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:

  • Fall 2, WinterSession and Spring 1 Year 1: Team-based Case Development Immersion
  • Summer Year 2: Individual (8-10 weeks)

Case Development Immersion

The purpose of the Case Development Field Immersion experience is for students to develop leadership skills that enable them to work across programmatic and systemic “silos” while engaging and working with diverse communities, topic experts, and other stakeholders.

Through the Fall II, January, and Spring I terms, student teams work with a host organization and a faculty mentor to develop a robust teaching case reflecting on complex organizational decision points or challenges. DrPH teams initially engage with the host entity in the fall, spend three full-time weeks in January, and continue working with their host and mentor through Spring I.  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.

This Overview of DrPH partnership opportunities provides detail on how partner organizations can engage with students through community blocks, first year and summer immersions, and doctoral project placements.

If you have any questions about the program or a potential partnering opportunity, please contact Gillian Christie at