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Exploring Combined Degrees

What do you think about when you think of the word “medical doctor”? Do you think of treating patients? Or, possibly, prescribing medications? In reality, the field of medicine can be complemented with other fields as well, enhancing one’s overall knowledge of the world. Imagine trying to obtain a better understanding of how health insurance works for your patients or the legalities behind starting your own practice. It is in situations like these that opportunities in medicine can be explored more deeply through combined degrees.


A combined degree is exactly what it sounds like; a fusion of two or more degrees. Here are some examples:

M.D/M.P.H.

M.D./PhD

M.D./M.B.A.

M.D./J.D.


Individuals explore the possibility of combined degrees for multiple reasons. Whether it be to expand knowledge of interrelated topics or to look into completely different fields, combined degrees can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Those who are looking to obtain their Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) may also consider pursuing an additional degree, such as an M.P.H., a Ph.D., an M.B.A., or a J.D.

An M.D/M.P.H., or Master of Public Health, is commonly pursued by those who find interpreting the complexities of community or population health to be particularly intriguing. Those who are interested in preventative medical care practices or interactions with varying community populations may consider this combined degree. M.P.H. curricula often emphasize the need to understand health from the perspective of patients, both physiologically and emotionally.


An M.D./PhD is often pursued by those who are interested in becoming physician-scientists. Such individuals have a deep interest in pursuing research, specifically. Their research usually revolves around a biomedical topic, such as microbiological, pharmacological, or immunological research. Consequently, such research can be applicable to the patients they treat in the future, displaying the interrelatedness of this combined degree.

An M.D./M.B.A., or Master of Business Administration, is a combined degree for those interested in the intersection between human medicine and the world of business. Although such fields may seem to be very different from each other, medical doctors are commonly responsible for making difficult business choices, from understanding what machines their own private practices can purchase to being knowledgeable in health insurance options.


Finally, an M.D./J.D., or Juris Doctor degree, may be a good option for those who are interested in interpreting how law and medicine are interconnected. Although seemingly very different from the medical field again, the field of law can be tied into the technical aspects of heading a medical practice. Maintaining one’s private medical practice often comes with its own legal issues, and consequently, such a combined degree may be beneficial. Yet, some individuals may instead desire to work in other fields with such a combined degree as well, including bioethics or health policy.

Ultimately, there are multiple fields that one may pursue that could deeply enhance one’s knowledge of medicine. As a pre-medical student, if your interests align with studies beyond an M.D. curriculum, pursuing a combined degree may be the right choice.

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Thank you so much for reading!

-Aprile Bertomo


Works Cited:

“Considering a Combined Degree: MD-Phd, MD-MBA, MD-MPH, MD-JD.” AAMC, https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/considering-combined-degree-md-phd-md-mba-md-mph-md-jd.

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