Fischer Arts Library
Fischer Arts Library

Admissions Information

Prospective students who are matriculating into any PhD program at the University might have the option of applying to the MPH Program for Joint Degree status, depending on the rules of that PhD program. Students apply separately to each program and each program makes an independent admission’s evaluation. If a joint-degree applicant lacks sufficient relevant public health experience, admission to MPH will be partially contingent on acceptance into the other graduate program. Joint-degree applicants are advised to apply to the MPH program as early in the academic year as possible, and to indicate on each application that they have applied, or have been admitted, to another program. Please note: students may have exploratory conversations with faculty/advisors/staff of each program before they apply; however, any curriculum planning prior to admission is considered tentative and will be re-evaluated after admission.

Before or upon admission to the MPH program, the student will obtain approval from their home school (primary program) chair/director to pursue a joint-degree program with the MPH. The program chair/director will sign the Joint Degree Approval Form to indicate his/her approval. This form will be kept in the students' file in the MPH program office.


The student will develop a proposed plan of study indicating fulfillment of both degree program's requirements. This proposal will be submitted to the MPH Program Curriculum Committee for approval. Both parties will review the proposal, make necessary revisions, and agree upon and approve a final plan of study. The MPH Director will also review the plan of study and discuss tuition-related issues with the student and, if applicable, with the financial office of the student’s primary program of study. The financial office(s) will make the student aware of the financial implications of pursuing the joint-degree and the student’s responsibilities. The agreed-upon plan of study will be filed in the MPH office and can be updated whenever plans change. 

In order for a student to receive an MPH degree in a joint-degree program, the student must complete 14 cu's towards the MPH degree broken down into 9 cu’s required + 5 cu's electives.

  • The 14 cu's required for the MPH program must include at least 10 CUs taken under the PUBH prefix (the MPH core plus one PUBH elective). To facilitate completion of the MPH as a joint degree option, the MPH will allow PhD applicants to apply for a waiver for up to two equivalent courses in the 10 CU core. PhD applicants are also required to complete 125 hours of a public health fieldwork/practice experience. Requests for waivers of course work must be submitted in writing and do not apply to the capstone requirement or the fieldwork requirement. 

  • The curriculum plan for each PhD/MPH applicant must be reviewed and approved by the MPH curriculum committee. 

  • Required Courses: Equivalent courses can be accepted to meet MPH core requirements if the student has already taken an equivalent course or is required to take an equivalent course (e.g. NURS 500, NURS 570, EPID 520) as part of their primary program of study. This relates to the equivalent courses taken at Penn and does not apply to the capstone requirement.

  • Up to four (4) courses from the primary program of study can be accepted as electives for the MPH. The number of acceptable electives will depend on the number of CU’s exchanged for MPH core courses (if any) and on the relevance of the courses to the student’s program of study in public health.

  • Students may overlap the capstone culminating experience with their dissertation/thesis/practicum/fieldwork, but they must satisfy all requirements of the capstone, including registration in and attendance at PUBH 508 seminars.

  • Students must satisfy the degree requirements of both the primary program of study and the MPH program of study.