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MPH and PhD in Public Health

Discussion in 'Public Health Degrees (Masters and Doctoral)' started by Frankwong, 09.17.04.

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  1. Frankwong

    Frankwong Junior Member


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    I would like to know what is the difference between MPH and PhD in Public Health ?
  2. 2thDk

    2thDk Yes, that's my wife! 7+ Year Member

    Chicago, IL

    A lot of school...one is a master's degree and the other is a doctorate degree.
  3. DrMom

    DrMom Official Mom of SDN Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    wherever I go, there I am
    Attending Physician
    I wouldn't do the PhD unless you want to get into public health research & teaching. For anything else, the MPH should be sufficient.
  4. Heal&Teach

    Heal&Teach cogito ergo sum 7+ Year Member

    Resident [Any Field]
    I would agree with what some of flindophile said, but adding that the MPH in and of itself may serve as a terminal degree, thus making many MPH recipients "producers" in their own right.

    Academically speaking, the PhD is a more research oriented degree (where one can obtain a PhD in Epidemiology and be a professor who must publish in addition to teaching, the "normal" stuff), while the DrPH is more practice-oriented. However, there are many DrPHs out there who function in the exact manner as the PhDs in Public Health. However, having the DrPH just distinguishes you as someone who is involved in public health, whereas the PhD would usually call for more explanation (i.e., you might find yourself explaining that the MPH isn't the "end-all, be-all" to people outside the public health world; most people probably don't even know that the DrPH exists).

    In addition, depending on the school that you go to, DrPH/PhD candidates often do have to take advanced coursework, usually no more than a year (but I do have a friend at Hopkins who is into her second year of coursework, and they're on a trimester system!). From many of my friends that I went to graduate school with who are current PhD students (and thus have MPHs and have taken two full years of coursework already), many schools are self-proclaimed to have "differing philosophies". So if you do your MPH at say, Michigan, and go to Chapel Hill for your PhD work, you will most likely have to take many basic courses over so that you can be educated and acclimated to that particular school's philosophy. It seems territorial in the sense that you essentially have to start from scratch, almost like what you learned in your Masters coursework wasn't suffient.

    If you are trying to decide on how far to take the public health degree, I'd advise you to find mentors who are doing the kind of work that you aim to do in your future public health career and find out about their training. More often than not, you'll find that many people, esp. practice-oriented folk, simply have the MPH degree, and don't really need much else to advance their careers.

    Hope this helps,

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