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Physician Associate Program and Public Health (MMSc/MPH)

Recognizing the relationship between the physician assistants and public health, the YSM Physician Associate Program (PA) and the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) offer a joint degree graduate program. This option is especially oriented to individuals who wish to combine careers in physician assistant practice and public health that might involve direct practice, planning, research, and policy-making in a variety of health care systems in the public health sector. This joint degree option requires three years and awards a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) and a Master of Public Health (MPH).

A joint degree is more than simply a list of courses taken at both Schools. It is an integrated educational program designed to achieve a combination of the two programs in a way that is complementary to both, while protecting the integrity of each separate program. This program of study is open to all PA students. However, public health study is limited to one of the following four YSPH departments: Chronic Disease Epidemiology (CDE), Health Policy (HP), Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), or Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases (EMD).


Plans of study should be reviewed with each student on an individual basis. The two schools have made accommodations in order to make possible the completion of the joint courses of study in three years.

Joint Program Sequence

All joint degree students must start at YSPH and take a minimum of 6 MPH core and department specific courses in the fall, a minimum of 6 MPH core and department specific courses in the spring as well as, and complete their internship/public health practice experience in the summer. For students in the Health Policy department, the capstone requirement must be fulfilled in the spring of their first year of YSPH study.

The second year of study runs from fall through summer and is completed at the PA program. During the fall of the PA year 1 (non-Health Policy) students are exempt from Research I. It is during this free time that (non-Health Policy) students should register for 1 additional course at YSPH.

The third year of study begins the clinical year and runs from fall through summer. In the third year, the summer term is always with the PA program, while formal enrollment for fall and spring is split between the schools – one semester at YSPH, one semester at PA – for tuition and financial aid purposes. Most curriculum requirements completed in year 3 will be for the PA program. Remaining YSPH requirements will typically include the 2-credit YSPH thesis (EPH 525) for non-Health Policy students, and anywhere from 1-3 elective credits depending on the department and how many credits were completed toward the MPH before year 3. While students register for the thesis course in the spring term, please note that there are important YSPH thesis deadlines in the fall term as well.

It is most likely during this same period that students will complete their PA Thesis I month with an additional discussion with the Clinical Coordinator as to when their PA Thesis II month will take place. Typically, PA/MPH students schedule their thesis month I and II between December of year 2 and July of year 3.

After year 3, students are required to complete one more fall semester comprised of clinical rotations completed in the PA program.

Course planning for joint degree candidates should be carried out in consultation with the appropriate educational officers, as well as faculty advisors at PA and YSPH, and must satisfy the following general requirements:

The Public Health Component

Joint degree candidates must complete all of the core MPH courses as described in the School of Public Health Bulletin. All MPH students must complete a set of core courses:

  • EPH 100 – Professional Skills Series (no credit)
  • EPH 505 - Biostatistics in Public Health (not required for BIS)
  • EPH 507 - Social Justice and Health Equity
  • EPH 508 - Foundations of Epidemiology and Public Health
  • EPH 510 - Health Policy and Health Care Systems
  • EPH 513 - Major Health Threats

Students must also complete all departmental requirements, an internship/ public health practice experience and the thesis/ capstone course.

The following exceptions to the standard YSPH curriculum apply to joint degree students:

The total number of YSPH course units required for the joint degree is reduced from 20 to 15. The MPH thesis counts as two course units. If a student obtains an exemption for a required course, an elective must be substituted; an exemption does not reduce the total number of required course units below 15.

Joint degree students are required to complete an internship in public health practice the summer after their first YSPH academic year. The YSPH Committee on Academic Progress reviews each student’s progress toward the public health component of the joint degree.

The Physician Associate Component

Joint degree candidates must complete all PA required courses with the exception of Research I and Research III. Some courses completed at YSPH will meet requirements at the PA program. For example:

EPH 505/BIS 505 Introduction to Statistical Thinking I and II meets requirements for PA Research I. CDE students are required to take BIS 505 as a departmental requirement. SBS and EMD students have a choice between BIS 505 and one or two other research courses. Therefore, SBS and EMD students should choose BIS 505 of these options to fulfill the PA Research I requirement. HP students must take BIS 505 as an elective, since it is typically not required of their department.

The YSPH thesis requirement satisfies requirements for the PA Thesis Project.

PA requires a thesis project for all students, with one thesis project fulfilling both the PA and MPH thesis requirements. Those in the YSPH Health Policy concentration are not required to complete a thesis for their MPH, so instead must take both an MPH Capstone Course and complete a PA Thesis Project to fulfill the culminating experience for both programs.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Joint degree candidates will be responsible for remitting all terms of tuition to YSPH. The terms are academic year 1, and either fall/spring semester of year 3. The Joint degree candidate is also responsible for remitting all terms of tuition to PA. The terms are academic year 2, either fall/spring semester of year 3, and fall of year 4.

Tuition is paid to the school where the student is in residence. Students requesting financial aid during a particular semester must make arrangements with the school charging tuition during that semester. For students with dependents, who are eligible for the Enhanced Family Medical Benefit Program (EFMB), fee assistance will only apply during the enrollment period at the PA Program.

Tuition, fees, and financial aid policies may differ between the two schools. Financial aid applications will be judged by each school according to its own policy. Students should consult the financial aid officers in each school for a description of their respective policies.