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. In addition, all students must complete an MPH practicum and culminating 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

As a general rule, only those meeting the following conditions are eligible for the MPH-45:

  • Prior doctoral degree—for example, MD, DO, DDS, PhD, SD, JD, or equivalent
  • Prior master’s degree—for example, MSN, MSW, MBA, or equivalent—in a health-related field PLUS at least two years of relevant public health work experience
  • Currently enrolled students in accredited U.S.-based MD, DO, DMD, or DDS programs (and JD/MPH students at Harvard Law School), who have a career interest in public health and/or preventive medicine. For more information, please see Dual/Joint Degrees

For the global health, health and social behavior, health management, and health policy fields of study only, applicants also are eligible for the MPH-45 if they have:

  • A bachelor’s degree and at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field

65-Credit MPH

The MPH-65 is open to those with a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of relevant work experience in public health or a related 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 concerned with 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 analytic and quantita­tive training necessary to evaluate clinical practices. Major areas of professional interest 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. The field of study is limited to clinicians enrolled initially in the Program in Clinical Effectiveness.

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 physicians 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.

The 45-credit MPH in clinical effectiveness is open only to physicians who have completed their residency, have the financial sponsorship of their home hospital or university, and have completed the Program in Clinical Effectiveness.

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

The part-time, two-year MPH in Epidemiology degree program combines online and on-campus classes to provide students with advanced research and epidemiological skills. The MPH in Epidemiology (online / on-campus) requires a prior doctoral degree—for example, MD, DO, DDS, PhD, SD, JD (or non-US equivalent). Also eligible to apply are those with a master’s degree in a health-related field (for example, MSN, MSW, MBA) plus three years of relevant experience. Current MD and DO students are not eligible to enroll in the MPH in Epidemiology (online / on-campus). Click here for more information.

Global Health (GH 45-credit)

The global health field of study explores the emerging professional and academic domain of global health, emphasizing the development of analytical and methodological skills to effectively respond to key challenges affecting the health of populations in a global context. Students will enhance their ability to apply epidemiological, economic, political, and managerial analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health policies and programs.

The program is intended to prepare health professionals with prior relevant experience for leadership and management roles in global health at sub-national, national or international levels. They will work in provincial or national ministries of health, inter-governmental organizations, donor aid agencies, non-governmental (or non-profit) organizations, entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as in large and small 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. Coursework emphasizes theoretical and analytic strate­gies for characterizing health problems in populations and the development of interventions. In addition, com­munication, advocacy, and policy formation in the public sector are addressed. Beyond the MPH core requirements, students are encouraged to develop expertise in either planned social change or social determinants of health and disparities. 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 behvaior 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 management field of study select from courses providing practical management skills, such as account­ing, finance, operations, marketing, quality improvement, leadership and management of people, and strategy. Students will be able 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 public or private sector health delivery systems, health insurance plans, and supply sector organizations, as well as working as consultants.

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)

Students in the health policy field of study develop skills in applying economic, legal, and political analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care and public health policies. Through the study of biostatistics, epidemiology, and other quantitative disciplines, they also acquire skill in interpreting and evaluating scientific evidence to inform their policy work. Students are encouraged to choose elective courses that will help them develop an area of interest and expertise, such as access to care, health care quality, pharmaceutical policy, injury prevention, or health care financing.

This field of study prepares students for policy positions in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors, directly as policymakers or as policy analysts, advocates, or consultants, or in policymaking positions in other public health and health care organizations.

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. The field of study features 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 (see resident handbook for specific guidelines). This area also is intended for other 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 academic year and summer-only options)

The quantitative methods field of study, spon­sored jointly by the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, provides students with the neces­sary quantitative and analytic 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 and those in the early stages of their careers.

Along with the broad perspective 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. In addition, it provides an excellent foundation for those interested in pursuing academic careers in the health sciences.

The summer-only option for the 45-credit MPH in quantitative methods is open only to individuals with an MD or PhD.

MPH-65 Credit Fields of Study

Environmental Health (EH 65-credit)

The MPH in environmental health 65-credit training program is designed to prepare students as leaders in environmental and occupational health practice, to manage occupational or environmental health surveillance programs, and/or to review, synthesize, and help develop environmental and occupational health policies, regulations, and procedures in the local, regional, national, and international arenas. Graduates from this degree program are expected to be hired in a wide range of facilities including public and private organizations, local, regional, and national governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies and advocacy groups, industry entities, and consulting companies.

Beyond the MPH core requirements, students are encouraged to develop expertise in one of two specific tracks:

The environmental health sciences track is designed to provide practitioners with the training necessary to develop effective guidelines and policies to mitigate and manage environmental hazards. Students will master the critical skills necessary for characterizing human health effects of a wide range of environmental hazards; for analyzing the sources, pathways, and routes of exposure of these hazards; and for developing and implementing appropriate remediation, policies, and regulations to eradicate these hazards and improve health outcomes.

This degree program is designed to prepare students for employment in a wide range of entities including but not limited to academia, industry, government, health organizations, advocacy groups, and consulting agencies where a practical expertise in environmental and occupational exposures and health is required.

The occupational and environmental health and safety track is designed to train practitioners to investigate, mitigate, and prevent environmentally and/or occupationally produced illnesses, injury, and disability, and to study and implement best practices in these and related areas, including ergonomics and safety and occupational hygiene. Students will be trained to design and perform exposure assessments and monitoring in environmental and occupational settings; develop and critically review reports of environmental assessments and monitoring; apply risk assessment/management concepts in a wide variety of situations and settings; analyze and characterize both acute and chronic environmental and occupational hazards; and to integrate health protection strategies with workplace health promotion to advance the goal of comprehensive working population health.

This degree program is designed to prepare students for employment in a wide range of entities including but not limited to academia, industry, government, health organizations, advocacy groups, and consulting agencies where a practical expertise in environmental and occupational exposures and health is required. This area of study fulfills the coursework requirements to prepare students for professional certification by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.

Global Health (GH 65-credit)

The global health field of study explores the emerging professional and academic domain of global health, emphasizing the development of analytical and methodological skills to effectively respond to key challenges affecting the health of populations in a global context. Students will enhance their ability to apply epidemiological, economic, political, and managerial concepts and tools to the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of health policies and programs.

The MPH-65 is similar to the MPH-45 program, but is intended to prepare students earlier in their careers also for positions in global health at sub-national, national, or international levels. Graduates will work in provincial or national ministries of health, inter-governmental organizations, donor aid agencies, non-governmental (or non-profit) organizations, entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as in large and small proprietary organizations.

Health and Social Behavior (HSB 65-credit)

The health and social behavior field of study is devoted to understanding health disparities and promoting health. Coursework emphasizes theoretical and analytic strate­gies for characterizing health problems in populations and the development of interventions. In addition, com­munication, advocacy, and policy formation in the public sector are addressed. Beyond the MPH core requirements, students are encouraged to develop expertise in a focus area and select either planned social change or social determinants of health and disparities. 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 settings in the United States and other countries.

Health Management (HM 65-credit)

(Students in the MPH-65 health management field of study will begin their program in January 2017.)

The health management field of study prepares students for management careers in the unique environment of health care. Students who choose the management field of study select from courses providing practical management skills such as account­ing, finance, operations, marketing, quality improvement, leadership and management of people, and strategy. Students will be able to analyze and take actions to improve organizational performance using the skills and frameworks learned in coursework and through field experiences.

This field of study prepares those early in their careers for management roles in health care organizations, including public or private sector health delivery systems, health insurance plans, and supply sector organizations, as well as working as consultants.

Health Policy (HP 65-credit)

Students in the health policy field of study develop skills in applying economic, legal, and political analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care and public health policies. Through the study of biostatistics, epidemiology, and other quantitative disciplines, they also acquire skill in interpreting and evaluating scientific evidence to inform their policy work. Students are encouraged to choose elective courses that will help them develop an area of interest and expertise, such as access to care, health care quality, pharmaceutical policy, injury prevention, or health care financing.

This field of study prepares those early in their careers for policy positions in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors, working with policymakers as policy analysts, advocates, or consultants in public health and health care organizations.