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 and advanced training in law and public health, culminating in the terminal professional degrees in both fields. The curriculum prepares students for evidence-based public health practice, translational science leadership, and legal analysis and advocacy with expertise in health law. Graduates are uniquely positioned to pursue career opportunities in federal, state, and local government, as well as in the non-profit, academic, and private sectors.
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.
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. For students already accepted to Dickinson Law, the College of Medicine will accept LSAT scores in lieu of GRE scores.
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, 24 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. All courses in the DrPH curriculum are three credits unless otherwise noted.
Applicants without a Master of Public Health degree are required to take the following core courses before or concurrently with the DrPH program requirements in order to ensure a firm foundation in discipline-specific public health competency domains:
- PHS 809: Principles of Public Health
- PHS 504: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies
- PHS 520: Principles of Biostatistics
- PHS 550: Principles of Epidemiology
- PHS 571: Health Services Organization and Delivery
Some or all foundation courses may be waived based on previous graduate-level course work or by passing a written exam demonstrating foundational public health knowledge.
All DrPH students take the following core courses:
- PHS 575: Integrative Seminar in Public Health Leadership
- PHS 576: Integrative Seminar in Public Health Policy
- PHS 577: Integrative Seminar in Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health
- PHS 554: Statistical Methods in Public Health I
- PHS 555: Statistical Methods in Public Health II
- ADTED 550: Qualitative Research in Adult Education
- PHS 806: Public Health Ethics
- PHS 892: Directed Studies in Public Health
Students may (1) select from a pre-approved list of electives or (2) propose alternate electives for consideration and approval by the program in order to fulfill the 21-credit elective requirement. At least nine elective credits must fall within the Health Systems Organization and Policy track. Students may fulfill up to 21 elective credits by double counting J.D. coursework to the DrPH degree program.
Upon completing all core and most track elective courses, students will take comprehensive exams to ensure they meet DrPH core and track program competencies. Comprehensive exams will be overseen and evaluated by each student’s doctoral committee.
All students complete at least six credits of Advanced Field Experience, which bridges professional academic preparation and advanced public health practice. The Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic fulfills four of these credits and 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. Although not required, students will be encouraged to link their advanced field experiences to their integrative doctoral research project.
- EXPCL 904: Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic (4 credits)
- PHS 895B: Advanced Field Experience
Coursework in Integrative Doctoral Research will enable all students to complete two publishable-quality manuscripts on public health practice and a doctoral portfolio. Components of the doctoral portfolio may include, but are not limited to, research (e.g., publications, conference presentations), teaching (academic and non-academic, community-based teaching), and field and other service learning experiences. These components of the DrPH integrative experience demonstrate students’ competencies in data and analysis, communication, systems thinking, leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving. Written and oral presentation of this work is required.
- PHS 896A: Integrative Doctoral Research I (6 credits)
- PHS 896B: Integrative Doctoral Research II (3 credits)