Program Description

Mercer University's College of Health Professions is pleased to present the Doctor of Physical Therapy/Master of Public Health (DPT/MPH) combined degree program. The role of the physical therapist in health promotion and wellness is increasing, as is the role of the public health practitioner in addressing societal health concerns, and evaluating community-based programming.  Sharing the goals of promoting wellness and health promotion, advocating for improved health of individuals and society, reducing health disparities, and improving the quality of life for families and communities, students in the DPT/MPH combined degree program will be challenged to confront complex health issues, such as improving access to health care, and reducing environmental hazards and injury.

Graduates of this program will be empowered to serve the needs of humankind on an individual and societal level.  The accrediting agencies for both programs, the Commission on the Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), have approved this venture.

Students admitted to the DPT/MPH program will complete both degrees in 4 years, completing 33 credits of the 42 credit MPH program in year 1 (Fall and Spring semester), followed by the required 135 credits in the 3-year, 8 consecutive semester,  DPT program.  Three courses required for the MPH degree (two elective courses, and the Public Health Applied Practice) will be fulfilled by selected courses in the DPT program.  Students will have opportunities to complete one twelve-week clinical internship in a public health setting.

Program Outcomes

The outcomes and learning objectives for the DPT and MPH programs will remain unchanged, as the student will complete both programs in series, with only minor adaptations.   

The student learning objectives for the DPT include developing practitioners who:

  1. Provide effective and efficient patient/client-centered care to diverse populations across the lifespan.
  2. Incorporate sound clinical reasoning and problem solving to make evidence-based practice decisions and recommendation in all aspects of patient/client management.
  3. Adhere to professional and ethical standards of conduct in compliance with the APTA and to the laws and guidelines that regulate the practice of physical therapy.
  4. Participate as providers and advocates for the health promotion, wellness and fitness of individuals and society.
  5. Manage available human, financial, material, and/or technological resources in a variety of traditional and nontraditional settings.
  6. Pursue lifelong professional development regarding clinical excellence, service, and scholarship.
  7. Collaborate effectively as a member and leader of an interprofessional team to provide evidence based and patient-centered care.

The foundational competencies and public health knowledge learning objectives for the MPH program include:

MPH Foundational Competencies

Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health

1. Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practices.
2. Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
3. Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
4. Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy, or practice.

Public Health and Health Care Systems

5. Compare the organization, structure, and function of health care, public health, and regulatory systems across national and international settings.
6. Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels.

Planning and Management to Promote Health

7. Assess population needs, assets, and capacities that affect communities' health.
8. Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs.
9. Design a population-based policy, program, project, or intervention.
10. Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management.
11. Select methods to evaluate public health programs.

Policy in Public Health

12. Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
13. Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes.
14. Advocate for political, social, or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations.
15. Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity.


16. Apply principles of leadership, governance, and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration, and guiding decision-making.
17. Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges.


18. Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors.
19. Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.
20. Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content.

Interprofessional Practice

21. Perform effectively on interprofessional teams.

Systems Thinking

22. Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue.

Diversity and Health Equity Track Competencies

23. Analyze theoretical frameworks for disparity causation.
24. Develop community capacity for leadership among diverse populations.
25. Build capacity in diverse populations to address racism and other systems of intolerance.
26. Evaluate empowerment strategies for viability in diverse communities including disparate, rural, and aging populations.
27. Engage stakeholders to develop schemas to build sustainable programs and systems in vulnerable communities. 

MPH Foundational Public Health Knowledge (Learning Objectives)

Profession and Science of Public Health

1. Explain public health history, philosophy, and values.
2. Identify the core functions of public health and the 10 Essential Services.
3. Explain the role of quantitative and qualitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population's health.
4. List major causes and trends of morbidity and mortality in the US or other community relevant to the school or program.
5. Discuss the science of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in population health, including health promotion, screening, etc.
6. Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge.

Factors Related to Human Health

7. Explain effects of environmental factors on a population's health.
8. Explain biological and genetic factors that affects a population's health.
9. Explain behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population's health.
10. Explain the social, political, and economic determinants of health and how they contribute to population health and health inequities.
11. Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease.
12. Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health, and ecosystem health (e.g., One Health).


Admission Requirements and Procedure
Applicants must apply to each program according to the guidelines in the Admissions Process and Requirements section for the MPH and DPT programs. After successful admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, the student with a strong academic record and demonstrated interest in community-based health promotion and injury prevention will apply to the MPH program.  The admissions requirements for the combined degree program are the same as for each individual degree.  

Program Requirements

MPH Year 1

Fall (18 hours)

  • MPH 611 Principles of Epidemiology
  • MPH 621 Biostatistics and Health Measures    
  • MPH 631 Environmental Health                                 
  • MPH 641 Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • MPH 652 Public Health Systems, Services, and Management
  • MPH 731 Health Systems and Policy               

Spring (15 hours)

  • MPH 675 Community Health Needs Assessment   
  • MPH 721 Grant and Proposal Writing and Development 
  • MPH 730 Introductory Program Evaluation
  • MPH 739 Diverse Populations
  • MPH 740 Health Equity               

DPT Year 2 (DPT degree is 135 hours; all courses are required)

  • PT 500 Gross Anatomy I
  • PT 501 Applied Anatomy I
  • PT 502 Leadership Development I:  Foundations
  • PT 503 Research I: Methods and Assessment
  • PT 504 Health Promotion Across the Lifespan  
  • PT 508 Service-Learning I                                       
  • PT 510 Pharmacology and Systems Pathophysiology


  • PT 530 Gross Anatomy II
  • PT 531 Applied Anatomy II
  • PT 535 Management of Patients/Clients with Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Conditions
  • PT 536 Clinical Examination and Interventions I
  • PT 539 Integrated Clinical Experience I
  • PT 540 Foundational Musculoskeletal Sciences
  • PT 550 Neuroscience


  • PT 561 Movement Sciences
  • PT 563 Research II:  Evidence-based Practice
  • PT 564 Psychosocial Considerations in Patient/Client Management
  • PT 565 Management of Patients/Clients with Integumentary Conditions
  • PT 566 Clinical Examination and Interventions II
  • PT 568 Service-Learning II                                       
  • PT 571 Medical Screening and Differential Diagnosis

DPT Year 3


  • PT 603 Research III: Critical Inquiry and Appraisal
  • PT 604 Geriatric Considerations in Patient/Client Management
  • PT 605 Management of Patients/Clients with Musculoskeletal Conditions I
  • PT 606 Interventions for Patients/Clients with Neuromusculoskeletal Conditions I
  • PT 609 Integrated Clinical Experience II
  • PT 615 Management of Patients/Clients with  Neuromuscular Conditions I
  • PT 616 Interventions for Patients/Clients with Neuromusculoskeletal Conditions II: Prosthetics and Orthotics


  • PT 632 Leadership Development II:  Health Policy       
  • PT 633 Research IV: Research Intensive
  • PT 634 Pediatric Considerations in  Patient/Client Management
  • PT 635 Management of Patients/Clients with Musculoskeletal Conditions II
  • PT 636 Interventions for Patients/Clients with  Neuromusculoskeletal Conditions III
  • PT 638 Service-Learning III                                                                  
  • PT 645 Management of Patients/Clients with  Neuromuscular Conditions I


  • PT 669 Full-time Clinical Education I (12 weeks)

DPT Year 4


  • PT 702 Leadership Development III: Management
  • PT 703 Research V: Translation                                                
  • PT 709 Full-time Clinical Education II (12 weeks)


  • PT 732 Leadership Development IV: Life-long Leadership
  • PT 737 Comprehensive Review
  • PT 739 Full-time Clinical Education III (12 Weeks)



Students will pay the DPT semester tuition for each semester. 


Academic Advisement

Students are assigned advisors in both programs upon admission into the combined degree program.