What's the deal with joint degrees?

Joint, dual, concurrent degrees - whatever you call them, they can be confusing! The 2016 Accreditation Criteria no longer have a specific section for joint degrees, so what is a school or program to do? Here are a few important clarifications and reminders for anyone struggling with how to report on joint degrees.

A rose by any other name!

Joint degrees can be called a number of things (e.g., combined, concurrent, dual, 4+1, 3+2, etc.), but they all function the same way and are considered synonymous for CEPH purposes. Simply put: students earn two degrees and there may be some credit sharing for efficiency.

No joint degree criterion, no problem!

Although there is no 'joint degree criterion' in the 2016 Accreditation Criteria, there are a few key places where you need to report on these degrees.

1. The instructional matrix (Template Intro-1) must include all joint degrees and define the concentration area for the public health degree.

2. If joint degree students complete a curriculum structured around concentration competencies developed specifically for the joint degree, the school or program must include that concentration when documenting faculty resources (Criterion C2).

3. Throughout Criterion D: Curriculum

  • If joint degree students do not complete the same foundational curriculum as students in a standalone MPH, add columns to Template D2-2 highlighting the differences in the mapping for course substitutions. Here is an example of what that should look like.
  • If joint degree students complete a curriculum structured around different concentration competencies from any existing MPH concentration, a separate Template D4-1 must be completed for each. If they take different courses than other concentration students, add a column to Template D4-1 that presents the differences.
  • The MPH and DrPH applied practice experiences (Criteria D5 & D6) should allow students the opportunity to integrate and apply learning from both degree programs but must be assessed by public health faculty.
  • The MPH and DrPH integrative learning experiences (Criteria D7 & D8) should allow students the opportunity to incorporate learning from both degree programs in a unique experience but must be assessed by public health faculty.


Schools and programs must let CEPH know when there are changes to a joint degree program. CEPH has developed specific forms for substantive changes as they relate to joint degree programs. There are forms for when a school or program 

Joint degrees are a valuable way to increase awareness of and appreciation for public health. Staff are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Written by Nicole Williams, MPH, PMP