University of Memphis Creates JD/MPH Degree Program

Contact: Gabrielle Maxey

May 8, 2015 - Public health, public policy and issues of health disparities are at the forefront of many of America's unresolved social problems. Rising health care costs pose a growing threat to the economy, while for some access to even the most basic health care is tenuous. Lawyers play a central role in society's approach to these public health issues. However, their effectiveness is frequently limited by an inadequate knowledge of public health matters. To close that educational gap, the University of Memphis has created the JD/MPH program.

The program offers students the opportunity to pursue JD (juris doctor) and MPH (master of public health) degrees simultaneously. Students will have the ability to complete both degrees in four years of full-time study, a year less than it would take to complete each degree separately.

The goal of the JD/MPH program is to prepare and train students to apply law and policy to benefit public health. The dual degree allows law students to combine in-depth advocacy and policy skills learned in the UofM's JD program with the population health perspective gained in the MPH program to address policy and advocacy needs at the community level.

"This interdisciplinary professional education supports the training of highly competent public health lawyers, as well as public health professionals skilled in advocacy and public health policy," said Dr. Marian Levy, assistant dean of Students and Public Health Practice in the School of Public Health. "This dual degree program addresses community needs related to environmental and social justice, access to health care and other pressing public health concerns."

Amy Campbell, associate law professor and director of the Institute for Health & Law Policy, said, "We're delighted by this formal partnership and the commitment to interdisciplinary education that it represents. The JD/MPH dual degree option opens up for law students interested in public health law – a growth area within health law – an invaluable opportunity for deepened engagement with public health professional colleagues, with the hope that this enhances their appreciation for and skills in developing evidence-informed health policy. It also reaffirms the institute's mission of 'using law to advance health' for the benefit of our Memphis community."