Navigating Your Field of Study in the MPH Curriculum Guide


When reviewing a field of study section in the MPH Curriculum Guide, each section includes a brief overview of the curriculum and the field of study competencies. The main portion of the field of study section outlines the specific course requirements that a student must complete. Certain required courses have a semester by which the course is to be completed. Lastly, a sample schedule outlines an example of a full-time student’s MPH program at the Harvard Chan School.

The Harvard Chan Semester-Based System

The Harvard Chan School uses a semester-based system. Additionally, the fall and spring semesters are divided into two sessions (Fall 1 and Fall 2, and Spring 1 and Spring 2). Courses meeting for the whole semester are designated as Fall or Spring. Courses meeting for half of a semester are indicated by a 1 or 2 (i.e., Fall 1 or Spring 2). There is also a Winter Session term which occurs during January. (Credits for Winter Session courses are counted in the spring semester total.) For date ranges, see the academic calendar.

There is a designated add/drop period during each session and semester. Students may add or drop Fall and Fall 1 courses during the first weeks of the fall semester, and students may add or drop Fall 2 courses during the first weeks of the Fall 2 session. For add/drop deadlines, see the academic calendar.

Planning Your Schedule

We strongly recommend that students organize their schedules for the entire duration of their program to determine how they plan to fulfill the required courses. Because some required courses are only offered once during the academic year, schedules planned in advance ensure that students are able to fulfill all of their degree requirements. Students typically take around 10-12.5 credits per session (usually 4-5 courses in each session), or 22.5-25 credits per semester. In addition to the required courses, students have the opportunity to take other courses during their program. Students should keep in mind the balance of their courses in the fall and spring semesters and consider their other priorities and goals.

Choosing Your Electives

The Harvard Chan School offers a broad selection of courses. When choosing elective courses, students are encouraged to explore electives that provide both breadth and depth by strengthening their area(s) of interest. Students can review current course offerings in the Harvard Course Catalog, as well as utilize Harvard Syllabus Explorer to discover new courses by searching for keywords within syllabi.

Harvard Chan students may petition, pending available space at the host school, to cross-register for elective courses. Students interested in cross-registering may wish to review a sampling of cross-registration elective courses that previous MPH students have taken.