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Dual Degree - worth extra cost?

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Hi all,

I'm applying to MPH programs for this fall, and was also interested in MPP/MURP programs. I'm wondering if people have opinions on dual degree with MPH and MPP/MUP programs. I'd like to have the flexibility and extra skills that come with the other degrees (I considered applying to programs in all, but the application process was getting to be too much and just decided on an MPH for the time being), but I'm conflicted on whether the extra cost is actually worth it.

 

Does anyone have experience with getting dual degree - either in a program now or ideally, already have finished, and have insight into how useful it is?

 

My concern is that an MPH is 1. too limiting/not applicable to sectors outside of public health, and I'm not really set on public health specifically for my career. I like that public health can take a holistic view, but I also worry that while public health as a sector values skills/knowledge from other sectors, I'm not sure other sectors necessarily would value an MPH. basically - I'm wondering if an MPH is applicable outside of public health, in the way that I think a planning or policy background would also be useful in public health.

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I spoke with someone who graduated with a MCP and is now the director of housing in city government about this exact question. I am also interested in a MPH/MA in urban planning and wanted to know whether spending extra time to get the dual degree was worth it. In short, he said yes because the field of city/urban planning is so interdisciplinary that it's beneficial to look at it from multiple perspectives. More and more public health and urban planning are becoming linked and professionals are starting to recognize that. However, he also said that getting one or the other only wouldn't necessarily make you less competitive either. If you got an MPH but concentrated in urban health or urban planning, or if you got an MA in urban planning with a focus on public health, you still might gain the same knowledge but more pragmatically, by spending less time and money in/for school. So I guess it really depends on your goals and what you'd like to do afterward. I think they open different doors and it can only be an advantage to have both especially if you're not sure about either public health or urban planning, but only if you're willing to spend that extra time and cost. Hope that helps.

Edited by moonwave11

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Most of my jobs as a public health student have been in applied public health/built environment interventions. My experience has been that there is recognition on both sides that public health and planning professionals should be working together. Environmental, and particularly built environment, determinants of health are a big topic in public health right now. On the other side I think planning professionals, particularly in parks and transportation fields, are recognizing that a lot of the benefits of their services can be framed as public health benefits. Depending how you spend your time, a public health degree can also help you with more transferable skills such as program evaluation and data analysis that are valuable regardless of the topic area you studied to get them.

If you will be attending a university that also has a school of urban planning, you probably have a lot of options. You could do a dual degree, but there may also be certificates in either your SPH or urban planning that would be open to you. Your school may have contacts that would help you do your practicum or internship with an organization that has a planning focus. Or you could just choose to spend all your elective hours in the other college.

IMO exposure to the other field (such as through taking a couple of their core courses and choosing an interdisciplinary practicum) and picking up a technical skill such as GIS will give you a lot of value for your time without necessarily needing to get two degrees. I spent a little time in my school's college of urban planning to learn GIS for my thesis research, and even that short exposure has been really valuable. It really helped me see how closely related the two fields are, and I got a second research assistantship based on the GIS skill before the semester was even over.

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