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 in 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 Internship) 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 program objectives for the MPH programs revolve around the profession's eight domains.  The program domains are listed under the competency headings and include:

  1. Analytic/Assessment Skills

1) Assess the health status of rural and underserved populations and their related determinants of health and illness (e.g. factors contributing to health promotion and disease prevention, availability and use of health services)

2) Use methods and instruments for collecting valid and reliable quantitative and qualitative data for rural and underserved populations

3) Use information technology to collect, store, and retrieve data for rural and underserved populations

  1. Policy Development/Program Planning Skills

1) Analyze information relevant to specific public health policy issues related to rural and underserved populations

2) Utilize decision analysis for policy development and program planning for rural and underserved populations

  1. Communication Skills

1) Communicate in writing and orally, in person, and through electronic means, with linguistic and cultural proficiency for rural and underserved populations

2) Present demographic, statistical, programmatic, and scientific information for use by professional and lay audiences in rural and underserved populations

  1. Cultural Competency Skills

1) Incorporate strategies for interacting with persons from diverse backgrounds including rural and underserved populations, cultural, socioeconomic, educational, racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation

2) Consider the role of cultural, geographic, social, and behavioral factors in the accessibility, availability, acceptability and delivery of public health services in rural and underserved populations

3) Respond to diverse needs that are the result of cultural and geographic differences in rural and underserved populations

4) Explain the dynamic forces that contribute to cultural and geographic diversity in rural in underserved populations

  1. Community Dimensions of Practice Skills

1) Assess community linkages and relationships among multiple factors (or determinants) affecting health in rural and underserved populations

2) Describe the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the delivery of community health services in rural and underserved populations

  1. Public Health Sciences Skills

1) Relate public health science skills to the Core Public Health Functions and Ten Essential Services of Public Health

2) Apply the basic public health sciences (including, but not limited to biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and social and behavioral health sciences) to public health policies and programs in rural and underserved populations

3) Conduct a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence related to a public health issue, concern, or intervention in rural and underserved populations

  1. Financial Planning and Management Skills

1) Develop a programmatic budget for rural and underserved populations

2) Evaluate program performance in rural and underserved populations

  1. Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills

1) Incorporate ethical standards of practice as the basis of all interactions with organizations, communities, and individuals in rural and underserved populations

2) Incorporate systems thinking into public health practice in rural and underserved populations

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 dual degree are the same as for each individual degree.  

Program Requirements

MPH Year 1

Fall (18 hours)

  • MPH 721 Grant and Proposal Writing and Development                                   
  • MPH 675 Community Health Needs Assessment       
  • MPH 641 Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • MPH 722 Overview of Rural Health               
  • MPH 730 Introductory Program Evaluation    
  • MPH 621 Biostatistics                             

Spring (15 hours)

  • MPH 611 Epidemiology
  • MPH 631 Environmental Health               
  • MPH 653 Public Health Management       
  • MPH 723 Minority Health                             
  • MPH 728 Social Determinants of Health              

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

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


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


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

DPT Year 3


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


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


  • 669 Clinical Internship I (12 weeks)

DPT Year 4


  • 702 Leadership Development III: Management
  • 703 Research V: Translation                                                
  • 709 Clinical Internship II (12 weeks)


  • 732 Leadership Development IV: Life-long Leadership
  • 737 Comprehensive Review
  • 739 Clinical Internship 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.