PhD/MPH Program

Program Description

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

Students who entered the program prior to 2023 take 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 - School of Public Health (SPH). The remaining credits can be earned through elective courses in Anthropology and through independent study/reading/dissertation courses.  We are in the process of updating credit requirements for students entering the program in the fall of 2023 or after.

Since the program spans two schools at Pitt (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences (DSAS) & the School of Public Health (SPA)), successful applicants to the anthropology PhD (DSAS) will also be required to apply and be admitted to SPA.  We recommend that students first learn whether they have been admitted to the anthropology department before applying to SPA.  For such candidates, the summer prior to the start of the PhD is an optimal time to apply to SPA.  More information on the latter can be found here:

The program is structured so that the student meets the general PhD requirements for anthropology including the core course, graduate seminar electives, comprehensive exams, 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:

  • chronic illness management among Syrian refugees in Jordan;
  • doula care and reproducive justice in the US carceral system;
  • militarized healthcare for Amazonian Indigenous people in Peru;
  • sex work and Afghan/Iranian masculinity in Greece;
  • cultural constructions of AIDS in Indonesia;
  • biopolitics and citizenship in Brazil;
  • nationalism and medical pluralism in India;
  • Grisi siknes and the politics of identity in Nicaragua
  • political economy of tuberculosis in Chile;
  • biomedical practitioners and alternative medicine in Bolivia; and
  • the politics of public health policy in Miskito regions of Nicaragua.

Selected Course Offerings

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Gender and Health
  • Asian Medical Systems
  • Ritual Theory
  • Principles of Statistical Reasoning (BIOST 2011)
  • Health, Disease, and Environment (EOH 2012)
  • Social and Cultural Factors in Health and Illness (HSADM 2505)
  • Political and Legal Factors in Public Health (HSADM 2552)
  • Health, Disease and Environment (IDM 2011)
  • Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health Practice (HSADM 2000)
  • Introduction to Health Services Administration (HSADM 2502)

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.