Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have a full-time or part-time job while I am enrolled in your program?

We strongly encourage students who are enrolled on a full-time basis to be very careful about working too much while they are in school, particularly in the first year of the program.  Our programs are rigorous and we are on a quarter system, which makes the coursework more intense because it  means that every 7-8 weeks, most or all of your courses will change.  Almost all HarvardChan classes meet during the day, which  makes it difficult to schedule classes and a job.  If you have a flexible employer and your job is located nearby, you may be able to maintain some part-time hours while studying.  However, we strongly recommend working no more than 10 hours per week.

Does being an international student put me at a disadvantage in gaining admission to this program?

Absolutely not!  HarvardChan and HPM value diversity and a large portion of our students come from countries other than the United States.

Where else can I cross-register?

HarvardChan students may enroll in courses offered by any one of the other Harvard faculties, including MIT, Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Do I need to stay in Boston for my required summer internship?

No, the summer internship requirement can be met by working at an approved placement in any corner of the world.  In recent years, students have done their internships in locations as diverse as Tanzania, the Philippines, Switzerland, France, and many US locations other than Boston.

I’m trying to decide if I should apply to the SD program or the university-wide PhD program in Health Policy?  What are the differences between these programs?

The SD program, which is housed within the HPM department at HarvardChan, is designed primarily for medical doctors, although a few students have other types of doctoral degrees (e.g., JD).  The intra-university PhD program is open to students without a prior doctoral degree.  The SD program is very small; only one or two students are generally accepted in any one year.  This means that SD students are not part of a larger cohort, as is the case with the PhD program. The SD program has very limited financial assistance for students, whereas the PhD program accepts only candidates for whom funding is available.  For information on Harvard’s PhD program in Health Policy, please visit or contact

What should my Statement of Purpose include?

Do not underestimate the importance of this statement. It is your opportunity to write about your qualifications, motivations, and potential to make a contribution to the field of public health. However, it should not be a replication of your resume/CV. Instead, you should write about:

1. Your academic and/or professional preparation for a career in public health;

2. Why you want to enroll in the degree program to which you are applying;

3. Your career plans upon completion of the program at HarvardChan.

When will I find out if I am accepted or not?

The School’s Admissions Office begins to send admission decisions in the middle of February. However, not all decisions are sent at this time because departments and the Committee on Admissions and Degrees may not yet have completed their review of all applications.  Notifying applicants of our decision is a top priority, and we attempt to get our admissions decisions out to applicants as quickly as possible.

How do I find information on financial aid?

If you plan on requesting financial aid, you may want to get started by looking for sources of funding. The HarvardChan Student Financial Services Department has some extremely important information you may review:

Scholarship information can be found at the following link:

Any questions regarding financial aid should be directed to HarvardChan Student Financial Services at 617.432.1867.