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MPH/MA Journalism Dual Degree

What is public health?

Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities – including animals and the environment. Public health professionals promote healthy lifestyles, research disease and injury prevention, and detect, prevent and respond to infectious diseases. Public health solutions are aimed at protecting the health of entire populations versus only individual patients. Via viewing patterns of population health, public health work also addresses health disparities and promotes healthcare equity, quality and accessibility. Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, communicating health information, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research.

How is journalism related to public health?

Communication of ideas is a key element of every domain of public health. Journalists have played a critical role in researching, reporting, and educating the public on many major health events from HIV/AIDS to natural disasters to war to COVID-19. Journalists are skilled at telling stories – and sharing health stories and information through various mediums is an essential part of public health education and policy making. Images, opinion pieces, and documentaries can put a face to public health issues and shape the public’s understanding and concern for individual and community health.

What kinds of jobs are available for journalism and public health graduates?

Scholars with expertise in journalism and public health can get jobs in either field. For example, many public health jobs require people to have specific skills in communication that journalists excel in. For example, journalists working in public health can educate others about public health issues, public health news, or help to convey public health messages effectively via different channels (television, social media, print, etc.). Public health journalists are similar to traditional journalists, except they often focus on medical and public health issues, health study results, epidemiologic trends, and other public health findings. For example, right now journalists are playing a key role in researching, reporting on, and educating the public on COVID-19 trends.

What is the dual Journalism/Master of Public Health degree program like?

Students who take part in the dual degree program can focus their public health coursework on course that highlight the overlap between the two disciplines like digital storytelling, qualitative research, social marketing, and health communications. Students can take part in internships that also include both areas – such as working for the local news stations or on social marketing and heath communications projects. In addition, the Master of Public Health coursework can be completed 100% online or on-campus. One dual degree student describes her internship here:

“This summer I had an internship with the Columbia/Boone County Health & Human Services Department. Before my internship began I met with my preceptor and decided that I would work on promotional marketing efforts for policy that they are working to introduce. It was decided that the policy would be to change the default beverage for kids’ meals in restaurants in Columbia. Rather than have the default drink be soda, this policy would require restaurants to have the default drink be milk or water. Overall this internship was a wonderful experience. I hope to have a future in creating health campaigns and marketing materials for health initiatives, so this was a great experience.”

How long will the dual degree program take?

Both degrees can be earned simultaneously while studying at MU. Typically, a full-time graduate student would complete the Master of Public Health or Master of Social Work in two years. Completing dual degree program removes 1 year of coursework from completing the degrees separately. Therefore, students in the dual degree program can complete both degrees in as little as 3 years of full-time study.

What do I have to do to get into the program?

You need to be admitted separately to both the Journalism School for the Master of Arts and the Department of Public Health for the and the Master of Public Health program to be in the dual-degree program. The MPH application is available online. You will be asked to fill out basic information about yourself provide short essays about your interest in public health.

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Who can help me while I’m in the program?

The MPH program has an academic advisor that meets with all students. The advisor can help you choose and navigate your courses and your program of study. Additionally, you are assigned an academic advisor for your MA in Journalism curriculum. Your Public Health and Journalism advisors will work together to help you complete the dual degree.

Where can I get more information?

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