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Dual-Degree Programs

  Christine Pieton   Lilly Webster
  Christine Pieton, SPT, Class of 2014
DPT/MBA Dual Degree Candidate
  Lilly Webster, SPT, Class of 2014
DPT/MPH Dual Degree Candidate

Two unique dual degree programs draw many DPT students to Emory. The program offers both a DPT/MBA and a DPT/MPH dual degree.

“There are few, if any, DPT programs in the nation that offer dual degrees,” says Zoher Kapasi, PT, PhD, MBA, director of the division of physical therapy. “These degrees are examples of the kind of innovation and collaboration for which Emory is known.

Emory’s DPT/MBA program is a cooperative initiative between the Emory School of Medicine and the Goizueta Business School. Kapasi conceived of the dual degree after he received his executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School in 2006. “It occurred to me this would be an incredible advantage we could offer our students,” says Kapasi. “Healthcare is governed more and more by business decisions, so medical practitioners who have management and financial skills are better equipped for today’s practice. A lot of physical therapists realize this after they’ve been out practicing for several years and come back to get an MBA. But if you can get that degree while you’re still in school, you’ll have the skills right from the start.”

Students in the DPT/MBA program receive their degrees in four years, rather than the five required if the degrees were earned separately. That’s because the dual program students are allowed to participate in a one year MBA program. Students spend their first two years studying physical therapy, then do their third year in the MBA program and finish with their fourth year in physical therapy internships.

“It does add an extra year of school, so it will take someone who is really driven to do it,” says Kapasi. “But I think the payoff will be huge.”

So far, Emory has graduated two DPT/MBA students – Nate Thomas in 2009 and John Goodrich last year. Currently enrolled in the program are: Michael Wang, Class of 2012; Kelly Hunt, Class of 2013; Crystal Huber, Class of 2013; and Christine Pieton, Class of 2014.

Emory’s innovative DPT/MPH dual degree was crafted by Susan Herdman, professor and former director of the DPT program. “She recognized that the two areas of study complement each other,” says Brenda Greene, DPT assistant professor. “One focuses on group intervention and the other individual intervention. One on prevention and the other on rehabilitation. The study of public health enables our students to intervene on a group level and a community level.”

To gain the degree, students take two years of study in the physical therapy division, then do a year in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. They finish with a year in physical therapy.

During their public health year, students can choose from a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional degree concentrations. “We offer a number of concentrations beyond what is usual for a school of public health,” says John McGowan, a professor at RSPH. “Not only do we have a department of global health, which is fairly unique, but we offer degree concentrations in global environmental occupational health and global epidemiology. Our students tend to be individualistic, so they appreciate the opportunity to pursue innovative pathways.”

In 2010, the first two students graduated with the DPT/MPH degree — Lori Northcraft and Megan Brock. Currently enrolled in the program are Karen Wilson, Class of 2012, and Lilly Webster, Class of 2014.

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