Joint Degree in Law and Public Health

The J.D./Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program is offered jointly by Dickinson Law and Penn State College of Medicine, part of Penn State Health in Hershey, PA. This joint degree offers students an accelerated course of study of law and public health, enabling them to successfully enter the complex and ever-changing fields of public health and health law. Students pursuing this degree will gain advanced knowledge of legal matters relating to public health; use legal tools to solve public health challenges; and train for a career in public health research, policy, and advocacy; health law; or environmental law.

Students will have two academic advisors: one from the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and one from Dickinson Law.

Apply for the J.D./DrPH Program

First, students will need to apply to the J.D. program at Dickinson Law. After being accepted to and matriculating, students are eligible to submit a Penn State graduate application for admission into the DrPH program during their first through fourth semesters of law school. The program officially begins in the fall semester following the academic year in which the student applies.

Admissions Requirements

J.D./DrPH students must meet the admissions requirements of both programs, and each program makes its own admissions decision. Learn more about Dickinson Law’s admissions requirements. Learn more about the College of Medicine’s admissions requirements.

When to Apply

The application process opens in August. Students must apply by January 15 to attend in the fall. Students will receive an admissions decision by April 15. Information on Dickinson Law’s admissions process can be found here.

Degree Requirements

J.D./DrPH degree requirements are the same as the requirements of the independent DrPH Program. Students in the J.D./DrPH program fulfill all requirements to earn a J.D. from Dickinson Law and a DrPH from Penn State College of Medicine.


Once enrolled in the joint degree program, students must complete the first-year J.D. curriculum before enrolling in any classes in the DrPH curriculum. After the first year, 12 credits of J.D. coursework may be double-counted toward the DrPH degree. Up to nine credits of DrPH coursework may be double-counted toward the J.D. degree.


DrPH students must complete a minimum of 45 credits of coursework plus 15 credits of doctoral research and advanced field experience beyond a master’s degree. Learn more here.


The Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic is built into the curriculum to reinforce students’ academic and professional development and their ability to become competent in the practice of public health and health law.

  • IHCLN 997: Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic (3 credits)


All students participate in a capstone project—a unique opportunity to gain professional experience and apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world public health settings. Previous capstone projects have included The Impact of the National Essential Medicine Policy in the Context of Current Health Care Reform in China; Increasing Equity, Quality and Access to Healthcare: Initiation of a Telehealth Program in a Rural Indian Community; and A Plan to Increase the Rural Primary Care Physician Workforce in Pennsylvania.

  • PHS 894: Capstone Experience (3 credits)


Students may select from a pre-approved list of electives or propose alternate electives for consideration and approval by the program. In addition to fulfilling the 18 credit elective requirement by selecting courses from the pre-approved list or by proposing alternate courses for consideration, students may specialize in a track for depth of training by selecting a specific configuration of pre-approved electives. Students will fulfill up to nine elective credits by double counting J.D. coursework to the DrPH degree program.


Contact Information

For questions about the J.D./DrPH program, contact Professor Medha D. Makhlouf at or 717-241-3521.

For more information about applying to Dickinson Law’s J.D. program, contact Bekah Saidman-Krauss, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, at or 717-240-5207.