Joint Degree PhD (Anthropology)/MPH Program

In this program, the student earns an MPH (master of public health in behavioral and community health science) as part of the PhD in anthropology.

Medical anthropology is a broad, dynamic field that examines the effect of social and cultural factors on health care. Training in medical anthropology therefore directly links to some of the primary issues of public health. This joint degree program prepares the student for research, teaching, and public policy planning relating to the cultural aspects of health and health care in the U.S. or in an international setting.

This joint degree program is designed to provide the student with broader expertise, theoretical perspective, and methodological skills than might be provided by either an MPH or anthropology degree alone.

Program Description

The joint degree program makes it possible to complete both degrees within five years. The typical program consists of completion of coursework in the first three years, a fourth year in dissertation field research, and a fifth year in dissertation writing.

The student takes a total of 87 total credit hours (most courses are three credits) of which 60 are in required courses (24 in Anthropology and 36 in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH). The remaining credits can be earned through elective courses in Anthropology and through independent study/reading/dissertation courses.

The program is structured so that the student meets the general PhD requirements for anthropology including the core course, comprehensive exam, and language requirements, and the requirements for a concentration in medical anthropology).

Under most circumstances, the MPH essay/thesis requirement will be met by the doctoral dissertation, so that the MPH will be awarded at the same time as the PhD. As an option, the student can choose to obtain an MPH at an earlier point by writing a separate MPH essay/thesis, and completing the MPH course requirements.

Current and recent research by students in this program include:

  • cultural constructions of AIDS in Indonesia
  • political economy of tuberculosis in Chile
  • biomedical practitioners and alternative medicine in Bolivia
  • the politics of public health policy in Miskito regions of Nicaragua

Selected Course Offerings

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology of the Body
  • Anthropology and International Health
  • Anthropology and Health in Latin America
  • Cultural Psychology
  • Gender and Health
  • Asian Medical Systems
  • Principles of Statistical Reasoning (BIOST 2011)
  • Dimensions of Aging: Culture and Health (ANTH 2715)
  • Epidemiology (EPIDEM 2110)
  • Environmental Health and Disease (EOH 2013)
  • Health Policy and Management in Public Health (HPM 2001)
  • Public Health Overview (PUBHLT 2014)
  • Public Health Biology (PUBHLT 2015)
  • Public Health Capstone (PUBHLT 2016)

Career Tracks

Individuals with both an anthropology PhD and an MPH are increasingly sought after as faculty members by anthropology departments with medical anthropology concentrations, schools of public health, and schools of medicine. In addition, this degree prepares an individual for career opportunities in public policy planning in local, state, and federal government, as well as research institutes.

Applying to the Program

An applicant to the joint degree program should apply through the Department of Anthropology, indicating interest in the joint degree program in the area of specialization box and in the personal statement.

The student must also apply, and be admitted to, the MPH program in the Graduate School of Public Health. This application can be made at the same time as application to the anthropology program, or may be done in the first year of graduate study.

See the Graduate Study in Anthropology webpage for more information about financial aid and application instructions.

Anthropology Faculty

Joseph S. Alter (Professor, Anthropology) medical anthropology; physical fitness; public health; ecology, biosemiotics, the relationship between health, culture, and politics, broadly defined; India.

Kathleen M. DeWalt (Professor, Anthropology), nutritional anthropology; impact of policy on nutritional status in Latin America and US; ethnomedical systems and medical decision making; health ecology; political economy and health.

Tomas Matza (Assistant Professor, Anthropology) mental health, environmental anthropology, ecology and health; Russia.

Harry Sanabria (Associate Professor Emeritus, Anthropology) economic anthropology and political economy; social history and historical demography; cross-cultural studies of drug production and consumption; urban US, Bolivia and Argentina.

Jeffrey H. Schwartz (Professor, Anthropology) human and faunal skeletal analysis of archaeological recovered remains; dentofacial growth and development in Homo sapiens, US, England, Israel, Cyprus, and Tunisia.

Michael I. Siegel (Professor, Anthropology) craniofacial biology; with a clinical specialty in cleft palate; functional anatomy; animal models; and physiological adaptation to stress.

Pamela J. Stewart (Senior Research Associate, Anthropology) human endocrinology, patient/physician communication in contexts of chronic illness; women's health issues; North America, the Pacific, Asia, and Europe.

Andrew J. Strathern (Andrew W. Mellon Professor, Anthropology) conflict and violence; the anthropology of the body; the cross-cultural study of medical systems; Papua New Guinea, Europe, and Taiwan.

Selected Faculty from Other Departments

Patricia I. Document (Associate Professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences; Scientific Director of the Center for Health Equity) social relationships; cancer; breastfeeding; racial and ethnic disparities; evaluation; violence and global health.

Mark P. Mooney (Professor, Departments of Anatomy and Histology, School of Dental Medicine, and Anthropology) craniofacial and developmental biology; comparative anatomy; experimental morphology; physiological adaptations to extreme environments.

Martha Terry (Research Associate, GSPH; Adjunct Research Associate, Anthropology) human sexuality and reproduction, sexually transmitted disease, HIV prevention, urban US, Mexico.