Commencement

Our School’s past, present, and future

Next week, we mark 100 years since the first class of students graduated from Harvard School of Public Health. Our Centennial Class will graduate in Kresge Courtyard next Thursday, May 29, the culmination of a year of celebration and reflection. It is a Commencement for both the graduates beginning their public health careers and for a School beginning its second century.

This year, over 500 students will receive degrees from HSPH; by contrast, in the School’s first nine years combined (its period of affiliation with MIT), a total of just 294 students enrolled in various programs—when degrees were not yet being granted, though 82 of those students received certificate in public health.

In addition to the sheer number of students, some statistics show a different kind of growth since those early years. Well under 10% of those first few hundred students received any form of financial assistance, while today, 79% of HSPH students are recipients of aid. The first entering class of 8 students consisted entirely of American men; the Class of 2014 boasts students from over 70 countries, nearly three-fifths of whom are women.

Academics have evolved, too. Once offering a single certificate program with a focus on the fields of preventive medicine, biological science, and sanitary engineering, the School now boasts master’s and doctoral degrees across nine departments.

This summer, we begin our second century by welcoming the inaugural class of the doctor of public health degree program. While the School has come far in its first century, this exciting new program illustrates that our innovation in the field of public health has only just begun.

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This story concludes the Centennial Moments series in honor of Harvard School of Public Health’s Centennial. We welcome you to share your feedback at centennial@hsph.harvard.edu.

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