Master's-to-Doctoral Program (MSPH-PhD)

UNC offers an MSPH-to-PhD track within the PhD Program.  Currently our PhD Program (Track 1) requires students to enter our program with a Master’s degree or equivalent experience.  The MSPH-to PhD option (Track 2) would complement our existing PhD program by allowing us to admit students with great potential for doctoral studies, but lack either a Master’s degree or work experience.  Table 1 presents the requirements for each Track within our PhD program.  Notably, students in Track 2 would receive their MSPH when they fulfill all requirements for the degree, typically at the end of their second year; PhD students in Track 1 will not receive an MSPH on their way to the PhD.  Table 2 shows a typical schedule for students in Track 2.

General Information

Minimum Credit Hours


Expected Duration

5 years 3 in course + 2 in dissertation

Dual Degree Options Available


Application Cycle

Fall See application details page for more info.

Application Deadline 1

December 11, 2018 See application details page for more info.

Applicant Information

Who Should Apply

Applicants who seek careers conducting health services/health policy research

Enrolled Student Demographics

  • Total Enrollment 1620
  • Female 72%, Male 28%
  • Underrepresented Minority Students 16.3%
  • International 11%

Program Costs & Funding

Admissions Information

Prior Degree Required

Master's degree or relevant experience

Required Prerequisites

  • HPM 754 Health Care in the United States Structure and Policy | Syllabus:
  • BIOS 600
  • EPID 600 Principles of Epidemiology | Syllabus:
  • HPM 880
  • SPHG 600orHPM 611

Standardized Test(s) Accepted

GRE (TOEFL/IELTS for int'l students only.) test score requirement waived for applicants awarded doctoral degree in North America or completed USMLE Step 1 GMAT accepted for Finance minors only. See Graduate School website for international student exceptions. Standardized test scores are one of many factors we consider in making admissions decisions.

Standardized Test(s) Scores

Undergrad G.P.A.

Incoming students had a mean undergraduate GPA of 3.5

Letters of Recommendation Required

3 (academic and/or professional)

Faculty-Student Match Required

Students will be matched with a faculty advisor prior to admittance. Interested students should reference our faculty interests page and contact faculty directly.

Interviews Required

Work Experience Required


Visit Opportunities

Learn about opportunities to come to UNC Gillings to meet faculty, staff, and current students. If you are unable to come to campus – don’t worry – our representatives attend a variety of recruitment events around the United States as well as host virtual fairs and webinars.

During the Program

Required Courses

For a detailed description of all the requirements for this degree program please click here for the Student Handbook.

Comprehensive Exam Type(s)

Master's Paper Proposal Defense ([courseid="HPM 789"] Written comprehensive exam; oral proposal and dissertation defense

Capstone, Thesis or Dissertation

Master's paper (HPM 992 Master's Paper Dissertation (HPM 994 Doctoral Dissertation

Practicum, Internships & Fieldwork

12-week internship and 3 semesters professional training

Global Options Available

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health strives to integrate global content and approaches across the School’s courses, programs and degrees. We believe that every student should emerge from our School with an understanding of global health issues. Some courses are focused largely on global issues, others are designed so that global and local issues are intertwined and some still are evolving. Learn more about these options.

Many enrolled students will have the opportunity to pursue our graduate global health certificate, while others may choose global health courses, internships or independent study with global focus.

After the Program

Employment Opportunities

Academia; government; research organizations; policy organizations; private sector

Example Job Responsibilities

Participating in and leading innovative health services/health policy research

  1. Complete online application
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    • Application Deadline: December 11, 2018
    • Fee: 90.00
    • Step Link

    (The Graduate School Application is a common application system for UNC-Chapel Hill programs.)


      See program details in GPS for requirements such as prequisites, prior degree, work experience, any test score waivers, as well as a tuition estimate and program overview.

      • All UNC Gillings applications for graduate-level programs fall under the purview of the UNC Graduate School. Accordingly, you will apply to UNC Gillings via the Graduate School Application, and UNC Gillings programs will make admissions recommendations to the UNC Graduate School for final approval.
        Once a recommendation is finalized, you will receive notice via email from the UNC Graduate School. Throughout the process, most of your questions can be answered by your program contact.
      • NOTE: To be considered for UNC Graduate School scholarships, apply before priority deadline.

    2. Faculty interest(s)/mentor(s)

      • Students are assigned a faculty advisor as part of the acceptance process, but do not need to find their own advisor. Describing matches to faculty members’ interest areas in the personal statement is helpful in the matching process. Students should reference our faculty interests page to get a sense of faculty areas of interest and expertise.
    3. Applicant information,  including North Carolina residency information.

    4. Area(s) of interest

      • Select up to two (2) areas of interest from the dropdown.
    5. Educational history

      • Please upload a copy of your most recent transcript(s), including your current term grades, if applicable. (If grades are not yet available, send them to the UNC Gillings program contact as soon as they become available.) Be sure the transcript reflects the name of the institution and any degrees you received.
      • We advise that you order two copies of your transcript(s) to be sent to you.
        • If you are admitted and choose to enroll, UNC will require official transcript(s) showing degree(s) awarded.
    6. Community standards

      You will be asked about honor code, crime, academic sanction, military discharge, etc.

    7. Upload your personal statement.

      • Upload an essay (single-spaced and up to 5 pages) that addresses the following questions:
        • Why do you wish to study health policy and/or health services research?
        • Please describe any previous research experience you have had.
        • Please describe how your proposed minor area will fit into your projected career plans.
        • Discuss the way in which your past education, research and/or work experience(s) will contribute to your proposed studies at UNC.
        • Indicate faculty members in the Department who most closely match your interests.
    8. Upload your resume or CV.

    9. Enter names of recommenders. UNC will then send them an email with instructions for submitting a letter on your behalf. We encourage references from professors or teachers (or teaching assistants) or work/research supervisors who have worked directly and closely with you and who can speak about you with specificity.

        • 3 (academic and/or professional)
    10. Report test scores to UNC via the Graduate School Application

      • GRE code 5816. TOEFL/IELTS information above. GRE test scores must be official, no more than 5 years old and reported directly by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). See our program details page for information regarding test scores.
    11. Document submission (check legibility of uploads)

    12. Pay the Graduate School application fee.

    13. Track your progress.

      • You will be able to track status through the Graduate School application. Once a decision is made, you will receive an email instructing login to the Graduate School application portal to see the decision letter.
  2. FYI: costs and funding (separate from the admissions process)
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    1. Check out our Costs and Funding page.

    2. Apply for FEDERAL financial aid by March 1, 2018 (please verify this date via FAFSA) via FAFSA. If you've been admitted and completed the FAFSA form by their deadline, the UNC Office of Scholarships and Student Aid will create a financial aid package for you.

    3. Department funding

      • Our department contacts incoming students regarding funding opportunities.
      • We consider all applicants for funding.
  3. FYI: application review process
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    1. SPH application review:

      • Interview
        • Department will contact selected applicants for interviews.
      • Department recommendation will be sent to the Graduate School for final approval.
    2. UNC Graduate School application review and final decision:

      • The UNC Graduate School reviews all admissions recommendations made by programs. Once final decisions have been made, the Graduate School will send you an email instructing login to the Graduate School application portal to see the decision letter.
    3. NOTE: Financial aid is separate from the admissions process. For more information, please refer to our School's Costs and Funding page and/or UNC-Chapel Hill's Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA) website.

The Gillings Program Search is a tool for exploring academic programs at the School. It is a prospectus for the current year to be used in consultation with an academic adviser and does not constitute the complete degree or program requirements for graduation or program completion.

Credit Hours:
  • Lynnette Jones
  • Department Registrar
  • (919) 966-7391
  • 119B Rosenau Hall
    CB 7411
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411