from among the following: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, General Public Health, Health Policy and Management, Population and Family Health, or Sociomedical Sciences.  For a variety of reasons, most dual degree students select the General Public Health concentration, although a number of other options remain available. Elective courses in all the areas are generally available to students in General Public Health.  

The global health certificate program is not available to dual degree students, though General Public Health students may be able to pursue a global health curriculum and/or a global-health themed short-term practicum placement in consultation with the Office of Education.

4. Timing of Public Health Courses:
Dual degree students will complete the integrated Core semester, the first semester of the Integration of Science and Practice (ISP) course, and possibly a department-based disciplinary course in the first Fall semester. They will then complete the second semester of ISP, the Leadership and Innovation course, and disciplinary and cross-disciplinary required and elective courses in the following Spring semester. All students should take the final semester of the ISP course in the first Summer session (May-June of the full-time year of study).

Students can undertake a public health oriented research project to count as their practicum if approved by their advisers at MSPH. For this experience to count as the practicum, students must already be enrolled in the MSPH.

Dual degree students may take one or two evening courses (if offered) during the Fall semester of their second year at P&S. During the Major Clinical Year there is little, if any, opportunity for MSPH coursework.

In the Differentiation & Integration curriculum at P&S, the remaining points needed for the MPH can be obtained through courses that are carefully scheduled in coordination with clinical rotations. One way to earn some of these points is to work with a School of Public Health faculty member to design a tutorial that builds on the clinical experiences involved in one or more final-year P&S electives. This generally involves reading assignments, research or analysis, and a paper that go beyond the usual requirements of the clinical elective.

5. Sample Courses of Study:
Please refer to the sample programs we have on our website for the Accelerated MPH program.

A practicum is usually required for the MPH degree. Some students are able to meet the practicum requirement by working throughout the academic year in combination with their studies, while others may pursue practice opportunities during their winter break. Students also undertake the practicum in the summer following coursework and can combine it with a final-year elective in Public Health. Public Health points are not given for the practicum requirement. 

The key to the length of the combined program is the point in time when the medical student decides to pursue a dual MD/MPH. The earlier the decision, the greater the opportunity to use free and elective time in the medical school curriculum to plan an integrated educational experience, and to complete all requirements for both degree within five years. Failure to complete either the MD or MPH part of the dual program will not necessarily jeopardize the successful completion of the other part. Should a dual degree student not complete P&S, the MPH degree cannot be awarded unless the student completes the 42 points required for a single degree in the accelerated program.

Each MD/MPH student is assigned an individual faculty advisor in each school.

Due to the immense interest in global health issues among dual degree students enrolled in the MD/MPH program, the Mailman School has developed a proposal for dual degree students that is consistent with both the MPH curriculum launched in Fall 2012 and the ability of students to concentrate on global health issues while completing their MPH degree requirements. Here are the key features of the program:

  • P&S students who would like to pursue the global health-focused MPH dual degree program should apply to the Mailman School to complete the accelerated program (one-year curriculum) in General Public Health (GPH), completing 35-42 academic points during their year of full-time enrollment at Mailman. 
  • Candidates who are admitted and enroll in the program will complete the module on Globalization and Global Health as part of the required core curriculum in the Fall semester, and up to one elective course approved by their GPH program advisor.
  • In the second semester of study (the Spring term), candidates will enroll in P6811, Priorities in Global Health, as well at least three other global health courses, selected from the following list:
    • P8820: Advanced Topics in Global Health
    • P8311: Basic and Applied Nutritional Science: Emerging Global Issues
    • P8612: Eliminating Pediatric AIDS: Towards a Global Approach
    • P8406: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases I
    • P8430: Public Health Surveillance
    • P8469: Epidemiology of Malaria
    • P8739: Global Health, Human Rights, and Ethics
    • P8601: Public Health Program Planning
    • P8620: Protection of Children in War and Disaster
    • P8687: Public Health and Humanitarian Action
    • P8371: Public Health Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    • P8725: Global AIDS Policy
    • P8643: Maternal and Child Health in International Primary Health Care
    • P8685: Migration and Health: Global and Local Perspectives
    • P8625: Communicable Disease in Complex Emergencies
    • P8741: Structural Approaches to Global Health
    • P8830: HIV and Health Systems: Implementing Chronic Disease Programs in Resource-Limited Settings
    • P8676: Epidemiological Methods for Measuring Human Rights Abuses
  • All candidates must complete a global health practicum of at least one month’s duration (a minimum of 140 hours). The practicum experience may be in a clinical setting, but must constitute a public health project (e.g., service-based research/evaluation, health education, advocacy, program development/implementation). The practicum will be developed in consultation with program leaders at Mailman and at P&S, and can be performed at an international site or a domestic one that serves immigrant populations.
  • Practicum placements will be coordinated and overseen primarily by faculty at P&S, with ‘Scope of Work’ review by both schools prior to initiation of the practicum.