New combined degree program can save students time and money
Monday, November 11, 2013

Completing an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in five years may seem like a sweet dream to students and tuition-paying parents alike.

But the University of Iowa College of Public Health is now making five-year combined degrees an attractive reality. And it’s not just about cost-savings.

“The new Undergrad-to-Grad Program saves students time and money and gives them a leg up on entering the workforce or applying for other academic programs, such as medical school or a doctoral program,” says Mary Aquilino, the college’s associate dean for Master of Public Health (MPH) and Undergraduate Programs.

Potential careers for public health graduates include epidemiologist (sometimes known as a “disease detective”), health educator, health data analyst, and injury prevention expert. The new program is modeled on combined degree programs in other UI colleges, but is the first combined undergrad-to-grad degree program between UI colleges, including public health, engineering, and liberal arts and sciences.

Students can learn more about the UI College of Public Health Undergrad-to-Grad Program online at and during a prospective student visit day from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, in the College of Public Health Building.

Undergraduate majors that qualify for the program are psychology, biology, mathematical statistics, and biomedical engineering. Interested students apply by the middle of their junior year to one of the five Undergrad-to-Grad tracks. Those admitted to the program earn an undergraduate degree at the end of their fourth year and a graduate degree—either an MPH degree or a Master of Science (MS) degree—at the end of their fifth year.

UI graduate student Rachel Nash, who is working toward an MPH degree in community and behavioral health, previously earned a typical four-year undergraduate degree at the UI. She wishes she had had the opportunity to enroll in the combined degree program.

“It would have been really great because you not only can save money, but also enter the master’s program with more of a background in the field,” Nash says. “I’m applying to medical school, and earning an MPH degree is wonderful preparation. However, I would have been glad to shave a year off my studies.

“The cost-savings would also be a big draw for parents,” she adds.

UI freshmen and sophomores interested in the combined degree program can consult with their advisors to complete the credits required for admittance to the graduate degree portion of the program. Students must also meet grade point average and other requirements.

The application procedure is the same as for other prospective graduate students, with the exception that students seeking admission to the Undergrad-to-Grad program must take the Graduate Record Examination by Dec. 1 of their junior year. Current juniors at the UI have until Feb. 1 to apply for admittance.

In addition, a new course, “Fundamentals of Public Health,” introduces freshmen and sophomores to the profession and can help them determine whether the Undergrad-to-Grad degree program is right for them. Students may also send inquiries to