JD/MPH Joint Degree Program

Program Description

The Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health (JD/MPH) joint degree program is offered jointly by the Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The objective of the program is to support and encourage individuals with an interest in public health studies in the development of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in preparation for a career in health law, public health policy, or a related field.

Students in the program fulfill all requirements necessary to earn a JD from HLS and an MPH from HSPH.  Students enroll in the Law and Public Health concentration of the MPH, and pursue a defined study track in their MPH coursework.  The usual requirement that applicants to the MPH program obtain a JD prior to matriculation at the School of Public Health is waived.  Upon successful completion of the program, joint degree students will be awarded both a JD and an MPH from the respective Harvard schools.

This intensive course of study is completed in three academic years plus one summer semester.  Students spend their first academic year solely at HLS taking the standard first-year Law School curriculum. Following the first year, students must enroll full-time in both of the HSPH summer sessions, which collectively run from early July through mid-August.  During the second and third years of the program, joint degree students are enrolled in, and take courses at, both schools.  No coursework is required during the second-year summer, which is typically used to pursue health-law-related work experience of the student’s choice.  Students receive both degrees in June of the third year.

A full description of the JD/MPH curriculum and admissions process is available in the program brochure posted here.

 Read an article published about the program in Harvard Public Health Now.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the program open to students from law schools other than Harvard Law School?

A: No, you must matriculate at Harvard Law School (HLS) in order to begin the JD/MPH program. You may apply to the JD/MPH program at the same time as you apply to HLS, but your admission will be formally contingent upon matriculation at HLS.

Students from other law schools are eligible to apply to the regular MPH program (either the Law and Public Health concentration or another concentration). Ideally, applicants will have two or more years of work experience at the time of application. Outstanding law students may be admitted for matriculation immediately following their law school graduation.

Q: When is the best time to apply for the JD/MPH Joint Degree Program?

A: You can apply either at the time you submit applications to law schools or during the fall of your first year at Harvard Law School. If your choice of law school will depend on whether or not you get into the Harvard JD/MPH program, then you need to submit your JD/MPH application concurrently with your law school applications.

Otherwise, we recommend that you apply during the fall of your first year as a Harvard Law Student. There is no disadvantage to doing so, and it may be helpful to you for two reasons: (1) you will have additional time to pursue health-related experiences, and (2) you’ll have a better sense of the law school workload and whether you want to take on additional coursework.

Q: What forms do I use to apply for the JD/MPH Joint Degree Program?

A: Whether you are applying to the JD/MPH Program concurrently with your application to Harvard Law School or during your first year of Harvard Law School, complete the standard HSPH application and the standard application to the JD program at HLS. Follow the special instructions for JD/MPH applicants on the HSPH application.

Q: Do I have to take the GRE?

A:You can apply to the joint degree program with just your LSAT score.  If you have a GRE score, please submit it as well.  GRE scores are helpful in considering your application to the MPH program because the Admissions Committee looks for evidence of aptitude in math.

Q: How do I send my LSAT scores to HSPH?

A: HLS will send your LSAT score to HSPH.  If you are applying to the JD/MPH program and are a current HLS applicant, you should submit a written request to the HLS Admissions Office asking them to send your LSAT score to HSPH. If you are a current first-year student at HLS, you must ask the HLS Registrar to send your LSAT score to HSPH. You will need to fill out a release of information form. The score should be sent to the attention of Kerri Noonan in the HSPH Admissions Office.

Q: How do I send my academic transcripts to HSPH?

A:  Whether you are a first-year law student or a current applicant to HLS and HSPH, you must request transcripts from your prior schools and have them sent to SOPHAS. However, SOPHAS cannot release your transcripts to HSPH.  When ordering transcripts, you should also request one official copy to be sent directly to you. Keep these transcripts in their sealed envelopes. If you are accepted into the JD/MPH program and you decide to enroll, you can send these official copies of your transcripts to the HSPH Admissions Office. Please note that HLS cannot send your transcripts from prior schools attended to HSPH.

Q: When can I expect to hear whether I have been accepted to the JD/MPH program?

A:Admissions decisions are expedited for current first-year Harvard Law students so that they can plan for summer employment or matriculation at HSPH during the summer after first year. These applicants can expect to receive a decision by late January.

Admissions decisions for individuals applying to the JD/MPH program concurrently with their law school applications will be made on the normal timetable; applicants are generally notified in April. All offers of admission to the JD/MPH program are conditional upon the applicant’s acceptance to and matriculation at Harvard Law School.

Q: What financial aid is available?

A: Tuition arrangements and financial aid procedures are described in the JD/MPH program brochure. In addition to completing a financial aid application, candidates are encouraged to apply to the University-wide Zuckerman Fellows program, which provides a year’s tuition and health insurance fees at the School of Public Health plus a $30,000 stipend. Follow the application instructions at Zuckerman Fellows website. Consult the Zuckerman program administrators directly concerning the optimal timing of your Zuckerman application. Historically, applications have been required at the time of applying to the joint degree program.

Q: How big is the program?

A: The JD/MPH program accepts no more than 5 students per year.  On average, 3-4 matriculate each year.  These students join a larger Law and Public Health cohort consisting of the second- and third-year JD/MPH students as well as the full- and part-time MPH students concentrating in Law and Public Health.  The total cohort is generally 12-15 students.

Q: What do JD/MPH students go on to do after graduation?

A: Our program is relatively new, with the first graduate finishing in 2006. To date, our 8 graduates have gone on to work as:
– Health care and food & drug attorneys at private law firms
– Legal counsel at the Food and Drug Administration
– A management consultant in the Middle East
– A research fellow working on public health law issues at the Harvard School of Public Health
– A research fellow in a health law institute at a law school
– An assistant attorney general in a state department of justice
– A Presidential Management Fellow in the Department of Veterans Affairs
Many of our graduates have long-range aspirations to work in the health policy arena, for example, for a government agency, on a state or federal legislative staff, or for a nonprofit organization.  They often seek to get experience in the private practice of health law before transitioning to this role.  Some are interested in research careers, for example as a law professor or public health professor.


Q: Can I talk to someone about the program?

A: Yes. Questions about application procedures, tuition, and financial aid should be directed to the admissions and financial services offices of HSPH and Harvard Law School; contact information is provided in the JD/MPH Program Brochure. If you would like to talk about the program curriculum, please send an email to Roberta Gianfortoni at rgianfor@hsph.harvard.edu to set up a time to talk. Please review the information provided in the Program Brochure before getting in touch as many questions are answered there.