Master of Science

Mission Statement

The mission of this degree program is to prepare the next generation of researchers for global health and population around the world in order to advance global health research and reduce the burden of disease, especially in the world’s most vulnerable populations.


SM graduates contribute to the improvement of global health and the resolution of population problems. Graduates have the analytical and technical skills to address health and population problems from a range of disciplinary perspectives. They build a set of advanced competencies covering conceptual approaches, theory and applications, problem solving and analysis, as well as a wide range of quantitative and qualitative methods. Graduates pursue careers in policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation of public health programs, as well as academic and programmatic research. They engage with global health research through national and international government agencies, NGOs, the private sector and academic institutions.


  • To provide training in public health sciences to individuals whose prior training and experience prepares them to play a leadership role in generating new knowledge through public health research;
  • To award the SM degree to individuals who have acquired a particular depth of knowledge in public health sciences and who have demonstrated the competencies set out below;
  • To lead students to achieve these competencies in a setting that demands that they query, learn, interpret, and communicate in active interchange with their peers, with faculty, and with other researchers outside the school.


SM students acquire an understanding of the major issues in population and global health, as well as learning the research tools for generating evidence and informing public health decisions. Students are also exposed to the practical aspects of undertaking research and evaluating population health interventions around the world, including a perspective on the economic, social, political, cultural, and ethical considerations that bear on these issues. Upon completion of the SM degree, graduates will be able to:

  • Apply appropriate quantitative and qualitative methods to the analysis of international, national, regional, or local contemporary problems of public health;
  • Synthesize and integrate specialized knowledge and research skills in one or more areas of global health and population (e.g. demography, economics, epidemiology, human rights, law, politics, policy, and statistics), based on advanced course work and independent research study;
  • Demonstrate competence in research ethics.

Student Status

  • The GHP SM2 Program is offered for full-time student status only. Part-time student status is not permitted.
  • The GHP SM2 program does not grant admission deferrals. Any individual who is admitted to the program and is unable to matriculate will need to reapply.
  • Students may not request a leave of absence for the purpose of pursuing another degree at Harvard or at another university.

Requirements for Admission

On entry, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline. Many entering students already hold advanced degrees in medicine or a social science discipline. The admissions committee looks for candidates with:

  • Strong academic potential, as demonstrated by grades in prior academic coursework, and/or performance on standardized tests such as GRE or MCAT (optional for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle).
  • TOEFL test with a minimum IBT score of 100 with a minimum of 25 in the writing section, and no less than 23 in the remaining 3 sections.
  • College Transcript must show both a Statistics AND a Calculus course with a minimum grade of B+. This does not include courses on Statistical software (e.g. SAS, SPSS, or Stata).
  • Relevant global health or public health research experience is required. The review committee looks for applicants with experience equivalent to a minimum of 6 months or more full-time equivalent (FTE) over recent years, which can include international work experience relevant to public health; domestic health work with migrant or other vulnerable populations; or substantive policy or advocacy work on a global health issue.

Additional Information

For information related to admissions procedures and deadlines, as well as information on financial assistance, please contact the Harvard Chan School Admissions Office.