Degree Requirements

To complete a degree program successfully, each student must satisfy both academic and financial requirements. Financial degree requirements can be found under “Financial Degree Requirements” in Appendix F.

Academic Requirements

All Harvard Chan School degree candidates have course load requirements to ensure the successful completion of their designated degree program by the date of graduation. The following table shows the number of credits required to graduate for each of the degree programs offered at the Harvard Chan School, as well as the breakdown of the number of ordinal credits required and the number of cross-registered credits permitted.

Minimum Number of Credits Required to Graduate by Degree Program

Degrees MPH 42.5 Credit
60 Credit
80 Credit
Total Credits
Required to
42.5 42.5 60 80
Number of
Ordinal Credits
Required to
30 30 45 60
Number of
No more than 1/2 of total
credits of degree program
and/or per semester
Check with advisor for
departmental/program requirements
Students who are accepted into two consecutive programs must fulfill the requirements for the first degree prior to beginning the second program. Credits may not be carried over from the first program into the second. Harvard Chan School students are not permitted to be enrolled in concurrent degree programs, unless these programs are approved joint degree programs.

To maintain satisfactory academic progress towards the degree, students are required to take an appropriate number of credits each semester to meet the expected graduation date defined in each student’s letter of admission.

Joint, Concurrent, and Combined Degree Information

Harvard Chan School students may enroll in joint, combined or concurrent degree programs with Simmons College and three faculties of Harvard University.Participation in these programs require acceptance into both the institutions involved.

The Harvard Chan School offers a concurrent MD/Master of Public Health degree. The MD/MPH degree program is limited to students currently enrolled in a MD program who are on a leave of absence from their MD program, and have the intention of returning to complete their MD degrees after completion of the academic requirements of the MPH.

MPH degrees are conferred after completion of the MD degree, and submission of proof of MD degree conferral. MD/MPH students have 3 years upon the completion of the academic requirements for the MPH to complete the MD degree and submit proof of the MD degree conferral. This timeline must be met in order to maintain satisfactory academic standing and be awarded the MPH degree.

Applicants, while MD students, may be eligible to apply for admission to the regular MPH program if they already hold an advanced degree that meets the criteria for admissions into the program. Such degrees include, but are not limited to: Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Social Work, a master’s degree or Ph.D. in a related field, JD, etc. Students who are eligible for enrollment in the regular MPH program are not held to the MD degree contingency. Please contact the Admissions Office should you have any questions regarding your application to either the MPH or MD/MPH degree program.

A joint JD/MPH degree is offered in conjunction with Harvard Law School (HLS). Having been accepted to both degree programs, these students must enroll in the Law and Public Health Concentration of the MPH program. Joint degree students must register at the Harvard Chan School as a full-time student during the summer following their first year at HLS. Fulfillment of the remainder of their degree requirements may be completed on a part-time basis. The MPH will be awarded in conjunction with the law degree.

In addition, the Harvard Chan School offers two Master of Science programs in conjunction with Simmons College. Participating students must apply to and be accepted by both schools in order to matriculate. Students participating in this program will be awarded either a 42.5 credit SM in Environmental Health, concentrating in occupational health, or a 42.5 credit SM in Society, Human Development and Health.

Change in Degree, Department or Environmental Health Concentration
Currently enrolled students wishing to make a change to their degree or department may do so by completing a short application, and submitting letters of recommendation to the Admissions Office. Students must first have the approval of their current department prior to beginning this process.

Academic Standing
In addition to meeting course load requirements and distributions, Harvard Chan School students must remain in good academic standing, must complete program requirements within the designated time to degree, and must meet the following academic conditions:

1) All students must maintain a cumulative average of 2.70 or above. Please note that some departments and programs require students to maintain an average above the 2.70 minimum.

2) SD and DPH students must receive a B- or better in all courses proposed in the Prospective/Final Program, must adhere to the doctoral timetable and must successfully meet other specified departmental requirements. Please see the Doctoral Student Supplement section of the handbook.

Failure to Meet Academic Requirements

SD and DPH students may be deemed to be not making satisfactory academic progress for any of the following: (1) failure to maintain a grade point average of 2.70 and/or maintain the standards of the department; (2) failure to adhere to the doctoral timetable or other doctoral requirements specified by the CAD; (3) failure to complete courses/credits which delay completion of degree by designated degree date. Students determined to be making unsatisfactory academic progress will be withdrawn from degree candidacy or will be permitted to register for the subsequent semester under academic probation and subject to specific academic conditions, which, if not fulfilled by the specified time, may result in the termination of degree candidacy.

CAD policy states that: A student who is permitted to register conditionally for a subsequent semester following notification of unsatisfactory academic progress in a prior semester will be on academic probation until specific academic conditions are fulfilled or until he/she is required to withdraw for failure to fulfill conditions. (CAD 1/89)

The academic review process begins with notification to the department and advisor that the student is on academic probation. The department reviews the student’s status and may recommend that the student be allowed to register for courses during the following semester. The CAD will review the student’s academic progress and the department’s recommendations. For additional policies and procedures regarding unsatisfactory academic performance, please refer to “Review of Academic Standing” in Appendix B: Disciplinary Procedures.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require that federal student aid recipients maintain satisfactory academic progress. In addition to the qualitative component (GPA 2.7) required, there is a quantitative component to satisfactory academic progress which states that a student cannot receive federal student aid for more than 150% of the length of time required to complete the program of study. For more information, please see the Student Financial Services Guide.