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Is a JD/MPH worth it?

2catmom2catmom 0 replies1 threads New Member
I'm an undergrad at Rice University in Houston, TX. My goal is pretty specific; I want to do fieldwork in epidemiology for a number of years (infectious disease epi...like what EIP does) and then enter global health policy (WHO). On that note, I've been seriously considering JD/MPH dual degrees so that I can 1. have the experience for epi and 2. have the law and policy background for the global health portion of my career.

Would it be better to do a JD/MPH together or get an MPH then go back for a law degree, if the law degree is necessary at all? I've gotten wildly different advice from person to person; some say I'll be overqualified for public health/epi positions at the start of my career, while others say that I would be really competitive. Ultimately I know the law degree won't be a wasted one and altogether it'll be expensive, but I want to get insight.
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Replies to: Is a JD/MPH worth it?

  • PublisherPublisher 11892 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited July 28
    Hard to see any value in getting a law degree if you want to work in public health / infectious diseases area.

    Which law school & university offers such a joint degree or is this just a degree combination that you decided upon ? I ask because if others have completed a dual degree like this, then you can research their careers.
    edited July 28
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  • blossomblossom 10550 replies9 threads Senior Member
    These days there are only two reasons to get a JD- to practice law (which includes becoming a judge) or to become a law professor. Just because half the folks in DC who do policy have JD's does NOT mean that going to law school is necessary in advancing their policy careers. It reflects a time when a smart college grad who didn't know what he/she wanted to do could hide out in law school for three years while a plan unfolded.

    Now it's different and law school is brutally expensive.

    What insight do you think you'll get in law school? You'll be taking civil procedure, criminal procedure, etc. along with every other law student.

    If you are hankering for skills which will set you apart, do a deep dive in big data or another masters in statistics. Public Health is becoming one giant dataset problem, and the folks who can actually suss reality out of a regression will be in short supply AND highly employable.

    That's where the action is going to be in Public Health, unless you are hankering for a PhD in virology or similar.....
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  • BeaudreauBeaudreau 1164 replies39 threads Senior Member
    In addition to being ridiculously expensive, law school is brutally competitive, and a tremendous grind. It will change you in many ways, not all of them good. (And I am speaking as lawyer who has been practicing for 35 years.)

    I got an MBA from a top school after my JD from a bottom-tier school. Business school was actually fun for the most part. Law school was not fun, not even remotely.
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  • juilletjuillet 12849 replies165 threads Super Moderator
    You definitely do not need a JD to do this, and like others, I would advise against getting a JD as it's quite expensive for an unnecessary degree.

    Epidemiology is one of the fields you can get an MPH in; health policy is another. At many schools of public health, you can do a joint concentration in epidemiology and health policy (either officially or unofficially). Then the years of epidemiological fieldwork experience will help you get the global health policy position.

    There are also MPA/MPH programs that I think would be more useful and relevant to you. You don't need to do that either - the MPH by itself would be sufficient, paired with work experience - but it'd be shorter and cheaper than doing a JD/MPH.

    There are also MPA programs focused on health policy, so I'd look into those (https://wagner.nyu.edu/education/degrees/mpa-health-policy-management).
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