Laptop Requirement Policy

Laptop Requirement for all Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Students

The effective use of mobile digital technology for analysis, synthesis, and communications are critical to public health research and practice.  The Harvard Chan School embraces the vision of learning that is appropriately enhanced by technology and educational opportunities that are “everywhere and anytime” as recently noted by Provost Garber’s on the future of education at Harvard.  Therefore, the School has a laptop requirement for all students beginning in academic year 2016-2017.

Laptops allow students to utilize the School’s virtual computer laboratory powered by VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) technology.  The virtual laboratory gives students access to a wide variety of statistical software (e.g., SAS, Stata, R),  datasets required for their studies, and personal network storage space.  The laboratory is available anywhere and anytime including active learning classrooms, student study spaces, and in student housing.  Laptop use in the classroom is at the instructor’s discretion. 

Most modern laptops are compatible with our virtual computer laboratory.  Specific requirements may be found at:

Matriculated students without laptops or in need of an upgrade may take advantage of very attractive Harvard University pricing from the University’s preferred vendors, Dell and Apple.  More information may be found at

For students with financial need, the Department of Information Technology has laptops available to loan students in an emergency for short-term (e.g. 1-2 weeks).  Please contact the Office of Student Affairs at to confidentially request a laptop to use. Students who wish to purchase a laptop may request loan funds to cover the cost.  If a student is already funded up to the cost of education, they need to complete the Cost of Attendance/Budget Appeal Form.  Please contact the Office of Financial aid with any questions at 617-432-1867 or email