Program Description

Mercer University’s College of Health Professions is pleased to present the Master of Medical Science/Master of Public Health (MMSc/MPH) combined degree program. Sixty-five percent of HRSA designated Primary Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are located in rural areas. Given the need for primary healthcare providers in rural, medically underserved communities, the MMSc/MPH combined degree program specifically focuses on providing rural and underserved communities with well-trained public health minded primary care providers who have the ability to address societal health concerns and evaluate community-based programming. The primary target audience includes students with strong academic records who demonstrate an interest in community-based health promotion and primary care practice.

Students admitted to the MMSc/MPH combined degree program will complete both degrees in nine semesters, completing 27 credits of the MPH program in Year 1 (Fall and Spring semester), followed by the required 128 credits in the seven (7) consecutive semester (28 months) Physician Assistant (PA) program.  Five courses required for the MPH degree (four electives and MPH Internship) will be fulfilled by selected and cross-listed courses in the PA program.  Additionally, the Public Health Capstone course will be completed during the Fall semester of PA Year 3.

Upon successful completion of the MMSc/MPH combined degree program, a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will be awarded.

Program Outcomes

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

The following program objectives support the mission of the Mercer University PA program and seek to:

  1. Provide an educational experience that develops a strong foundation in the basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences appropriate to an entry-level primary care physician assistant.
  2. Foster an environment that encourages analytical thinking and the use of information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education.
  3. Promote clinical decision making that takes into account the uniqueness of each patient.
  4. Encourage self-reflection in a manner that stimulates personal growth, accountability, and a better understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Cultivate team responsiveness with physicians and other health care professionals to provide patient-centered care.
  6. Advocate moral and ethical behavior consistent with values found and supported in the University’s Judeo-Christian heritage while respecting the pluralistic values of our society.
  7. Encourage graduates to accept leadership roles in their communities and profession.
  8. Promote community involvement that encourages partnerships which seek to improve the quality of health care and service learning.
  9. Equip each graduate to be an educator, patient advocate, facilitator, and counselor.
  10. Provide resources that will enhance the personal and professional growth of students, faculty, and staff in a mutually respectful community.


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 separately, according to the guidelines in the Admissions Process and Requirements section for the PA and MPH programs. Students must first apply to the PA program via CASPA and receive acceptance before applying separately to the MPH program via SOPHAS Express for combined degrees. Admissions processes for each program remain unchanged. Acceptance into each program, per the outlined criteria available on the website, is required. After successful admission to the PA program, the student with a strong academic record who demonstrates interest in community-based health promotion and primary care practice will apply to the MPH program.  The admissions requirements for the MMSc/MPH combined degree are the same as for each individual degree.


MPH Year 1 (27 hours)


Principles of Epidemiology (MPH 611)

Environmental Health (MPH 631)

Public Health Management (MPH 652)

Minority Health & Health Disparities (MPH 723)


Principles of Public Health (MPH 601)

Basic Biostatistics & Health Measures (MPH 621)

Community Health Needs Assessment (MPH 675)

Introductory Program Evaluation (MPH 730)

Overview of Rural Health (MPH 722)

PA Year 2


Human Anatomy & Lab (PA 520)

Pathophysiology (PA 521)

Physical Diagnosis & Lab (PA 580)

Principles of Pharmacology (PA 530)

Clinical Decision Making 1 (PA 511)

Medical Communication (PA 501)     * serves as MPH elective

Concepts in Medical Science (PA 523)


Clinical Medicine I & Lab (PA 581)

Pharmacotherapy I (PA 533)

Diagnostic Interpretation 1/ECG (PA 545)

Behavioral Medicine (PA 550)     * serves as MPH elective

Clinical Decision Making II (PA 512)

Medical Nutrition (PA 572)     * serves as MPH elective


Clinical Medicine II & Lab (PA 582)

Pharmacotherapy II (PA 534)

Diagnostic Interpretation II (PA 542)

Surgical Medicine (PA 573)

Clinical Decision Making III (PA 513)

Emergency Medicine (PA 570)

Biostatistics for Clinicians (PA 561)     * serves as MPH elective

PA Year 3


Clinical Medicine 3 (PA 584)

Evidence-Based Medicine for Clinical Practice (PA 562)

Concepts in Health (PA 505)

Medical Ethics (PA 502)

Family Practice Practicum (PA 601)

Internal Medicine Practicum (PA 602)


Internal Medicine Outpatient Practicum (PA 603)

Women’s Health Practicum (PA 604)

Pediatric Medicine Practicum (PA 605)


Emergency Medicine Practicum (PA 606)

General Surgery Practicum (PA 607)                                         

Behavioral Medicine Practicum (PA 608)

Public Health Capstone* (MPH 793)     *Student will complete a portfolio and take the MPH

comprehensive examination (2 days, 5 hours each day)

PA Year 4


Orthopedic Medicine Practicum  (PA 609)

Elective 1 (PA 611)

Elective 2 (PA 612)

Senior Seminar * (PA 650)     *will be dually listed as PA 650 and MPH 793 (Internship)



The tuition for the MMSc/MPH dual degree program is as follows:

Year 1:  Spring/Fall semester tuition per MPH semester fee.

Year 2 through graduation:  The PA program tuition is fixed per semester throughout the 28 months.


Academic Advisement

Students are assigned advisors in both programs upon matriculation.