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Going back for an MPH after PhD...


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I'm working on my PhD in infectious diseases. My program is very lab-based, but I had the fortune of ending up with a PI who is a bit more "macro-oriented" than the typical faculty in the department. Going into the program, I thought I would be more interested in the very micro-level immunology, disease biology, etc. but in working on my project, which includes broader-scale epidemiological aspects in addition to more lab-based studies, I've discovered that's really what interests me... 

So naturally I'm thinking I want an epidemiology career on down the line instead of being trapped in some microbiology career I hate. While I've taken a couple of epi courses, and my parts of project are technically epidemiology (epi-lite though?), I feel like I'd need to beef up my background/coursework in public health to have a fruitful career. Which might mean going back for an MPH after I'm done with my PhD.

I know going back for a master's is an unusual approach, but how uncommon is it with an MPH? I feel like it's less unusual than going back for something like an MS after a PhD since it is a specialized, applied degree. Also, I know off the top of my head that UNC-CH's Epi MPH is actually designed for applicants who already have a PhD, MD, or DVM (or so I was told)--are there any other programs out there like that?  


Edited by Ascarididae
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  • 3 weeks later...

It's very common for people with doctoral degrees to go back for an MPH, and in fact, there are MPH programs that are specifically designed for people who already hold doctoral degrees. For example, there the accelerated MPH program at Columbia, which is targeted at applicants who either have a doctoral degree or at least 5 years of professional experience. Many times these doctoral degree holders have clinical degrees (MDs, DDSs, DSW, DNP, PhD in clinical psychology, etc.) but often they're doctoral degree holders who potentially want to do broader research in public health and maybe teach at an SPH. Johns Hopkins' MPH programs are actually only designed for doctoral degree holders or people with professional experience. They have another degree, the MHS, that is for people with less experience in the field or straight from undergrad. Harvard has a 45-credit MPH that is designed for experienced professionals or doctoral degree holders. Yale has an 11-month Advanced Professional MPH program. UCLA and Emory both also offer accelerated MPH options for doctoral degree holders.

I think it's likely that most schools of public health have an option for doctoral degree holders to do an accelerated program. Sometimes the name of it is "general public health," sometimes it's buried under their executive MPH program. But I'd check the website of most top schools of PH and poke around a bit.

You may also be interested in the Epidemic Intelligence Service!

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