Why Public Health

Field work in Africa

Collaborate to Transform Lives

The purpose of public health is to protect the health and improve the quality of life for all people. Public health is both a field of inquiry and an arena for action. It engages people from many different disciplines who work together to uncover the root causes of complex health problems and develop practical and cost-effective solutions.

Work on Large-Scale, Long-Term Solutions

Medicine helps individuals one-on-one when they are sick. The goal of public health, in contrast, is to prevent illness and injury, and to do so across large numbers of people through programs and actions that can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at a time. It is that multiplier effect that attracts many interested in health care and medicine specifically to explore an advanced degree in public health. A career in public health enables you to produce new knowledge, create powerful ideas, and collaborate with others to institute innovative—and frequently lower cost—solutions that will improve the health of large numbers of people locally, nationally, and globally.

Pursue a Passion for Public Service

Some students at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health already have advanced degrees in medicine, research, business, or law, but are looking to sharpen skills in areas such as biostatistics and epidemiology, and to learn new skills in areas as varied as health systems innovation, environmental health, or nutrition. Others who have no prior graduate degree want an educational program that will equip them to pursue a passion for public service in a health-related field at a high level in the U.S. or globally. Still others are looking to pursue health-related research careers. Graduates of the Harvard Chan School go on to work in hospitals, academic institutions, government, nongovernmental organizations, start-ups, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and private businesses, pursuing their goal to improve the health of millions.

Learn Why Some of Our Students Chose Public Health

In our “Why Public Health?” series, we ask Harvard School of Public Health students to talk about why they chose to enter the field. Click on a student below to watch their video.

Kimberly Chang
Selasi Dankwa
Charles Upton