Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/MPH Information Session

MD/Master of Public Health (MPH)

NOTE: Public Health Scholarships exist for Penn medical students interested in this dual degree.

The MD/Master of Public Health (MD/MPH) program is designed for Perelman medical students interested in studying medicine with a special focus on population or community health. The goal of the program is to provide strong interdisciplinary training to individuals with a variety of career interests including: clinical practice, disease prevention, health behavior, health education, research, implementation science, and policy making. The information on this website describes the admissions process, curriculum, advising, and financial policy for the MD/MPH program.

Please note that these guidelines apply only to Perelman medical students. If you are a medical student at another institution, you may apply for the MPH program directly, but the admissions, curriculum and financial information listed here will not apply. Medical students from other institutions will typically need two years of full time study to complete the MPH program, and will be asked to provide verification that their medical school has granted a two year leave of absence to complete the program.

Information Gathering

The first step of the process is to gather information regarding the MD/MPH dual degree. Interested students have several resources:

  • MPH Program — the Master of Public Health program website provides detailed information on the program and application process, as well as, Fieldwork experiences and Capstone projects.
  • MD/MPH Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds an MD/MPH Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the August 28, 2019 PPT presentation.
  • Dr. Hillary Nelson — Penn medical students are encouraged to contact Dr. Nelson to discuss the Master of Public Health program and learn how to best take advantage of the PSOM Additional Course Policy.
  • Amy Nothelfer — students are encouraged to contact Amy, Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master's program.
  • MD/MPH Student Directory — Perelman medical students are encouraged to stop by the Combined Degree Office to pick up a copy of the MD/MPH Student Directory, which provides information on the current MD/MPH students. Current students are a great resource of information on the program.
  • Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Financial Aid Office — As soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.

Additional Public Health resources on Penn’s campus:

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Advising

Perelman medical students who are interested in applying for the MD/MPH program are encouraged to contact Dr. Hillary Nelson, Director of the MPH program. She can advise about what MPH courses to take as part of the PSOM Additional Course Policy prior to entering the program. Once accepted into the MD/MPH program, students meet with Dr. Nelson to develop a curriculum plan. As needed, she will also refer students to members of the MD/MPH faculty, including Mario DeMarco, MD, MPH, who are available to provide career guidance, advice, and counseling.

After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must notify Helene Weinberg, Registrar for the PSOM, of his/her intention to pursue the MD/MPH.

Students should also meet with a staff member in the PSOM Financial Aid Office to discuss financial issues.

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Curriculum & Program Structure

Program Requirements:

The following course units are required for the MPH degree :

  • 9 required core course units
  • 5 Electives (two of which are MD curriculum transfer credits*)

Required Course Units:               14

* Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/MPH program will earn one transfer credit for MOD320 Health Care Systems (in place of elective) + one transfer credit for Doctoring (in place of elective) in the MD curriculum.

Students can choose electives that both satisfy their MPH degree and their interests.  Of their three electives, one of them must be a PUBH-prefix elective associated with their track within the MPH degree. The second elective must also have a PUBH-prefix. The third elective can be from outside the MPH program, as long as it has a strong public health focus.

Timing:

Perelman medical students interested in the MPH program are strongly encouraged to utilize the PSOM Additional Course Policy to take up to three MPH courses during their first three semesters of medical school, so they do not incur tuition expenses for those MPH courses later. Students will need to take each course for a grade (i.e. not pass/fail) for it to count toward the MD/MPH. However, students should note that if they do not take MPH classes in the first three semesters, we will work with them to create a plan of study that would allow them to complete the MD/MPH in 5 years.

Completion of the two degrees separately would require six years, but the MD/MPH can be completed in five years with careful planning. Students are enrolled in the MD program full time for the first three years and in MPH course work full time during year 4. Then in year 5, students will do a semester in the MPH program and a semester of Medical School – students can choose to do either one in Fall and the other in Spring. The sample plans of study below provide details about the timing of MPH course work for those who are familiar with the PSOM curriculum. The MPH plan of study will be individualized for each student.

MD/MPH Degree Completion Time:               5 Years (with careful planning)

MD/MPH Sample Study Plans:

The following are possible scheduling scenarios that an MD/MPH student might follow. They are based on the assumption that students will complete the requirements for two transfer credits.

Sample 1: Begin PUBH courses Fall of 1st Year
(Note: PSOM Additional Course Policy pays for 3 MPH courses in the first 3 MD primary semesters.)

Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct Loan Eligibility (2019-20)
1

1 PUBH cu
MD curriculum

1 PUBH cu
MD curriculum

PH fieldwork completed** MD Tuition Fall & Spring (and MPH tuition for PUBH courses) $42,722
2

1 PUBH cu
MD curriculum

MD curriculum MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring (and MPH tuition for PUBH course) $47,167
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
4 3 or 4 PUBH cus 3 or 4 PUBH cus   MPH Tuition Fall, Spring & Summer $33,000
5 Residency interviewing
3 PUBH cus*
Residency interviewing
MD curriculum*
  1 semester MPH Tuition;
1 semester MD Tuition
Fall: $16,500;
Spring: $20,250

* These semesters are interchangeable, but we strongly recommend that students choose to do their MPH courses in a semester where they will not have a heavy residency interview schedule. Students need to notify each School in the Spring of year 4, so they are billed correctly.
** Please contact Elaine Weigelt prior to starting fieldwork.

Sample 2: Begin PUBH courses Fall of 4th Year
(Note: Student pays for 3 MPH courses during MPH primary semesters.)

Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct Loan Eligibility (2019-20)
1 MD curriculum MD curriculum   MD Tuition Fall & Spring $42,722
2 MD curriculum MD curriculum MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
4 4-5 PUBH cus
PH fieldwork
4-5 PUBH cus
PH fieldwork
1 PUBH cu
PH fieldwork completed
MPH Tuition Fall, Spring & Summer $33,000
5 Residency interviewing
2-3 PUBH cus*
Residency interviewing
MD curriculum*
  1 semester MPH Tuition;
1 semester MD Tuition
Fall: $16,500;
Spring: $20,250

* These semesters are interchangeable, but we strongly recommend that students choose to do their MPH courses in a semester where they will not have a heavy residency interview schedule. Students need to notify each School in the Spring of year 4, so they are billed correctly.

Medical School Planning:

There are several things to keep in mind when making your Medical School plans:

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Financial Information

Tuition Policy:

Tuition cost for the combined MD/MPH program is far less than the total tuition cost would be if the two degrees were earned separately over six consecutive years. In addition, Public Health Scholarships are available, so the MPH may be obtained at little or no additional cost. MD/MPH students will be charged 7 semesters of medical tuition (6 semesters in years 1-3 and one of the two semesters of year 5). During fall and spring semesters of year 4 and either the fall or spring semester of year 5, MPH tuition will be charged per course unit (unless the student receives a Public Health Scholarship).

Perelman medical students will be charged MPH tuition for:

9 MPH course units (unless the student receives a Public Health Scholarship)

IF 2 transfer credits have been earned via MOD320 and Doctoring,

AND

IF the student has taken 3 university registered credits during their first 3 MD primary semesters, which were paid for by the PSOM Additional Course Policy and counted toward the MPH degree.

Students will be charged for more than 9 course units if either of the above conditions are not met.  Students with questions about credits earned or needed should contact Helene Weinberg, Registrar of the Medical School.

Tuition:               ~$5,000/course. This includes a general University fee and the technical fee. (2018-2019)

Financial Aid:

As soon as a Perelman medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised. Students should contact Michael Sabara, Director of Financial Services.  He is available to help explain program costs, the financial aid process, funding options and how to apply for financial aid. Here are some things to consider:

  1. When paying medical school tuition and registered as a medical student, an individual can retain his/her MD Scholarship (for tuition/living expenses) and has a Direct loan eligibility of $40,500. When a student is registered as a full time MPH student, he/she is not eligible for a MD Scholarship (for tuition/living expenses) and has a Direct loan eligibility of $33,000. In accordance with federal regulations, all sources of aid (loan, scholarships, fellowships,) cannot exceed the student budget.
  1. Direct loans have aggregate limits, which are cumulative and include any undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans borrowed in the Direct loan program. For any semester when a student is a full-time MPH or a full-time MD student, the program aggregate limit is $224,000.
  1. Students who require funds in excess of their Direct loan may apply for a Direct PLUS loan. Details on this loan and instructions for applying can be found at the PSOM Financial Aid Office.
Part-time Student Status Implications:

If a student is considering a Master's curriculum plan that would include one or more part-time Masters semesters, we urge students to consider the following:

Part-time student:

- Is registered for 2 cus or 2.5 cus in a Masters primary semester.

- Is eligible for student loans and loan deferment.

- Part-time students’ health insurance (PSIP) coverage is not mandated by the University.  Students are strongly encouraged to continue health insurance of some kind and are eligible to opt-in to the PSIP plan.  

- To opt-in to PSIP: Online application during open enrollment periods. See https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/psipinsurance.php#Single%20Student%20Rate for open enrollment schedule.

- A student who is full-time in the fall is considered subject to the insurance coverage requirement. This means that they must be enrolled in PSIP or waive out, and that enrollment or waiver is good for 12 months. If this student becomes part-time in the spring term, the PSIP enrollment or the waiver will not be terminated.

- A student who is part-time in the fall, and becomes full-time in the spring term will at that point become subject to the insurance requirement for the spring term and must then waive out or be enrolled for that term. 

- The clinical fee, which provides access to Student Health Services (SHS), is mandatory when on PSIP. A Primary Care Physician (PCP) designation needs to be considered for students who are not opting into SHS and who used SHS before for this purpose. If a part-time student is not enrolled in PSIP, they can opt-in to the clinical fee to have access to SHS. Students can stop by SHS for the application or call the insurance office at 215-746-3535 to request it.

- Is not eligible for Penn gym membership, but the student pays less in fees, which hopefully offsets this expense.

Public Health Scholarships:

The MPH Program has Penn Public Health Scholarships available on a competitive basis. Each scholarship covers 9 cus of MPH tuition. The scholarship is designed to reduce the cost of the dual degree, so the average MD student would have minimal or no additional tuition costs to pursue the MD/MPH. Applications for admission (including scholarships) are due by February 15th of the third year of medical school. Contact Dr. Hillary Nelson for more information.

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Admissions

The admissions process for the MD/MPH program is competitive. A Perelman medical student may apply to the MPH program during his/her first, second or third year. However, Public Health Scholarships are only considered in the third year of medical school and are awarded to rising 4th year students.

Admissions process:
There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the Master of Public Health Program
    Submit the MD/MPH application to Nicholas Van Meter. Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Hillary Nelson prior to applying for more information.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MD/MPH application, Perelman medical students must also submit a Master's Program Registration Form to Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office (6th Floor JMEC).

Application Deadline:               February 15 of third year (for competitive funding); April 15 (for general applications)

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Contacts

For more information about the MD/MPH program, contact:

MPH Program:

Hillary C.M. Nelson, PhD MPH
Director of MPH Program
Assoc. Prof, Perelman School of Medicine
Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
(215) 573-7473
hnelson@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Mario DeMarco, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Perelman School of Medicine
Dept of Family Medicine and Community Health
Mario.DeMarco@uphs.upenn.edu

Moriah Hall, MPH
Associate Director, MPH Program
(215) 573-8841
moriahh@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Perelman School of Medicine:

Amy Nothelfer, MSW, LSW
Associate Director
Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
(215) 746-2359
nothelfe@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Helene Weinberg
Registrar
Office of the Registrar
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
(215) 898-4646
hweinber@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Michael Sabara
Director of Financial Services
Financial Aid Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
215-573-3423
msabara@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

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Disclaimer
Please note that policies concerning admissions, curriculum, funding and financial aid are subject to change. Additionally, though variations in the curriculum may be possible, any changes will need prior approval and may have financial implications. This website is meant to provide preliminary general overview information only. Students interested in or enrolled in the program should seek personal advising from relevant faculty and staff.