DrPH Degree Frequently Asked Questions

 Academic Program and Fit

Application Process


What is the difference between the career goals of students in the Harvard DrPH degree and the PhD and SD doctoral degrees at the School?
The primary career orientation of graduates of the new Harvard DrPH degree is for leadership roles in the health sector. While some graduates at some point in their career will enter academia, this is not the central goal of the program. The PhD and SD degrees at the Harvard School of Public Health educate students for careers primarily in academia and other research settings.
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Is there an option to earn the DrPH degree in a particular discipline?
No, the new Harvard DrPH degree is an interdisciplinary degree. Students in the program receive an advanced education in the scholarship of knowledge translation, the development of a broad understanding of all aspects of public health through integration of multiple disciplines, and the ability to rigorously apply scientific findings to address complex problems of public health policy and practice. The curriculum is designed to provide mastery of high-level competencies in leadership, management, innovation, and communications.
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How long should it take to complete the degree?
The Harvard DrPH degree is designed for three to no more than four years based on the students’ admitted, the approach to mastery of the competencies, and the supportive learning environment to be completed in. This includes 24 months of coursework and integrated field experiences, an extended field experience, and the writing of a culminating project.
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What is the residency requirement?
The DrPH degree is an intensive and immersive educational experience that takes place over 24 months in residence at Harvard with an integration of classroom, campus, and community learning experiences. An essential component is the interaction with faculty and the cohort of students in the program while in residence at Harvard. Full-time enrollment is expected during the first 24 months of the program followed by a serious commitment of time for a rigorous, extended field experience and the writing of a culminating project. There is no part-time option for the Harvard DrPH degree. The flexibility in the program exists in terms of location during the extended field experience and the writing of the culminating project. It is the expectation that the degree is completed in no more than four years except in extenuating circumstances.
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What is the size of the cohort?
The inaugural cohort for the Harvard DrPH will be between 15 to 20 students. The students will benefit from the diverse experiences and expertise of their fellow students in the program as well as the dynamic student body of the entire Harvard School of Public Health.
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Will there be opportunities to cross-register at other Harvard schools?
One of the strengths of the Harvard DrPH is that it leverages the wealth of expertise and experiences of the entire Harvard community both for required classes, electives, and other educational experiences.
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Are there fellowships available?
To create a world-class cohort of students in the inaugural class there will be a mix of full and partial fellowships available to students in the program.
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Does the DrPH accept transfer credits?
No, the curriculum and overall educational experience are carefully designed to promote mastery of a specific set of knowledge and skills. To assure that this takes place we do not accept transfer credits.
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If I am not admitted to the DrPH degree, will I be considered for another degree at the Harvard School of Public Health?
If your aspirations and qualifications match the description of the Harvard DrPH, we strongly encourage you to apply. We have designed a unique program and in turn seek talent and potential for leadership that comes in many different forms. Please allow us the opportunity to assess your application and if we see a better fit with another degree program at our School, your application will be passed on  to the review committee for that particular degree program for review. Based on initial inquiries, we expect a significant number of applications for the inaugural DrPH degree cohort (15 to 20 students). Admission to all degrees at the Harvard School of Public Health is very selective, and to maintain excellence and appropriate educational program sizes we regret we cannot admit all qualified applicants to our programs.
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Can I speak with someone about the degree?
Yes, we welcome inquiries. Please email drph@hsph.harvard.edu, and we will follow up with you. Also, please add yourself to the electronic mailing list so that we can keep you updated on developments regarding the DrPH degree.
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Can I visit a class?
The new Harvard DrPH curriculum will be a mix of new courses and existing courses. You are welcome to visit campus and attend one of the current courses. Please email drph@hsph.harvard.edu, and we will follow up with you to make arrangements.
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When is the application deadline?
A completed application must be submitted by December 15, 2013.  Due to the large number applicants to the DrPH degree program, we will be finishing application reviews and finalist interviews by the end of February.
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Do you expect a minimum number of years of required work experience?
The Harvard DrPH degree is designed for students who have full-time work experience prior to matriculation. There is no universal “right” amount of work experience. The admissions process will carefully evaluate the nature of your experience with a focus on assessing evidence of your potential for leadership.
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From whom should I seek recommendations?
Careful and candid assessment from references that speak to your professional performance and contributions to an organization, your potential for senior leadership, and your ability to succeed academically is a key component of your application. Three recommendations are required for the application. We recommend that two of the references primarily speak to your professional work and one of the references to your academic aptitude.
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