The Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program of the Milken Institute School of Public Health offers unique educational opportunities to law students, practicing lawyers, and health professions students. Endowed by Harold and Jane Hirsh and home to GW’s joint degree programs in law and public health, the program is designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health policy, health law, public health, and health care.
The Hirsh Program’s overall goal is to advance a greater understanding regarding how the law influences and shapes all facets of health care and public health, as well as how the changing system affects traditional areas of the law. At the same time, the program seeks to achieve the pragmatic objectives of readying law degree candidates and practicing lawyers for the broad range of health law-related careers that are available today.
The certificate option allows JD and LLM Law School students to earn a graduate certificate in public health through 12 credits of additional coursework. Students may choose from one of several focus areas. For more information, please see the Curriculum Tab.
Joint Degree Admissions
Applicants to the joint law-public health degree/certificate program may apply for admission to GWSPH at or after the time they apply to the GW Law School. JD candidates who do not apply concurrently to the Law School and GWSPH are encouraged to file the MPH or Certificate application by the spring semester of their first year of law school. LLM candidates are encouraged to apply to GWSPH at the time they apply to the Law School or during their first semester on campus.
Applicants to the joint law-public health program must complete the application processes for both the GW Law School (JD or LLM) and for the Milken Institute School of Public Health (MPH or Certificate). Admission to the joint degree program requires admissions acceptances from both Schools. Applicants who are accepted by one School but not the other are free to enroll in the School to which they have been accepted.
Tuition and Fees
Milken Institute School of Public Health (SPH) coursework taken while enrolled as a full- or part-time JD or LLM candidate is charged at the Law School tuition rate. The SPH tuition and fees rate are charged for semesters when no Law School courses are taken, including summers. Lawyers pay the SPH tuition and fees rate.
The MPH degree consists of 45 credits in one of several focus areas, including a supervised Practicum. Because eight of these credits may be cross-credited from the Law School, JD and LLM students need only complete 37 credits of coursework through the SPH to obtain an MPH degree.
JD candidates selecting joint degree studies in one of the more science-oriented areas, such as epidemiology or biostatistics, should anticipate a 4-year course of study. Candidates selecting a less scientific area, such as health policy or health administration/management, can expect to complete their joint degrees in 3-and-a-half years. Full-time LLM/MPH candidates should anticipate completing their joint degrees in approximately 2 years. Part-time JD and LLM candidates pursuing joint degrees will have longer courses of study.
The course of study for the Graduate Certificate consists of 18 credits in one of several focus areas. However, because six credits may be cross-credited from the Law School, JD and LLM students need only complete 12 credits of coursework through the SPH to obtain a graduate certificate in public health. Upon an individual's subsequent acceptance to the MPH degree program, credits from the Graduate Certificate program may be transferred to the MPH degree program. Full-time JD candidates can complete a graduate certificate during their regular course of study in the Law School. Full-time LLM/certificate candidates typically complete the program in one and one-half years.
Students in degree programs must participate in eight hours of Professional Enhancement. These activities are pre-approved by an advisor and may be Public Health-related lectures, seminars, and symposia related to your field of study.
Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.
Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training
All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research prior to beginning the practicum. This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.
Academic Integrity Quiz
All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity. This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.
Internships and Research
The Hirsh Program offers extensive assistance in arranging internships in congressional offices, federal agencies, and the hundreds of national health organizations located in and throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Through its affiliation with the Department of Health Policy, the program also engages in extensive law-related health policy research, offering Hirsh Program students paid and unpaid training opportunities during their period of study.
Please visit the Department of Health Policy and Management web pages for a description of the types of research in which it engages.
The Hirsh Program maintains an active alumni group of lawyers and health professionals practicing in the D.C. area and throughout the country. Graduates of the Hirsh Program routinely accept positions at leading law firms, federal and state agencies, consulting firms, and universities in D.C. and other cities.
Once in their chosen field of practice, alumni of the program recognize that their joint studies in policy, law, and public health are an invaluable asset on the job. Alumni in the practice of health law report that their training in the SPH enables them to understand the myriad aspects of the health care and public health systems, including their structure, financing, and terminology. Alumni who work as health professionals indicate that their training in the law earns them added respect from their employers and added credibility from the health care providers, agencies, and companies with which they interact.