The Doctor of Public Health degree is for individuals with proven potential who want to accelerate their careers, learn high-level, analytical techniques alongside their talented peers, and have a single goal: to lead organizations that will help people live longer, healthier lives.
Join Harvard’s global network of dedicated experts working to devise and implement strategies that improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
We have broken this page into several sections to help you through the admissions process: Who Should Apply, Eligibility Requirements, Financial Aid, Career Outcomes, FAQ’s.and contact info for the Office of Admissions.
Who Should Apply
The Harvard Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) should prepare you for high-level leadership to make a difference in the fields of public health and health care. This interdisciplinary degree provides advanced education in public health along with mastery of skills in leadership, management, communications, and innovation. This is accomplished within a highly collaborative, cohort-based learning program. In just three years (with an option to extend to a fourth year), you should learn how to address complex problems of public health policy and use advanced analytical and managerial tools to lead organizational and societal change. Students learn the scholarship of translation, assembling scientific evidence and using it to achieve real results in the field. Also, students gain hands-on experience working to achieve a specific public health objective under the guidance of Harvard’s world-renowned faculty.
If you are:
- Seeking knowledge and skills to drive change and make a difference on the front lines of health, anywhere in the world.
- Ready for new challenges and new leadership responsibilities as a public health professional
- Looking to be part of a global network of extraordinary people who will have a significant impact on the world and your career.
We are seeking a special mix of ambitious candidates who have a broad range of accomplishments across the fields of public health and healthcare and are now looking to take the next step in their careers. This innovative, transformative educational experience has been designed so that no prior public health degree is required.
Applications for the next cohort that starts in July 2021 are due by December 1, 2020 (application available in August 2020).
Admission to the Harvard DrPH Program is highly competitive; all applicants should have, at a minimum:
- A master’s OR doctoral degree in the health sciences or in another related field or non-US equivalent.
- At least six years of full-time public health and/or public service experience in a relevant discipline. Advanced degrees will not be considered in lieu of work experience as coursework will build directly on professional skills and experiences.
- Prior coursework in public health-related methods and in specific technical areas of public health is also beneficial.
Beyond the formal qualifications, we seek top applicants who demonstrate an appetite and vision to effect change, displaying the energy and creativity to have already moved along that path early in their careers. We also explicitly seek to admit students with interest and experience across a broad cross section of public and private areas of public health and healthcare locally, nationally, and internationally.
Financial aid is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Office of Financial Aid. However, it should be noted that the Harvard DrPH Program can be costly and financial aid is not unlimited; students will be expected to consider an overall financing strategy including the costs for independent Field Immersion and the third year Doctoral Project. All questions regarding financing your education at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health can best be fielded directly by the Office of Financial Aid.
As a Harvard DrPH graduate, you should be ready to lead. You should be equipped with experience gained through real-world fieldwork conducted at a variety of organizations. You should have the skills to start new organizations or work from within to change existing ones, know how to translate public health research into effective policies, programs, and initiatives that dramatically improve individual and population health. You should be comfortable in a leadership role and confident in your public health expertise. And whether you choose to pursue a career in a non-governmental organization, health ministry, government agency, health care provider, start-up, or more established private sector business, you should be prepared to make a difference.
For more information on careers and resources available to students, visit the Harvard T.H. Chan School Office of Career Advancement and Office of Alumni Affairs. For more information on DrPH students employment after graduation, visit Graduate Outcomes on the Office of Career Advancement site.
How is the DrPH Program different from a PhD program?
The key thing to keep in mind about the DrPH is that we are not primarily training students to become professional researchers or academics. Our focus incorporates attention to public health leadership for individuals who are seeking a more activist role in their careers. There is not a firm line between these things, but the emphasis in the DrPH is different from that of a PhD.
Do I need to take an entrance exam?
All applicants to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are required to submit official test scores. For information on the test scores we accept and the percentile most successful candidates should have, please visit the Test Scores page on the Admissions website.
Can I visit a class on campus?
We regret that due to the level of interest in this program we are not able to allow prospective students to sit-in on a current course as it can be disruptive to the courses.
Is there an option to earn the DrPH degree in a particular discipline?
No. The Harvard DrPH degree is an interdisciplinary program. Students in the Program receive an advanced education in the scholarship of knowledge translation, the development of a broad understanding of all aspects of public health through integration of multiple disciplines, and the ability to rigorously apply scientific findings to address complex problems of public health policy and practice. The curriculum is designed to provide mastery of high-level competencies in leadership, management, innovation, and communications.
How long should it take to complete the degree?
The Harvard DrPH degree is designed for three to no more than four years based on the students admitted, the approach to mastery of the competencies, and the supportive learning environment to be completed in. This includes 24 months of coursework and integrated field experiences, and the DrPH Doctoral Project, an extended (8-10 month) field experience, thesis and Oral Final Examination.
What is the residency requirement?
The DrPH degree is an intensive and immersive educational experience that takes place over three years: 24 months in residence at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Longwood area of Boston and 8-10 months on-site at a host organization during the third year. An essential aspect of the DrPH Program and Doctoral Project is the interaction with faculty and the cohort dynamic of students; therefore, full-time enrollment is expected during the first 24 months of the program followed by a serious commitment of time for a rigorous, extended field experience and the Doctoral Project during the third year. There is no part-time option for the Harvard DrPH degree. The flexibility in the program exists in terms of location during field experiences. It is the expectation that the degree is completed in no more than four years.
What is the size of the cohort?
Future cohorts are anticipated to be approximately 10 students. The students benefit from the camaraderie, trust, and support of a shared learning environment as well as the diverse experiences and expertise of their fellow students in the program and the entire Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health community.
Will there be opportunities to cross-register at other Harvard schools?
Yes. One of the strengths of the Harvard DrPH is that it leverages the wealth of expertise and experiences of the entire Harvard community both for required classes, electives, and other educational experiences (subject to availability and Harvard Chan School cross-registration policies).
Does the DrPH accept transfer credits?
No. The curriculum and overall educational experience are carefully designed to promote mastery of a specific set of knowledge and skills. To assure that this takes place we do not accept transfer credits.
If I am not admitted to the DrPH degree, will I be considered for another degree at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health?
If your aspirations and qualifications match the description of the Harvard DrPH, we strongly encourage you to apply. We have designed a unique program and in turn seek talent and potential for leadership that comes in many different forms. Please allow us the opportunity to assess your application and if we see a better fit with another degree program at our School, your application will be passed on to the review committee for that particular degree program for review. Admission to all degrees at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is very selective, and to maintain excellence and appropriate educational program sizes we regret we cannot admit all qualified applicants to our programs.