Frequently Asked Questions

I will be receiving my undergraduate degree this year, so  I won’t have the 2 years of work experience that the SM2 program requires, but I have done many internships and/or worked part-time throughout college.  Do I have enough experience to be admitted for next year?

No.  HPM never admits students directly from undergraduate to its SM2 program.

We require candidates to have work experience obtained after college.  Once here, students find that having peers with significant work experience sets HSPH apart from many other public health programs.  Students also find that having worked prior to coming to HPM helps them get so much more out of the program.  If you are an exceptional candidate with fewer than two years work experience, you could consider applying to the SM2 program, however, if you are admitted, you will be deferred and required to work full-time before matriculating.

I’m not sure if I want to be on the policy, management, or research track.  Do I need to decide before I apply?

No.  Students often come to HPM thinking they will pursue one track and then, as they learn more, switch to another.  Most students focus on a particular track by the spring of their first year, but some don’t decide until later.

Can I have a full-time or part-time job while I am enrolled in your program?

We strongly encourage students who are enrolled on a full-time basis to be very careful about working too much while they are in school, particularly in the first year of the program.  Our programs are rigorous and we are on a quarter system, which makes the coursework more intense because it  means that every 7-8 weeks, most or all of your courses will change.  Almost all HSPH classes meet during the day, which  makes it difficult to schedule classes and a job.  If you have a flexible employer and your job is located nearby, you may be able to maintain some part-time hours while studying.  However, we strongly recommend working no more than 10 hours per week.

Does being an international student put me at a disadvantage in gaining admission to this program?

Absolutely not!  HSPH and HPM value diversity and a large portion of our students come from countries other than the United States.

Do you offer a joint SM2/MBA program with the Harvard Business School?

No, there is no joint SM2/MBA program, nor are there current plans for a joint program. However, HSPH students may cross-register for courses at Harvard’s Business School or MIT’s Sloan School (at the discretion of the course instructor).  Most SM students who are in the management track take one or more courses at these schools.

Where else can I cross-register?

HSPH students may enroll in courses offered by any one of the other Harvard faculties, including MIT, Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Do I need to stay in Boston for my required summer internship?

No, the summer internship requirement can be met by working at an approved placement in any corner of the world.  In recent years, students have done their internships in locations as diverse as Tanzania, the Philippines, Switzerland, France, and many US locations other than Boston.

I’m trying to decide if I should apply to the SD program or the university-wide PhD program in Health Policy?  What are the differences between these programs?

The SD program, which is housed within the HPM department at HSPH, is designed primarily for medical doctors, although a few students have other types of doctoral degrees (e.g., JD).  The intra-university PhD program is open to students without a prior doctoral degree.  The SD program is very small; only one or two students are generally accepted in any one year.  This means that SD students are not part of a larger cohort, as is the case with the PhD program. The SD program has very limited financial assistance for students, whereas the PhD program accepts only candidates for whom funding is available.  For information on Harvard’s PhD program in Health Policy, please visit or contact

What should my Statement of Purpose include?

Do not underestimate the importance of this statement. It is your opportunity to write about your qualifications, motivations, and potential to make a contribution to the field of public health. However, it should not be a replication of your resume/CV. Instead, you should write about:

1. Your academic and/or professional preparation for a career in public health;

2. Why you want to enroll in the degree program to which you are applying;

3. Your career plans upon completion of the program at HSPH.

When will I find out if I am accepted or not?

The School’s Admissions Office begins to send admission decisions in the middle of February. However, not all decisions are sent at this time because departments and the Committee on Admissions and Degrees may not yet have completed their review of all applications.  Notifying applicants of our decision is a top priority, and we attempt to get our admissions decisions out to applicants as quickly as possible.

How do I find information on financial aid?

If you plan on requesting financial aid, you may want to get started by looking for sources of funding. The HSPH Student Financial Services Department has some extremely important information you may review:

Scholarship informatin can be found at the following link:

Any questions regarding financial aid should be directed to HSPH Student Financial Services at 617.432.1867.