Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose and Objectives requirements vary by program. Do not underestimate the importance of this statement. It is your opportunity to inform the faculty reviewers of your qualifications, motivation, and potential to make a contribution to the field of public health.

Statement requirement for all Master of Science (SM) and MPH (excluding JD/MPH): The Statement of Purpose and Objectives should not exceed 600 words, although SOPHAS allows for a higher word count.  In your statement, please describe the following:

  • Academic and/or professional preparation for a career in public health
  • Your focused interest in the degree program/department or MPH field of study to which you are applying
  • Career plans upon completion of the program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Note any relevant strengths or weaknesses in your background or in your ability to carry out your professional responsibilities.

Statement requirement for JD/MPH: The Statement of Purpose and Objectives should not exceed 750 words, although SOPHAS allows for a higher word count. There is no prescribed format for the essay, but it should include information about the following:

  • Your focused interest within the field of public health
  • Previous academic, professional, and/or extracurricular experiences that demonstrate your interest in public health or health-related issues
  • Reasons for wanting to enroll in the joint JD/MPH degree program
  • Career plans upon completion of the joint degree program

The essay should persuasively establish (1) your preparation to undertake this intense course of study, (2) your understanding of the MPH curriculum, and (3) a good fit between the curriculum and your interests and goals.

Statement requirement for DrPH: In your statement, please answer all of the following questions and number the response accordingly:

  1. Describe in detail your most significant professional experience and explain why it prepares you to pursue advanced professional studies in public health. (up to 500 words)
  2. Provide a reflection of your current leadership abilities and describe what you seek to reinforce and/ or strengthen in context to your work, through the DrPH degree program. (up to 500 words)
  3. Tell us about a public health problem or challenge that you seek to address as part of your studies in the program and/or upon completion of your DrPH degree program. (up to 500 words)

Statement requirement for MHCM: Applicants to the MHCM program who have questions about the essay requirement may contact Colin Fleming at 617-432-7075. This statement should not exceed 1,250 words.

  1. In one paragraph or less briefly describe the organization where you are employed in terms of its purpose, its services and client population, and its scope of operation (state, county, etc., if relevant). Also provide several relevant measures of its size (e.g., annual budget and revenues; number of employees or full-time equivalents; patients or beds; and number of years in existence if less than five years old).
  2. In one paragraph describe your role in the organization, including title/position of groups or individuals to whom you report; current responsibilities; number and types of individuals you supervise; size of budget(s) you control; and names of principal committees on which you sit.
  3. Summarize your career development, describe the broad areas of endeavor in which you have engaged, and distinguish between clinically-oriented activities (e.g., teaching, research, practice) and leadership activities.
  4. With reference to your present and future responsibilities and development, describe what you are primarily interested in learning as a result of participating in the program. Please note subject areas in which you are well versed and those in which you feel you need improvement.
  5. Consider a professional project where you were responsible for design and/or implementation, and the project was successful. Describe what you learned from this experience and how it influenced you as a leader.
  6. Consider a professional project where you were responsible for design and/or implementation, and the project was unsuccessful or not implemented as designed. Describe what you learned from this experience and how it influenced you as a leader.

Advisory Note:
We recognize that cultural norms differ from country to country. In order for our applicants to be informed of what is expected, we suggest reading the following text, which is included in our Student Handbook in the section on Academic Integrity. While this text refers to work submitted for courses, it applies to the documentation submitted as part of the application process:

“All work submitted to meet course requirements is expected to be a student’s own work. In the preparation of work submitted to meet course requirements, students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student’s reading and research the sources must be indicated. The term ‘sources’ includes not only published primary and secondary material, but also information and opinions gained directly from other people. The responsibility for using the proper forms of citation lies with the individual student. Quotations must be placed within quotation marks, and the source must be credited. All paraphrased material also must be completely acknowledged.”

We encourage applicants to visit our pages on Citation/Attributions and Academic Writing.