Field Immersion

Field immersions are an integral part of the Harvard DrPH Program.  The Program seeks to ensure that students gain practical experience in public health while collaborating with senior public health practitioners and leaders. This complements academic coursework and helps develop and demonstrate advanced foundational knowledge and leadership competencies in a real-world setting.  The curriculum includes two periods of field immersion and experiential learning over the course of the Program:

  • Winter and Spring Year 1: Team-based (3 weeks full time in January, reduced hours in Spring 1)
  • Summer Year 2: Individual (8-10 weeks)

Team-Based Field Immersion

The purpose of the Team-Based Field Immersion experience is for students to exercise leadership, collective problem solving, systems thinking and teamwork skills toward completion of project deliverables co-developed with staff at the host organization. The immersion takes place in the Boston area over the January and Spring 1 terms in Year 1 of the program. The DrPH program supports transportation costs for this local immersion experience.

Host Organizations and Projects

Summer Field Immersion

The purpose of Summer Field Immersion is for students to concentrate on developing new competencies and advancing existing skills while addressing a public health issue or challenge that is of personal interest. This full time, 8-10 week experience between May-August is arranged between the student and their host organization. It can be in the form of a fellowship, internship or consultancy. Summer Immersion takes place in the summer between first and second year of the DrPH Program.

The program shares the responsibility with students for identifying organizational partners interested in hosting doctoral students for summer field immersion. The educational experience requires students to research potential sites, network with public health agencies/organizations, and arrange meetings or calls to design opportunities that advance their own individual learning goals. Students are not funded by the program for this experience but are encouraged to seek compensation from their host organization or funding from other sources.

Host Organizations and Projects

For Host Organizations

Hosting Harvard DrPH students is mutually beneficial for the student and organization. The investment in the leadership expansion of the public health workforce not only contributes significantly to the success of the Host Organization but also to the public health arena overall. DrPH students are seasoned professionals who can:

  • Expand and contribute to the mission of your organization
  • Lead the measurement of key business outcomes and design strategies for improvement
  • Assess the impact of health systems on population health outcomes
  • Develop training tools to meet the specific need of an organization
  • Develop financial or business plans for a new program or service

We seek long-term collaboration with a broad range of international and domestic organizations and individuals who are leaders in their field and invested in the development of public health professionals. Host organizations can expect DrPH students to contribute to high-impact projects around organizational capacity, service delivery, and consumer and public health outcomes. Organizations can be from the public or private sector, based in the US or abroad.

If you have any questions about the program or a potential partnering opportunity, please contact Jocelyn Chu, Associate Director of the DrPH Program at