Public Health Dentistry MPH

Shape dental care to focus on the whole community.

A public health dentistry dual degree gives students the opportunity to combine dentistry with public health studies. In the process, you’ll learn how to shape a dental practice that serves the whole community.

This program will prepare you to:

  • Understand, assess, and manage population health in a variety of settings
  • Apply population-based science to your dental practice
  • Improve effectiveness and opportunities in your current work and career path

The MPH Public Health Dentistry program is designed for students who are applying to or enrolled in a dental school. If you are a practice dentist, please consider the Executive Program in Public Health Program.


A 42-credit minimum is required for Public Health Dentistry. Up to 14 credits may be transferred into the MPH from a school of dentistry with approval of the director.

See Detailed Public Health Dentistry MPH Curriculum Information (PDF)

Basic Curriculum (17-20 credits)
The basic curriculum courses are offered either online or in-class at the University of Minnesota.

  • PubH 6020 Fundamentals of Social & Behavioral Science (3)
  • PubH 6102 Issues in Environmental & Occupational Health (2)
  • PubH 6320 Fundamentals of Epidemiology (3)
  • PubH 6414 Biostatistical Methods I (3)
  • PubH 6741 Ethics in Public Health: Professional Practice & Policy (1)
  • PubH 6751 Mgmt in Health Services Organizations (2)
  • PubH 7296 Field Experience: Public Health Practice (2-4)
  • PubH 7294 Master’s Project: Public Health Practice (4)

Elective Curriculum (8-11 credits)

Public Health Dentistry students have the opportunity to choose their elective courses based on their career goals and interests. You may choose to complete an established interdisciplinary concentration, focus on one or two topics, or take a variety of electives.

You are required to choose at least one class from each of the four Public Health Practice domains as established by the APHA Council on Linkages.

The four domains are:

  • Public policy development using a systems framework
  • Interventions based on the dimensions of community and culture
  • Assessment and application of basic public health sciences
  • Program management and communications principles
Courses offered at the Public Health Institute will fulfill these domains. The coordinator can assist you to ensure that these domains are easily fulfilled.

Master’s Culminating Experience/Field Experience

The master’s project is a planned undertaking involving studious inquiry or examination. The product of that undertaking is a formal, written, scholarly report that demonstrates writing proficiency; and the ability to critically approach a topic, synthesize, interpret, and successfully convey information to the appropriate audience.

The project provides a culminating experience for the student that allows the student to demonstrate the use of public health principles and competencies.

Students are expected to demonstrate familiarity with the tools of applied research or scholarship in public health practice, the ability to work independently, and the ability to apply skills learned in coursework by completing a Research Paper, or Systematic Literature Review, or Consultative Report, or Grant Proposal or complete the Certification in Public Health exam.

Dental students are strongly recommended to the Certification in Public Health exam, after completing the basic MPH curriculum and the CPH exam is offered through out the year for your convenience.

Field Experience

This is an opportunity for students to learn firsthand about the organization, operations, and special activities of selected agencies, institutions, and industries concerned with public health practice. Learn more about the field experience.

The public health practice field experience provides students with a means of gaining additional insight into programs, personnel management, governmental relations, public relations, legislative support and, knowledge of special investigations conducted by these organizations.

UMN DDS/MPH students may customize DDS 6361 and 6362 Outreach Experiences I & II to meet the requirements of SPH field experience during the fourth year of Dental School. DDS 6361 and 6362 can be transferred into the MPH. DDS/MPH students are required to complete the SPH field experience contract reflecting the DDS outreach experience. A completed SPH field experience contract is required prior to starting the outreach experience.

Any dental student who is in good standing and attending a School of Dentistry accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) may apply. All applications are reviewed holistically.

If you are a practicing dentist, you are eligible to apply to the Online Executive Program in Public Health Practice, which is designed for practitioners with advanced degrees.

Students may use up to 14 credits of dental courses toward the MPH, with approval. A large majority of the MPH courses are offered online, giving you the freedom to complete both degrees with flexibility and in a timely fashion. The MPH charges resident tuition since it is an online program.

  • Applicants are encouraged to begin program summer prior to entering dental school.
  • Applicants must be applying to or admitted into a school of dentistry accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
  • Students must have a baccalaureate degree before beginning MPH coursework.

Standardized Test Requirement

This program does not require DAT. Applicants must be applying to or admitted into a school of dentistry accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Admission Averages

  • GPA of 3.00

Public Health Dentistry is one of the nine dental specialty areas recognized by the American Dental Association. It is a dental practice that serves the community as a patient rather than the individual patient. It is a dental practice that educates, prevents and control dental diseases on a community basis.

Population science is an increasingly valued area of expertise in many health and human service organizations. This program gives you the credentials to work at the interface of human health and the community, increasing your understanding of population-based science and the cultural and environmental factors that affect patients.

Population-based solutions are especially coming to the forefront during this time of great health care reform movement.

Many dental students have a strong interest in international health and becoming future educators.  Additionally, there is a growing sense that addressing population health through Accountable Care Organizations will present opportunities for dentists with public health training.

After earning a DDS and a MPH from the University of Minnesota you will be eligible for residency and certification by the American Board of Dental Public Health.

What makes it a dual program?

With approval, you may apply up to 14 credits of dental courses toward the MPH and credits of public health courses toward the DDS, with approval from your DDS program. This allows you to reduce the length program, saving you time and money.

Who is eligible for the program?

Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited School of Dentistry.

How long does the program take?

Dental students may start taking public health courses the summer prior to starting dental school in the fall and finish the MPH after completing the DDS. Dental students have five years to complete the MPH degree.

Students are allowed to transfer up to 14 credits from the dental curriculum into the MPH, with approval.

How often do I need to be on campus?

Dual degree dental students may take a combination of online and in-classes for the MPH.

Do you charge non-resident tuition for out-of-state students?

All students in the Public Health Dentistry program are charged resident tuition since it is an online program.

The practice of dentistry allows us to influence our patients. Understanding public health allows us to improve oral health on a much larger scale.
–Judy Gundersen, DDS/MPH 2013

Application Deadlines

  • April 1 for
    Summer Term Admission
  • August 1 for
    Fall Term Admission
  • December 1 for
    Spring Term Admission

Contact Us

Major Coordinators
Kate Hanson

Katy Korchik