Fields of Study

Each of the two variants of the MPH degree—the 45-credit and the 65-credit MPH—features a number of distinct fields of study that enable students to gain specialized expertise in particular areas that match their public health interests, professional goals, and prior experience.

All MPH students must select a field of study in which they will complete both required and elective courses. Additionally, all MPH students must complete an applied learning experience and an integrative learning experience, in accordance with the guidelines of their selected field of study.

The Harvard Chan School MPH is available to students with varying levels of prior education and work experience. Please review the eligibility requirements of your chosen format and field of study carefully.

45-Credit MPH

In general, applicants for the MPH-45 degree must have one of the following:

  • a prior doctoral degree—for example, MD, DO, DMD, DDS, PhD, SD, JD (or equivalent)
  • a master’s degree in a health-related field—for example, MSN, MSW, MBA—plus at least two years of relevant health experience
  • completed the primary clinical year of medical or dental school or be a 1L student at Harvard Law School or a concurrent applicant to the master of science in nursing at Simmons University. For more information, visit Dual/Joint Degrees.
  • a bachelor’s degree, plus five or more years of relevant health experience (for the epidemiology, global health, health and social behavior, health management, and health policy fields of study only)

65-Credit MPH

Applicants for the MPH-65 degree must have the following:

  • a bachelor’s degree, plus two or more years of post-baccalaureate work experience in a relevant public health field.

MPH-45 Credit Fields of Study

Clinical Effectiveness (CLE 45-credit academic year and summer-only options)

The clinical effectiveness field of study is focused on identifying the most appropriate, ethical, and cost-effective means of providing health care through prevention, early detection, and treatment. With this focus, the field of study is designed to provide the analytical and quantitative training necessary to evaluate the impact of clinical practices, decisions, and interventions. Major areas of professional interest within this field include clinical epidemiology and bio­statistics, cost-effectiveness analysis, medical decision analysis, health services research, quality improvement in health care, and measurement of health-related quality of life.

Along with the broad perspective on general aspects of public health that the program offers, this training provides a basis for identifying the health policy implications and public health benefits of clinical investigations. The field of study prepares students for clinical research responsibilities and for leader­ship roles in evaluating and improving all aspects of health care delivery. Most graduates hold positions in academic medicine. Limited to clinicians who enroll initially in the Program in Clinical Effectiveness.

Epidemiology - Online / On-Campus (EPI 45-credit)

This part-time, two-year degree program combines the best of online, in-person, and in-the-field learning to provide public health and health care professionals with advanced research and epidemiological skills. The MPH in epidemiology requires a prior doctoral degree—for example, MD, DO, DMD, DDS, PhD, SD, JD (or equivalent). Also eligible to apply are those with a master’s degree in a health-related field (for example, MSN, MSW, MBA) plus two years of relevant experience, or those with a bachelor’s degree plus five or more years of relevant experience in a health-related field. Current MD and DO students are not eligible to enroll in the MPH in epidemiology.

Global Health (GH 45-credit)

The global health field of study is intended to prepare health professionals with prior relevant global health experience for leadership and management roles in global health at subnational, national, or international levels. The strongest applicants will have significant and sustained global health experience. The program explores the emerging professional and academic domain of global health, emphasizing the development of analytical and methodological skills to effectively address important population health challenges in a global context. Students will enhance their ability to apply epidemiological, economic, political, and managerial analysis to the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of health policies and programs.

Graduates will work in provincial or national ministries of health, intergovernmental organizations, donor aid agencies, nongovernmental (or nonprofit) organizations, and entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as in proprietary organizations.

Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree are eligible for the MPH-45 in the global health field of study if they also have at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field.

Health and Social Behavior (HSB 45-credit)

The health and social behavior field of study is devoted to understanding health disparities and promoting health. It is appropriate for applicants who have done some research or relevant work in related areas. Coursework emphasizes theoretical and analytical strate­gies for characterizing health problems in populations and for the development of interventions. In addition, com­munication, advocacy, and policy formation in the public sector are addressed. Beyond the MPH public health core curriculum, students are expected to develop expertise in a skill or topic area of interest. Guidance is provided to develop a more in-depth understanding of specific health problems and vulnerable groups.

This field of study prepares students to work in diverse spheres, including federal, state, and local government; advocacy groups; voluntary health organizations; and community-based primary care settings in the United States and other countries. Posts filled by graduates include state health director; medical director of programs for child, adolescent, and women’s health; health policy analyst; and health educator. Other graduates have gone on to academic positions.

Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree are eligible for the MPH-45 in the health and social behavior field of study if they also have at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field.

Health Management (HM 45-credit)

The health management field of study prepares students for management careers in the unique environment of health care. Students who choose the health management field of study take coursework that provides practical management skills, including account­ing, finance, operations, marketing, quality improvement, leadership and management of people, and strategy. Students will learn to analyze and take actions to improve organizational performance using the skills and frameworks learned in coursework and through field experiences.

Program graduates have filled many management and leadership roles in health care organizations, including health delivery systems, health insurance plans, consulting firms, and start-ups. Others have pursued successful careers in government and academic medicine.

Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree are eligible for the MPH-45 in the health management field of study if they also have at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field.

Health Policy (HP 45-credit)

The health policy field of study prepares students to apply economic, legal, and political analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care and public health policies in the United States or other countries with high-income economies. Through the study of biostatistics, epidemiology, and other quantitative disciplines, students also acquire skills in interpreting and evaluating scientific evidence to inform their policy work. Students are encouraged to choose elective courses that will help them develop greater expertise in a policy area of interest, such as access to care, health care quality, pharmaceutical policy, injury prevention, or health care financing.

Program graduates work in policy positions in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors as policy analysts, advocates, and consultants.

Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree are eligible for the MPH-45 in the health policy field of study if they also have at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field.

Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH 45-credit)

The occupational and environmental health field of study focuses on workplace and environmental hazards, the physiologi­cal and biomechanical aspects of work, the risks posed by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors, and a practical approach to solving health problems in various work and com­munity settings. Students may choose one of two areas of inter­est: occupational health and environmental health.

The program is designed for physicians and other professionals who intend to practice occupational/environmental medicine or to hold responsible posi­tions in occupational and/or environmental policy and management. The occupational health area fulfills the coursework requirements of the two-year Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency (for specific guidelines, see the resident handbook). This field of study is also intended for physicians who wish to satisfy the didactic requirements of the American Board of Preventive Medicine for certification in occupational and envi­ronmental medicine.

Quantitative Methods (QM 45-credit)

The quantitative methods field of study provides students with the neces­sary quantitative and analytical skills to approach and solve prob­lems in public health and clinical research and practice. This field of study emphasizes study design, data analysis, and the application of quantitative methods within the context of epide­miology, biostatistics, decision sciences, demography, and pro­gram evaluation. The competency-based curriculum is designed to provide health professionals with the analytical and statistical knowledge and skills required for successful public health prac­tice and research. It is appropriate for both midcareer health professionals or research scientists and those in the early stages of their careers.

In addition to providing broad perspectives on general aspects of public health, this program prepares graduates for professional positions in clini­cal and population-based health research in government, health care institutions, and private industry. It also provides an excellent foundation for those interested in pursuing academic careers in the health sciences.

MPH-65 Credit Fields of Study

Health and Social Behavior (HSB 65-credit)

This field of study is devoted to understanding health disparities and promoting health. Coursework emphasizes theoretical and analytical strate­gies for characterizing health problems in populations and for the development of interventions. In addition, com­munication, advocacy, and policy formation in the public sector are addressed. Beyond the MPH public health core curriculum, students are expected to develop expertise in a skill or topic area of interest. Guidance is provided to develop a more in-depth understanding of specific health problems and vulnerable groups.

This field of study prepares those early in their careers to work in diverse spheres, including federal, state, and local government; advocacy groups; voluntary health organizations; and community-based primary care settings in the United States and other countries.

Health Management (HM 65-credit)

(The MPH-65 health management field of study has a January start.)

Building on the principles and values of public health, the heath management field of study prepares students for a variety of health-related careers. Students earning their MPH in health management take foundational courses in public health—such as epidemiology and the social and structural determinants of health—to gain population-health perspective and expertise. Building off this context, students also take management courses to build practical skills in financial and managerial accounting, innovation, entrepreneurship, strategy, and organizational behavior. Students learn to improve organizational performance leveraging the frameworks and knowledge obtained through coursework, field experience, and engagement with classmates from around the world, with a wide range of professional experience.

Program graduates have filled management and leadership roles in the U.S. and abroad in both public- and private-sector firms, including health care delivery organizations, health systems, community health providers, health insurance companies, NGOs, consultancies, and organizations solving public health challenges and improving community well-being across the globe.

Health Policy (HP 65-credit)

Students in this field of study learn to apply economic, legal, and political analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care and public health policies in the United States or other countries with high-income economies. Through the study of biostatistics, epidemiology, and other quantitative disciplines, students also acquire skills in interpreting and evaluating scientific evidence to inform their policy work. Students are encouraged to choose elective courses that will help them develop greater expertise in a policy area of interest, such as access to care, health care quality, pharmaceutical policy, injury prevention, or health care financing.

Program graduates work in policy positions in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors as policy analysts, advocates, and consultants.

Nutrition (NUT 65-credit)

The nutrition field of study prepares individuals early in their careers for positions in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors, working as nutrition policy advocates, project or program managers, or consultants in public health and health care organizations. In addition, this field of study enables those already established in health care careers to strengthen their nutrition knowledge in order to enhance their practice. Students develop an understanding of the role nutrition plays in the health and well-being of the world’s populations and learn to translate research advances into health-related policies, educational approaches, and nutrition recommendations. Through the study of biostatistics, epidemiology, and other quantitative disciplines, students also acquire skills in interpreting and evaluating scientific evidence to inform their translational work. They are encouraged to choose elective courses that will help them develop an area of interest and expertise, such as nutrition policy, health disparities, nutrition epidemiology, global health, or sustainability.

Learn more about the new master of public health in nutrition.

Note: The MPH-65 programs in Global Health and Environmental Health are no longer accepting applications.