What Can I Do with a Dual MPH/JD Degree?
By Sam MacArthur

Public health law jobs are the main source of employment for someone who earns a dual MPH/JD degree. The role focuses on improving public health for all populations primarily at the legislative level, and those types of jobs are usually found in health departments at the local, state and federal levels. The degree combines legal training with the basics of public health in order to teach a student how to be effective in their role.

What Kind of Work is There for a Dual MPH/JD Degree?

Working in the field of public health involves invoking existing laws in pursuit of public health issues as well as drafting and refining legislative proposals for governing bodies. The field of public health includes food safety and fortification, ongoing enforcement of existing health laws, ensuring that legal compliance does not unduly burden those who uphold the laws, and advocating for public health policy to help the underserved. 

The dual MPH/JD degree offers the opportunity to further refine the type of public health field you want to engage with. For example: if your passion involves helping women gain access to health and reproductive care, you can select a curriculum that focuses on maternal and child health for the public health portion of the masters degree. In the event that you want to help create legislation that helps the population at large, you can take a curriculum that focuses on health policy and administration. 

Holders of this degree can also find international employment in countries that are seeking to build public health solutions for existing problems. Countries around the world, regardless of first, second or third-world status, tend to have some kind of public health issue that’s not well-known outside their borders. The general causes of the public health issues are often similar to those in other countries, but require someone who can look from the outside-in and help the local communities overcome their particular health issue. 

Can I Find Work in Other Fields With a Dual MPH/JD Degree?

Yes, there are jobs in the private sector that are suited for someone who holds a dual MPH/JD degree. One area of employment is in the private health provider industry such as hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Private health providers have a vested interest in making sure their concerns are heard when there are proposals that can affect their industry. They also have programs that are funded by public aid programs at the federal, state and local levels and need employees that are capable of negotiating the administrative and law side of these programs.

Private employers that accept public aid programs have to be careful with how they bill these programs lest they get audited and fined for improper practices. Someone who has a dual MPH/JD degree is capable of navigating the laws and regulations behind public health programs. They can keep their employer out of trouble with the agency administering the programs by creating internal rules to prevent mistakes that can become costly. 

Other areas of employment for someone with a dual MPH/JD degree can find work at insurance companies, human rights organizations, general counsel in a health facility or work for organizations with a vested interest in public health policies and their challenges.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also created a demand for the dual MPH/JD degree. The ACA has core elements that have remained in place since its passage, but other elements have been tweaked, changed, or outright eliminated. An attorney that has public health training is well-suited to interpreting the ongoing changes to the act and how they apply to the medical industry as a whole. 

Why Should I Get a Dual MPH/JD Degree?

If you have a passion for helping people, are interested in improving health care access for everyone and have an interest in legal studies, you should get a dual MPH/JD degree. The degree is very specific in terms of its education and area of focus and is designed for students who want to get involved in the healthcare field from a legal standpoint. It’s also easier to get public health law jobs with a dual MPH/JD degree than without. Private employers also seek out individuals who carry the dual degree for their specialized knowledge, and tend to offer excellent pay to access the knowledge and skills that someone with a dual MPH/JD degree has earned. 

The dual MPH/JD degree offers entry into an area of law that has the potential to make people’s lives better through improved access to health care. It can also lead to a long-term career working for the government or open up the opportunity to run for public office and craft legislation that’s focused on helping people for the common good.


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