School of Medicine



Curriculum Related Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How will participating in the M.D./MPH program affect my clinical rotation schedule at Baylor College of Medicine? Will I have to sacrifice any elective or vacation time?

A: In general, clinical rotations begin in January of the second year and will continue unchanged through the end of the third year. At that time, students will begin the year “away” at University of Texas School of Public Health and not take clinical rotations at Baylor. Students return for their “final” year at Baylor to complete clerkship and other electives.

Q: Will I have to leave Baylor College of Medicine completely while I work on my MPH? Can I still participate in activities with my medical school class during my year away from Baylor?

A: During the year you are primarily working on the MPH, you will be on a LOA from Baylor. This should not affect your participation in clubs and activities at Baylor.

Q: Can I start the program “early” by taking some of the on-line core courses at The University of Texas School of Public Health?

A: Students who wish to get a “head start” may do so by taking on-line core courses if they are enrolled at UTSPH. Contact Sylvia Salas in admissions at UTSPH for more information. This option may be of particular interest to those in one of the BS/M.D. programs or those who otherwise have completed their undergraduate studies.

Q: What is the curriculum at UTSPH like? How will public health school differ from medical school?

A: Your schedule at UTSPH will feel much more like the schedule you had as an undergraduate. Unlike the basic sciences curriculum at Baylor, your course load will be individualized. Classes will meet in different rooms at different times, and you may have more free time between classes. Courses at UTSPH are conducted in a wide variety of formats including online. Some courses will be mostly lecture, and others will be more discussion based. Courses may be letter-graded or pass-fail. Student performance at UTSPH is evaluated with multiple choice and/or essay exams, homework problem sets, class participation, projects, or some combination thereof. Most classes are reading intensive, and the focus is usually on conceptual understanding and synthesis rather than rote mastery. Some classes will have "labs," which may include structured field experiences, laboratory bench work or guided use of a statistics or database software package.

Q: When will I take courses at Baylor College of Medicine, and when will I take courses at UTSPH?

A: UTSPH courses are available online and may be taken the summer before medical school; the 2nd semester of the first year; the second semester of the 2nd year; and during the summer semesters. These guidelines are flexible; however, we do not recommend taking UTSPH courses during the first semester of medical school or the first semester of the second year. Students will spend year 4 at the SPH to take courses, and return to Baylor for their last year of medical school in year five.

Q: Is it possible to complete both the M.D. and MPH degrees in four years?

A: It is possible to do this if you do enter Baylor College of Medicine having completed a substantial number of MPH classes. Those who might start a full semester early due to completing school early (as in BS/M.D. program participants) might be able to arrange this, although it would take considerable adjusting of schedules. If you are interested in this, you should discuss it with the admissions department at UTSPH as soon as possible.

Q: What focus areas at UTSPH are available to Baylor College of Medicine students?

A: All the divisions or disciplines areas are available and include: Biostatistics; Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences; Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences; Management, Policy, and Community Health.

When you apply to University of Texas School of Public Health, you apply into a specific division, corresponding to a particular field of study. During the admissions process, you will be paired with a primary advisor working in your selected field, based on the interests you describe in your personal statement. It is best to discuss these issues with the UTSPH coordinator for the M.D./MPH program, Linda Piller, M.D., MPH before applying, when possible.

Q: Is a thesis required for the MD/MPH degree?

A: The UTSPH is offering a “Capstone Course” and exam that may be taken in place of a thesis.

Q: Do I need to start the MPH with a project in mind? How will I select my thesis topic and thesis committee?

A: You do not need to have a specific project to start the MPH program. A thesis topic is usually in an area of interest related to your discipline. Your primary advisor at UTSPH will assist you in selecting a suitable thesis project or meeting requirements for the culminating experience and graduation.

Q: If I participate in the M.D./MPH program, when will I apply for the match and interview at residency programs?

A: Applications to enter the match are generally completed about 10-12 months before graduating from medical school. Therefore you will be beginning this process at the end of your year at UTSPH and it will continue into your final return year to Baylor (year five).

Q: How much of my coursework at Baylor College of Medicine will transfer to University of Texas School of Public Health?

A: Generally, 10 to 12 hours of your Baylor pre-clerkship coursework will transfer to the UTSPH.

Q: I'm interested in clinical research. Can I focus my MPH work on clinical research?

A: Yes, if approved by your advisory committee.

Q: Will I have to re-apply at the UTSPH if I do not enroll in classes?

A: Yes, students will be un-enrolled from UTSPH if they do not take at least one course over three consecutive semesters. However, students who have completed considerable public health coursework before attending Baylor or who find they cannot enroll in courses at the UTSPH for some reason may be granted a leave of absence that explains their situation. The LOA must be signed by your UTSPH advisor and approved by the UTSPH Associate Dean for Academics.