Pre Docs

The Pre-doctoral Program

The pre-doctoral program is designed for students who already hold master’s degrees and are ready to obtain doctoral training to carry out research in cancer prevention. A prime objective is to train cancer prevention specialists capable of conducting independent research and providing scientific leadership. Pre-doctoral slots can be funded up to three years. At completion of their training, professionals are fully conversant with the broad range of topics in cancer prevention, have deeper training in a specific approaches to cancer prevention (e.g., legal strategies to deter smoking, or policy analysis of resource allocation decisions in cancer prevention), and are prepared to conduct independent research in cancer prevention.

Doctoral candidates complete 20 units of study in their major field of concentration consisting of core requirements and electives. In addition, the School of Public Health requires that students complete 10 units of study in each of two minor fields. Original research is required of all trainees earning doctoral degrees and is supervised by our teaching faculty engaged in ongoing projects.

The grant covers up to $20,000 towards tuition each year and $22,000 towards salary each year for a maximum of 3 years for each pre doctoral fellow.

All doctoral candidates at the Harvard School of Public Health must pass two qualifying examinations: a written examination, administered by their department, and an oral examination that evaluates their understanding of the disciplines relevant to the conduct of their specific thesis proposal. Thesis research is supervised by a committee of three or four faculty. The thesis, which for these fellows focuses on cancer prevention, must be acceptable both to the members of the committee and to the Department. At least one member of their committee must be a member of the Cancer Prevention Education Advisory Committee and provide mentoring in cancer prevention.


All incoming fellows must have a primary mentor and at least one secondary mentor representing a different discipline within cancer prevention.  Fellows are expected to meet regularly with their mentors.

Required courses:

  •      Choose one of the following: EPI 213: Epidemiology of Cancer, SBS 219: High-Risk Behavior: Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies, or SBS 508: Successes & Challenges in Health Behavior Change


  •      HPM 548: Responsible Conduct of Research

Participate and present at monthly NCI Cancer Prevention Seminar.

Fellows are encouraged to participate in seminars and workshops sponsored by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention and the DF/HCC Population Sciences Programs.  Fellows are expected to participate in the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention Dialogues for Prevention.

Complete annual program Evaluation Survey.

Complete yearly Tracking Form (document the extent to which program requirements were met in each year)

For pre-doctoral fellows the training plan is developed in coordination with the students overall doctoral program plan.  This training plan is completed no later than the end of the first year of the fellowship; the fellow submits the plan to the program coordinator.

Pre-doctoral fellows are expected to meet the requirements for their department for the doctoral degree.