Concentrations and Fields of Study

Overview of Concentrations and Fields of Study

A coordinated program of study within an academic program. Departmental fields of study are usually located within a single department or within the MPH program, but can also encompass two Harvard Chan departments.

Within an academic program, a department may offer two or more concentrations (see “concentration” below for information about CEP approval) to which a prospective student may apply; for example, the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers two concentrations.  Within a department there may be two or more areas of interest in which a student may specialize; for example, areas of interest within the Department of Health Policy and Management include:  Health policy, health management, or research.  Areas of interest are listed on department websites but do not require CEP approval.  In most departments, applicants are not required to specify an area of interest.

Concentrations encompassing three or more departments are called interdisciplinary concentrations. A core set of required courses from the participating departments is established, along with elective courses. The CEP strongly recommends that the core course(s) be interdisciplinary rather than a collection of existing courses from the participating departments.  Concentration sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that interdisciplinary core courses are scheduled at a time that does not conflict with required courses for students in participating departments.

Students apply to one of the participating departments, and the degree will be issued from that department.  Currently there are seven interdisciplinary concentrations with CEP and faculty approval — Women, Gender, and Health; Health Communication; Epidemiology of Infectious Disease; Maternal and Child Health; Public Health Leadership; Humanitarian Studies, Ethics and Human Rights; and Nutrition and Global Health; Population Mental Health

Below are the required submission materials and an outline of the process for proposing a new concentration or field of study at Harvard Chan.

Proposing a New Concentration or Field of Study

Required Submission Materials

All concentration or field of study proposals submitted to the CEP must include the following information:

      • Proposed name
      • Background and development of the concentration/field of study
      • Purpose (need it addresses)
      • Concentration/field of study competencies
      • Syllabus for core courses designated how they meet concentration/field of study competencies
      • Description (for use in Harvard Chan marketing)
      • Requirements (number of credits, lab work, other types of experiences, etc.)
      • Proposed curriculum (required foundational knowledge courses and electives) indicating the sequencing and progression of courses
      • Detailed description of the culminating activity(s)
      • Process for documenting completion of the concentration/field of study
      • Degrees to be awarded
      • Description of likely career paths for graduates
      • Letter of endorsement from the department chair (or, in the case of interdisciplinary concentrations, a letter from the chair of each participating department)
      • List of faculty members affiliated with the concentration/field of study

In addition, concentrations encompassing two or more departments should include the following:

      • How concentration/field of study will be administered and reviewed
      • Detailed financial support by each department
      • List of steering committee members
      • Proposed admission review process

Process and Timeline for Proposing a New Concentration or Field of Study

The sponsor of the concentration/field of study will attend a CEP meeting to present the proposal and to provide answers to questions that committee members may have. The CEP will review the concentration/field of study proposal and may make recommendations, or ask for additional information, before granting final approval. If the proposed concentration/field of study is approved by the CEP, the proposal will be placed on the agenda of a faculty meeting for discussion and full faculty approval. Once granted final approval by the faculty, the concentration/field of study will be forwarded to the Office of Student Services for inclusion in promotional and application materials.

Newly approved concentrations/fields of study will be reviewed by the CEP after five years. A status report will be presented at a CEP meeting by one of the concentration’s/field of study’s sponsors. Any revisions to the original concentration/field of study proposal in terms of name, purpose, description, requirements, curriculum, etc. should be noted and discussed.

Information about a new concentration/field of study must be included in the promotional and application materials used by the prospective students who will be applying for the concentration/field of study. For example, if the first class of students is expected to enroll in September 2019, the proposal for the concentration must be reviewed and approved by the CEP and the full faculty during 2017-18. To meet the deadline, which in this example would be March 2018, it is recommended that the new concentration be proposed to the CEP at its October 2017 meeting. Please note that this is nearly two years before the first class matriculates.