When you apply to an articulated or concurrent degree program, you are essentially applying for two separate degrees.
Earning two degrees may sound time consuming, but concurrent programs streamline dual education paths. For example, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) concurrent degree program for Doctor of Medicine (MD)/ Master of Public Policy (MPP) leverages similarities among the programs—enabling students to earn both degrees in just five years. (Earning each degree separately would take at least six years.)
Monica Boggs answers some questions about her experiences in UCLA’s MD/MPP program.
Why get a dual degree?
Dr. Boggs pursued a dual degree because she wanted to do more than surgery. "Before medical school," she says, "I was a teacher in South Central Los Angeles and I saw firsthand how many students didn't have healthcare and the negative effects on their education. I found myself struggling to help them navigate our crazy healthcare system. I knew that along with becoming a doctor, I wanted to have an impact in the way healthcare is delivered."
"So, I thought the additional master's degree in public policy would be the best way to practice medicine and also to help fix the healthcare system," she says.
She believes policy changes can truly make a difference at the county or hospital level.
How does the concurrent degree program complement medical school?
The concurrent degree program comprises three years of medical school, followed by the first year of the MPP program. After that, coursework from the two programs mingles.
This schedule gives medical students hands-on clinical experience prior to beginning the public policy component of a joint degree program. That way, medical students have experience commensurate with that of the traditional MPP students.
"We take a year between the third and fourth year of medical school to start the MPP classes," Dr. Boggs says. "I was worried that time away would interfere with the clinical momentum of medical school that grows during the third and fourth year. What I did during my first-year MPP studies was continue to volunteer in the UCLA Mobile Clinic, and [tutor] other medical student underclassmen to keep my clinical skills and teaching skills fresh."
"During the fourth-year specialty rotations of medical school, which in my case is surgery," she adds, "the MPP program encompasses a practicum for a real employer on a real-world policy problem where you work as an outside consultant — so it's not a full-time in class load anymore."
How much harder is the workload?
Dr. Boggs remembers how the concurrent degree program design made the increased workload more manageable. She had to plan more to fit in the extra work, but she had motivation and organization skills; she always made thorough lists in her planner and on sticky notes so she knew she wouldn’t miss a thing.
DGSOM students who are in good academic standing and have successfully completed Year 3 (Required Clinical Clerkships) may pursue the Master of Business Administration, Public Policy, or Public Health as part of the UCLA Concurrent degree program.